Layers of the Mind


Recently I was reviewing some notes to self and musings that I had documented while in Victoria and filed away when I returned to the Peace Country in 2008.  I went looking for my notes because we were discussing the difference between life on the BC Coast and in the Peace Country at a Fairview workshop last month.  My conversant was bemusing the fact that on the coast groups (read – his clients) often got bogged down and could never make a decision to go forward.  My rejoinder was quick ‘we don’t have that problem here, in fact we have the opposite, we tend to go forward with the first good solution that comes to mind’.  So… I thought revisiting the concept – what I called then and still call ‘Layers of the Mind’ is timely as the region continues to outpace the rest of Canada in its economic developments.

Reprising a concept from 2007

I have come to think of the mind as having layers.  This thinking came from some of the reading I have done about meditation and more specifically out of the work that I was doing helping inventors get their ideas developed and into the marketplace (when I was leading The Innovation Network).  One of the workshops that we developed for this purpose focused on marketing.  One of the key points of marketing new ideas is that research has shown that it takes about 1000 ideas for every one product that is successful in the marketplace.

That also got me thinking about how busy the modern North American culture has become and the push for ever more productivity and output.  It has become so much a 24/7 world that most Americans are foregoing their vacations thus virtually eliminating downtime altogether.  We all know (or maybe you have been) one of these people that are so busy that they hardly have time to talk with you and when they do they are totally distracted.  I wondered how many ideas that person could contribute if they were sitting in a meeting with their Blackberry or iPad, thinking about the fifty other things that they were supposed to be doing.


flock-wallpaper-960x540So, this is what emerged.

For the person that is totally distracted, you may be lucky to have them contribute one meaningful idea.  For busy people who were accepting of contributing ideas within a short meeting you may obtain ten ideas.  For people who practiced quieting their mind and were able to focus one might expect that they could contribute upwards of one hundred ideas.  Then in the right setting over a period of time with people that were practiced and focused, we could tap into the deeper creative mind and possibly reach the one thousand ideas that it would take to bring forward the one idea that could be developed into the one that would be successful in the marketplace.

Further to that I was thinking about myriad (which literally means ten thousand); and so would the meditative or deep thinking mind be able to embrace ten-thousand ideas.  And the more one was able to enter into the depths of the mind, the more ideas or possibilities they would be able to embrace.  I refer to this deeper mind as the inner mind.  There may be further layers after the inner mind before one reaches the infinite mind but I think it is meaningless to extend it that far.


Number of ideas Descriptor of the mind
1 Preoccupied
10 Busy
100 Quiet/focused
1000 Creative (innovative)
10000 Myriad
100000 Inner


Back to 2014

Since that time, I have come to think that what I did not articulate well is the quantity – quality dynamic.  Here’s an example of using a quiet mind to gain quality solutions.

A small group of us that practiced this form of quieting our minds, seeking the root of problems, were exploring opportunities in an innovative manner. Actually we were utilizing Action Learning as modified by the MHA Institute and originally developed by Reg Revans.  One meeting that has stayed with me was the day we left the meeting room, went into the gardens at the University (Royal Roads) and sat in the gazebo.  After half an hour or so of working on Sally’s (name changed) opportunity we just reached a point where we sat in silence.  This was not unusual for us but that day the silence was went on longer than usual.  It was now approaching 10 minutes with no one intent on breaking it.  A few moments later, the silence was broken by Sally herself.  She stated quietly and assuredly, “I have an answer”.  And she did.  And she implemented it successfully.

I still think the Idea-Descriptor Table is an interesting musing.  I once thought it would be useful to discuss at length the number of ideas/state of mind concept, but I now recognize that that would have little practical value because no meaningful outcome is likely.

But what I do understand is that practicing and training your mind to be proficient at both focusing and exploring unlimited possibilities; and engaging in quantity of ideas as well as being open to quality, is an effective use of one’s time.

It worked for our small Victoria based group then.  It works for us now at GPRC–CRI (I think it is one of the reasons that we are as successful as we are).  It is also one of the techniques that we make available to our clients.

PS – To further illustrate my point about the busy-ness of our culture – I wanted to include a photo of people sitting quietly in a group but my search came up empty.  So I hope you enjoy the scenery pictures and this short quiet time video of the Chilliwack River.

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