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Article contributed by guest author, Dana Dart-Mclean, LMFT.
Focusing the mind and putting energy into cognitive functions can bring our physical needs to the surface. Developmentally, our brains and bodies establish patterns for learning simultaneously. To harness physical aspects of learning, we can draw on the neuroscience of development.
Dance educator Anne Green Gilbert created the BrainDance (more information here and an example of the dance here) to support young learners with a sequence of movements that are based on the movements we make in the first years of life. Intentionally doing these movements (or your own variation) supports focus. By calming the nervous system, through stimulating the brain’s proprioceptive (awareness of where the body is in space) capacity, in addition to multi-sensory capacities, we can increase our ability to concentrate.
Acknowledging that the body/mind is doing so much at once can give us more respect for the learning process and how amazing our coordination of parts is. Setting an intention (“I’m going to move to support my focus.”) or even affirming verbally (“my brain is amazing!”) while breathing deeply or lightly tapping the scalp with both hands reduces anxiety or tension in the body and increases the ability to absorb information. Try these exercises or explore the Braindance full sequence to see how your learning and focus are impacted.
About the author:
Dana Dart-Mclean is a psychotherapist, artist, and educator based in San Francisco. She offers individual therapy, workshops and groups, and arts coaching for creatives as well as sends out a monthly newsletter with exercises based on art therapy for personal growth.