My grandmother used to twiddle her thumbs. If ever she wasn’t crafting and her hands weren’t busy she would twiddle. She was great at knitting and sewing, and now that I’m understanding more about the connections between the head, the heart and the hands I can see that she had a great need to calm the mind. She lived in a different era. But the need to calm the mind seems ever more urgent.
A need for calm
A connection to nature has recently been advocated for its calming benefits and lots is said about meditation and its ability to calm the mind. But sometimes sitting still to meditate is too much of a stretch of patience and will. Tools are needed. Tools that help to keep you focused.
Is this what my grandmother was doing with her hands?
On many occasions I’ve noticed my ability to focus is much improved if I’m occupying my hands through crafts. Keeping my fingertips busy seems to to directly affect my mind. In acknowledging this ability, an understanding of the nervous system within the body plays a part.
How the nervous system comes into being
The nervous system is pretty much all developed during the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy, in fact the beginnings of the neural tube start building even before the mother knows of her child. It will form three areas that become the former, mid and hind brain. It is from this hindbrain area that the spine and associated neural pathways grow. So you see the finger tips are nerve endings that have come from the very early stages of synapses developing within the brain building blocks.
Later in life (outside the womb!) Your nervous system can be accessed via parts of your body.
Your hand is a map
Reflexologist work on the study of the hand (also foot) as a map of the body. Applying pressure on a certain area of the hand stimulates nerve impulses to produce a response to relax through increased blood and oxygen flow to that body part or organ.
A reflexology chart clearly shows the reference points for the brain at the tips of the fingers. The fingertips are points of stimulation for areas of the brain. The thumb being the pituitary gland which controls all the governing hormones in the body.
Working with the nervous system and stimulating blood flow to prompt the body’s own healing response is the basis of the work of reflexologists. And they access these parts of the body through the hands and feet.
Bring calm via your head heart hands
Working with your hands, using your hands for certain activities stimulates a response similar to reflexology and the understanding of the nervous system can be applied in the same way. Many musicians will note a calm when playing, think of all those busy fingers on the piano or pressure on the fingertips to hold down strings.
Tools at the tip of your fingers
Yoga and meditation work on the same understanding. The hand ‘mudras’ as they are called in Yoga are the positions of the fingers during certain poses. These mudras apply pressure on finger pads thereby stimulating – ‘connecting’ as they say in yoga – the areas of the brain. This assists the meditative practise. This is a tool to calm the mind.
Gyan mudra is one of the most well known even if yoga isn’t your thing. The tip of the thumb and the tip of the index finger are connected. It’s noted to sharpen the brain, empower the mind, nervous system and pituitary gland,
A growing understanding of head heart hands
Reflexology and yoga are well understood in esoteric circles. Now the understanding is growing and becoming more accepted in scientific studies too. The Alzheimer’s prevention encourage the practise of a certain meditation, the ‘Kirtan Kriya’ which involves activating pressure on each finger pad in turn with the thumb as well as singing phonetic sounds in a simple four note melody. This link is a description and You can hear it in this YouTube here
“Western research has revealed that utilizing the fingertip position in conjunction with the sounds enhances blood flow to particular areas in the motor-sensory part of the brain.”alzheimersprevention.org
Kirtan Kriya has featured in studies of its benefits to brain longevity, balance and stimulation. In yoga practise it is used to balance the hemispheres of the brain and bring stillness to thoughts.
The stimulation of the fingertips is beneficial in strengthening the processing of the brain. The fingertips are useful tools to have!
the Head, Heart and Hands
This aligns with The Waldorf philosophy of education, which holds the belief that we learn through the head, heart, hands. This translates as ‘thinking, feeling and willing’
Thinking is the head, feeling is the heart and the hands are acting on the new knowledge.
Waldorf schools will follow a pattern of learning that presents the lesson in an intuitive manner, and then handcrafts are often employed as a way to embody the learning into the heart.
Like many of the eastern philosophies it is the experience of the knowledge that brings the resonance.
“the hands are connected to the intuitive nature of the heart”Amy Russel Yoga
It is the doing of the craft that roots the associated learning within the child. This Is linked to the use of the hands and finger/thumb tips being connected to the brain.
A new way of learning
Activating the fingertips focuses the mind to the learning that is presented within the craft. Rather than stuff the mind with facts many schools and families are learning in a way that can be taken into the heart. That uses the hands to weave the knowledge into the growing child. To embody an understanding and feeling.
Handcrafts and particularly textiles crafting is having a resurgence. Felting, hand sewing , embroidery. I have often thought of the similarity of holding a needle and thread to the calming and balancing Gyan Mudra.
Connecting the parts of the brain to sharpen thoughts and bring calm. A true experience of #headshearthands. The tools are on the tip of your fingers!
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