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The Brainstorming of the 21st Century

by Elmdea Bean

Accessing the Creative Subconscious Mind
The idea, the image keeps tantalizing you. You have been working on the project for months, looking for the breakthrough - and the more you attempt to really grab the sliver of an idea, an image, a thought, the further away it seems to go. You are thoroughly frustrated, yet you absolutely know the answer is there!

The information keeps eluding you because you are using your conscious mind. Even though we are most aware of the conscious mind, it is the weakest part of the mind. That one threw me for a loop, initially. After all, our entire educational system (formal and informal) is geared almost exclusively to the development of and dependence upon the processes of the conscious mind. The subconscious mind is the strongest part of our mind. It is least considered, and yet that is where our imagination, our creativity, and our emotions reside.

Albert Einstein said that thinking “plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act itself.” Scientists, artists and innovators throughout history have accessed the creative subconscious mind to bring forward master works: theories, processes, art, systems (social, business, religious, governmental), bringing changes in human experience and understanding. These include: the light bulb, the pyramids, the telephone, flight, the wheel, the Mona Lisa, democracy, chaos theory, universal truth, the personal computer, firearms, the printing press, the keystone of the arch . . .

OK . . . so what does all this have to do with business? Everything! The complexion and structure of the financial and business community is undergoing a sea change. Success is going to the innovative, and specifically, the innovative that considers the ecosystems that will be effected. These systems run from the microcosm of the individual employee to the macrocosm of the global system and, ultimately, the metacosm of the universe.

Brainstorming or Metastorming? That is the Question
We have been brainstorming in business for years. And we’ve been doing it with the conscious mind, sometimes dipping into the subconscious mind. Brainstorming is not just throwing around logical ideas. It stimulates the creative subconscious of each person. The “what if . . . .” questions are a prime example of how this is triggered. However, because brainstorming generally has not included a meditative, more disciplined approach, the full power of the creative subconscious is rarely fully accessed. Wonderful ideas and innovations have come about through brainstorming. Imagine the ideas and innovation that can be accessed through metastorming. Metastorming is a focused, meditative and disciplined practice of accessing the creative subconscious mind. Shamans and healers have been doing this for millennia, often through individual and group shamanic journeys and focused meditative practices. We all have the capability of accessing our creative subconscious mind through natural states of altered consciousness. Altered consciousness can be accessed through any of several disciplines, including guided imagery; meditation; centering prayer; hypnosis; physical meditative practices such as chi quong, yoga, t’ai chi, running; or any other practice that slows and quiets the conscious mind.

Metastorming allows a number of things to occur. First, it allows more of the individual to “show up” in the working environment. Again and again, studies have shown that true appreciation of who a person is and what they contribute is a primary reason employees stay . . . or leave. Second, it increases the collaborative intensity of teams. Third, it supports movement toward full-spectrum sustainability and then to environmental and global community restoration/renovation/healing. Fourth, it supports the design and implementation of improved internal work flow processes, responsible and innovative manufacturing processes, and the creation of products and services that support the individual, the community, the environment and the global community. All of this greatly expands the cycling flow of individual and company creativity and income.

Metastorming Cycles
Beta, the brain wave state of the conscious mind, has 57 discrete measurable brain wave lengths. It is also the state in which the least amount of healing, learning and creativity occur. Just too much going on, it would appear.

So the first step is to stop trying to grab the idea. Stop thinking about it, looking for it, worrying about it. These ideas are like the dream you try to remember the next morning. The harder you work at remembering, the less there is to remember. It’s just how it works - so don’t even try to “find the reason” with your thinking mind. The best way to do this is to think of something else. Distract the conscious mind.

The next step is to access the creative subconscious mind by entering a state of altered consciousness. Initially, you enter the Alpha brain wave state. It is very light, and you run the risk of daydreaming or fantasizing, which is the influence of the conscious mind on emerging subconscious creativity. There is no discipline, little or no purpose, and it is not contained.

The next brain wave state is Theta. This is where you learn things that seem “impossible” to know - and yet you just “know” it. Theta is followed by Delta, which is the brain wave state of the shaman, the healer, the mystic. It is a state of very deep altered consciousness. The Theta and Delta brain wave states can be consciously reached with some practice and discipline. It may not require 20 years of sitting in a remote mountain cave chanting mantras. Although the force and combined energy and experience of the Collective Unconscious (Carl Jung) allows us to reach these states more readily, practice and discipline are still required.

Another description of the process looks like this:

Thought >
Dreaming (or daydreaming) >
Pretending (especially if you are a child) >
Imagining (a tad more sophisticated than pretending) >
Visualizing (seeing is believing) >
Envisioning (seeing and feeling). Envisioning is the most powerful mind state and is synonymous with Theta.

And, for those who like charts and comparisons (myself included), here is how these two definitions of the same process inter-relate:

Beta Alpha Theta Delta
Thought Day Dreaming
Visualizing Envisioning

Metastorming can be learned, practiced, and implemented. It can be used anywhere, from a boardroom to a meeting room to a park. It can be practiced individually and as a group. The determining factors are the scope of the goal, project or idea and the willingness of people to just let go, explore and suspend judgement, as happens in brainstorming. It works, and it works well.

Elmdea Bean has been an independent consultant since 1997, providing creative seminar and council design, presentation and follow-up, driven by the individual needs of each client. She has provided corporate seminar design and presentation since 1994. Clients have included Rubbermaid, Educational Resources, Inc., The Electronics Industry Alliance, CTL Associates, PTO, Train Your Brain, and Sounds Wonderful Pty., Ltd.

She has worked in a wide variety of business environments, including human services, insurance, engineering, sales, education, meeting and event planning, and manufacturing. Her positions have included counselor, clerical temporary, sales, administrative support, and upper middle management reporting directly to the Vice President of Sales of a Fortune 500 company. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and is a Certified Hypnotherapist.

Elmdea can be reached at: 540.869.1652 or by e-mail at

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