Brain Gym® 101!
Last year when my friend from Hong Kong came to visit, I thought why don’t we do something new and take a Kinesiology course together! My friend was fascinated with all these healing stuff I was doing and anyway she had done all touristy things on her previous visit to London and wanted to see what else London had to offer. We contacted my Kinesiology teacher Jennifer Hand to arrange a 4-day Brain Gym® course for us.
I had done some Touch for Health Kinesiology courses with Jennifer and would highly recommend her as both a teacher and a practitioner to everyone. The courses themselves were all well designed, full of hands-on practice and never a dull moment. What I like about Jennifer is the way she teaches, always encouraging and she really listens and is interested in what the students want to say. Just from observing her, I learnt how to better communicate with my clients. She really is a great role model.
So what is Brain Gym®? I can see you thinking brains lifting weights!
I was going to tell you all about the history of Kinesiology and the names of a bunch of doctors and experts. I was so bored writing that and thought how could I expect you to finish reading it? So I did a Brain Gym balance for myself and I’m going to use it as an example to illustrate to you what Brain Gym is all about.
First we set the goal. This is crucial because without knowing what we want to achieve, how do we know what we are going to do?
Let me give you an example of a goal: in the middle of writing this article, I was still scratching my head as to how to explain Brain Gym so you would get a full enough picture and to be interested to research it further. So I did a few Brain Gym movements which would help me to have a clear mind in order to figure out what I want to achieve and to make a goal statement. What I want to achieve is to write an article on Brain Gym that is to the point as well as engaging for my audience. I would also like to enjoy it without over thinking about it. This is the goal I came up with: I write a to the point and engaging article on Brain Gym with ease and joy. I observe that this statement is positive, active, clear and it energizes me.
The second step: noticing. We say the goal statement out loud, do some simple activities and notice how we feel both regarding the goal and the activities.
Have you ever noticed that when we dread doing something or when we’re in the presence of people we don’t feel comfortable with, our bodies react in funny ways? For example, our hearts might be pumping extra hard, we can’t think of something intelligent to say, or our legs become like jelly. During the class, Jennifer asked us to recall every funny reaction we had had and she drew it on the board. My friend recreated the drawing here to show you. Have you encountered any of these body sensations before?
Why is noticing important? It is so that we are aware of what’s going on inside us, so that we can do something about it. It is our bodies’ way of telling us something is not right and need addressing. It’s also a way to know whether a balance is completed, because at the end of the balance, we will do the same noticing exercise and usually the funny body sensations would be gone and left us with a sense of wellbeing and perhaps some new insights.
For the balance I did for me just now, part of the activities I did was to hold a pencil and write down my thoughts. I found my heart racing, tension built up on the back of my legs and my mind went blank! I sounded hopeless, didn’t I? It’s only about writing an article! We asked Jennifer why the body sensations felt so much ‘louder’ than they usually would be – after all, we’re all very used to dealing with things we don’t like in order to get on with lives. Jennifer explained that when we set the intention for noticing, it was like we were observing ourselves under a microscope and our bodies got to talk to us louder than usual.
It is also worth mentioning that teachers of this kind of courses are often very compassionate and thus they create a safe place for the students to cry their eyes out, if needed. I’m no longer surprised at how much upsets people can bury inside themselves and only tentatively talk about it when they feel they are not being judged.
Then comes the Brain Gym activities which we choose from the learning menu that includes 26 movements. These are all very easy to do; some involve whole body movements, some involves head movements or even eyes movements and for some, we stay still.
So what do these activities do? How can they help us to achieve our goals?
We all know that we have a right brain and a left brain, right? In order to be doing our very best, we need both the right and left brains working together in harmony, as they help us in different ways. However, at the moment of stress, the brains are not working together and we would go to the fight or flight mode, or we freeze, like how my mind went blank during the noticing exercise. The Brain Gym movements are designed to help the right and left brain to be in harmony as we learn something new.
Very often during the activities, some old memories might come up, and/or we would have realizations, regarding the goals. For example, I remember how my mum used to discipline me by saying ‘I will tell your teachers and they will punish you and you will be in shame in front of your classmates!’ I realized I was worried what would the experts or my teacher say when they read this article and my legs tensed up to prepare for me to fight or flight. I also realized that I’m not writing for the experts, I am doing this for whoever wants to find out about Brain Gym so all I need to do is to tell it as how I understand it, just like how I would to my friends.
We continue doing different movements from the learning menu till we feel we have done enough. How do we know? We just do! Sometimes it’s like there’s a shift within us, perhaps we feel differently towards the goals, perhaps we have a new sense of joy. During this balance, I was feeling good but when I planned to do the post-activities checks, I felt my heart sank! So I continued some more.
The post-activities are simple. These involve the same activities that we did during the noticing part. Usually we would complete them with ease while feeling good. This time I picked up the pencil and happily wrote down my thoughts which were about how much I was enjoying my new life in Greece. And how did I feel about my goal? I felt great that I could erase all the boring bits and rewrite the article whichever way I like!
You might ask, why go through all that trouble just for one article? Why not set a bigger goal? We like our goals to be specific so we know where we are at, but a Brain Gym balance would help us a lot more than within the goal. For example, after understand my hidden fear for teachers/experts, I now gain much more confidence in expressing myself. I also feel much more care free and not worried about making mistakes.
The final and most important step – we celebrate! This is both a time to tell ourselves ‘Well done!’ and to associate good feelings with having learnt something new. I gave myself a hug and make myself a lovely cup of lotus tea. Do you tell yourself ‘Well done’ from time to time? How do you celebrate?
I trust that you have by now got an idea of what Brain Gym is about. Do drop me a line here or by email if you have any questions. If you want to experience a Brain Gym balance, you might contact Jennifer or search for an Educational Kinesiology practitioner in your area. I recommend this course to anyone who is interested. It’s the fundamental program for Educational Kinesiology so there is no prerequisite requirement. Please don’t let the word ‘educational’ fool you though – this method is good for every aspects of our daily lives because our lives are full of lessons and learning.