I would describe myself as an interested layperson - in the broad
areas you are interested in. I hope the folowing is helpful.
Firstly you seem to want to know where iseas developed originally. I
may not be of much help here - but my experience is that even ideas
put forward by modern social or cognitive society have parallels in
spiritual practices/ancient philosophy(mainstream rather than new age.
For example, for making decisions, you will probably have heard of
looking at the pros and cons of each possible choice. This is
standard cognitive stuff - but can be traced back at least to St
Ignatius of Loyola - wrote/inspired 'The spiritual exercises of St
Ignatius of Loyola'. He advised several exercises (practicable
without believing)for making decisions or discerning - as well as
techniques to stay sane! Part of this was cognitive thinking and part
visulisation/use of imagination.
So, he advised to consider the pros and cons of each chooice. then he
advised to imagine one had chosen one of them and live as though that
choice had been made for 3 days- and be aware of how one felt. then
one imagined choice 2 had been decided on and did the same again.
this he claimed would help one deeply discern which was truely the
best choice inline with one's deepest values.
Of course St Ignatius was probably adapting techniques learned/adapted
from other sources. For example, another exercise was the examen of
conscience. He advised that this one exercise would maintain his
monks mental and spiritual well-being amidst all troubles. Basically,
last thing at night, one reviews the day (a bit like watching a video
of it)- first noticing what was good and being grateful. Then one
reviews what was not so good, objectively and without judgement of
oneself or others (try imagining looking from a distance to keep
perspective - if necessary. One accepts what has happened and hands
the problems that are ongoing to (in his value-system) God - basically
one does not get upset by the problems but you open yourself to
Now that exercise has a parallel in one Tibetan Buddhist practice, I
have come across, of basically reviewing the day - with the idea of
learning to view things with cool emotions,preparing for the final
sleep of death, I think.
In terms of increasing creativity, happier disposition, the scientific
research on meditation is something you are probably aware of. One
book is by Benson 'The relaxation response'. He was a Harvard
cardiologist fellow and reserched the effects of meditation on blood
pressure, heart rate.
Some meditation practices could be viewed by westerners as
self-hypnosis (basically deep relaxation to be open to positive
suggestion. There are plenty of introductory books around - and it
has been used for pain relief, to increase performance in many areas
including memory. I use it a bit myself - and the worst case scenario
has been that I had a ncie, refreshing nap.
Something similar is NLP (neuro-luinguistic-programming) - plenty of
books around - including by the 'creators'- Richard Bandler and John
Gring=nder in the 60s. Used by sports professionals, slaes people,
etc. Orinally devloped from the actual behaviour of effective
therapists/clinicians. Basic focus is what works. Having a
background in Christian and Buddhist practices, I can see the
parallels. NLP has interesting (easily self-testable) insight into
the connection between imagination and thinking and emotions. A very
effective 'toolbox' of methods for interrupting negative thinking,
thinking more creatively - mixture of what I would call cognitve
analysis, visualisation, physiological (e.g., posture), etc.
As for memory - any improve your memory book will probably contain the
techniques of the Ancient Greeks. I have a book and I could recall
the states of the USA after an evening. Again, a bit of thinking and
using your imagination to make thinks memorable -
Hope this has been interesting