Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
John L. Ratey, M.D.
Making the Connection
Participate in the book club discussion of this chapter by doing the following:
1. Before reading the chapter, take a moment to write in your High Performance Journal.
– Based on the title of this chapter, what do you imagine you might learn?
– What thoughts or ideas come to mind?
– What kind of effect do you anticipate it will have on you to read this chapter?
2. Read the chapter.
3. Write in your journal, reflecting on what you read.
– What 3-5 things stood out to you?
– What did you learn that was meaningful or important to you?
– Do you want to do anything different in your own life as a result?
4. Participate in the discussion below, sharing your thoughts or ideas about the chapter.
– Share anything you want from what you wrote in your journal.
– What related to or supported anything else within the dimension this book belongs to.
– What related to or supported anything in the dimension of achievement and the pursuit of your goals?
– Contribute to the discussion in a helpful, positive way.
This introduction made me reflect back to growing up in a small town and living on a ranch. All the things we were doing were helping us to stimulate our brain. I just realized that the hard work before school and recess and our PE (daily) in those days was just what we needed! I feel very fortunate and grateful that I lived in the time where there was great emphasis put on our physical activities. After reading about the connection, maybe that was why I had such a smart class!! Ha, ha! My class was exceptionally smart and we were active. We had fantastic PE instructors and although we didn’t have the technology, we did have the dedication of our teachers, helping us be fit.
I really liked this introduction. Three ideas stood out to me.
First, that for brains to work at peak performance, their bodies need to work hard. That is a powerful thought simply because it’s never talked about. We all sort just assume that our brains just work fine all the time, always at the same level. We consider our brain function to be on the same level as, say, a book or…the sun–it’s just always on and reliably does its thing. The reason this critical connection between body and mind is so unseen and/or ignored, I would say, is because of probably two things: 1) that we aren’t able to recognize in ourselves the difference between our “slow” brain and our peak performance brain, either because the difference is so subtle or because we are used to the change that it doesn’t really register any more; and/or 2) we have been conditioned to attribute a “slow” brain to other factors: “I’m too tired to think” etc.
I think it would make a huge difference if we could see the current performance of our brain at any time, on some kind of display or monitor. Then we could see it go up after exercising. You think that could be motivating? It’s the ol’ idea of “you can change what you can’t measure” or something like that.
The second idea I found intriguing is that the brain is like a muscle, growing with use and shrinking with inactivity.
And finally, the idea that more is in our control and in our power than we normally think. We don’t have to be a slave to our minds, thoughts and emotions. We don’t have to just take it. We can take action and change everything about our lives by changing our brain, which is the “command center” for everything that happens in our entire body and even our thoughts. This aligns perfectly with and supports the agency and action principles at 6th Dimension.
The fact that I can heal my brain from the damage done from all the toxic stress in my life and the depression that has blanketed me all of my life is what struck me the most. I have gained so much from just reading the introduction that has changed my life. I comparison of the brain to our muscles make so much since. I want to wack my head and say, “Duh!” (haha)
Another powerful thought to me is, “If you can get to the point where you’re consistently saying to yourself exercise is something you want to do, then you’re charting a course to a different future – one that ‘s less about surviving and more about thriving.” I want to thrive and quit surviving!
Amazing so far!