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For the Love of Learning

Did you know that the human brain is neuroplastic? Every time you have a new thought, or take a step in a new direction, the brain creates new dendritic connections and new neural pathways are established? Fascinating information if you are a neurosurgeon. It can also be very empowering to realize that the brain is not hard-wired as previously thought was true. Does the thought of learning a new creative hobby send you into a frenzy? Do you proclaim you are not creative and haven’t got a creative bone in your body? How sad is that perspective? It closes the door on an opportunity before you even step through it. Enter Zentangle. A meditative drawing practice that uses repetitive patterns which can be combined in a multitude of forms which are as varied as the individual thumb prints of each human being. Regardless if you have never attempted to draw anything before, this practice can build your confidence and skill to see what is in front of your eyes. It is a very original way to unwind, and can provide hours of creative inspiration to those who have an open mind, patience, willingness to challenge the misconception that creativity does not apply to you. Zentangle is the process of building patterns one stroke at a time. It has been used as a means to treat depression, and as a catalyst for healing from illness, and trauma. By focusing your attention on drawing each stroke, your concentration is redirected away from the worries, and challenges.

When we rely on history as the measuring gauge of tradition and reliability, it does not allow for fresh insights or inspiration to enter. We are left with stagnant, outmoded ways of viewing a situation which is not open to potential or possibilities. “Experience” really signifies the limited frame of reference and repetition of certain practices or procedures over the duration of a certain time frame. It carries with it an element of entitlement, or ownership in the same way “expertise” might. The difference is when you are “experiencing” something there is no prior reference to compare it to. It is a present moment unfolding.

Recently I was working on a creative project, a drawing in black and white. I attempted to use a fine brush and watercolor paints to add some detail and definition to the work; it was a painstaking choice to do the work by hand (old way.) To master the process of applying color to the hard-edged lines demanded the hand-eye coordination of a surgeon. Although I had never done this any other way before, it seemed quite possible that it could be done with greater ease and would minimize the time required to use a computer to do the job. This led me to the luxury and convenience of using a 17 inch Macintosh computer. In just three steps by using the “magic wand”, the paint jug and the color selection tool, I learned the sequence and in a matter of minutes was liberated to execute the job with precision and without stress. It was effortless!!! If I decided to change any colors or experiment by removing some areas it could be done with the click of a mouse. My initial response to taking this step was that was I out of date, old school? Could I choose to do it using Photoshop with no prior exposure to the process? What might have been intimidating enhanced the process and brought a new level of joy rather than tension to the task. It was both inspiring and empowering and opened the way to transforming creative projects that although quite complex, could be executed quickly and with ease by making a new/different choice. It was exciting to discover that in a short time I could adapt and integrate this new way of being an artist and reap the benefits creating better results in a fraction of time.

So when you are blocking your desire to learn something that has attracted your interest, piqued your curiosity and sense of wonder, nothing happens. Conversely opening the door, stepping in and “experiencing” what is waiting on the other side will enrich and improve your outlook, build new confidence and yes create new neural pathways your brain has never imagined possible. All you needed to do was to say YES!!!!

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