lifestyle

Neuroplasticity and art

Neuroplasticity is a newer idea emerging into pop culture. At its simplest level, it means that our brains are actually much more mailable than we ever thought possible, allowing us to stretch to the limits to learn new things and accommodate for deficits. This topic has been written about extensively, even for lay people not well versed in neuroscience. How can this apply to art and how can this apply to you? In many ways, this paradigm shift in thinking puts us front in center of having a lot of control over our lives. In the past, we could blame our genes and other factors for limitations. As new studies emerge, it is clear that we really can tap into parts of ourselves to expand our creativity and learn new things. It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For today’s art project, we will just spend some time wrapping our head around this idea if it is a new one for you. The following link is of a TED talk on this topic if you want a more in-depth understanding of this fascinating topic: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/michael_merzenich_on_the_elastic_brain.html

For an art project to accompany this idea, please find some paper, and write down some things you didn’t think you could do ( things within reason, please avoid things like getting super hero powers etc) such as learning a new language, to speak in a public venue, master a new hobby or skill, write a book etc…Write down your fear or the first thing that comes to mind which might prevent you from following through with some of these plans. With this newfound knowledge of neuroplasticity, do these excuses for not trying something new still make sense? Can you pick one thing off of this list to try? Can you try this new thing for 30 days?

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Whimsical Actions

Did anything out of the ordinary happen in your day? It is very easy to get caught up in a pattern of living each day with an order and a rhythm. Can you take any creative risks  to bring something out of the ordinary into your day today? This art directive is a bit more subjective than previous requests, leaving the details in your hands. This creative risk might include: writing a note for a coworker, writing a poem, leaving a small gift for a neighbor or just doing something a little out of the ordinary for no apparent reason. People often claim they are not creative or artistic, but creativity stems from this type of activity. These departures from the order of our day require a bit of risk and momentum, but the positive feelings connected to them are usually well worth the effort. Please post your whimsical action so you can inspire others.

Yesterday’s directive: What is your connection to spring cleaning? Are you drowning in stuff? Do you have negative feelings associated with the “stuff” lying around your home. Hoarding, shopping and collecting sometimes can be a symptom to something much deeper relating to an underlying cause of stress, depression or trauma. For many people, simply cleaning up a home can be the solution to feeling better about oneself, but in some cases, seeing a mental health professional is a very important step one should take to address these problems. Here in the United States, this topic has become quite familiar with the rise in popularity of the TV show called “Hoarders” in which a crew comes and cleans out a hoarder’s home for our entertainment. The home owner often has an emotional journey through the episode as they sort out what led them to become hoarders. Somehow watching this show probably makes many of feel better about our own level of consumption because the depicted homes are far worse than ours.

Spring Cleaning….dealing with perfection

Are you drowning in stuff? This conundrum of the western world seems to have left many people completely incapacitated. As the furniture catalogs of perfect spaces come through the mail, and the topic of organizing is growing, many of us have been left feeling inadequate due to the inability to make all of our “stuff” look the way the media tells us it should be. Some have even identified this new organization craze as a new type of eating disorder, with the ever present images of the perfect living room, the perfect closet, and the perfect orderly kitchen. The solution according to many of these companies is to buy more “stuff” to assist in organizing, thus leading to a larger problem of having more things.

Today’s art project will explore your connection to this problem either motivating you to clean up a corner of your world, or make peace with pervasive imperfection. Find some paper and make a list of the spaces in your home you would like to organize. After you make this list, jot down some feelings these disorganized spaces are causing. It might be stress, anger, shame confusion, resentment or no feelings at all. Carve out some time into your day or night and try to tackle a tiny space, maybe even a drawer or shelf. Can you reorganize it? Please stick to this one spot, so you don’t get overwhelmed. How does is it feel once completed?  Too complicated or overwhelming?

OK. The alternate option is to find some to the mailers, catalogs, magazines and newspapers lying around your home showing the perfect spaces. Rather than being intimidated by them, really take a look at them and jot down on the actual picture the real behind the scene details. Is it a real home or just a set for a photo shoot? Can people really live in these perfect homes? If it is a real home, are these people happier than you because their spaces look perfect? Do these people who live in this space have more free time than you? Spring cleaning has taken on a whole new agenda these days, and these this little exercises are meant to help you explore your feelings connected to it. Happy spring!