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Are You a
Critical Thinker?

Building Your Mind by Thinking and Meditating

It has already been mentioned that our culture is full of activity and conducive to a fast-paced life.  This works against the building of our brains, because good brain work needs the right conditions.  Time and quietness are fundamental to the right environment.  Have you ever tried to read, think, or study at loud party, or in the stands at a ball game?  It almost sounds silly, doesn’t it?  Building a sound mind includes finding time to simply sit and think.  Good thinking takes two very different paths, but both need silence and sufficient time.  Let’s use some battle imagery to illustrate these two types of thought.

First, let’s consider the bullet.  It travels in a very straight line to the target.  This image is great for linear or purposeful thinking.  This is often what happens when you have a question or an assignment.  You start at “A” (the question or assigned subject) and travel in as straight a line as possible to “B” (your answer) by moving from what you know to what you need to learn to get there.  This happens in our minds all the time at a small scale, but when faced with a really deep or difficult problem, we need time and solitude to get there.  Every time you sit and think at such a level, you are building your brain.

This is where the three acts of the mind are very useful: you must define your problem, then build some sentences of judgment, and finally arrive through the combining of those judgments at a final conclusion. If you find this type of thinking difficult, you may wish to begin thinking with others first, allowing someone who is adept at such linear thinking to help guide your thinking until you become stronger at it.  A study of traditional logic could help with this as well.

brainstorming

There is another type of thinking that can build a strong mind as well.  You might call this brainstorming.  The war picture here is one of a bomb.  Instead of moving from A to B, it simply drops any number of connected thoughts into your lap, or onto your paper, and you find your mind chasing these fragments in various directions.  Some capture this kind of thinking through mind mapping.  While this form of brainstorming or meditation is not as conducive to immediate results, it still builds your mental muscle.