Most Mind Maps are Brain Maps

When I was introduced to Mind Mapping about ten years ago, I discovered a tool that increased my creativity and productivity by leaps and bounds.

Like many people, I just started using what I thought was mind mapping software without even looking at the manual. A course I attended with Andrew Wilcox on Mind Jet’s Mind Manager opened my eyes incredibly.

Mind Mapping had so many applications. Not only could it be used to sort your To Do lists but there are a plethora of business applications like taking meeting minutes, project planning, Six Sigma and even writing a whole book or building a web site.

While this course opened my eyes it was only when I trained with Tony Buzan and became an iMindmap Licensed Instructor that my mind was opened. I learned about the power of freely associative Mind Mapping and how to really use them in the creative process. I discovered how they get the left and right brain working on the same task in harmony – I learned the power of Whole Brain Thinking.

I also learned the power of a good map using just pencil and paper and how to use them to great effect in my creative writing courses and one to one mentoring with authors.

I started then to research the psychology of Mind Mapping and how they trigger our neurology and get stored in it. Along the way though working with my clients removing creative blocks, I discovered something remarkable.

As amazing as Mind Maps are, nearly all the software tools and training programmes out there seem to promote the mapping of the brain only. That is, they help map the conscious mind processes in the outer cortex of our two brain hemispheres.

They take no account of the other active mind centres in our body like the gut and heart minds, now recognised by some more open minded neuroscientists as active centres of consciousness. No account either was made for the collective mind ’outside’ our bodies.

“Most so-called Mind Maps are merely ‘Brain Maps’!! They miss huge amounts of data from the whole gamut of our sensory inputs.”

Living Timefully

Start Living Timefully to find more resources and templates for Whole Mind Mapping and loads of other mind transforming tools

A Very British Blog Tour

Great British Blog TourI am so honoured that author and poet Christine Miller invited me, together with a hand picked group of British authors, to take part in this great initiative.

It’s ‘A Very British Blog Tour’ which visits and supports the websites of some authors who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today.

Each author named at the bottom of the page has asked been asked the same questions, but the answers will obviously all be different. You simply click on the author’s name below to see how they have answered the same question.

By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it. For example…


Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?

Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten is – stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.

So, without further ado, here are the questions and answers from:


Writer's friendsQ. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

A. I was born in Moss Side in Manchester when it resembled the opening titles of Coronation Street. I now live in the Surrey Hills with my life partner and two dogs who take me for a walk whenever they detect I am need of inspiration.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. Apart from loads of business travel during my early career in broadcasting, I’ve always been here.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. The south escarpments of the North Downs of Surrey looking towards the South Downs. This is handy as they are a mile or so from my house.

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. As most of my books are non-fiction, geography of anything but the mind doesn’t feature. My first ever book of poetry, 100 Years of Ermintrude, however did include these two stanzas:

“Brian I’ve decided has got to go
I’ll miss his flat & friends in Pimlico”

“I never thought I’d ever live in Tring
A mother of two, now there’s a thing”

p.s. I’ve never lived in either place myself, been a mother of two or had a boyfriend called Brian!

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. I see British people mostly as courageous innovators who are brilliant in both the arts and sciences but who also possess a keen sense of humour and healthy level of self-depreciation. In my opinion, any lack of flexibility in the upper lip is a stereotype which is best confined to history books and films about the various wars.

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. Ermintrude was (or is) indomitable.

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books?

This We KnowA. I wrote and published my latest book, This We Know, in less than three weeks. I didn’t plan to write it, it just happened. It is a meme exploring what we know, what we don’t know and what world we could know. I’m in discussions about making it into a documentary and would love to interview people about the world they would like to know.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I have started writing the third in a trilogy which takes esoteric and arcane knowledge and makes it exoteric and contempory. The first two books explored the meanings behind the Major and Minor Arcana of the Tarot. This book with the working title of Leaving Cubeland will explore and explain two glyphs, The Tree of Life and the Cube of Space.

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. As I love the ’work’ I do, I don’t switch between one mode and another. Neither do I ’spend my time’ as such – if anything I bend, shape and morph it into intriguing shapes. I just love riding at 66,000 miles an hour on Spaceship Earth.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. Definitely global and any passing aliens who tune in when they are flying past.

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A. Sure thing 🙂
This We Know
Planes of Being
Flavours of Thought
The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments
100 Years of Ermintrude

or another good place to look is my Amazon Author Page

To see how our other authors responded, click on an author’s name below.

Tamsen Garrie
Christine Miller
Clive Eaton

If you are a British author and would like to join in, please leave a comment below with your email address.

Maps in the Mind

When I trained as an iMindmap Instructor a few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of limiting each branch of the map to a single word. At first, I didn’t go along with this idea as I thought the application of any ‘rule’ might limit the creative flow. Once I learned, however, to see it as a discipline as opposed to a draconian rule, the benefits and reasoning behind it became crystal clear.

A year or so ago, I was stuck on chapter 9 of of my book on Light Bulb Moments. It wasn’t flowing so I used Tony Buzan’s technique of free association Mind Mapping on the words “light”, “bulb” and “moment”. Now had I mapped using the phrase “light bulb moment”, my mind might have been lead to “Edison” and then “phonograph” or “Topsy the Elephant” (Google it) or to “Eureka”, “Archimedes” and “bath water”.

Instead, as you can see on the map below, “Bulb” took me to “tulip” and to “Amsterdam”. The word “Moment” in isolation made me realise we have a moment in time and the moment of a lever around a fulcrum. As a result, I started a series of podcasts called “Moments of Light” in which people talk about how they had a light bulb moment and did something with it.

The word “light” as you might imagine provided a deep and wide source of metaphor and association. Light of course can be split into a spectrum of component colours. It made me realise that quantum physicists ascribe many attributes like spin, colour and flavour to exotic particles like quarks. Then a light bulb moment came in.

Is it possible that thought itself has properties like colour or flavours?

At that point, the writer’s block vapourised and the result was a chapter called “Flavours of Thought” which I didn’t plan to write. This led to writing a whole book of the same name a month later that I didn’t plan to write either.

As chefs use a mix of flavours in their concoctions, I also combined the flavours of thought into various recipes too. As a result, about a year later a membership site appeared on the scene called “Recipes for Fresh Thinking” that I didn’t plan to build. I started training “Master Chefs of the Mind” to solve many common mind-based issues prevalent in every day life.

I then came across some esoteric material on something called the Cube of Space. I found I could map my Flavours on to the Cube. As a result, I found I had from nowhere created an amazing tool for personal evolution and advancement. This in turn lead to a new practitioner programme called the Cube of Karma that I had no plan in developing. I see it now as a gastronomic recipe of all the flavours of thought.

None of this was planned, none of it was foreseen. This all shows the power of a true Mind Map.

Related Links:

The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments

Flavours of Thought

The Door to Creativity

As I have said many times to numerous audiences, writing and publishing a book will open doors for you.

The ink is not even dry on my new book, the Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments, and a big one just opened for me.

I’ve just been honoured by becoming a series author on this marvelous site The Creativity Portal

I came across it a few months ago and added it to my wish list of places I’d like to be able to post. Imagine my surprise when Creative Director, Chris Dunmire, replied to my email saying she’d love to have me on board.

The site is full of the most amazing free advice on all aspects of creativity – from tips on relatively conventional themes of writing, music and art through to the more eclectic disciplines of origami, mandela making, macrame knotting and even exploring Bonsai & Suiseki trees.

I am doubly honoured to be writing on the same portal as luminaries I’ve admired from for many years like Eric Maisel, Tony Buzan, Edward Glassman and SARK – check out the list of all the authors here …

I’ll be writing a series of articles on what stops, encourages and generates light bulb moments on demand.

Be sure to sign up to the newsletter Discover your Muse newsletter to get notified of new content as it appears

And you can read the first one here …

Light Bulb Moments on Tap



Mapping your Mind

Mind Maps are useful and elegantly simple devices.

In essence, Mind Maps are simple drawings or sketches of associations you hold between things in your mind. They normally start with a central topic, either in words or even better if expressed as an image. You then draw branches off from that image of the concepts that spawn from the central image.

So if you Mind Mapped something relatively trivial like a shopping list you might have a central image of a shopping trolley and branches such as fruit & veg, household, frozen food, beer & wine, dairy and desserts. You can see what my typical shopping list is like. To make it even more memorable, you can use images of products on each branch.

What makes such a trivial Mind Map so powerful is that with a little training, you can forget to take the shopping list along, yet easily memorise all of its contents. I always Mind Map any talk I give on a single sheet of paper and am then able to reproduce all the points I want to get across without any notes or slides.

How do Mind Maps work

You can just imagine the internal dialog between the hemispheres when you are Mind Mapping.

The left brain says to the right brain, “Aha, a map! I do the map reading around here, leave this to me.”

The right brain, seeing that the left brain is busying itself in the detail says, “Great, now I can be truly creative.”

The same type of ‘dialog’ occurs when we are painting or writing or when we’re typing on a computer or using a mouse or tablet.
So most of our days are spent flipping from one hemisphere to another. It used to be thought that the structure called the corpus callosum mainly passed information between both sides of the brain. Current wisdom is that it actually suppresses one side while the other carries out a task. The map gets both sides of the brain in on the action.

Their real power is unleashed when you map associatively, i.e. using one word per branch, as this takes you off in unexpected directions and mimics our neurons’ interconnective structure.

“It is my firm belief that every brain is, by nature, a Mind Mapper! The fact that a baby learns a language is evidence confirming that it must learn by multi-sensual images and their radiating associations. I also believe that everyone contains the full set of multiple intelligences.” – Tony Buzan

Although there are many good software-based Mind Mapping tools on the market, some of the best Mind Maps are done with just coloured pens, pencils and paper. The reason for this is that some people can end up in a left brained mode simply by engaging with a computer keyboard, screen and mouse. When we have a pen or pencil in our hands not only do we use different neural pathways in our brains but the map manifests into physical, as opposed to virtual, reality. This leads to a better chance of your map leading to real world results. If however you do want use computer software, make sure you print your maps out and stick them on a notice board or wall.

“Be aware that many so-called Mind Maps are really just brain maps. Only when you engage in Whole Mind Not-thinking do you truly engage with the mind as opposed to just the brain.” – Me

When it comes to whole brain thinking, the impact of Mind Maps is explosive in the context of the creativity they seem to unleash. They are also really useful for aiding memory and brilliant for anyone studying and revising. If you do have children, my advice is to get them Mind Mapping as soon as possible.

Embedding Mind Maps in your Neurology

If you have a Mind Map you’ve already completed, you can use this visualisation to help you both remember it and to better notice serendipities linked to its contents

iPad or iPhone? Listen here…

If you would you like to learn more about these techniques, make sure you get a copy of Tom’s new book to find out where ideas really come from and how you can make sure yours actually happen …

The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments

Related blogs:

Getting in the Zone

Whole Brain Thinking

The Inspirational Breath

Cross Crawling

Food for Thought

Which side are you on?