What are some methods of training one's mind to absorb and understand rigorous mathematical texts? I have been facing great difficulty as of late in studying fields like abstract algebra, complex analysis and calculus of variations. These are all fields where I am unable to formulate graphical representations of concepts to better understand and retain the information in textbooks. I have been tackling exercises with success, but the problem seems to be more fundamental - it's almost as if there is a "trick" to gleaning connections, that I am unaware of. My difficulty has arisen quite recently. I have had numerous moments of clarity in the past when my mind has been in a Zen-like state, able to understand the most convoluted collections of glyphs. Am I ignoring the subconcious aspect of reading and focusing too much on the symbolic processing? What are some techniques you use to "get into the zone" where ideas flow into your brain with ease (and stay there for more than a few hours!)?