Sunday, 8 April 2012

Follow On Free Word Association

This is a basic exercise that builds new connections in your thinking, and is good training for letting go of analytic reasoning and switching to intuitive thinking. Spend 15 minutes a day doing the exercise for at least a week.

Free word association is about letting your imagination roam freely wherever it wants to go, so this kind of activity is great practice for getting creative ideas to flow. The exercise also trains your mind to new ways of thinking (i.e. surrendering to following your thoughts instead of trying to channel them along a path to a predetermined goal). An additional benefit of this exercise is that it teaches you how to observe and record your thoughts without analysing them. If you want to discover the creativity within you, you need to overcome channeling and analysing your thoughts to align with a predetermined goal.

Paradoxically, there are a few rules for this exercise:

  1. Don’t censor or analyse your ideas in any way as you are doing the exercise. Just write them down.
  2. Try not to have any repeated words in your list.
  3. There must be an association or connection for you between the word you write down and the previous word on the list. Of what does the word remind you? What do you immediately think of when you read the word? Practise capturing the first thought that comes to your mind.
So, this is how you do a basic follow on word association exercise:
1   Choose a primary word from the following and write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Art
  • Bells
  • Book
  • Chair
  • Concert
  • Jade
  • Mountain
  • Painting
  • Ring
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Tree
2   Underneath it, write down the first word that you associate with the word, and then underneath that word, a word that you associate with it, and so on.
3   Keep adding words to the list for five minutes, and work as quickly as you can. You should aim to write a list of 25 words in the five minutes. (The technique of putting yourself under the pressure of achieving a goal within a certain time limit means that you are forced to get past analysing and write down all your thoughts. This is a simple trick to force you out of logical thinking and into the creative chaos of creative thinking!)

You can do more word association exercises by choosing a random word from a book (or magazine or newspaper). Simply close your eyes, open the book and place your finger anywhere on the page. Use the word your finger is pointing at as the primary word for this exercise.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

© SD Vahl, 2012
SD Vahl hereby asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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