This post has been moved to the Right Brain Child. You can read it here:
There was another video from Mr Hirotada Henmi after the boys’ last class at Heguru. As always, the recording has been translated from Japanese and this is my interpretation of what was explained:
Once you open up the right brain, the next step is to develop its image power. What’s the value of imaging? In right brain education, it is called “imaging” but I think sports individuals are probably more familiar with the term “visualising”. This imaging ability can help in many ways. Here are a couple of examples given by Mr Henmi:
- When working on a sculpture, some artists need to first draw a picture of the structure they intend to create. When you are able to utilise the right brain’s image function, you don’t need the picture because you can visualise the structure in your mind and work on your sculpture by looking at the picture in your mind.
- When a runner wants to improve performance, he can use the right brain’s image function to visualise himself running as if from a third person’s perspective (as if he was watching himself run on the TV) so that he can identify areas of improvement.
In other words, the power of imaging allows individuals to work more efficiently and effectively.
To extrapolate from the message shared, I am sure many sports persons are familiar with the benefits of visualisation. One of the most interesting things about the brain is that memory and fantasy are stored similarly. There is little difference between a memory and a fantasy to the brain. Therefore, visualising an event in your mind can be the same as experiencing it as far as the brain is concerned. So if you cannot practice physically, practicing in your mind is as effective if you can create an image as clear and as real as it might have been if you were really there.
It might sound like I’m talking in circles so here’s an example from The Mind Gym:
Gary Mack writes about a man who was imprisoned in a POW camp for years. To escape from the reality of his imprisonment, he would imagine himself playing golf everyday while in his cell. When he was finally freed, his golf handicap improved even though he hadn’t held a golf club in years. Just by visualising himself playing golf everyday, he managed to improve his game without physically playing the game. That’s the power of imaging.
When I had Gavin, I thought it was hard work being a parent. Now that I have two children to balance my time between, it feels like I’m really discovering what “hard work” really means. I’m sure if I had a third child, I would redefine “hard work” yet again. As a parents, we grow into our roles. We might wish things were different, but we inevitably accept that they aren’t and we just get on with it. But that doesn’t necessarily negate the feelings of inadequacy we might feel from time to time when we aren’t all that we would like to be for our children. I’m sure most parents at some time in their parenting careers have felt that way. I, too, have felt that way. If we look back at the past, there will always be things that we wished we could have done differently – things we wished we could have changed.
Yumiko Tobitani, in her book “Quantum Speed Reading: Awakening Your Child’s Mind“, writes that you can use “imaging” to heal your relationship with your child. She gave an example of a mother who resented her child from birth because it had been an unexpected pregnancy that she did not want. Because of that, her child grew up in an environment of resentment. It wasn’t until her child was older that she wished she could take back all the negative emotions she had poured out towards her child. Through imaging, Tobitani encourage mother and child to “re-live” the pregnancy, the birth and growing up in the way that they would have liked it to be. After a few sessions of imaging, mother and child were able to heal their relationship and put aside the years of resentment.
Tobitani encourages all parents to change events in their lives that they have been unhappy about by imaging how they would have liked it to occur instead. Similarly, you can change anything in the relationship you have with your children that you are unhappy about by using imaging with your child. Extrapolating on this, I started to tell Gavin a bedtime story about a boy who was so loved by his parents. The story, of course, is Gavin’s story. The aim of the story is to remind him how much we love him especially in times when we can get so caught up with other issues (like Gareth being sick) that we fail to give him the attention he needs.
Taking a leaf out of Nurture Shock, that we should talk about sensitive issues rather than dance around them in a vague manner, I tell him how much we love Gareth as well, but I reinforce that loving Gareth does not affect how much we love him. Finally, I extrapolate the story into the future to tell him about the wonderful life he will have – which I recently discovered covers the pygmalion effect (by setting up positive expectations for our children, they will live to fulfil those expectations).
Sometimes, if he falls asleep before I get the chance to tell him the story (especially during times when I feel he needs to hear it), I tell him the story instead of doing the 5 minute suggestion.
In right brain education, it is called “imaging”. However, having read examples of how images have helped nurture musical talent and improve grades, I think many of us would probably be familiar with it by different terms. For example, to me, it has always been what I refer to as visualising. I used to practice it when I was rock climbing. Not surprisingly, I got pretty good at rock climbing, too, and this is coming from a person who dreaded physical education in school because I was so bad at it.
I recall an occasion when I was projecting one particularly challenging route, I was working on it so hard that I injured my fingers. Since I had to go easy, I would visualise myself climbing the route in my mind whenever I wasn’t doing anything else. I red-pointed that route the following weekend when I went out to the crag.
I had read about this technique in a book called “Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence“. The book described a golfer who had been imprisoned in a POW camp for years. To get through his imprisonment, he would visualise himself playing golf at a golf course everyday. The vision was so clear, he could feel the breeze against his cheek and the golf club in his hands. When he was eventually freed, his golf handicap had improved and he played even better than he did before he was imprisoned!
In his book “Children can Change Through Right Brain Education“, Shichida cited the example of a boy in 6th grade who had been practicing the electric piano for 6 years. Because he wasn’t good at it, his parents were always telling him to quit. He refused because he liked his teacher. His teacher asked him to enter a music contest and he agreed but after practicing for a month, it looked like it was going to end in disaster because he had practiced until his wrists and fingers were swollen and still he could not memorise the piece.
6 days before the contest date, he practiced the piano for fifteen minutes and spent the rest of the time image training. On the day itself, he panicked when he heard the other children playing so well. His mother encouraged him to continue his image training until it was his turn. When he went on, he played twice as well as his original capability and did not make a single mistake even though he had been making so many mistakes during practice. He was selected as one of the top five to represent the Saitama prefecture.
Shichida also cites examples of improvements in arts, sports and academics through image training. If you look at the music example, it is similar to the concept of visualisation. The explanation for it in Mind Gym is that memories and fantasies are made of the same stuff. Create a strong enough fantasy and it behaves like a memory. So in the case of the golfer, his most recent golf game was the one he played in his mind, not the physical one that took place years ago before he was imprisoned.
My only question now is how exactly do you practice image training for other subjects. Sports and playing an instrument are fairly straight forward. You just have to see yourself doing the activity, but how do you do image training for Math or Chemistry? If you have the answers, feel free to share your thoughts below. In the meantime, I’ll hit the books again to see what else I can find out…
This post has been moved to the Right Brain Child. Please visit us at the Right Brain Child to learn more about Right Brain Education Activities for Home Practice.