How do you build “Whole Brain” Muscle?

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In this second article I want to explore what you learned from taking the brief assessment that indicated your brain preference in the July 20th post. 

As you review your preferences, let’s remember that the brain is often referred to as a “muscle.”  The more you use it, the more developed it becomes:  you gain more skills, ability, and insight.  Ultimately, in order for us to derive the benefits of a we need to be using the muscles in our left and right hemispheres as the situations dictate, not just out of habit or based on what we “prefer.”

Let’s review your results.  I’m sure some of you found that you had an equal number of left brain and right brain responses out of the list of 18 preferences/functions.  If so, then you are somewhat balanced in your hemispheric processing.  Now how do you work that “brain muscle?”  What I would recommend is that you review both hemisphere lists and select one or two from each preference list  and try to do some work on building that skill/muscle.  What you are aiming for is to enable yourself to have as many capabilities as possible…all at your grasp, to better enhance what you do and how you experience those actions.

Now, if you have a rather obvious “skewing” of preferences for one hemisphere over the other…such as a score of Left 15 and Right 3; or Right 12 and Left 4, then it is obvious where you brain orientation/preference lies.  You probably already knew this before taking the assessment, but now, hopefully, it clarifies a bit more. 

So what might you do next?  In order for you to move toward the goal of getting your “whole self” engaged, I would recommend that you look at the list of 18 preferences for the least preferred hemisphere.  Pick out 3 items that you could work on…something that if you developed some skill around the action it would serve your dominant brain orientation well.

When you select these 3 items, I would recommend that you choose ones that aren’t a “big” stretch for you.  I offer this recommendation because since you are so strongly oriented toward one hemisphere doing actions that belong in the opposite hemisphere will be quickly scrutinized by your brain and you’ll reject them…they won’t be comfortable or easy or second-nature to you at all.  You’ll experience some form of resistance or rejection…so it’s necessary to take little steps as you build up some complimentary approaches from your least preferred brain hemisphere.  Further, I don’t recommend working on all 3 at once.  Review your list of 3 items and prioritize them:  then select 1 and work on that for a week or two.  See what happens and how this work actually compliments and helps your dominant preference.  It would be helpful if you kept a journal to track your reactions and your results.

I would also suggest that you look your dominant brain hemisphere.  What one or two functions could you work on to develop even further?  Think about all of this as a work out plan for your brain.   In the next section I am suggesting a number of activities and hobbies that you can do to develop either your left or your right brain.  There are also a few suggestions to work on developing the left-brain/right-brain balance.  Let me know what results you get!

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If you are LEFT BRAIN DOMINANT then try some of these ACTIVITIES and HOBBIES to develop the RIGHT BRAIN.

RIGHT BRAIN HOBBIES:

1.Playing music

2.Photography

3.Applied arts

4.Creative writing

5.Aerobic dance

6.Cycling

7.Nature watching

8.Skiing

9.Video games

10.Wine Tsting

11.Hang-gliding

12.Walking

13.Travel

14.Collecting

15.Listening to music

16.Cooking

17.Reading

18.Singing

19.Gardening

20.People Watching

21.Playing with children

22.Volunteering

23.Fashion

24.Theatre

25.Conversation

 

RIGHT BRAIN ACTIVITIES:

1.Go dancing in a night club

2.Fly a kite

3.Play with modeling clay

4.Day dream for 15 minutes

5.Drive around in the car without feeling guilty about it

6.Run for pleasure not for exercise

7.Take 500 pictures and don’t worry what you’re going to do with them

8.Create a personal logo

9.Meditate

10.Picture your life five years from now and then draw it

11.Play what your kids want to play

12.Dance without moving your feet

13.Take ten minutes to “smell the rose,” reflect on the sensations around you

14.Listen to music you love when you want to

15.Decorate with some natural accents

16.Come to tears without feeling shame or guilt

17.Find something your children have taught you and find some way to thank them

18.Doodle

19.Observe an object and draw it without looking at your paper

20.Hum your favorite tune and make up your own lyrics

21.Play a musical instrument

22.Do some Origami

23.Play word association and memory games

24.Think up a strategy for something and then implement it

25.Look at the sky and identify as many different shapes/objects from the clouds

 

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If you are RIGHT BRAIN DOMINANT then try some of these ACTIVITIES and HOBBIES to develop the LEFT BRAIN.

LEFT  BRAIN HOBBIES:

1.Golf

2.Do-it-yourself projects

3.Woodworking

4.Amateur radio

5.Model building

6.Restoring cars

7.Car repair

8.Hunting

9.Electronic games

10.Strategy games

11.Billiards

12.Computers

13.Cards

14.Fishing

15.Spectator sports

16.Tennis

17.Bowling

18.Rowing

19.Team Handball

20.Weight lifting

21.Body building

22.Jogging

23.Chess

24.Sudoku

25.Crossword puzzles

 

LEFT BRAIN ACTIVITIES: 

1.Predict what will happen tomorrow based on what you know happened today

2.Figure out how a tool or machine you use functions

3.Take a current problem you are having and break it down into it component parts

4.Take an impulsive decision you have made recently and look at it rationally

5.Convert your retirement dreams into a definite plan

6.Join an investment club

7.Play a logic game

8.Explore the functioning of a computer

9.Play “devil’s advocate” in a discussion

10.Write a critique of a favorite film/book

11.Assemble a scale model

12.Make a personal budget

13.Make a list of all you own

14.Organize your CD’s by category or alphabet

15.Make a family tree

16.Arrange your tools

17.Balance your checkbook

18.Create a short term plan for the next week

19.Be on time all day

20.Arrange your photo albums

21.Make a to-do list every day for a week:  review at end of day

22.Read a new book:  don’t skim through it

23.Clean up your computer’s desktop

24.Start a diary/journal

25.Learn a new skill or language

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Striking a BALANCE…

To work on developing a balance between your brain hemispheres you might try any of the following suggestions:

1.  Juggling:

This activity demands an incredible amount of eye-hand coordination and gets both body parts and brain hemispheres involved in action simultaneously.

2.  Alternating Dominance:

To sharpen your skills, to off-set your habits, and to build your brain muscle, try doing common daily activities with your non-dominant hand and foot.  See how this stretches you and note what results emerge.

3.  Color / Word Test:

This exercise was developed by psychologist John Stroop about 80 years ago as he was exploring how the brain’s two sides worked together.

Round 1: Say out loud the names of the written word, no matter what color ink was used to write the word. 

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Round 2: Say out loud the color of the letters of the written word, no matter what the   written word  is.

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Round 3: Say out loud the color of the dot squares.

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I would be interested in hearing from you about your experiences doing these exercises.

Part of the application of Stroop’s test relates to color and language as well as looking at the part of the brain between the two hemispheres that help resolve any conflicts of cognition between the hemispheres.