Using neuro science for a better-working brain

Watercolour by Vicky Emery

Written by Vicky Emery

July 15, 2022

I’ve been learning how to paint with watercolours for nearly a year and here is the first painting (above) that I have framed and have in my house.

It’s a misty lakeside – it’s not photorealism, it’s the interpretation of a scene. And that is what I love about watercolour. It does its own thing if I just get out of the way. I’m not trying to recreate something, which took me quite a while to let go of.

I got into watercolour as part of my training in neuro science – looking at how I was approaching things and the techniques from the latest research to help me achieve them in a different and brain-friendly way.

I realised that I had always valued working ‘hard’. Long hours, pushing for output and delivering. Such a misguided and old script! The latest research in the field clearly shows that our brains do not work well like that! It was a limiting belief that, if I hadn’t challenged and changed, would have likely worn me out.

Working in chunks (40-50mins) with rest and exercise, bringing in creative practices like dancing, painting, writing, and working with our hands, really tap into and actually feed the plasticity of our brains. It allows the brain to learn, create new neural pathways, and store and retrieve new habits more easily. It brings a sense of flow and ease, of curiosity and innovation, sparks new ideas and lets us get out of our own way.

Watercolours have been on my ‘one day…’ list for a long time and likely would have stayed there. I have now worked 10-15 mins of rambling painting into each day – especially if I am stuck on solving a problem or looking at things from a different angle. I don’t treat it as another task with a set start and end, I just let it happen. That is a joy and also just as valuable as anything I could push to deliver.

Want to work out what works for you?

This is just one technique and one that works for me. Want to work out what works for you? What’s on your ‘one day…’ list that you want to revisit or achieve?

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