Blame game: roosters, virus and my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

It’s the Year of the Rooster – I was born under the Chinese sign of the Rooster.  Always thought it to be a curse I was born under a sign that wasn’t fertile enough to lay an egg or two.

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According to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy and talented.

I’m not hardworking, at times am funny, almost always trustworthy, and have latent talents that get laid but never hatched.

This Rooster year started off with a cold virus that delights roaming the cozy recesses of my sinus passages.   It’s day 11 (but who’s counting).  I’ve been a total slug – no energy, no resolve which gives me a perfect excuse for not making New Years’ resolutions.

(The truth be told, I never make resolutions for the New Year – learned long ago that when I inevitably fail to keep a resolution it leads to feeling badly.)  

What energy I have has been directed toward resolving to be more creative this year. 

In preparation I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on how to break my creative block and stop procrastinating.

Most everything I read about procrastination indicates that we procrastinate when we don’t want to do something that is not enjoyable.   Being a master procrastinator I also procrastinate with things that bring me enjoyment.

For inspiration, I read blogs of people who write, read or draw daily – all things which bring me enjoyment.  I feel badly I’m not like them  which leads me to read articles on procrastination and meeting goals (I know how to set them, just not meet them).

Finally the article below has liberated me! I know what to blame:

My dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is lazy . . . not me.

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Creative block here’s neuroscience how to fix it.

by Elizabeth Shockman

“What is it exactly that helps us be creative? What fuels us when we get into an especially productive work flow? What makes the hours disappear when our brains focus on a task?”

“What, in other words, is happening in our brains when we’re being creative?”

“Cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we know a little bit about what’s going on. Berlin studies the neuroscience of imagination, creativity and improvisation. And for those people who might be facing writer’s block? “There’s really no prescribed medication,” Berlin says. “There is no real magic pill.”’

Instead, she says, creativity depends on which part of the brain you might be using.

“When [people] are improvising, there tends to be a pattern of activation where they have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Berlin says. “And that part of the brain has to do with your sense of self, your sort of inner critic, making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”

“Translation? When you’re at your most creative, “basically you lose your sense of self,” Berlin says. “You kind of release your inhibition. The second you become too self-aware that comes back online and you lose that flow state.”’

“In addition to losing inhibitions, people who are in a creative state have increased activation in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, which has to do with the internal generation of ideas. In other words, the ideas are coming from within.”

“Some people, when they’re in the flow state … a lot of people say ‘It feels like it’s flowing through me. It’s coming from someplace else,’ you know, ‘It’s coming so naturally I don’t even have to think about it,’” Berlin says. “It’s called liberation without attention. You can only keep a certain number of variables in mind when you’re thinking about something consciously. But if you let it go, you actually can come to a greater understanding because the unconscious can do much more complex processing.”

“For those suffering from creative block, Berlin has some practical advice:”

“You have to take in all the information and then go for a walk,” Berlin says. “Go out, do something else. Because those people who sit there and just obsess over thinking about it too much, using your prefrontal cortex you’re actually limiting yourself. So letting it go can actually help you get over, let’s say a writer’s block or a creative block.”

I’d go for a walk but I have a cold.  Maybe some other time . . .

 

 

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

The theme for July is “Journey”.  Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday.  The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.  

People could share as much or as little as they chose.  It was a wonderful group of women.  (All you men, where are you?!!!!)

Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!

To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!

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Process painting, Journey from Dark to Light

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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Mini journal – 2- page spread

The Power & Pain of Being an Introvert – TedTalk

People have me confused. You can read that in several ways but for now let’s just take it as most people think I am something I’m not.  

I was painfully shy in grade school.  So much so that my parents worried about my socialization skills.  They pushed me, encouraged me to put myself “out there” which being the obedient, wanting to please child that I was I complied.  I joined clubs, ran for office, went to dances all the while feeling like I didn’t really belong and was a bit of an imposter.

All that practice in school – putting myself “out there” has been helpful as an adult.  Most people would describe me as extroverted. But in the privacy of my own heart I’d rather be by myself. It’s simple – I NEED to be alone to regenerate my physical energy and stimulate my thinking.

I’m an introvert.  Susan Cain will explain it in this excellent TedTalk:

Watch it even if you are an extrovert it will help explain most of your friends or family members!

 

How to Live Life with Your Head in the Clouds

I’d forgotten how I’d lay on a blanket on the front lawn when I was a child finding images in the passing clouds . . . until I saw this:

You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.”

Cloud Appreciation Society

 

 

Pure Play – “No Thought to Outcome, Function or Future”

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Dali

Dear Westerfield,
“. . . The art class I am taking is taught by a . . . woman . . .  who is sucking the life and joy out of her students. She has already separated me from a nice woman I met there. No one is allowed to talk .  . .  I once, shall we say, talked back to her and I felt like I was Norma Rae. Hence, I will be sent to the principal soon, I’m sure. I hate going to the class but I want to stick it out for myself. She is always tense, tells stories, LONG, boring stories (multiple times) about herself and even the barrette that she wears on the side of her hair is annoying.

She is a good artist but as a teacher, HORRIBLE.  I am sticking it out . . .  [because] it took me years to sign up, to push myself and I am proud of me doing it.”

My heart simply went out to Laurie.  She’s landed in a creativity-killer-class. I say she should ask for a refund with added reimbursement for creativity abuse.

Every serious artist I’ve met who went to art school tells tales of how stressful it was. Teacher critiques were at the best uncomfortable and at the least brutal.  Now I’m not down on art school – wish I had the opportunity to attend one.  I am down on teaching methods that take the joy out of creativity.

Famous MAJOR artists play! – splashing paint (Jackson Pollock),  abstracting images until they were “childlike” (Picasso), images-11put together surreal elements (Joan Miro) and all explored and experimented outside the “technique of their time”.

Art should be fun, art should be pushing your own limits with curiosity and adventure not with the goal of doing it “right” or for someone elses approval. Creativity is “PURE PLAY – ” no thought to outcome, function or future” Eric Anderson

P.S.  I’m proud of you too Laurie!

 

Am I Neurotic or Psychotic?

Nature or nurture?

Psychosis or neurosis?

Best to never know

Creatively weird

Crazy is as crazy does

Just comes naturally

Dopamine System in Highly Creative People

Similar to That Seen in Schizophrenics

 “New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institute have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.”

Humph! Is she neurotic or psychotic . . .
too close to call . . .

“High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual  bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing.”

“We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia,” says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, co-author of the study that appears in the journal PLoS ONE.”
“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” says Dr Ullén about his new findings.”

Read the entire article in Science Daily, click here