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. 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 this one 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?”
Reprinted from Inscribe Online May 3, 2011.