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Learn How to Juggle and Improve Your Brain’s Power

Learn How to Juggle and Improve Your Brain’s Power

Learning to juggle can do you all sorts of favours—not only does it look great it’s also a form of enjoyable, and challenging, exercise. Just as importantly, recent scientific studies have linked juggling to major health benefits. We’ll reveal how this skill can improve your mental acuity (which we back up with handy scientific knowhow), and we’ll also provide you with a basic guide on how to master the art of juggling.

Juggling and your Brain

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    In The Science of Juggling (Peter J. Beek and Arthur Lewbel, 1995) ithe earliest depiction of juggling is from antiquity, circa 1781 B.C. In the tomb of an unknown Prince a piece of artwork was discovered displaying Egyptian women juggling amongst each other, clearly indicating this famous ability is an ancient skill. However, despite the amount of time humans have been juggling, the first scientific research into the process only occurred in 1903. In this study Edgar James Swift published an article in the American Journal of Psychology suggesting that there were benefits of juggling for the human brain. Further research was held in the following decades, and by the 1980s mathematical formulas were being investigated by scientists such as Paul Klimek. His work involved the meticulous analysis of juggling patterns; in extensive diagrams he revealed the numerical order in which items are thrown and caught, the name given to these patterns being “site-swap”.

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    Contemporary studies are ongoing and have primarily focused on the health benefits for the brain, with the most revealing results coming from Oxford University in 2009. Dr. Heidi Johansen-Berg’s investigation finally proved the actions involved in juggling lead to “changes in the white matter of the brain”. As the doctor clarified, “We have demonstrated that there are changes in the white matter of the brain—the bundles of nerve fibres that connect different parts of the brain—as a result of learning an entirely new skill.” From this research it is evident the mental processes involved in successful juggling improve the connectivity of the brain. Juggling specialists, such as JuggleFit, have clarified the activity will help: relieve stress, fight off Alzheimer’s disease, sharpen concentration, increase dexterity, ward off food cravings, and assist in the cessation of smoking. Obviously you can achieve many of these health benefits by simply keeping yourself active, as Dr. Johansen-Berg clarifies, “there is a ‘use it or lose it’ school of thought, in which any way of keeping the brain working is a good thing, such as going for a walk or doing a crossword.” Unlike these activities, it seems that the activity of juggling has particular significance for the human brain as it encourages nerve fibre growth. This promotes overall brain fitness and, as many scientists believe, can help ward off debilitating illnesses as a result. It has been postulated the practice of distinguishing between individual juggling balls is what promotes this nerve fibre growth, although it is clear more research is needed in order to fully understand just how juggling can help the human brain and its vast complexities. However, Dr. Johansen-Berg remains positive for the potential of juggling as a meditative aid, “Knowing that pathways in the brain can be enhanced may be significant in the long run in coming up with new treatments for neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, where these pathways become degraded.”

    This research suggests there are numerous promising and powerful healing abilities to tap into here, and with this in mind there is only the final issue of taking up this ancient trick yourself and learning how to juggle. We’ll give you a helping hand.

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    Learn How To Juggle

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      As noted on Juggling.org, “It is essential to practise in order to learn juggling. The simplest movement requires complex electrical/chemical circuitry within the brain. The study of this circuitry is fast becoming an important field of neuroscience.” From my experience I’d consider it vital to remember you will need patience when practicing—as a beginner, you will make a lot of mistakes. Whilst every individual will learn at a different rate, I found it took a few days of 30 minute sessions to build a clumsy technique up, and around a week to get the three ball cascade perfected.

      The professionals put it this way, “Jugglers learn in a narrow focus situation. Recall how most people learn to read. First, they learn to recognize the letters (the ball or pin). Then they learn to recognize the word (the juggling pattern). However, once this basic juggling “pattern” (the word) has been learned, then the focus can shift to a higher level still (the words become a sentence). An example of this would be a juggler on a rola-bola [a balance board].” As the experts confirm, the only way to get anywhere with your juggling is to practice, “Neuroscience tells us practice creates or builds the desired pathways in the brain.” Once your mind understands these new electronic impulses then you will find yourself well on your way!

      So how should you start out? Firstly you will need to get some beanbag juggling balls (pictured above—they’re cheap), or you could use household objects such as oranges, apples, or tennis balls. When you’re happy with your equipment take a look below at the perpetual motion image. This is the three ball cascade you’ll be learning; use this as a visual guide as it will prove very useful as a reference.

        1. Get the basic “feel” of the process by throwing a ball in an arc from one hand to the other; it should rise up to eye height at the peak of its arc.
        2. A great method to perfect juggling is “scooping”, a technique that smooths out your movements. Scoop your hands when throwing back and forth as it helps greatly with overall fluidity.
        3. Now, with one juggling ball in each hand, throw one in an arc towards your other hand. When it is at the top of its arc lower your other arm to launch the other ball towards your free hand. As each follows its arc catch them in your hands. Practice this to increase your understanding of the motions involved.
        4. Now try for the 3 ball cascade; hold two juggling balls in your right hand, and one in your left. As practised in point 3, throw one ball in a sweeping arc from your right hand. When it has reached the peak of its arc, send the ball in your left hand to your right.
        5. Catch the first ball in your left hand whilst the second is arching upwards towards your right, now launch the third ball in your right hand towards the left and prepare to catch the second. Use the perpetual motion diagram above for visual assistance, and remember practice makes perfect! In a short space of time you’ll have a great new skill.

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        Alex Morris

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        Last Updated on December 2, 2019

        10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

        10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

        Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

        In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

        These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

        1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

        Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

        But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

        Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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        2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

        You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

        The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

        3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

        If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

        Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

        If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

        4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

        Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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        To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

        In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

        5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

        We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

        If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

        Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

        “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

        6. Give for the Joy of Giving

        When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

        One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

        So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

        7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

        Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

        Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

        8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

        When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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        So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

        9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

        Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

        It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

        It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

        10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

        There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

        But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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        Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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        Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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