Creating positive change?
Imagination – Tends to be something we associate with children, and often we think of fairies and flying objects. Surprisingly to know, imagination is one of the tools our brains use to store, categorize and remember things. The more we lose our ability to play, imagine and be creative, we are essentially making it harder to remember information.
Lets think about the reeealy smart people out there. It’s not so much that they just know stuff, it’s more the fact that when they heard something, or learnt something once, they were immediately able to store it in such a way that it was easy to access when the information was needed. So smart people aren't’ so smart after all, they are simply really good at placing information in their head.
Obviously, the more the information excites the individual the easier it will be to remember as there is already an emotional charge to the information, a pleasure response to the knowledge. Emotion is another very strong ‘hook’ to linking memories.
Have you ever wondered what totem poles, native dances, chants, ancient customs and stories are all about. They are ways humans have learnt to pass on information through the ages when there wasn’t paper to write knowledge down on. Knowledge was passed on through story telling and imagination. These stories are very vivid, and included much talk on how the image of the story being told may have felt on the skin, what the clouds looked like, the time of the day, the smells surrounding the people in the story, all of these senses helped the imagination to create a strong image in the memory as to easily be bought back up again when needed. Often these were told through dance and celebrations where they was an emotional charge to the pleasure of the event. How often do we hear a song and think back on a fun time or loved one.
Every mark, dent, drawing on a totem pole is a ‘hook’ or association to a story which is essentially knowledge. Aboriginals used the landscape of their home to pass on information, every tree, hill, rock face etc had a hook to a story that was passed down through generations. That is why when many Aboriginal communities taken from their lands they had occupied for many many generations we so unhappy to leave. They were essentially losing much of their history and information from generations before.
So why can’t we use this hook to create associations to something we are wanting to correct or shift in our riders?
The stronger an image is in ones head, the more likely it will be remembered or responded on.
I’ll give and example of a group of kids at pony club, riding on a circle. As often happens, a couple of the riders keep running up to close behind another horse and is in danger of being kicked. The coach repeatedly yells out, “Keep your distances riders, two horse horse lengths apart” to no avail. Unless one child is kicked, breaks a leg and has a bone sticking out (which would definitely create a negative association to riding too close) the riders haven’t make it important enough to actually do anything about it.
Lets use the kids imagination to change this scenario. What if we were to ask all riders in the group to stop and imagine a bubble surrounding them. Walk a circle about two horses length to give a visual on what two horse length looks like, then ask each rider individually to describe their bubble. Is it pink, does it have glitter? Is it metallic? Is it heavy or light? Does it glow? Does it shimmer?
The more information you can get from the kids the more they will associate with it. You can then briefly talk about what could happen if they get to close to another riders bubble, it could pop, or you could bounce off it and get send into another solar system and have to live with a family of purple aliens. The weirder, the groser and the funnier the better!
What you will find is the kids will then take responsibility for their own bubble and if they are getting a little too close all you need to do is say “bubbles” and they will all immediately separate.
How much information that is linked to a word or phrase is up to you. But the benefit of placing information in a simple word is when your young rider is nervous or about to go into a class that they are anxious about, you can say the word that you have previously linked to a happy emotion and it will help your young person relax.
One cool trick, is to ask your child to think of a really funny moment, a moment where they rode really well or a time when they felt good. While they are telling you about it pull their ear lobe, or if they are uncomfortable about that ask them to pull their own ear lobe. Initailly they will laugh and think you have lost your mind, but as you both laugh and talk about the story, while still pulling the ear lobe you are essentially linking a thought to that action.
Next time you think about it, pull their ear lobe gently as you walk past and smile. Talk about the story again for a moment, even make the picture in their head brighter. Put more information about the story in using smell, touch, sounds etc.
Next time your needing to help your child relax and laugh you can pull their earlobe and they will smile or create whatever emotion you linked with that action.
Have some fun with it!