During a wintry evening in Belgium in the 1860s, German chemist August Kekule, who was researching molecular structures, fell asleep in front of his fireplace. What transpired thereafter, would forever change the course of science. Kekule had a dream, of different atoms dancing before his eyes, twisting in snakelike motion. He recounted, “One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightening I awoke.”
This vision inspired Kekule to propose a hexagonal ring structure for the benzene molecule. This structure forms the backbone of organic chemistry, and spawned the chemical, plastics and pharmaceutical industries. Writer Arthur Koestler called it “probably the most important dream in history since Joseph’s seven fat and seven lean cows”.
Another monumental dream was one that occurred to Otto Loewi in 1920, which led to the discovery of chemical neurotransmission, and won him the Nobel Prize.
This experience is not limited to scientists. One of the Beatles’ most enduring songs, ‘Yesterday’, came to Paul McCartney in a dream. On waking up, he rushed to his piano. In his words, “I just fell out of bed, found out what key I had dreamed it in…and I played it.”
All of this might seem esoteric. Yet, almost all of us have had the experience of the ‘aha’ moment hitting us when we least expect it. We might be working on a pesky problem, unable to come up with a solution. The right turn of phrase for an advertising campaign, the missing link in the plot for a book, the vital ingredient in a strategic plan, all seem to elude us despite putting in intense effort. And then, voila, the ‘Eureka’ moment hits us in the shower or in the gym.
This experience, of the inner recesses of our mind coming up with solutions even when the conscious mind has withdrawn from a task, suggests that we have faculties greater than what we can consciously comprehend. This is the realm of what psychologists call the ‘unconscious’, or what is popularly referred to as the ‘subconscious’ mind.
Can we harness the power of these deeper faculties? Given the randomness associated with it, it might seem difficult to ‘teach’ creativity. Yet, there are pointers which can enlighten us.
The first is to learn to let go. There is a point after which trying too hard actually backfires. The conscious mind, with its focus on structure and logic, often stands in the way of the free-flowing connections associated with creativity. For instance, when I was writing my second book AgniBaan, my initial thoughts on the plot for the book were linear. Yet, the final plot drew from seemingly disparate fields, including Egyptian and Indian history, cryptography, climate change and electronic warfare. The only way I could make these connections was to allow the ‘subconscious’ mind to join the dots. This required ‘letting go’, cutting the conscious mind loose from the burden of having to come up with a solution. To quote from the ancient Chinese text Tao Te Ching, “He who clings too hard to his work will create nothing that endures”.
The second pointer is the importance of alternating between periods of effort and relaxation. Psychologists are researching ‘incubation’, where a period of intense conscious focus on a goal or problem is followed by something undemanding and different from the main task. Japanese author Haruki Murakami mentions that walking is crucial to his creativity. He says, “Just as original ideas come to your mind after intense meditation, walking has the same effect. It is inspiring, but you never know where the inspiration comes from”. This is why ideas often come to us in the gym or the shower, because the deeper layers of the mind are processing even as we relax.
The third pointer is the importance of regular effort. The subconscious mind can make connections because the relaxation has been preceded by a period of intense conscious effort. A routine involving daily effort enables the deeper layers of the mind to form their own chains of connection with the previous day’s work. In Murakami’s words, “The repetition itself becomes the important thing, it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmeriSe myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
These insights show us a path to unlocking our creativity, moving the ‘aha’ moment from the ethereal realms of fantasy to concrete reality. This realization is empowering, because creativity can be accessed by each one of us, and can enable us to realise our full potential.
S.Venkatesh is the bestselling author of AgniBaan and KaalKoot, a leadership coach and an investor who has held key positions with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Macquarie. He writes about mindfulness and its link to creativity, business and wealth.
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People take over Marine Drive with spectacular Garba performance
A huge crowd soaked themselves in the spirit of Navaratri as they performed Garba at the iconic Marine Drive in Mumbai.
In a video posted on Twitter by industrialist Anand Mahindra, the young crowd can be seen performing for a huge crowd of spectators alongside the scenic beauty of the Arabian Sea and the ever-growing Mumbai skyline.
Anand Mahindra captioned the video, “Mumbai, Marine Drive. The conquest and annexation of Mumbai’s streets are complete. But these are invaders who are welcomed with open arms. No place like Mumbai during Navratri. (I know I’m going to hear howls of protest from cities in Gujarat!)”
Although it’s not yet confirmed whether this performance is fresh or if it’s an old video, it has now gone viral. People are loving the energy and enthusiasm of those performing.
Well, now that the auspicious occasion of Navaratri has begun, performances, dances, and celebrations are going to be a routine affair, especially in places like Gujarat. Navaratri is celebrated every year with much galore and fanfare, with every year’s celebration exceeding the previous year’s benchmark. It only gets bigger and better with each passing year, excluding the past two years (due to Covid-19).
But now people are more than excited to celebrate Navaratri this year, after keeping it quite low-key or low-scale for the past two years.
Lords’ Balcony-themed pandal portrays craze for Sourav Ganguly
The devotion during Durga Puja and the craze for the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ and former skipper Sourav Ganguly are two of many things that define and unite the state of West Bengal, especially Kolkata.
On Tuesday, when the Mitali Sangha community erected a stunning Durga Puja pandal in Garia themed after the Lord’s Pavillion, which recalled the sight of one of cricket history’s most iconic moments back in 2002.
That moment in July 2002 at the Lord’s, also known as the ‘Home of Cricket’, when Yuvraj Singh (69) and Mohammed Kaif (87*) helped India chase down a gigantic 326-run target set by England in the Natwest series 2002 final.
After the total was chased down, Ganguly was so ecstatic that he took off his shirt and twirled it from the balcony. It was the then-Indian skipper’s response to a similar act by English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff after a series-levelling win over India at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, another iconic cricketing venue in India, earlier that year.
Over the years, this moment became highly iconic, foreshadowing India’s dominance in foreign lands, particularly in SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) in years to come. With that act, Ganguly had unleashed a bold, defiant, and fearless India, and the national team adopted these traits in years to come, especially under the leadership of star batter Virat Kohli.
A durga puja pandal based on the pavilion of this iconic venue brought back its memories to fans. And on top of that, it was Sourav Ganguly, now the president of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) two decades later, who came to inaugurate it to the delight of his fans, who perhaps love him more than the sport itself.
The Hindu festival of Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava, is a yearly celebration that honours the Hindu goddess Durga and commemorates her victory over Mahishasur.
To destroy Mahishasura, Goddess Druga appeared from the fusion of all the gods’ energies in heaven. She had ten arms, and on each of them, she carried the most lethal weapon belonging to each God. All of Goddess Durga’s weapons are sanctified during this time.
Over the years, Durga puja has become an inseparable part of Indian culture, with innumerable people celebrating this festival in their own unique way while adhering to tradition. Hindu mythology holds that the goddess comes to her earthly abode to bless devotees.
Everything to know about Bigg Boss 16’s first confirmed contestant Abdu Rozik
Abdu Rozik is the first contestant of Bigg Boss 16, and while everyone finds him cute, it’s important to put it out there that he is not a minor! Abdu Rozik is around 19 years old and eligible to enter the Bigg Boss house.
Abdu is the first confirmed contestant of Bigg Boss 16. At a promotional event in Mumbai, Salman Khan announced Abdu’s name as the first contestant of the season.
With a broad smile, Abdu Rozik expressed his excitement and said, “I love going to the Bigg Boss house. Excited, bahut excited!”
He continued, “I love you, everyone. Please support me as (I am) Chota Bhaijaan. Please support me, please vote for me! Please don’t fight with me. I love you,” soon after which Salman gave a disclaimer that Abdu is not a kid and that he is older than 18 years and very much eligible to enter the Bigg Boss house.
Bigg Boss 16 is set to premiere on 1 October 2022, on Colors TV.
Kim Kardashian struggles to walk in body-hugging dress
Kim Kardashian is once again making headlines for her fashion choices.Kim recently attended Milan Fashion Week and, although she did not walk the runway, she made headlines for her super-tight glittery attire. Wearing the super tight body-con dress, Kim posted a comical behind-the-scenes video of herself having a hard time walking and climbing stairs.
In the video, Kim can be seen wearing a Dolce Gabbana dress with very high heels. And, because of how tight the dress is, Kim is seen jumping and hopping up the stairs. Clearly, Kim couldn’t walk in the dress! She used a handrail as support as she climbed by clinging to it. When attempting to enter her car, she ran into a similar issue.
The video is now viral!
Kim attended fashion week in Milan with her sister Khloe, who has now sparked dating rumours with ‘365 Days’ actor Michele Morrone. Khloe and Michele posed for a picture, leaving their fans in shock and awe at the same time.
Recently, Kim got involved in another controversy with her ex-husband Kanye West, who lashed out at her family on social media.
Earlier this month, Kanye took to Instagram to share a post admitting that he has an addiction to porn and that it “destroyed” his family. Kanye has now deleted the post.
According to Page Six, Kanye wrote, “Don’t let Kris make you do playboy like she made and Kim do. Hollywood is a giant brothell”
When Anil Kapoor gave ‘jhakkas’ twist to dandiya
Actor Anil Kapoor extended heartfelt Navratri greetings to everyone in a filmy way. Taking to Instagram, Anil posted a particular sequence from his 1988 film Tezaab in which he is seen performing dandiya.
Recalling how the particular sequence was filmed “smoothly and effortlessly” in just one night, he wrote, “Happy Navratri to one and all! This time of year always takes me back to this scene from Tezaab, conceptualised so beautifully by N. Chandra. I’ll never forget how smoothly and effortlessly we shot this entire dandiya scene in one night. One of my favourite memories of this happy festival. “
Tezaab featured Anil Kapoor in the lead role alongside Madhuri Dixit.
Reacting to Anil’s video of performing dandiya, filmmaker and choreographer Farah Khan commented, “Papaji tussi great ho.”
“Ekdum jhakkas,” a social media user wrote.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Anil recently wrapped up his shoot for the much-awaited Indian remake of ‘The Night Manager’, which is an espionage thriller that has a tense cat-and-mouse chase between a covert agent and a secret arms dealer.
The 2016 series features Tom Hiddleston in the lead role. In the remake, Anil will essay the role that was originally played by Hugh Laurie. It will also feature Aditya Roy Kapur and Sobhita Dhulipala in lead roles. The original British series became a massive hit across the globe and earned several awards at the 74th Golden Globe Awards.
Anil will also be seen sharing screen space with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in the action-packed ‘Fighter’.
Research says Family ties give animals reasons to ‘help or harm’ as they age
New research shows that the structure of family groups gives animals an incentive to help or harm their social group as they age.
A team of scientists from 17 institutions in six countries, led by the University of Exeter, examined how “relatedness” (strength of genetic links to members of a social group) changes over a lifetime in seven mammal species. This varies from species to species, depending on whether male or female offspring (or both) leave the group into which they are born.
For example, male and female killer whales both stay in the same group as their mother, so females have a growing number of close relatives (their children and grandchildren) around them as they age.
Other animals, such as female spotted hyenas, usually live among fewer close relatives as time passes.
Given that all animals have evolved to ensure their genes-and those of close relatives-survive, these long-term changes in relatedness to the family group give animals different incentives to engage in “helping and harming behaviour across the lifespan”.
“We wanted to know how an individual’s relatedness to their group changes as they age, and what consequences this might have for behaviour,” said lead author Dr Sam Ellis, from Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.
“We made a model to predict these changes and then tested it using data on banded mongooses, chimpanzees, badgers, killer whales, spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons. Our model fitted the real data. This is exciting because it allows us to predict how and why social behaviours can change with age.”
The “ultimate payoff” of behaviour for animals depends on how each behaviour affects an individual and her relatives. When living in a group of close genetic relatives, it might be in an animal’s interest to behave in a way that helps the whole group.
However, when living among less related or unrelated individuals, the best strategy could be selfish or even harmful behaviour.
“Our findings suggest that incentives to help or harm the group change with age, depending on the social structure of each species,” Dr Ellis said.
Professor Darren Croft said: “Across a wide range of species, we see age-related changes in helping and harming behaviour, which can also differ between males and females. Our new work shows that understanding how relatedness to the family group changes with age is key in understanding how the incentives to help or harm the group change across the lifespan, which can potentially explain these differences across species and between the sexes. This research opens the door for future studies by providing testable predictions for how patterns of helping and harming will change across the lifespan, and we eagerly anticipate new work testing these predictions.”
Among the species included in the study, male spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons usually leave their birth group once they reach maturity.
In chimpanzees, female offspring leave the group, while in killer whales and mongooses, both sexes usually stay in the group into which they were born.
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