Every day we wake up and preform our rituals, many of which are quite satisfying. I rather enjoy sitting in my cozy chair, drinking my cup of coffee while I gaze out the window at my garden. even though I’ve heard that standing on my head is healthy and brings blood flow to my brain, it’s not something I’d prefer to be doing in the morning. That really wouldn’t help me get a new spin on things…it would just make me dizzy.
Our rituals can be good for us, and they can be comforting, too( I certainly have no intention of giving up my morning coffee in my cozy chair). But an unyielding reliance on ritual can be destructive—not only to ourselves, but to society as well.
When we become inflexible, we start to feel as if we’re living our own version of the movie Groundhog Day—the same thing, day in and day out. And that sort of inflexibility in ritual and thought, in its most extreme, can lead to cultish behavior.
It’s exciting to realize that some of the latest brain research shows that if we develop new ways of thinking and being, we may actually be able to stave off the effects of dementia. If we could stop spending so much time on our exterior world and spend more time on our interior world, there’s no end to the good it would do us. People are always talking about going to the gym and doing their “workout”, but shouldn’t we be giving our minds a workout too? How about a mind gym?
In his book Aging With Grace, Dr. David Snowden, shares his studies on a group of nuns he’s been tracking for a number of years. many of them live well into their 90s, and a surprising number of them are 100 years of age. they also suffer fewer and milder forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and brain afflictions. Snowden found that the sisters challenge themselves with crossword puzzles, vocabulary quizzes, and debates; hold current-events seminars, and write in their journals. Snowden, who examined more than 100 brains donated at death by The School Sisters of Notre Dame, maintains that axions and dendrites that usually shrink with age branch out and make new connections if they receive enough intellectual stimulation. The old adage “Use it or lose it” really applies here.
There are many reasons why we become trapped in our routines, and most of us are masters at coming up with reasons why we can’t change. But, try to break out of some of your patterns even if it’s once in awhile. You’ll find yourself feeling renewed and more able to see the world through a brighter lens.
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