Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It is said that Yitang Zhang obtained his key insights by relaxing and putting the problem away. With this said, is meditation a task that mathematicians often do when they are stuck in a rut? Meditation has been linked with increased working memory and creative insight. I apologize if this is off topic, but I do not know where else to post this.

share|cite|improve this question

closed as off topic by vadim123, Amzoti, Zev Chonoles, Dan Rust, lhf Jun 9 '13 at 16:35

Questions on Mathematics Stack Exchange are expected to relate to math within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

"Il est difficile de faire la différence entre un mathématicien qui dort et un mathématicien qui travaille." A. Lichnerovicz :-) – Raymond Manzoni Jun 9 '13 at 15:56
translate in English "It is difficult to tell the difference between a mathematician who sleeps and a mathematician who works." – iostream007 Jun 9 '13 at 15:59
also for Faraday.He gives electromagnetic induction law after 12 years research when he fade up by experiment he just throw the magnet and accidentally he discovered his desired result – iostream007 Jun 9 '13 at 16:02
Thanks for the translation @iostream007. To the OP : Poincaré may interest you. He went to bed early because of this hypothesis (let his subconcious do the job) and wrote some books about this. – Raymond Manzoni Jun 9 '13 at 16:03

Even though this may not have any scientifical support, it's what I believe, each person can make a different meditation, not just that kind mentioned in your question, that is, each human being finds its own "clearing mind" moment, it can be sleeping, praying, talking, and going to a pub drinking with friends. The fact is, math requires a lot of intelectual work, it can be stressful and nothing better than take a time leave your work and do somerhing else. Riemman found out that leaving his table and go to the garden and talk to others helped him. Just find your method.

share|cite|improve this answer
When I read "garden", I thought that it would be: Riemman found out that leaving his table and go to the garden and talk to his plants. – Voyska Jun 12 '13 at 21:07
Do you think that he was trying to avoid the lies from the tablecloth? – Voyska Jun 12 '13 at 21:12

Actually it should not be mdeitation but any type of other positive brain activity that cancels the math problem to subconsciousness see>>>

share|cite|improve this answer

While I can only really speak from experience (and I don't know if you would consider a student in mathematics to be a "mathematician"), while I don't meditate at all, I find that either going to bed or just doing something other than maths can help a lot for either coming up with ideas for how to do things, or even for finding out where they've went wrong on something (there's been times where half a week will have passed and I've found that there was something wrong with a solution for a question we got asked on an example sheet). If you can find something for you which helps to "reset" your mind and it helps you to get a fresh perspective on problems, then go for it; I honestly think they would differ from person to person.

However, I can't say that doing these "mind clearing" activities are a guaranteed way of thinking of a solution to a problem - sometimes you can only solve a problem by hours of thought and experimentation, using several trees worth of paper in the process. If there were an easy way of coming to solutions in mathematics, it would be an easy subject, but (thankfully?) there isn't an easy way (or at least, if you find everything you do easy, you're not doing hard enough maths).

share|cite|improve this answer

If you suspect that you are wrong about your approach to a math problem. it is essential to step back and start over. Insofar as meditation helps to reset your emotional state then it is, at the very least, effective in that. although nothing, in my experience, beats sleeping for this.

share|cite|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.