Lunar Thinking: Opening our brain's borders

zach towne smith blog post brain borders

"Beliefs are the police of the mind."  

The words of the spoken-word poet Saul Williams (who I recently had the honor to hug) flit around my head in staccato flow.  Beliefs and judgements enforce the immigration policies of our minds and impose the ubiquitous western dichotomy - judging right from wrong.  Many of us take this for granted in our lives and apply it most mercilessly to ourselves, often interrupting our Yoga practice with the ego’s tendency to compare our asana with the next mat over. This same judgement, or border control, impairs our creative thinking, something we were exploring during our Kula Collective bi-annual Strategic Planning Retreat.

"How can the Kula Collective create abundance over the next 12 months?”

Julia repeats the question once more.  Her playful gaze brings me back to the present and spurs me into spewing another long sequence of possible solutions.  I'm bouncing on a trampoline, spouting ideas as quickly as I can while fellow Kula founder Jiya Julia acts as my scribe, writing down EVERYTHING I say without judgement.  Scattered around us on the lawn and in the adjacent hot tub are three more pairs, all laughing while generating a huge list of answers that range from breeding lion puppies, to producing viral videos of our Kula Karma programs as we playfully accumulate possibilities.

We are all gathered in California for a few days to find solutions.  It's been almost 10 months since we gave birth to the Kula Collective during a similar marathon session on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.  While we've accomplished amazing things together across huge distances, there remains much work to be done to deepen our relationships, harmonize our efforts, and prepare for our first offering.  

Coby, our timekeeper for the morning signals that our five minutes are up.  I bounce down from the trampoline and pick up a pen and my journal.  Now it’s my turn to scribe while Julia uses Lunar Thinking to create her own long list of answers to our central question. The term “Lunar Thinking” is something I developed in my work with Caracol Consulting to describe the distinct neuronal process that leads to random association, “brainstorming", and playful idea generation. Basically, it gives freedom to all your ideas to come and go without the customary border control.

We reached consensus around this question on day one of Kula Collective's creative visioning and strategic planning retreat. Our first step was to evaluate how things have been going, sharing our observations before getting into our feelings.  The idea is to understand all perspectives before issuing judgement, but this can be difficult, even for a group of yoginis for whom compassionate communication is a central aspect of daily practice.  As we shared our observations we kept in mind the zen parable of the farmer and his lost horse.  By delaying judgement we were able to understand the challenges we are facing in a more strategic manner.  This led to prioritizing one challenge to resolve during our time together: the lack of clarity in our central fractal, and imagining a future where this is resolved: Our central fractal is so crystal clear that it grounds the WE with trust and efficiency and aligns the flow of energy to radiate out, fully realizing our mission and vision.

zach towne smith blog post

Julia collapses to the trampoline after a few minutes of Lunar Thinking’s fluid neuronal processes.  As we sift through our long lists, picking out the possible solutions that stand out to us, we change mental gears to the more customary Solar Thinking. Solar Thinking is the opposite of Lunar Thinking; it requires judgement, comparison, and critical analysis. From our long list of Lunar ideas, the next step is to combine and choose, narrowing down toward our solution. Eventually we will join with another pair to do the same, and finally with the whole group we will use our success criteria to settle upon the solutions that will bring us to the crystal clear fractal we are dreaming of.  

Once again I think back to Saul Williams, questioning the immigration policy of our minds.  My work with individuals and groups helps them get creative ideas past the border patrol.  

You can try it yourself at home.  First clarify what your question is, and then give as many possible answers as you can.  While you do, give your immigration checkpoint a break, either by occupying your brain with motor coordination while walking or jumping on a trampoline, or relaxing while soaking in a hot tub.  While you do make sure you’ve got a reliable way to record your ideas, whether it be a scribe, or your cell phone this will free you to dream and reach and play and consider.  

Lunar thinking births new possibilities, while Solar thinking manifests them.  One can’t exist without the other.  How can you get beyond your beliefs and postpone judgement?  I assure you that just by attempting, you’ll communicate better, learn new things, and manifest more creative solutions in your life!

So get bouncing =)

zach bio blog post

Zachary Towne-Smith (RYT 200hr) is a passionate connector.  His innate creativity, flexible perspective, and quick smile make him a natural leader, inspiring participation and thoughtful consensus in the wide array of groups he works with.  He has dedicated his life to the study and development of intercultural relations and the facilitation of innovative solutions for sustainable well-being.  

His Cum Laude B.A. from Harvard College led him to explore issues of privilege and work for justice from his hometown of Philadelphia to the Guatemala City garbage dump.  This work has taken him throughout the Americas engaging diverse stakeholders in strategic planning through the development of creative and critical thinking in fields such as education, public health, business, creative industries, and entrepreneurship.