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Mind Your Head Brain Training Book by Sue Stebbins and Carla Clark
by Sue Stebbins &
Carla Clark

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(Coral Lee/tr. by Scott Williams, SINORAMA Magazine©)

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Page 3


Shichida Makato believes that true creativity comes in the form of an image from the future. He cites the sources of inspiration of several famous creators as examples: Mozart is reported to have said, "I myself know not whence my scores surge forth. If I am but left undisturbed, inspiration springs forth without cease." And Mishimo Yukio once said, "When I write a book, the characters appear in my mind. All I have to do is note what they say. There's no need at all to think up a plot."

In addition to the three functions mentioned above, Shichida Makato enumerates a fourth-rapid automatic calculation. There are a great many five- and six-year-old children all over the world who can correctly multiply and divide five- and six-digit numbers in seconds. Shichida believes that this is an application of the right brain's fast calculation and imaging mechanisms. He has verified his supposition using data from Positron Emission Tomography (PET) testing of brainwaves. This data shows that the right brains of highly skilled abacus users are active when carrying out arithmetic operations. This contrasts with the rest of us, for whom the left brain is more active when doing arithmetic.

The mystery of instinct

Interestingly, the right brain is believed to possess extraordinary powers which have their origins in instincts which pre-date education and civilization. As early as 1975, brain specialists had discovered that the cerebral cortex, unique to primates, was responsible for intellectual activities such as language and reasoning. The limbic system lies below the cortex and pre-dates it. Sometimes called the "mammalian brain," it is involved in the expression of emotions. On the lowest level lies the brain stem, sometimes called the reptilian brain. It controls basic bodily functions such as breathing and heartbeat.

"Our use of language, invention of tools and development of reasoning capabilities have pushed the development of the brain and made us 'smarter.' But at the same time we have lost our ability to feel an earthquake coming, and our ability to recognize from the larger environment when fish and vegetables will be at their tastiest. . . ."

To create a balance between our human and animal minds, "We must bring the functions of the brain stem to life, especially those of its center-the diencephalon." Shichida Makato says that, strictly speaking, the development of the right brain is the development of the diencephalon of the brain's right hemisphere. In other words, it is the development of the deep, unconscious levels of the brain.

Imaging training

On the subject of activating the diencephalon, Shichida recommends "imaging training," success at which connects the human mind with the universal mind. The principle underlying this training is hypnotic suggestion.

In class, the children seat themselves in a circle. With quiet music playing in the background, their teacher softly tells the children to close their eyes, breathe deeply, then enter their imaginary world. They may imagine they are shopping in a department store, or that they are butterflies sipping nectar from a field of flowering rape. A different method is to first show the students a round, colored card and then have them imagine the color of the card changing. "After much practice, you can watch images change by themselves." Based on his many years of experience, Shichida says that children playing these kinds of games can immediately enter an imaginary world, and describe what they see and feel there.

Just the facts, please

Another interesting feature of Shichida Makato's classes is that they do not attempt to present principles underlying knowledge. Instead, they provide students with large volumes of raw data. The rationale is that when data is presented quickly, the left brain cannot keep up in its efforts to order data and turn it into language. Instead, it gives up and takes a break, allowing the right brain a chance to handle it. "After the right brain has taken in the data, the brain can search for patterns and systems on its own."

At an experimental class in Mucha, an English teacher flips through dozens of picture cards in one to two minutes. The children keep their gaze fixed on the cards as the teacher reads through them. According to Shichida, flipping through the cards in this way activates capacities inherent in the children's right brains. Once the right brain is activated, a student should be able to memorize large amounts of information quickly and easily.

A third method for activating the right brain involves other kinds of memory training. Shichida's curricula include games to teach "direct visual imaging," speed-reading and the making of mnemonic associations.

In class, the teacher places 10 different pictographic cards against the whiteboard. He or she then connects the cards to each other with a story, creating a picture in the mind which facilitates memorization. Shichida says that with practice, "Kids no longer need the verbal connections. They can easily remember 40 to 50 cards. For many kids even 100 cards aren't a problem."

Spiritual education

In addition to addressing the theory and practice of right-brain development and human learning potential, Shichida stresses balance and complementarity between the two sides of the brain. To him, right-brain education is ultimately spiritual education. "The overt consciousness is competitive, jealous and in opposition. But the deeper levels of consciousness are more compassionate, peaceful and loving."

Shichida feels that the universal mind, which created the universe in love and benevolence, exists within our human bodies. Therefore, when the human mind and the universal mind unite, we put ourselves in tune with these emotions.

The Shichida Schools in Japan stress Shichida's compassion, and encourage mothers to attend their children's classes. Shichida believes that right-brain education is only effective if children live in a loving environment. Therefore, if a child's relationship with his parents is poor, the teacher will give the mother guidance in building a closer relationship with the child.

Because the application of right-brain theory is still in its infancy, many still have doubts about the efficacy of right-brain teaching methods. Even in Japan, where there are more than 300 Shichida Schools dedicated to the use of Shichida Makato's right-brain techniques, the methodology has not been accepted into the mainstream educational system.

"You expect opposition," says Casper Shih, who has great confidence in the right brain's potential. He says that those who are opposed tend to reject the idea because of the lack of scientific verification. But he asks how you can replicate "supernormal abilities" and creativity in an experiment. Shih says, "There is still much that humans do not know about the brain. What we know most about now is its physical structure, but there is still a great deal we don't know about its software. Shichida Makato's theory of the brain's operating mechanisms is based on observation of brain phenomena." Shih feels that while Shichida's theory doesn't explain everything, it is most certainly a valid direction.

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