Updated: Sep 10
Free association is a common technique used to access the innermost thoughts of your subconscious mind. These are the ones that you have trouble connecting with, expressing to yourself, or intelligently conveying to others.
Free association works well to let you express those thoughts and the feelings behind them. It is used for many applications, most particularly in therapy, but a less intense form of it has been used as a method of brainstorming creative ideas.
If you want to try free association, it is paramount that you do so in a quiet, safe space. Safe does not solely refer to physical safety here (though that is also important), but emotional safety. Do this exercise either alone or with people you trust to both support you and be non-judgmental.
There are two ways to do free association . . .
The first is topical. That is, you choose a topic--usually a single word--to base the session on.
The second is completely free and just makes use of the first thought to come into your mind when you start the session.
Whenever you are ready to do a free association session . . .
Go to the space you have selected
Make yourself comfortable.
You can do this alone or have another person there to assist you.
You are going to be speaking your thoughts . . .
if you are alone you will need to dictate your thoughts to a recorder or a text-to-speech device.
If you have someone else with you, they will need something on which to scribe your thoughts.
When you are ready . . .
Think about the topic you have chosen or wait to see what comes to your mind.
Begin speaking these thoughts aloud as they come up.
Do not analyze them.
Do not hold them back to see what they are.
Do not judge them.
Just speak them as they come to your mind.
It is extremely important that you do this properly and it could be a challenge for you the first few times. We tend to examine our thoughts before they leave our brains--especially via speech. We have filters in place to keep us from doing so, and you will have to let those filters down to use this method.
Unfiltered free association lets you tap into your unconscious mind directly. Keep speaking your thoughts until you run out of thoughts on the subject or cannot keep going. Later you can go back and see what you said. You will learn much about yourself and your beliefs with this method.