When I began to teach people how to be more creative by having better insights and more of them, I urged them to practice the single most effective mental discipline available: thinking without words. I advised them to start slow at first, just a few minutes at a time, then work up to several hours a day. For days unnumbered. This simple change in one's mental routine is essential for producing consistent epiphanies and improving them to a high level of quality. Most of the words in your mind are self-serving nonsense anyway so letting go of it is no great loss.
I was unprepared for the vehemence of the rejection to this suggestion. People passionately claimed there was no way they could go even a few seconds without thinking in words. And the idea that one could go for hours was preposterous. Yet I have a strong example of this that cannot be ignored: myself. I can stop the words in my head at a moment's notice, and keep them switched off for as long as I want. Hours or days. And I know someone else who's never thought in words too, ever. That makes two of us. So for all those that claim it's impossible, here is what happens when you think without words.
The first thing you notice is that you think much faster. You're much more in the present. Mental resources that you used to spend keeping up the flow of words, now amplify your senses. You notice more details in the world around you, and assemble your perceptions into larger blocks. You will think in rapid references to your own personal mythology of life long experiences and conclusions. The same goes for other people, behind their words and actions you now see the entirety of their bigger self. Their priorities, beliefs and agendas.
With the extra speed, you will have more time to think about what to say next in conversation. You can juggle the words in your next sentence before and while you're saying it, so you speak with greater precision. Composing words is more effective when you think without them. You can also analyze other people's words more accurately, hearing what they are saying with their words as well as what they are NOT saying. The complementary pair of what is, and is not, in general, is sharper and more in focus.
|Your brain high on words||Your brain without words|
It's easier to perceive in a synesthetic fashion, with information from one sense triggering perceptions in another. Similarities, analogies and metaphors of the topic at hand spring easier to mind, and lateral thinking gets a boost.
More unique and creative ideas will bubble up from the darkness below, when there are no clumsy words to clog the flow. Think about a brainstorm session where the extroverts loudly repeat their conventional thoughts, but the novel ideas of the introverts go unspoken. Same thing happens in your own head. The loud predictable words are repeated, and inhibit the small voice of your meta self. Yet that's where flashes of insight come from. Being more respectful to others at meetings is like being more respectful to the big quiet self inside your mind. You want to have inventive ideas? Then learn to shut up.
You will hear the Song of the World. Instead of hearing a pile of separate sounds, most of which you suppress or ignore, you will add all the sounds together into one big song, and marvel at its beauty.
There is also "the anomaly." Things that you know and experience for which there is currently no rational explanation. Anomalous events happen more often when you stop thinking with words.
Talking with animals is much easier when you don't talk to yourself.
You don't hold grudges. Because you will no longer see the world as "things I like or don't like," there are much fewer disappointments, traumas, tantrums and vendettas. By removing your petty self from your observations, you will see the world as sequences of cause and effect, how things actually work. You will only worry about rational concerns, instead of "the sky is falling" misconceptions.
All of this sounds pretty fantastic, but does it actually happen? There are times when you naturally don't think in words, like digestion lethargy that happens after you eat, during intense activity like downhill skiing or playing ping pong, getting up at night to pee or during the physical act of love making. When your words stop naturally at these times, you don't go synesthetic, think in big blocks, get novel ideas, hear the song of the world or experience the anomaly. Whatever that is. So am I full of crap when I describe these things? No, I'm not.
You can't achieve this state of inner silence by a simple act of will. Suppressing the words with a clench of determination won't work. If you do manage to stop them for a moment, as soon as you have a memory, opinion, fear or desire, the words will start back up again. To keep them switched off, you have to deactivate all your attachments. Prejudices, hurtful motives, ego boosting misperceptions, and lazy repetitions all have to go. Thinking without words is a goal you strive for AND a reward for keeping a clean mind.
The enemies of inner silence are fear and desire, and those must be silenced. When you can be unmoved by all that you see and think, then you will be rewarded with a lack of words. To stop the words in your thoughts, you must also stop the immature emotions above them, that pull your strings like an unaccountable puppeteer. Then will you realize all the advantages and superpowers of thinking without words. It's actually much harder than you think.
At the far limit of thinking without words, is the ability to close your eyes and see the naked source of creativity. It's an unfathomable place where images and ideas flow and explode continuously. Without regard for you or anything about you. When you can stop both your thoughts and your untrained emotions, then you can see an indescribable place where fantastic shapes constantly appear and evolve. To recognize or remember anything you see at this geyser of creativity, is a great feat. One that I keep trying to achieve.
So to boost your creativity, and get more value out of life, strive to think without words. It takes less energy, that is more profitably spent elsewhere. But don't think it's going to be easy or happen in a few minutes. It will take some major reorganizing to pull it off, and the results are worth it.