Thriving Thursday

Fitness, health and mindfulness for a balanced life for both you and planet.


Doodling for Memory

Although we missed National Doodle Day in September, I want to invite everyone to do a little doodling. Doodling is a not a results driven drawing its just a scrawl or a scribble and can land anywhere from marginalia to a napkin. These uncelebrated scribbles in the corners of your notebook may be essential creative outlets that lead to improved memory and creative flow.  I doodle when I am trying to come up with new ideas or focus on other peoples ideas. It seems the more focus I have the more abstract and wild my drawings.

Doodling is turning out to be a lot more powerful than we previously thought. The Journal Applied Cognitive Psychology has shown that doodlers retain 29% more information in groups listening to tedious voice mails. So the bottom line for Thriving Thursday is to get out there and scribble.

Many Presidents have been avid doodlers regardless of party affiliation. Although I am not sure of the exact doodle outcome for policy and politics these men are considered peak performers in general terms. Herbert Hoover in the image above seemed capable of liberating his wild hand and you can too.

Wild animals at war in the Breviary of Renaud and Marguerite de Bar, Metz ca. 1302-1305

Info graphics and abstract doodling in the margins is nothing new. Abstractions of reality go back to Paleolithic cave drawings. These early doodles helped to place man in his own conscious creative universe. While working at the Vatican Secret Archives I became fascinated with the unruly marginalia of the Middle Ages. This medium called grotesque marginalia is often overtly sexual and violent. I wondered if it was a psychological outlet and hoped that they drew it so not to have to do it.  With the growing popularity of finely tuned info graphics, I thought we might take a moment to celebrate our personal info graphics and the wonder of abstraction. Let's  consider the possibility that these less linear graphic outbursts, if you will, may indeed be improving our performance.

Paleolithic Cave drawing

Sunni Brown is an avid researcher and champion of doodle diligence. While researchers often think it is a subconscious drawing, Brown is convinced that doodling isn't a mindless activity, but instead engages the mind in a way that helps us think.  Brown finds " that people tackling serious challenges, inevitably go to the white board or straight to the wall and start mapping it to have a more effective conversation," ... "this visual explanation helps people understand what is really happening." Her book "Info-doodles" helps create a visual language to explore problem-solving, and memory retention.

My approach is to invite you to start with a line and loosen your mind. Allow a squiggle, a squirm or a square to take a turn. Allow the hand to think and you will soon find a form that fits your function. No meaning needed as the minds mystery is not always supposed to be rational. Sometimes it is the wild wonder that brings us to the what and the how of a challenge. So let that pen and hand dance on the corner of those pages to find your own unexpected magic.

Your Yoga Should Be as Flexible as You Are.

October 21, 2017  Daisy Carlson Photo by Nic MacMillan 

There's more than one way to practice downward dogs and swan dives, which is why yoga continues to be a popular fitness activity. With classes designed for rank beginners to advanced courses for longtime students, yoga can be modified to meet just about anyone's fitness level.

"Besides the physical aspect, which is only a small portion of what yoga is, it helps you become more balanced in your mind and your body," said Katie O'Shaughnessy, yoga teacher and owner of Katie O. Yoga & Health Coaching. Mindfulness is one of the first steps toward true global sustainability.

Yoga "gives you better body awareness. Knowing what's going on in your body and knowing if there's a change from day to day makes you a little more aware of any potential issues down the road regarding your health."

Many studios offer hot yoga, Hatha yoga, or Vinyasa yoga, but some places offer interesting variations like aerial yoga or stand up paddle board yoga.

Aerial yoga blends traditional yoga poses and aerial acrobatics that students perform while suspended by a silk hammock. Try your hand at stand up paddle board yoga for possibly the most challenging (and fun) experience of all and one that's great for strengthening your stabilizer muscles.

A little office yoga and a few deep focussed breaths before your lunch can also help to realign you. You don't have to get hot and sweaty just take a minute out of your day to stretch and BREATH.

If you only have a minute, take 10 deep breaths and roll your shoulders out. Yoga should follow us through the day as movement and mindfulness.

Portions of this article  came from the Daily Herald

More Thriving Thursday Links:

Bread is Life

Body, Mind & Spirit