Flexing the Creative Muscle

It has long been known that the brain is divided into two hemispheres, with each half specializing in certain functions.  Research suggests that the left hemisphere of the brain is the rational centre where all the heavy duty learning and thinking takes place – you know, mathematical processing and organizational skills etc.  This side of the brain is given a full workout once we hit the school system. As a matter of fact, the education system and society in general, actively rewards and promotes left brain thinkers. Career advancement and monetary exchange for labour favours professions that rely heavily on verbal and mathematical processing skills. Careers, for example, in business, banking, engineering, law and medicine.

The right hemisphere of the brain contains the centre that governs intuitive knowing, visual perception, emotional expressions and non- verbal functions such as holistic thinking, visual imagery, emotional expressiveness and poetic thought. In other words, it is the creative centre of the brain.  Pre-school age children are adept right brain thinkers. They naturally tap into their creativity. They have no hesitation in fully engaging with finger paints, play dough and all manner of art materials.  They are naturally curious about anything and everything. They have not yet been programmed to ignore their intuition or question the validity of their creativity. They don’t complain they have no talent or artistic ability. They don’t judge or compare their completed masterpiece with a critical eye.  They just beam with satisfaction, joy and wonder.  Inventors and explorers.

Which side of the brain do you favour in your day to day life?

Don’t stress that your creative self has been diminished by continuous suppression. While your creative muscle may have atrophied through lack of use there is hope. Your brain is a wondrous thing and capable of change and growth. With the right exercises, just like any other part of the body, it can become healthy and strong again. The wonderful thing about creative journaling is that it accesses both sides of the brain and puts them together to work collaboratively. The right brain intuitive, visual, and emotional process takes the lead in creative journaling and then encourages the left- brain to reflect and analyse through writing activities. So Creative Journaling is a holistic approach to brain training.

What is 'creative Journaling'?
It is:

  • collection of practices intended to enhance the abilities of creativity and awareness in the practitioner.
  •  practices have been drawn from the written, visual and performing arts as well as Zen, scientific and engineering sources
  • It is an approach based on traditional journaling practices but one which has been expanded to encompass all available media.
  • journal entries are diverse and are not simply recordings of details about an event but include reflection on internal responses and reactions to the outside world, perceptions and beliefs etc 
  • Review of past entries provides insights into self and your place in the world. It is also a rich source of material for further creativity – either biographical or fiction pieces 
  • Materials used can range from drawings, maps, cloud diagrams, physical objects, photos and any flotsam or jetsam that serves its purpose, even text – and whatever comes to hand.
As with any new exercise program, it is best if you start slowly and build yourself up gradually.  A routine is important, as is a commitment for the long term. 

Here is a simple exercise you can do anywhere, anytime over the next week to help you flex that right brain muscle. It is a bit like a warm up before you start – not really a stretch (forgive the pun).

Set aside 5 minutes - (could be before work, during morning tea, on the bus/train to or from work or in the bath after you get home.  Put on some headphones if you are in a crowed space and listen to your favourite playlist. This will help you block out the external world for a while. Take our your notebook/ Journal and  pen/pencil and write for 5 -1 0 minutes.  If you need to some help getting started you might like to try the following journal prompts:  

  • Sights and Sounds of today
  • Flavours that tickled my taste buds today
  • Aromas  - challenge yourself to think of a new adjective to describe a familiar smell)
  •  Tactile sensations
  • Emotional responses
  • Physical Activity
If you're just starting out I'd love to hear how you found your first week and if your a seasoned journaler please share some of the prompts you hove found useful over the years.

Thanks for joining me - have a great week.

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