By Nishant Arora
To take control of your life, buzan brothers propose radiant thinking, a brain-based mode of advanced thought, and its natural expression, the mind map
Have you ever wanted to improve your memory, creativity, concentration, communication ability and learning as well as thinking skills, general intelligence and quickness of mind? Did you ever realise that although you are knowledgeable enough about your subject but less and less able to pull all the details together in order to write about it?
Students can best understand this problem when they face difficulty in assembling their thoughts after going through verbose class notes. And when the exams knock at the door, they end up sifting through guide books.
Most of us, in our daily lives, face the same problem—of taking a decision or finding a solution.
Having identified this, two British scholars penned The Mind Map Book, a ground-breaking, colourful note-making technique which propounded the idea of Radiant Thinking and its best natural expression: mind mapping. It is now estimated that there are over 250 million mind mappers worldwide who have benefited after applying this unique technique, claims the book.
The colourful mind maps where you see more of the picture, in colours leave indelible mark on the network of tunnels (suggested by the guru of lateral thinking Edward de Bono) in your brain. And the results are incredible.
Tony Buzan, world’s leading author and lecturer on the brain, learning and thinking skills and also the originator of mind maps, and his brother Barry Buzan, a professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, realised the need to help 95 per cent people on this earth who face problems in areas such as thinking, memory, concentration, motivation, organisation of ideas, decision-making and planning. The result was mind maps, also termed as “the Swiss army knife for the brain”, which were introduced to the world in 1974, with the publication of the book-Use Your Head.
Divided into sequential levels for a beginner to an advanced student, The Mind Map Book makes it easy to remember things and think brilliant ideas. It teaches you, step by step, how to systematically take control of your life.
One chapter describes how the great brains used more of their natural ability and how they were intuitively beginning to use the principles of radiant thinking and mind mapping. People from all walks of life, for example, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Beethoven, James Joyce, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Twain— all used mind mapping to express themselves in ways that reflect the full range of their mental skills.
The standard linear note-taking style of students at all levels in school, college and university only allows part of the complete picture to you as there is no free radiation of ideas. These notes lack the visual rhythm and pattern, colour, image, visualisation, association, dimension, spatial awareness etc. Hence nothing new emerges. This technique utilises only a fraction of the brain’s enormous learning potential.
Here originates the concept of radiant thinking that brings the gigantic data resting in your brain cells to its logical conclusion, where you start learning in a better, faster way.
Radiant thinking refers to associative thought processes that proceed from or connect to a central point, leading to a coloured graphic image called mind map. It provides a universal key to unlocking the potential of the brain. The mind map harnesses the full range of cortical skills—word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness—in a single, uniquely powerful technique.
How does a mind mapper start the process? In the beginning, the mind mapper creates a central theme from which its associations radiate in the form of branches and sub-branches and so on. Every key word or image thus added itself brings the possibility of a new and greater range of associations. More and more related and unrelated ideas occur during the process, forming patterns of association.
In order to create a mind map, you first identify your Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) that are key concepts within which a host of other concepts can be organised. For example, the term ‘machines’ contains a vast array of categories, one of which is ‘motor vehicles’. This, in turn, generates a large range, one of which is ‘cars’. This brings in the type of car such as Maruti that can again be subdivided into various models. So machines would be the BOI not Maruti as ‘machines’ structures a huge range of information.
If mind mappers give more emphasis to colour, pictures, codes, dimensions, diagrams, numbers etc. their mind maps become more interesting and entertaining which, in turn, aid creativity, memory and specifically the recall of information.
The full power of the mind map is realised by having a central image instead of a central word, and by using images wherever appropriate rather than words. Why images?
Well, the Buzans have a convincing answer. Quoting the article ‘Learning 10,000 pictures’, written by Lionel Standing in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, where he commented that ‘the capacity of recognition memory for pictures is almost limitless!’, the Buzans add that pictures are more evocative than words, more precise and potent in triggering a wide range of associations, thereby enhancing creative thinking and memory.
The three ‘As’ of mind mapping are:
Accept means one should set aside any preconceptions one may have about one’s mental limitations and follow the mental mapping laws and recommendations (see box) correctly; Apply is the second stage where the book suggests to make at least 100 mind maps, developing your own mind mapping style. Adapt refers to the ongoing development of the mind mapping skills.
Thus, after following the mind mapping laws, one can reach a stage where things become immensely clear. With the help of a well-crafted mind map, you can organise yours as well as other peoples’ ideas; enhance memory; think creatively; create a group mind by bringing individuals together; analyse yourself; solve personal problems; maintain a mind map diary; presentations; management; teaching; story-telling, etc. The choice is enormous.
One interesting chapter in the book is the compilation of 17 notes of great thinkers from all walks of life in the form of a quiz. They clearly show that it is natural for an advanced intelligence to use a greater than average range of cortical skills.
The Mind Map Book, by Tony Buzan and Barry Buzan
BBC Books, Rs 488 (Indian price)
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Summary of mind map laws Use emphasis • Always use a central image. • Use images throughout your Mind Map. • Use more colours per central image. • Use dimension in images and around words. • Use synaesthesia (the blending of the physical senses). • Use variations of size of printing, line and image. • Use organised spacing. • Use appropriate spacing. Use association • Use arrows when you make connections within and across the branch pattern. • Use colours. • Use codes. Be clear • Use only one key per line. • Use capital letters for all words. • Use capitals for Key words on lines. • Make the line length equal to word length.