We may improve the efficiency of our cerebral skills at any age. Beyond the sometimes tedious mnemonic exercises (or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval [remembering] in the human memory for better understanding), there are gentler methods designed to help us develop our full potential, improve our perception of reality, and develop our creativity. Presentation.
Laptops, cell phones, electronic journals, GPS systems… Technology rescues us from our cognitive inadequacies to the extent where we sometimes feel bereft of our own abilities. Is it encouraging us to be sluggish? Not at all. Aside from the mental exhaustion that comes with aging, intrusive stress contributes to the deterioration of our abilities.
“Today, we need to know how to do things faster and better,” says Monique Le Poncin, a scientist and the creator of the “brain gym.” “It is no longer a matter of training our memories, but of optimizing our brain to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive economic world.” Some approaches have a body-building effect on our grey matter. Others advocate for a gentler gym. The various techniques are not antagonistic, but rather complimentary.
Mind aerobics: test and train yourself
We all conduct brain aerobics to memorize components of our everyday lives, each creating our own tactics, like Mr. Jourdain did without realizing it: “To remember a telephone number, I try to find associations.” For example, “126.96.36.199” will be associated with a WWII landing, 1997 with the birth year of my daughter, and 83 with the department of Var, according to Sandrine, a 35-year-old mother of three. However, with the aid of the numerous guidelines available on the market, it is possible to optimize this personal strategy.
The vast majority of them offer general advice and fitness regimens. These exercises are used to assess our immediate memory (for example, looking at a list of abstract words for thirty seconds and then reproducing them), observation skills (reproducing a complex geometric figure in our heads), and organizational abilities (redrawing a map of a neighborhood with its merchants). It is often necessary to evaluate our ability to reason and logic (by completing a numerical sequence). They also help us to discover which strategies are instinctively recognizable to us, such as assigning an emotional significance to a series of numbers, as Sandrine does, graphically portraying them (on a telephone dial), and singing them.
These mnemonics are utilized to improve our mental acuity. Our mental mechanics are unraveled by everyday activities. However, while this strategy is good for the elderly who wish to revitalize their mental skills, it does not profoundly alter the way an issue is perceived.
Mind training: for more efficient behaviors
Monique Le Poncin established the brain gym to go farther and gain new behavioral automatisms, a method valued by the corporate sector, students, and elders concerned about the spectre of Alzheimer’s. Depending on the goal, it is about learning a new method of perceiving, remembering, and organizing one’s ideas. To do this, its notion is built on an analogy with brain function. Perception is crucial. To hone this skill, one must initially focus on a specific goal (example: discover the males wearing black shoes) without employing reflection. By focusing on the subject (identify all black shoes), one must be mindful of filters that distort perception (depending on one’s culture, one may notice more CEOs than athletes).
Finally, we manage our sight by scanning and dividing the space from top to bottom and left to right. Similarly, to remember the fifty visitors at a cocktail party, you will scan the crowd numerous times and build your own “associations” (blondes, males in tuxedos, etc.) depending on your aim (finding the man of your dreams or a future partner). However, memorization necessitates the following golden rules: perform a “stop action” (suspend all other activities to concentrate on this activity), record what you want to remember, and replay the film three times (first, look at the groups formed; second, visualize them in your mind; and third, verify them in person).
This strategy seeks to change our faulty brain operations so that we may learn more efficient tactics. The most challenging part is making this reprogramming a reflex in any scenario that needs our sense of observation or listening, memory, or the capacity to convey concepts clearly…
Mind mapping: enhancing creativity
Other strategies aid in the development of our imagination. Tony Buzan created “mind mapping,” which is a tree of words transformed into visuals based on our inspiration. We put a word (or a design that conjures it) in the middle of a horizontal piece of paper and then, without thinking, associate additional words with it, building our imagined ideas in the shape of branches that will split themselves. Among the guidelines to follow: utilize a maximum of colors, alter the size of the letters and arrows connecting the words…
This technique, based on “radiant thinking” (through association from a central point), teaches users how to master their thinking processes and develop more and more innovative ideas. It operates similarly to its distant cousin, brain-storming (free association of ideas), in that it allows you to experiment with all the registers of sensations in your spontaneously issued words (employ terms evoking a smell, a touch, a taste, say them loudly, visualize them). The authors advocate “mind mapping” to help with decision-making, memory, book summarization, and even following a live lecture! Everyone will discover the application that best suits him.
From muscles to grey cells
Mind Gym is a novel approach that offers, via twenty-six exercises, to connect the motions of the body to the brain activities involved in learning. Here are a few instances.
=> Walk on the spot with one hand alternately touching the other knee. When done on a regular basis, this “cross crawl” strengthens brain networks, improves communication between the two hemispheres, and makes our thinking abilities more fluid.
=> Do the elephant: rest your ear on your shoulder and, with the arm on the same side stretched out in front of you like a trunk, trace “lying eights” (mathematical sign of infinity) with your eyes. This improves attention and memorizing.
=> Cross your ankles and wrists, interlace your fingers, and turn your hands inwards at chest level when sitting, standing, or lying down. Stay for one minute while deeply inhaling, then uncross your legs and interlock your fingertips. This cross-contact position is very beneficial for improving focus and listening clarity.
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