Get Smarter! How to Boost Your Intelligence
It’s commonly known that our brain’s processing ability peaks by the age of 20 and then slowly declines. But more recent scientific research findings have suggested the possibility of raising our intelligence through particular brain-training activities.
Two types of intelligence
Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use knowledge, even as we age, that was previously acquired through education and experience.
Fluid intelligence, our innate ability to think or reason flexibly, quickly and abstractly does not rely on prior learning or knowledge. It allows us to intuit solutions at a deeper level of the mind’s functioning. Fluid intelligence is essential in adapting to new situations and learning new concepts. It declines with age along with memory and other factors that affect comprehension.
This article discusses a way to improve fluid intelligence at any age.
Intelligence is everywhere
We may always have harbored a desire to be smarter than we thought we were, or we may be concerned that we’re not as sharp now as we once were. It’s probably everyone’s desire to maintain a sharp, alert, intelligent mind, even as the years pass. Fortunately, there is a method that helps our mind access optimal intelligence. It’s easy to draw upon because this resource is near at hand—it’s the all-pervading intelligence of nature.
How do we know that intelligence is pervasive in nature? Just look around. We find that creativity and intelligence are omnipresent. There are observable laws of nature such as gravity and the forces of the atom that are indicative of pervasive intelligence.
We know that nature’s intelligence is everywhere and that we, as humans, are not separate from nature: Our bodies are an extraordinary example of nature’s intelligence: From conception through birth through all our life, we do not run our own bodies. We can observe, however, the intelligent, orderly, creative conduct of the heart and lungs that keep us alive. We don’t know intellectually how to conduct the processes involved in digesting a meal, but our digestive system functions brilliantly without our direction and interference, coordinating inherent natural structural and chemical activities. Our nervous system and brain display almost unimaginably intelligent functioning every second of every day throughout our lives.
None of this is dictated by our own individual minds—it’s all a display of nature’s intelligence within this fabulous computer we are lucky to call our body.
Similarly, our mind functions due to nature’s intelligence. For example, we don’t decide to have thoughts, yet they come continually and precede all our actions. The spontaneous lifelong appearance of thoughts in our minds indicates an infinite source of thought within, suffused with the intelligence that gives thoughts their meaning and direction.
If nature has blessed the foundation of the human mind with its gift of cosmic intelligence—the same intelligence that runs the universe from the microcosm to the macrocosm—then why aren’t we each genius-like in our thinking?
If you lower a bucket into an infinitely sized well, then you will be able to access water unendingly. But if the bucket has holes and cracks, your process and success will be flawed. This is an analogy for the flawed situation in our nervous systems and brain—it is due to physical flaws created by stress and deep fatigue that our minds can neither fully access nor manifest nature’s bounty inherent within us.
How it works
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique enables the mind to settle effortlessly within itself to the silent source of all our thoughts. The phenomenon of quiet levels of thought and of inner silence correlate with decreased activity in the mind. It is because our mind and body are intimately connected that, when the mind rests, correspondingly the body and nervous system have less to do and so can rest. We already know the benefit of opening the mind to its infinite resources. The benefit of the body settling to this deep state of rest is that deep physical relaxation allows stress and fatigue to melt away. While our mind is being enriched, our body is self-repairing!
The deeper we go…both in nature and in our mind
Intelligence is infused throughout the layers of everything that exists. We see these qualities from the most subtle layers of creation to the most obvious concrete layers, such as from the quantum level to the most surface expressed level.
Deeper layers of creation are more powerful and replete with these qualities than are surface-level layers—for example, atomic particles have more power than the cellular level of the same object. If you rip a paper, then you have two smaller pieces. But if you set fire to a paper, there is released energy in the forms of heat and light from the alteration of its molecular composition. And if you break an atom of the paper, the explosion of released energy will blast the entire environment. Manipulating the nucleus of an atom of the paper produces the most powerful reaction, which is why science seeks to control nuclear energy.
How does this apply to the mind and the goal of increasing our intelligence? Subtler levels of the thinking process—closer to the source of thought within the mind—have more power than the more superficial levels we are accustomed to experiencing. So when the mind settles within to the more refined states of functioning, it taps into the power of those deeper levels and then to the ultimate potential of energy, creativity, and intelligence located deep within consciousness. When we resume our activity after we meditate, we find our bucket is repaired and our thinking imbued with more intelligence.
Boosting intelligence from the perspective of scientific research
During a span of fifty years of scientific study, there have been more than 110 research findings relevant to the increase of mental potential through the TM technique. These findings range from increase in attention and alertness to improvement of brain function to higher academic achievement.
- Research on college students that was published as far back as 1981 in College Student Journal found that the TM practice improved academic performance, moral maturing, orientation toward positive values, intelligence, self-confidence, psychological health, and social maturity.
- In 2000, the Journal of Indian Psychology published research showing TM improves cognition and attention.
- A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality found that TM improved fluid reasoning, verbal intelligence and cognition in elderly adults.
To act smarter, we can acquire new information by doing things like reading more, associating with intelligent people, exposing our mind to new things, and expanding academic pursuits.
To become smarter, we have the Transcendental Meditation process.
About the Author
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals, a division of TM for Women in the USA