It’s raining. A sudden veil of gray turned the lights off in my studio. As my eyes droop a bit I review some notes I took while reading a book on brain function. It was rich with information, describing in scientific detail the factors that influence brain organization and demonstrating how plastic the brain is throughout our lifetimes. This fact is heartening since my interest as an educator in mental agility is increased by personal identification with the topic as I age.
According to Ronald Kotulak, there are four factors that are critical to optimum mental agility - 1. Education - the secret to a healthier, longer life
2. Exercise - specifically exercise strenuous enough to improve heart function
3. Breathing - good lung function, efficient oxygen delivery
4. Self-satisfaction - feeling that what you do makes a difference.
How do we make a difference? Learn new skills, allow ourselves to think in new ways. Listen to others and notice how they operate in the world so we might learn from one another. Challenge ourselves to take on tasks that reside outside our comfort zone so that our brains are forced into activity.
Help ourselves and others avoid stress. Creative work is a stress reducer for most of us. Research demonstrates that stress can cause the brain to organize itself in counterproductive ways that can lead to violence, depression or learning disabilities. So we must take a step back. Seek support systems, nurture friendships, become mentors, acknowledge and act upon our interdependence and communal responsibility to create a healthy living and learning environment for all.
When it comes to the brain as well as the body, “Use it or Lose it” is a valid adage to live by.
Add comment March 30th, 2008