The Right Brain/Left Brain Myth Busted
Research conducted at the university of Utah has recently debunked the popular psychology notion that promotes the idea of a divided brain (lateralized brain), with a creative right half and the analytical left. The researchers found the functional division to be local and not a global phenomenon. Both halves of the brain contribute to most analytical and artistic endeavors.
"The principal activities of brains are making changes in themselves."
- Marvin L. Minsky (In Society of the Mind, 1986)
- Marvin L. Minsky (In Society of the Mind, 1986)
The human brain is inherently plastic by nature. This ability to mold and modify itself, according to change in behavior and environment, is termed as neuroplasticity. The brain rewires through newer synaptic connections of neurons, over time, as an individual subjects himself to richer and diversified experiences, challenging the brain to overcome its capacities.
The mind, projected by the brain, is a pattern storage and retrieval system of sorts. Every new skill is a connection pattern among neurons.
To master a skill, the new patterns need to be internalized and strengthened through practice. When the brain confronts a situation, where it has to break out of learned patterns and reinvent itself, it gets stimulated to grow beyond known bounds, creating fresh new connections in the process. This is what creative exercises can do for you. Here are some exercise suggestions that may help you get out of the rut and stimulate brain growth through creative challenges.
Painting and Sketching
Even if you have never handled a brush or sketched ever, you should try out painting or sketching. Set yourself up with colors, brushes, and a canvas or drawing pad. Sketch anything you want or let your mind wander with a paint brush. You can draw or sketch from memory or keep an object in front. Doodling and sketching cartoons works as well.
Try landscapes or portraits if you want. If you are totally new to painting, just enjoy splashing colors and drawing patterns. Not only will it be a lot of fun, but you will also get an idea about how well you observe. In fact, painting and sketching regularly will substantially enhance your observation skills to register the nuances of color and shade, the design of things, and the beautiful play of light that enriches this world.
Learning to Play Music and Singing
Learning to play any musical instrument or singing is one the best exercises. Research has revealed that singing boosts your brain's activity levels, making it rise above depression and anxiety. Group singing especially creates a feeling of harmony within, decreasing the levels of hormones, that are responsible for causing stress.
Peak musical experiences can stimulate the brain to release dopamine, leading to a feeling of euphoria. Learning a new musical instrument requires the development of coordinated muscle movements, and syncing it with an internal rhythm. It requires the metamorphosis of an acquired mechanical skill of rhythmic movement, into an instinct for music. It is amazingly taxing and rewarding for the brain, at the same time.
The idea of this exercise is creating your own imaginary storyline and writing it. You start with a random situation and build a story out of it. It's a lot of fun. You will surprise yourself with what you can conjure. What sets Homo Sapiens, our species, apart, is the ability to imagine and visualize scenarios. Penning fiction is all about delving into an imaginary world, replete with possibilities.
Developing your powers of articulation through an increase in vocabulary and composing intricate pieces of prose, that beautifully render your imaginary world in the reader's eye, is a beautiful skill to develop, that will leave you enriched beyond measure.
Map Reading Games
This is a game that you can play, which needs a lot of visualization. You study the map of a country for a few minutes and then try to visualize and locate a place that you are asked to look for, on a non-labeled plain map. Not only will this improve your geography knowledge, but it will also promote visualization. It can also help develop your sense of direction. The skill of understanding maps and following them correctly, goes a long way in finding your way around in unknown territories.
Hiking and Camping
Camping and hiking is recommended in the great outdoors, as it will provide you with a host of new sensory, auditory, and visual experiences that will help stimulate some new synaptic connections Facing your primal fears through adventure sports also releases you from mind blocks, unleashing new creative energy.
A Visit to an Art Gallery
Visiting an art galley can be a good exercise. Try to understand the feeling conveyed by master painters. Let your mind feast on the colors and patterns that it sees. Art appreciation can be a great exercise, as you have to go beyond conventional thinking to appreciate what a painter has tried to say. Recent research has revealed that the experience of appreciating a painting leads to an increased blood flow into the pleasure centers of the brain.
With no written storyline, you have to rely on your imagination and improvisation skills to come up with a story and act. It can be an enjoyable and interesting activity. It lets you explore a wide gamut of emotions that your normal predictable life may not let you experience.
There is no greater incentive to a creative mind, than creating stuff and making things that become an extension of your personality. To plan, strategize, and execute a project on your own, is an unparalleled exercise, that will bring out your multitasking skills to the fore and channelize your brain's pent-up creative energy. It can be any project that you have always dreamed of accomplishing, from building your tree house to writing your first mobile app.
Learn a New Language
Mastering a new language demands getting a hang of new phonetics, connotation sets, and ways of expression. It absorbs your mind, unlike any other activity and lets you access the treasure trove of a whole new culture. It will open you up to new experiences and interactions, that will lead to the creation of fresh synaptic offshoots in the brain.
Sports activities like baseball, basketball, table tennis, lawn tennis, and badminton or any other game can be a great right and left brain stimulant. Coming up with a strategy and executing it while playing a game takes a lot of visualization. You have to see yourself doing it in the mind and then you can execute it.
Mental acuity and physical dexterity are part and parcel of playing sports, that help challenge the brain's ability to keep you going in real time. That is why, sports activities are a great way of exercising your brain and muscles.
Do What You Love
Do what you love and give it all you've got. This is the surest way of developing your creative powers and stimulating the brain to grow beyond its self-imposed limitations. Be a part of any activity that interests you and gives meaning to your life. Almost any activity that you do with complete absorption and focus, will develop your mind.
New experiences forge new pathways in the brain, expanding the dimensions of your personality. These exercises will help you get out of a rut, which your mind can get into. They work well to overcome mind blocks and dead ends in thinking. The trick is to take your mind out of known domains, into unknown territory, where it's forced to come up with a creative solution. A solution to a problem, that may have eluded you before, might just click when you have relaxed through these exercises. Try out this strategy. See for yourself, what a creative interlude can do for you. The key idea is to venture out of your comfort zone.