Thursday, March 28, 2013

EXPLORING THE NEUROPLASTICITY OF THE BRAIN THROUGH WORKSHOP METAPHOR: Integrating the left and right hemisphere through imaginative thinking

THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF! Hallelujah for growth and expansion of  self! We have it within our power to keep transforming our brains if we say YES to continued learning! (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Hallelujah for NEUROPLASTICITY! Neuroplasticity is the ability for the “brain to change itself”! Hurray that the golden crown—our BRAIN—that distinguishes us human beings from other animals has the capacity to keep changing and BECOMING until we die! That is…if we CARE for and NURTURE it along our glorious journeys here on this Earth!

Last night (March 27, 2013), I had the great fortune to attend a NEUROSCIENCE workshop to learn about the way our beautiful BRAINS can continue to grow throughout our lifetime. Ann Betz, an expert in the NEUROSCIENCE OF LEADERSHIP, conducted 3 hours of fun exploration into our BRAINS through a powerpoint lecture and engaging activities.

My favorite activity? YES! The one we did using METAPHORS (big sigh and giggle) that helped us understand the right and left hemispheres of our BRAINS and to integrate them! But first, what is a METAPHOR?

First of all, a METAPHOR is when we use an image (like a picture) to make an abstract idea more concrete. For example, take these metaphorical expressions:

Love is a rose.
Hope is a yellow brick on the road to Oz.
MOVING ACROSS BOUNDARIES THROUGH USE OF IMAGE AND METAPHOR. As a visual artist, I am fascinated by boundaries. Where does one idea end, and another begin? What do these ideas have in common?(art by Hallelujah Truth)

The abstract idea of love is made much more understandable by the concreteness of what we know to be a rose. A rose is beautiful both in bud and mature flower; it is fragrant, and its presence enriches our lives. We could extend the rose metaphor by acknowledging the presence of the rose’s thorns. That although its beauty embellishes our lives, its prickly stem can also hurt us if we are not being careful!

The other example of a metaphorical expression, “Hope is a yellow brick on the road to Oz,” is much more complicated because unlike the rose, which is pretty universally understood, the concept of Oz and a yellow road leading to it is a cultural one. You must be either a member of the culture or a student of it to understand this visual image and the idea behind it. Let it be said that Oz is a place where dreams are manifested and the yellow road (made of gold?) will take you there. HOPE is a portion of the journey to the realization of our dreams! Hallelujah!

But I digress from the NEUROPLASTICITY exercise USING METAPHORS! Here is a brief explanation of the activity!

First, we know that our BRAINS consist of two distinct hemispheres with different functions. So to begin the exercise we were asked to look at a list of functions that the left hemisphere of the brain manages in our lives—language, logic, planning, past, present…linear organizational kinds of things—and to identify the BEST part of ourselves resulting from our left hemisphere.

For me, it is language and imposing order on random seemingly disconnected ideas (This blog, Coffee with Hallelujah, is an example of this left brain function!). After REVELING in the positive aspects of the left brain function, we were then asked to CREATE a METAPHOR to represent that function.

I chose the metaphor of an architect’s blueprint of a reconstruction of a medieval city! For me this imagistic language captures and holds the feeling of taking “old” information and re-envisioning it to make it “new.” The ancient city renovate to a contemporary inhabitable domain. Hallelujah for left brain functioning!

Yes, so we did the same thing for the right hemisphere taking into account its function of experiencing the here and now, high understanding of aural and visual stimuli, and being creative. As a visual artist, I absolutely love “seeing” images in my mind and “drawing” them. For me, the process is magical and filled with excitement. Therefore, the METAPHOR I chose was that of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. In this colorful and musical movie, he is THE MAGICIAN!
PROFESSION OF MY DAILY PRACTICE OF INTEGRATING LEFT AND RIGHT BRAINS. Every day, I summon myself to the table or pillow with paper and writing utensil honoring the ideas both verbal and visual. Documenting them through drawing and blogging, I become more complete, whole, and integrated. Yes, I am a practitioner of integrating the left and right hemisphere of the brain. I practice brain health! Do you?(art by Hallelujah Truth)

Are you still with me!? Now…how to integrate these two METAPHORS, each representing a different hemisphere? EASY! I embodied Mickey Mouse (right brain), replete with a magnificent robe, sorcerer’s cap and magic wand. Dancing, kicking up my heels, I waved my wand at the blue print (left brain) and the city sprung to life, becoming three-dimensional! Popping up, medieval towers emerged as tall as skyscrapers! People emerged from buildings onto newly paved streets.

Hallelujah! Left brain, right brain integration through the use of METAPHORS!

Ann Betz will tell you that we are more full alive, functioning, and effective when we are  using our whole brain! That means finding ways to integrate our left and right hemispheres!

Well fellow pilgrims, both left and right brain dominant journeyers, what action will you take today to integrate your brain’s functions? SOUL BLOG with me to share how it feels when you are using your whole brain! How did you get there and what did you experience?

That’s Coffee With Hallelujah!
THE UNKNOWN. Always moving into a new territory, I am certain that I am firing new neuro pathways! It sounds like this: shhhrrrr beeeeeennng, ka ka ka kerchuuuuu!? What does your brain sound like when it is firing new pathways?(art by Hallelujah Truth)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to Lesly Fredman for alerting me to this workshop on Neuroscience. Thanks to Ann Betz for being such an awesome presenter and workshop leader. Mucho gracias to Karen Tucker, who accompanied me and participated in the activities with me. Finally, than you to Sandy Voegeli, who got me thinking more deeply about brain health! Hallelujah!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog...the concept of right and left brain metaphors would be such a fun activity here on the DCP...posting our image journeys as we 'find' and see them. I love the partial images but especially the 'whole' image..They are inspiring to me and on Monday as I host a small workshop with a friend I will be putting some of that inspiration to good use then...