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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 4

Scientific research into mental activities

Can the scientific method be applied to supernormal abilities? Lee Si-chen, a professor of electrical engineering at National Taiwan University who has been researching qigong and various of the body's more unusual capabilities, thinks so. He points out that mental activities became a new field for brain research in the 1980s. It had been thought that it was impossible to understand the mind from the perspective of neurophysiology. Now, however, the higher mental processes are thought to be the result of increased neurological complexity, and are being researched as the product of a system. He says that Sperry's research, with its discovery that certain brain capabilities resulted from cooperation between the two hemispheres, was critical to this new view.

Lee explains that the chips in a computer are like the neurons in a brain, and states that intelligence is a new characteristic arising from the linking together of these neurons in complex ways. It is a high-level operation of the brain. "Everyone who studies electronics knows that electrical transistors by themselves can only amplify a signal. But if you link a few together in a particular structure, they can store data. This new capability is the result of creating a complex system, and you must come up with a new theory to explain it. You can't explain it using quantum mechanics as you would a single crystal. Instead, you have to analyze it using electrical circuit theory." He therefore feels that Shichida Makato's explanation of creativity as a transformation of brain-waves (a low-level operation) is inadequate pending further research.

"More than 10 years of scientific experimentation has verified the existence of paranormal abilities such as 'reading' with the fingers and telekinesis." Lee says that numerous scientists are looking into such questions as why people see images in their minds when exercising these capabilities and from which part of the brain they originate. He says that Shichida's placement of the "third eye" in the pineal gland of the diencephalon may be accurate, but it needs to be verified through experimentation.

The controversy over Shichida's methodology raises yet another question, namely, how are parents and teachers to evaluate the never-ending stream of new educational methods being proposed?

Do all roads lead to Rome?

Chen Lung-an looks at the question from the perspective of creativity training. He supports the idea of developing both the left and right brains, but he doesn't agree with the idea that traditional education only trains the left brain. In Chen's opinion the traditional, lecture-based education can produce creative students. To him, the key lies in the attitudes and ideas of parents and teachers.

Based on his more than 20 years of research into creativity, Chen says that great natural creativity is the gift of a few, but creativity can be taught. The basic principle is teaching not just in the classroom, but from life, by opening children's eyes to the world and providing them with many stimuli. For example, when redoing the ceiling in the family apartment, parents can include children in the process of choosing a color and matching patterns. Or when eating out, parents can ask their children why a given dish has a given flavor and how it's made. They can point out that a dish does not have scallions and ask what has been used as a substitute.

Chen suggests that parents should let their kids enjoy themselves. Fostering curiosity, encouraging questions and providing challenges develop a child's creativity. In addition to encouraging kids to ask, think and do, parents need to be tolerant and appreciative to avoid killing a child's creative sense. The willingness of parents and teachers to do these things is the key. Simply put, kids need a "loving education."

Chen says that Shichida's imaging training and memory games are simply getting at the same thing from a different direction, and do help foster creativity. However, he warns parents that there is no shortcut to creativity; you accumulate it as you travel life's road.

Pushing too hard

On the other hand, child psychologist You Chien-kuei emphasizes that time hones people into adults. Not letting knowledge "settle" and not leaving time for rumination is dangerous. You takes the study of math as an example. She says that if a child learns to do arithmetic with three- and four-digit numbers too quickly and easily such that the underlying principles are never really absorbed, it can be an obstacle to later studies of mathematics. She feels that this issue must be taken into consideration.

Psychological therapy fully affirms Shichida Makato's "imaging training" concept. You Chien-kuei says that the period before children reach the age of 12 could be called the "cartoon stage." Thinking is done entirely in pictures and images because the structures which recognize patterns haven't yet developed. An image-based educational method-i.e. utilizing comics, stories and games-is bound to be more effective at getting and holding the interest of children of this age than one based on the written word.

Diane Fan, an assistant professor in the department of early childhood education at National Pingtung Teachers College, fully affirms the value of "imaging training," but says that for some of the games employed in the training it would be best if the teacher had some background in psychology. With such a background, the teacher would be able to better understand the children's response and stop inappropriate fantasies and images from developing too far.

Getting back to our essence

Fan believes that the most worthwhile aspect Shichida Makato's ideas is that "they remind us how to develop our inherent capacities and our essential being." Based on her years of observation and research into children's minds, Fan states, "A child's internal world is a pure and beautiful place. Children are naturally full of creativity." Parents shouldn't ignore children's core being by sending them off to attend extra-curricular classes so they can "learn something." What they should do is enter into their children's internal world, guiding and appreciating the imagination and creativity that children are born with.

Fan says that this idea of developing the capacities of the deeper self is also valuable in the context of growth and learning in adults. "Through the meditation aspect of imaging training, we take some time to listen to our inner voices. Carrying out the deep breathing exercises, we see the truth, virtue and beauty of our primal selves." Fan says that in the deep places of the human mind we hold the capacity to heal ourselves, mentally and physically. The problem is that we are accustomed to looking outside ourselves for help. For this reason, methods of getting back to our essential selves like those proposed by Shichida Makato should be promoted.

The trend today seems to be towards a kind of growth and healing which involves all three aspects of our selves-mind, body and spirit. In this context, right-brain education offers us a theoretical and methodological structure. The next step is for more research to allow humanity in the 21st century to develop broader scope as individuals and a more integrated self.

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