Have you ever had a great idea, picked up a pen to write it down or sketch it, and had the idea disappear as soon as the pen hit the paper? The last piece in the brain/body integration puzzle is fine tuning for fine motor communication. We must remove any blocks to the energy circuits affecting fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and the written word. These skills support our successful self expression, be it by knitting, drawing, building, or writing. Expression on a two dimensional sheet of paper combines touch and movement with vision and language. This requires sophisticated skills in perceiving, conceiving, dealing with symbols, expressing, memory and recall. Writing and drawing involve all the domains we have been improving up to now: emotional stress release, brain/body integration, hand-eye coordination, body posture, fine motor skills.
Indeed, in PET scans, the hand area within the brain (particularly the thumb) is most lit up when speaking. Most of our communication is with our body, not our words. So if neural communication between brain and hands is compromised, it makes all communication, including vocalization, more difficult.
In the pre TV era, children played endless games of marbles, jacks, pick-up sticks, tiddley winks, etc. All these games developed our ability to focus, concentrate and trained our eye-hand coordination to a high level. Today’s children are less active and do not get the same motor skill development from watching TV or computer games. Less physical activity hinders eye and body development and it’s not good for us grown ups either. Back to playing jacks!
Also, consider what a pianist or an opera star does before a concert. They warm up, flex their musical muscles by doing scales. What do you do before you sit down to approach a manual task, or a written assignment? If you are like most, nothing! Rita Edwards, an Educational Kinesiology faculty member from South Africa, in her P.R.E.P.A.R.E. writing program, suggests stimulating our tactile and coordination circuits before writing by using Brain Gym® and other activities. So pick up a piece of paper and clap it aloft between your two hands. Then put a smooth piece of paper in one hand only
and crunch it up into a ball. Smooth it out again with the same hand. Busy fingers, as you figure it out. Now vigorously rub your hands and forearms to stimulate your touch receptors.
Also use a stress ball or play dough to exercise your hands. Take regular breaks from fine motor activities such as writing or typing to move your arms, shoulders, body, and to flex your fingers. Don’t let your body energy get stuck: It will result in a stuck brain and stuck creativity.
Why are reading and writing so challenging? Two dimensional written symbols (letters) are not contextual—that is, they are not part of the real, three dimensional world. A three dimensional chair is recognizable whether upright, upside down or sideways. Now consider a two dimensional letter b. Reversed, it becomes a d. Upside down, it turns into a p and a q. We need to move these symbols out of the abstract, and make them live comfortably and automatically in our three dimensional bodies. The following activities will help. Although geared to writing, these balancers will improve any fine motor task demanding more dexterity.