This week at Brookhaven Retreat we are learning about our brains. The idea of the “soft tattoo” reminds us that our brains are adaptable. While we may have experienced trauma, this imprint on our brains can be reworked over time. This means there is always the possibility for change even from our deepest struggles.
There are many experts currently examining the effect that creative art-making has on our brains. The act of creating art engages several different parts of the brain, making it an ideal medium for cognitive development and mental health. If you are interested in reading further about this topic, check out the book Art Therapy and Clinical Neuroscience, edited by Noah Hass-Cohen and Richard Carr. Also, Eric P. Jensen wrote a book called Arts with the Brain in Mind that summarizes this research and the effectiveness of art in brain development.
The activity this week involves your own interpretation of your brain. Choose some kind of sculpting material, ideally air-dry clay. You may also use play dough if you have some laying around. Sculpt what your brain looks like. This may be taken literally, as you may decide to create a realistic-looking brain, or figuratively, using your imagination and experience. You may draw parallels from real objects to how your brain works, for example working like a clock or machine.
This exercise is meant to help you reflect on your brain and remember that things can change with learning and practice. Just like our environment, our brains are always assimilating and accommodating new information. This idea of the adaptability of our brains gives us hope for change.