Imagine troubleshooting and coaching a client to get solid sleep when she has a specific disorder. The relationships within physiology are so complex that the sharpest sleep disorder medical professionals typically throw up their hands even after data gathering in a sleep study. They might put a patient on a CPAP and/or a sleep aid drug. But imagine your client wants to re-instruct her body on how to sleep solidly naturally. No drugs. No machines. Try the usual suspects: black out curtains, white noise, breathing techniques and meditation, melatonin, 5-HTP, theanine, licorice root, tea, elimination of night time alcohol, mineral balance and hydration issues, reduction of stress, elimination of inflammatory foods, balance of estrogen dominance, etc. Would you have stricken the ratios just right or figured out that pre-bedtime consumption of modified slow-absorption carbohydrates would be the linchpin? I wouldn't have either, until about a year ago. But I've been getting smarter.
Understanding extremely complex relationships and problem solving within them is the product of many things. There is a baseline of knowledge needed, an inquisitive nature, but also a handle on how to fit various abstractions in their "proper place." Believe it or not, spatial intelligence plays a major role.
Now I wouldn't say I was a spatial relationship idiot who has become a savant. I built things when I was a kid; and I've always been able to perform the abstract version of spatial intelligence: logic, reasoning, argumentation. But the quintessential measure of concrete spatial intelligence
(http://www.iqtestexperts.com/iq-rubik.php) always eluded me.
I could never crack the Rubik's cube. I just couldn't quite get a handle on how to move what out of the way in order to achieve symmetry and completeness in a finished design. I'd get a side or two, maybe three or more. And I wouldn't want to mess it up to get to the next place. And I wouldn't understand how to temporarily "mess it up" to un "mess it up."
I tried the cube a few times as a child and once as a teenager. After quitting, I presumed I was born without that particular capacity, which suited me just fine, since I was an artist and musician.
However, in my heated endeavor to expand my brain over the past 7 months, I decided I needed to take on mental skills which I just never seemed to have. Well, solving the Rubik's cube was one of them.
So, I bought a standard Rubik's brand 3x3x3 cube and committed myself to getting a handle on the darn thing without ever removing and replacing a single sticker.
Yes, I did consult tutorials, which, by the way, do not do a bit of good for someone who hasn't played with a Rubik's cube in 18 years. The tutorials made no sense. Even watching videos in slow motion didn't help... at first. You've got to figure, most of these things are made by people for whom the skill is intuitive. So their teaching method sucks; and their ability to make this foreign language into something native is more or less worthless.
But then... something happened. As I studied this impossible matrix of colors, the relationships eventually became transparent. Moving a piece several times through an x axis, y axis and z axis in order to reach a new pattern of organization just became fluid.
So how long does it take to acquire the skill? I'd say prepare yourself for 20-60 minutes a day for a week or two. But then, it's a cinch. And you will notice that your mental faculty for abstract spatial relationship does improve. I can reason better than I did before getting into cubing; and I can certainly look at physical configurations and much more rapidly get a handle on their relationship.
Hold yourself to realistic standards, recognizing that the world record holders for cubing have spent over 10,000 hours on this; and a cube solve for them has converted to pattern recognition followed by involuntary finger dexterity. It pretty much isn't even an exercise in spatial relationship intelligence anymore for them.
Once you "get it," initially you'll find that your solve times vary, until you learn how to attack different "problems." When I finally thought I had a good hold on things, it might take me 10 minutes once and 15 the next. Once I finally was consistently getting 90 second solves, I moved onto the Rubik's revenge, which is a 4x4x4 cube. Unlike every doofus on the internet says, it is not "pretty much" like the 3x3x3. You have to learn a whole new set of skills. Some transfer over. When I consistently was getting sub 5 minute solves on that, I moved onto the Professor's Cube, which is 5x5x5. It also has a few parities which muss things up a bit. I could solve it consistently around 15 minutes, and have now moved on to the 7x7x7 and up and the Gigaminx, which is not a cube at all but a 12 sided dodecahedron with layers of odd shaped pieces.
Again, I want to impress upon the reader that I had never solved a simple cube before the age of 31. Now I work on the big ones. We are able to build new neural pathways and change ourselves dramatically.
Want to find out how else you can expand your mind and self? Stay tuned for Get Smarter, part 3 and on.