Excerpt from Train Your Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Well Being

August 8, 2008

This week’s newsletter has a different focus. Instead of answering a question, I’d like to share an excerpt from Train Your Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Well Being, my newest book. This book isn’t just for dancers – I took some of the brain concepts I have learned and use in my own life and made them teen friendly.

The following is from the back cover of the book.

Being a teen is not for the weak – and you can be stronger.
You can be smarter.
And you can be happier.
All you need to do is pump a little iron…with your brain!

Train Your Brain: a Teen’s Guide to Well Being is like a set of barbells for your mind. In these pages, you’ll learn life-changing workout routines that will help you:

• Perform like a pro – on the court, in the classroom, anywhere and everywhere
• Be a better friend and meet new friends
• Take charge of your feelings
• Dream up goals and make them happen

Follow eight kids with problems just like yours as they discover how to pump up their lives…by changing their minds. Using techniques like:

• Mental Rehearsing
• Creating a Feeling
• Refocusing
• and the very powerful Acting as If

combined with lots of fun activities and little-known secrets about your mind, you can begin to create new paths in your brain – and in your life!

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This 48-page book is packed with wonderful ideas and strategies for teens as well as younger children to feel more confident and empowered in their life. I’d like to share Chelsea’s section. She is 10 years old and loves ballet. She is the only ballet dancer out of the 8 characters – there are boys who play basketball and topics such as school, family and friends that are touched upon. Enjoy!

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Name: Chelsea
Age: 13
Likes: ballet, baking, talking on the phone, and eating cookies
Dislikes: big dogs and the dark

If you saw Chelsea playing with her brothers or talking in class, you’d think she was always happy and carefree. But, if you saw Chelsea walk into her ballet class, you’d see a whole new girl. For some reason, Chelsea got nervous when dance class rolled around. She didn’t know why and didn’t want to quit because she loved dancing…and had been doing it since she was three. But for the last few months she’d become so nervous-everyone was improving it seemed, except for her. Chelsea’s body started feeling stiff and her feet felt like lead. She was clumsy and her dancing wasn’t smooth at all. Even stretching was hard for her…she felt as if her muscles were too short for her body. Chelsea wasn’t sure what to do but she knew that she didn’t want to keep going to class if it was going to be like this. Was it time to quit doing something she loved?

Ahhhh, another perfect example of a situation that needs help from the brain. Chelsea needs something that can help her to calm down and focus her attention back on the fun of dancing. This brings us to Brain Fact #2: Create a Feeling.

This may sound confusing but it’s really easy. Before I tell you how to do, let me share a little brain secret. Your brain if full of little paths, like roads, that are formed whenever you do something or think something. So, let’s say you eat 10 hot dogs and then you throw up. Well, you created a path. So then, the next time you eat a hot dog, your brain will return to the path that goes with hot dogs. Along that path is also throwing up. So, now, when you think hot dogs you also think throwing up. And when you think throwing up, you think hot dogs. And each time you think those thoughts, the path becomes stronger…kind of like putting new cement on the road so it’s stronger.

The cool thing about these paths is that we can purposely create paths that help us. That is what Create a Feeling is all about. We’re going to connect a simple action (like making a fist or curling your toes) with positive, confident thoughts. That way, you’ve created a path. And you know that positive, confident thoughts create positive, confident feelings. So, when you need those positive, confident feelings, you’ll be able to do a simple action that is connected to those good thoughts and BAM, positive, confident feelings come along.

Let’s Rewind and Replay Chelsea’s dance problem and see if Create a Feeling can help her out…

If you saw Chelsea playing with her brothers or talking in class, you’d think she was always happy and carefree. But, if you saw Chelsea walk into her ballet class, you’d see a whole new girl. For some reason, Chelsea got nervous when dance class rolled around. She didn’t know why and didn’t want to quit because she loved dancing…and had been doing it since she was three. But for the last few months she’d become so nervous in class that she could barely move. Chelsea wasn’t sure what to do but she knew that she didn’t want to keep going to class if it was going to be like this. She needed to find a way to start enjoying dance class again. She decided to get her brain to help her find a way to get her confidence and joy back. She decided to create a path. First, she came up with a small action. She decided she would take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. At the same time she thought of her past dance recitals. She remembered how comfortable her body felt dancing, how loud the clapping was when she bowed, how her legs moved to the music. She practiced taking a deep breath in and slowly exhaling while thinking these positive thoughts a few times everyday. By the time dance class rolled around, Chelsea was ready. When she felt her body start to freeze up at the dance studio doors, Chelsea took a deep breath. Automatically, her body relaxed and the confident, positive feelings of past recitals flooded her body. Chelsea smiled; she’d created a path that would help her look forward to dancing again!

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Train Your Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Well Being!

I’m off to the Dance Teachers Summer Conference tomorrow. I’m going to bring some extra copies of Train Your Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Well Being. I don’t have a booth this year, so if you would like to look through this book please come to one of my workshops! Hope to see you there!

Until next week,

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

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