"Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions."
I had the chance to spend last weekend with my 88-year-old grandma and I feel so grateful that she is mentally sharp. Unfortunately, so many elderly are not as lucky. The National Institute on Aging estimates that some 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. What can one do to effectively treat and even prevent Alzheimer's? I remember a 2005 article that discussed amazing results with art therapy on Alzheimer's patients. A patient who had little memory or awareness, when exposed to paintings, suddenly would become lucid, articulate, and quite interpretive. Said the article, "One avenue of thinking about both music and art...is that it engages parts of the brain that remain intact long after the onset of dementia."
Most of our lives, we strive for meaning, ration, and understanding which ultimately batters and weakens a certain part of the brain. As Joseph Campbell said, "Life is not about the meaning, it's about the feeling." As we are learning from the Alzheimer patients, time spent immersed in creative freedom and FREE from rational knowledge is like a deep tissue massage for an exhausted brain. We can transcend the gradual withering of mind by taking time every single day, if not just for a moment, to set the mind free. A glass of wine, a long walk, your favorite song, a delicious meal. As Gandhi said, "Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart."
Here are some tips to free the mind and massage the creative brain.
- Go to a baseball game.
Even if you are not a sports fan, baseball is one of the only things in our culture that is not governed by a clock. There's something very liberating about escaping time and just relaxing in the summer sun.''
"A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz." ~ Humphrey Bogart
- Pick up some crayons and let loose.
One should hope for their mind to be as free as a 5 year old child. Next time you are at a restaurant where they have crayons for kids to scribble on paper placemats, ask if they have any "adult crayons?"''
"When I grow up I want to be a little boy." ~ Joseph Heller
- Don't be too cool for school.
Do something ridiculous just for fun. Taper your jeans like you did in the 80's. Wear giant, round, upside down sunglasses you steal from your grandma. Go dressed to a baseball game in full uniform with your mitt just like when you were a kid.''
"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." ~ Diane Ackerman