May 03, 2011

Stretching - Janis Cox



I have had back problems in my past and I have learned that stretching is very good to keep those back muscles strong. The same goes for my mind. As I age I want to make sure that I keep as sharp as possible. To that end I try many tactics.

I have learned new skills. I started to watercolour about 15 years ago and each year my skills have grown. I also took pottery lessons, both hand building and on the wheel. And this winter I joined a tap dancing group. Three times a week I would go to the dance room and practice for over one hour. Learning each new step and then putting all the steps into a dance was a challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed.

All of these activities were stretching my mind – making new dendrites. “They form new synapses between neurons, which facilitates further learning … By stimulating our brain more intensively, a curious thing happens: The inter-connections between neurons increase by developing new dendrites” (Increasing Brain Power: by Alvin C. Roseyard).

In stretching my mind I feel younger. I will still have memory lapses but hopefully I can keep these to a minimum by working my brain.

This year I have also stretched my mind by learning Scripture. Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience challenged her readers to learn Colossians in a Year. We are currently learning Chapter 2. I may not remember every verse word for word but once I start saying some of the Scripture the rest flows quite easily. Not only am I stretching my mind through this exercise but I am also stretching my soul.

Writing – a creative discipline. In the past year my goal has been to write more. I have started two blogs. One is called Under the Cover of Prayer and the other is A Better Way. I like the challenge of daily writing.

The discipline of stretching can work in many areas, mind, body and soul. We can now ask, “Have you stretched yourself today?”

Jan Cox has started two blogs, Under the Cover of Prayer and A Better Way. She is currently working on a children's book about the story of Mary and Martha. She has illustrated the book in watercolour.

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful.. you go, girl. For those wanting ideas to develop new dendrites, try doing crosswords with your non-dominate hand. It takes awhile for the letters to become legible, but this exercise does wonders for the brain!

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  2. great encouragement, Jan. Thanks.

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  3. Thanks LC and Marcia,
    yes I have tried the crossword puzzle left handed. I heard that if you even put the pen in your left hand it will stimulate your brain. ??
    I have a new camera lent to me to try - you know the big heavy ones - lots of instructions. More dendrites.
    Jan

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  4. Amen and amen. Memorizing scripture was about the first thing I started doing as a new Christian, but over the years it got pushed to the sidelines. Recently I started again with the Living Proof Blog ladies, with Beth Moore. I can't adequately express what a profound impact it's had. God nudged me to begin with a chapter in Ezekiel He'd given me as a promise over twenty years ago, and as I ruminate on every word, the promises are as powerful and potent as they were the moment I received them that day, sitting at my kitchen table in a tiny apartment in Montreal, where several new Christians, and a few older of us, really lived like there was nothing more important than following God.

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  5. Enjoyed your posting, Jan! Enjoyed hearing what you find stretching. It's always neat to learn what works for others.

    Thanks for the hints........

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  6. Very good thoughts, especially as we put more years on! I like your ideas of stretching. And do identify especially with the memorizing ... that is really a stretch for the mind, but very beneficial in many ways. I am working on Colossians, as well ...

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  7. Thanks Heather, Brenda and Cherry,

    Sometimes it gets harder to remember things but if we keep working at it, I think that will strengthen us for the years ahead. And also praying that the Holy Spirit will help us to keep the important things up in the front of our minds.

    Blessings,
    Jan

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  8. Jan:

    My wife Ann recently completed a bachelor's degree at 73 years of age. She found the same thing. In fact a neuroscience course taught her that even an old brain can grow.

    Nothing like keeping those dendrites growing to stave off Alzheimer's!

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  9. Thanks Bryan,

    When I took an course on teaching art the instructor told us about the dendrites - I have never forgotten. Each new task, whether a new computer program, a hobby or learning Scripture my brain is growing.

    I do notice, however, that I am starting to forget more things so I need to keep working on this "stretching".

    Blessings,
    Jan

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