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Transforming the Mind ~ by Peter Shepherd


Symbol Space

We have a subjective illusion that we are able to deal with a large number of variables simultaneously. In fact our capacity to simultaneously hold several items at once in our minds, is limited by our mental 'symbol space'. An ability to represent at least four symbols is required, in order to be able to perceive in two dimensions - as in plotting an item on a graph with two axes. A symbol space of eight is required for three dimensions - the corners of a cube. With four dimensions (such as adding the dimension of 'time' to a three-dimensional space) requires a symbol space of 16 - a level reached by only one person in ten thousand. In order to perceive a fifth dimension (such as the element of causative choice - the spiritual dimension exterior to space-time) would require a conceptual symbol-space of 25. So basically, with an average symbol space of just seven - seven numbers can be remembered in a sequence before the first number is lost - we are capable of thinking about just three dimensions, with some effort.

This principle, of simultaneous, spatial attention, is a right-brain facility. It is crucial to creativity, because using the symbol space, a network of ideas, facts and perceptions can be inter-related and compared, and in the process new relationships, or new ideas, are perceived in an intuitive way. By the expansion of symbol space, the acquisition of multi-dimensional 'knowledge-rich' networks from which insights may be derived is facilitated. Techniques such as drawing, story-telling and mnemonic visualization involve inter-action with the right-hemisphere. As the symbol space expands, the blockages to right-brain communication - in terms of repressed feelings - are exposed. The individual becomes progressively more in control and objective to his inner space and experience.

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