Monday, May 7, 2012

Questionable Felts

About a year ago I took a position teaching literacy at children's learning center. Here, the children spent hours a day learning skills to better help them read and understand text. To teach at this center, employees had to attend a two-week training regimen (40 hour work weeks) to learn the various teaching techniques of the program.

There were a lot of colored rocks and questionable pieces of felt...but one of the teachings I really latched onto was the concept of "air writing." In this process, students were instructed to write each letter in a chosen word in the air with their pointer finger. The letters had to be written in front of the student's face so he or she could "see" them. At first, I thought this was hogwash.

But I've been air writing ever since.

Today, while walking the dog, I was thinking of something or other and realized I had no idea how to spell whatever mystery of the universe I was attempting to solve. As if by reflex, I began to air write the word.

This mundane moment became a powerful one for me (I am apparently prophetic today.)

At its base, air writing operates on the principle of visualization. Frankly, if you can see it, you can spell it. We do this when we picture words in our minds. This is why we can look at words and say "that doesn't look right," even without spellcheck.

This got me to thinking about the process of visualization. Obviously, it works on spelling tests. Learning center students almost always reported higher grades and better standardized testing scores after completing the program. But how much more so can this concept be applied to life? And what might the extracurricular tests be? Personally, would I ace them?

Prior to the learning center, I had never air written a word in my life. The process looks goofy, and, as we all know, I need no further help in that department. Still, after two weeks of training and a summer of implementation, I find myself air writing every time I have difficulty spelling a word. If I applied this principle--say visualization on my dreams, hopes and goals for example--how might the practice of visualizing first change my day to day operations? And would those changes, no matter how small, then work to create the larger changes I hope to achieve?

How would I go about drilling positive visualizations into my head to the point that they are second-nature like air writing and Coke A Cola/fruit snack cravings?

Studies show that, over time, proper therapy literally changes the way in which the brain operates. With due diligence, the areas of the brain responsible for the initial reaction to a stimulas can be altered. It's "mind over matter" as evidenced by CATscan.

If, therefore, the mind has the ability to alter its operations (with hours of practice) is the mind not then a muscle to be toned and sculpted as one sees fit? And, if that is truly the case, then how can visualization play a role?

Much like the Americas, this "discovery" is not a new one. Every successful propagandist to have ever lived realized the power of repeated messages, especially those associated with image. I hear that's even what "The Secret" is about (I haven't read it and you can't make me!)

But despite its long past, this concept is a new one for me to ponder. I may be young, but in so many aspects I am "set in my ways." I often look at myself and want to change, but either believe I can't or that I simply don't know how. But today, when I caught myself air writing, it suddenly became clear to me that even I can change. Even I can alter the state of my mind to steer my thoughts in a way most beneficial to me and to my future.

And apparently all it takes is 80 hours, questionable felts and a plethora of colored rocks.

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