Had an amazing experience this past weekend connecting with people who came together to celebrate the grand opening of a wonderful coffee shop* in Montana and to learn some basic principles for preparing and dealing with emergencies
The conversations I had were thoughtful and open-minded - more than I had even anticipated! I felt very welcome and able to share ideas in open and authentic dialogue -even when our opinions differed, everyone stayed engaged and willing to hear each other's perspectives. It was a refreshing and energizing feeling of community - more than I've experienced in a long time. I met some amazing people who I am excited to continue getting to know when I move out there soon!
At the beginning of the seminar, we were asked to shake hands** with a person to our left and to our right (which ended up being 3 or 4 people because everyone kept reaching out hands to each other). A beautiful thing happened - people's eyes met, they connected, they smiled, they said hello. As simple as that sounds, it's not something that happens much these days among strangers. It instantly changed the energy of the audience. At the end of the event, we continued with conversations. It was such a great feeling to go somewhere completely new without knowing anyone, and leave with new friendships.
We are designed to connect in multi-sensory-motor ways with each other. Our skin, our nose, our ears and eyes - are all meant to be saturated with information about each other, so that we can truly understand another person. Words*** have subtext. They are symbols that are our best attempt to express what is going on - but without the other senses, we are robbed of so much rich information that is more accurate because it is 'raw data' for your senses pick up without the middle-man of verbal translation - which has its limits.
*an event held by BRCC Kalispell and Fieldcraft Survival)
**I learned recently that hand grip strength is related to cardiovascular health. I think that is a fascinating connection, and ties in with what I keep coming back to in terms of biomechanics - that what we do with our hands has larger implications for our wellbeing, communication, mental health than we may currently realize
***which I use in too large of quantities! My closest friends know I'm a multi-paragraph texter, which is so not cool, I know..)
Short post today, wanted to give a quick update of thoughts from the weekend! Thank you to everyone for such an impactful and wonderful experience!
With Love From Me to You
It continues to be clear to me as well that the idea of using our mind to think about different plans and actions ahead of time in case of emergencies or negative scenarios (such as those I'm learning about in wilderness first responder training) is a powerful mental tool. It leads us to flex our prefrontal features of future projection and pathway thinking. It may seem irrelevant to a lot of people, but the more I learn about it, the more I think it's not just about planning and preparation, it's about using our brain circuitry in ways that push it out of the realm of constant reactivity, and into the realm of foresight and more complex root-cause-effect type of thinking. I think this is something that families could learn to do more of with each other - and use something like planning for trips as a way to do this, with everyone taking on roles to help with planning and packing. If the kids are teenagers already, giving them even more autonomy to pack and plan for trips would be a great way to have them work out their prefrontal cortex as more of it comes online and re-organizes. Going on trips also exposes our senses to new stimuli that takes us out of many of our automations, and stimulates activity in many areas of the brain that are good for overall mental health and functioning. A few people I spoke to had kids and were asking about child brain development. I had a vision while driving back about the idea of doing some kind of experience with families, where they are learning new skills together, but also where the parents get small neuroscience seminars on optimizing children's cognitive skills and non-cognitive factors such as mindset, attention, emotion regulation, and social skills.
A few of the people I talked to this weekend were also veterans who were interested in neuroscience and post-traumatic stress. I felt so inspired by the seminar and the community that I am thinking of offering a Neuroscience of Post-Traumatic Stress workshop in Kalispell later this year! (likely in the summer, but maybe as soon as May, depending on logistics and a few other factors - after my book deadline is more realistic, but we'll see!). Facilitating workshops was something that I always loved, but haven't done in a while now... seeing how a seminar can bring people to learn and connect re-sparked that in me so I'm looking forward to planning something!
Dave Sands of the Food Origins Podcast*(which I love) - who I met at the event this weekend- sent me the poster above about Saturday gatherings in Kalispell for people who have experienced TBI - I love that this exists.. it's an important topic that is still emerging in terms of research, and reflects once again the importance of community and sharing experiences with others.. Seeing this gives me encouragement that I will be able to contribute something to the community there.
*with the support of his wife and family, he changed career paths to follow his love of cooking and food. It was great hearing about him pursuing this through a podcast
I had a nice drive as well - I really enjoy long car rides, and there are also brain benefits to looking at horizons and changing scenery in our peripheral vision. There are so many beautiful landscapes to see - and that definitely includes Montana 🙂
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