Last night, I finished Richard Restak – Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential while I should have been sleeping. It’s the first book I’ve actually read cover-to-cover since last October. I’ve never read a more mentally and emotionally uplifting book. I felt more alert and appreciative any time I read Restak the night before, even without participating in any of his suggested brain-boosting exercises.
Below are brief quote-summaries of the last several chapters that I read last night before finally falling asleep around 3am:
23. Learn about and experience art and music.
“Dalí employed double images in order to induce in his brain what he called ‘visual instability.’ Instead of taking common objects for granted, he suggested ‘misreading’ them.”
“Dalí was the first to point out htat one should reamin open to the magical metamorphosis implicit in everyday life.”
“In short, you can enhance your creativity by playfully altering your perceptions and trying to look beyond the obvious, most practical interpretations of what you see around you.”
Salvador Dalí‘s The Image Disappears looks similar to
Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window but with the hidden profile of Diego Velázquez.
Dalí’s Study for Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire
24. Organize a physical exercise program that aims at brain enhancement.
“While any physical exercise can improve your brain’s performance, not every exercise is equally helpful. For instance, jogging and swimming exert a positive, indirect influence on general brain function by improving your cardiovascular fitness and your overall endurance. But neither of these exercises is specifically helpful to the brain. Since we’re aiming for a brain-enhancing exercise program, we have to concentrate on three key concepts: balance, strength in the legs, and dexterity.”
“In order to improve balance and strength in the legs I suggest you take up tai chi, the ancient Chinese slow-motion exercise combining flexibility, bodily coordination, and lower body strength.”
25. Cultivate fine-motor-control skills involving your hands.
“A large portion of brain tissue is devoted to sensation from and motor power to the fingers. And enhanced brain functioning has been shown to result from improving, or at least maintaining, finger dexterity. Indeed, our ability to oppose the thumb to our other four fingers sets us apart from other species. That wasn’t always so. Prior to about 60 million years ago, the hand was a clumsy instrument. But that changed when squirrel-sized primates left the ground and began dwelling in trees. To accommodate that change, the thumb had to become more flexible, the better to grip branches. As an additional accommodation, nails replaced claws – thus making feeding easier. Finally, sensitive skin ridges developed on the surface of the palms.”
“Our earliest ancestor, the famous Lucy, walked on her two hind legs and could join her thumb, index finger, and middle finger to form a three-pronged grip that allowed her to pick up and handle unevenly shaped objects, such as stones.”
26. Regularly practice some form of mental relaxation.
“While meditation is another word for resting the mind, I prefer relaxation since meditation carries with it so much extra baggage.”
“Stress causes brain damage.” (Discussed in Chapter 15)
“The best way of reducing stress? …breathing.”
“The second stress-reducing exercise involves changing mental perspective, what psychologists call reframing. In Magister Lufi: The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse described the process…”
“Sit comfortably in a chair and let your mind wander.”
27. Use technology to augment your brain’s functioning.
“Philosopher Andy Clark suggests in his book Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again that ‘the battery of external props and aids – laptops, filofaxes, texts, maps… offset cognitive limitations built into the biological system [of the brain].'”
“‘Certain aspects of the external world may be so integral to our cognitive routines as to count as a part of the cognitive machinery itself.’ In short, consider technological aids as coextensions of your brain, capable of enhancing your brain’s performance.”
“According to Henriette Anne Klauser, author of Write It Down, Make It Happen, all of us should carry pen and paper everywhere since ‘you never know when inspiration will hit.'”
See also: Stuff White People Like: #122 Moleskin Notebooks
“When working on your computer journal, you might also want to combine your efforts with some creative and exploratory web surfing. Sherry Terkle of MIT says that ‘computers are objects to think with’ and suggests we consider the laptop not just as a technical instrument but as ‘the subjective computer.'”
28. Concentrate on and act in harmony with your natural abilities.
“Adult learning is self-directed.”
“So, in regard to your career, follow your strengths. But when it comes to aspects of your life other than your career, give some credence to the advice of Mark Twain: ‘Make it a point to do something every day that you don’t want to do.’ The basis for this masochistic-sounding advice? Simply put, the brain is both marvelously adaptive and at the same time more than a little lazy. This is particularly true when it comes to intellectual activity.”
“‘Every is ignorant, only on different subjects,’ as Eleanor Roosevelt put it.”
“Keep in mind the key ingredients to successful adult learning:
– A sense of challenge
– An optimum state of arousal: not anxious, but alert and vigilant
– A free-floating attention so that links can be made
– Some form of feedback process, such as learning along with others, or, if learning alone, creating tape-recorded summaries of new information as it’s learned
In practical terms, look for ways of sharing your new knowledge with others.”
…like sharing this post with your friends. 😉
Are you looking for Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential (Part I)?