Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Has the prospect of some future event made you anxious?
Would you like to have more access to your whole brain for problem solving and creativity?
We all experience varying degrees of anxiety throughout our lives. For some people, their lives are dominated by anxiety. Some suffer frequent panic attacks every day.
2 year study finds underlying causes of anxiety and develops a process for relief.
In 1984 Nelson Zink and others launched a 2 year study to find the underlying causes of anxiety. After some time, they had come to the conclusion that anxiety resulted when there was functional imbalance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
The March 1985 issue of Scientific American published an article that confirmed their theory. Accompanying the article on page 72 was a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan picture taken while a person was experiencing a panic attack. As Zink expected, the picture showed a significant imbalance in the flow of blood the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Zink wanted to develop an easy, dynamic technique people could use to rebalance the hemispheric activity of the brain. Meditation and other mental exercises he felt lacked a vehicle for immediate feedback. And in the case of some meditation techniques, anxiety may increase because people worry if they are “doing it right.”
What does this have to do with enhancing creativity?
Here's how physical juggling can boost the creative process through the lens of Zink's technique:
Juggling engages multiple senses: vision tracks the balls, proprioception senses their position and movement, and touch interacts with them directly. This multisensory stimulation activates various brain regions, encouraging communication and cross-talk between the hemispheres.
Motor and Cognitive Synergy:
Juggling demands a delicate balance of motor skills and cognitive processing. You need to plan your throws, track ball trajectories, and react to their movements in real-time. This complex interplay between physical action and mental planning fosters strong connections between the hemispheres, enabling them to work together seamlessly.
Breaking Rigid Patterns:
Juggling disrupts habitual thought patterns. You can't rely on rote memorization or fixed sequences. Instead, you need to adapt, improvise, and think creatively to keep the juggling pattern going. This constant shift in focus and strategy challenges the brain to be flexible and generate new solutions, a key trait for creative thinking.
Flow State and Mental Focus:
When you're engrossed in juggling, you can enter a state of "flow," where you're completely focused on the present moment and your actions. This heightened state of concentration quiets internal chatter and allows creative insights to emerge uninhibited.
Beyond the Juggling Act:
The benefits of Zink's technique extend beyond the juggling itself. The improved interhemispheric communication, cognitive flexibility, and heightened focus can translate into other creative pursuits. Whether you're writing a song, painting a picture, or tackling a complex problem, the skills honed through juggling can provide a valuable foundation for creative expression.
A simple process
The end result is what Zink calls Mind Juggling. It is very simple and when you do it you actively engage both hemispheres of the brain.
The steps of mind juggling are:
If you prefer to stand, spread your feet apart to shoulder width. You can also do this sitting in an armless, straight-back chair.
With your elbows at 90 degrees, rest the ball in the palm of one hand with the palm of the other hand facing up as well.
With your eyes open, slowly toss the ball back and forth from hand to hand. Maintain a rhythm of about 1 toss per second, and toss the ball about 4-6 inches above the resting palms.
As you keep tossing the ball, slowly move your head and eyes up to focus on the ceiling.
Keep tossing the ball while you close your eyes and slowly return your head to a forward looking position.
Continue this exercise for 10-20 minutes. Dropping the ball is part of the process so when you drop it, just pick it up and continue . . . it’s all good.
Keep your brain learning. If you master the exercise, make it more difficult by tossing the ball higher and/or moving you hands farther apart.
The great thing about this exercise is that there are only three rules:
Maintain a nice slow tossing rhythm
Keep your closed eyes
When you drop the ball, pick it up
I have shared this technique with numerous people over the years and everyone of them that used it has commented that they received some benefit.
In one case, a friend who experienced occasional but severe panic attacks experienced immediate relief. Interestingly, she got to a point to where all she had to do was think about mind juggling, and her attacks would subside.
I too have had very good luck using this exercise and have found it to be very useful for problem solving and enhancing creativity, and a host of other things.
Having written this article, I realize I need to get back to spending at least 10 minutes a day mind juggling. It is very calming.