Recently adult coloring books have appeared in bookstores and online. They seem to be everywhere. Journaling is becoming more popular again as well.
Is there a reason for this?
Scientific research seems to say yes, there is a reason, though I’m not sure science completely understands the psychological or spiritual movement.
One such article talks about how the brain learns in two different environments: the physical act of writing versus typing on a keyboard.
“An experiment carried out by Velay's research team in Marseille establishes that different parts of the brain are activated when we read letters we have learned by handwriting, from those activated when we recognise letters we have learned through typing on a keyboard. When writing by hand, the movements involved leave a motor memory in the sensorimotor part of the brain, which helps us recognise letters. This implies a connection between reading and writing, and suggests that the sensorimotor system plays a role in the process of visual recognition during reading, Mangen explains.” (Science Daily, January 24, 2011, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119095458.htm )
This author posits that motor memory plays a role in learning. He gives this experiment as example:
“Mangen refers to an experiment involving two groups of adults, in which the participants were assigned the task of having to learn to write in an unknown alphabet, consisting of approximately twenty letters. One group was taught to write by hand, while the other was using a keyboard. Three and six weeks into the experiment, the participants' recollection of these letters, as well as their rapidity in distinguishing right and reversed letters, were tested. Those who had learned the letters by handwriting came out best in all tests. Furthermore, MRI brain scans indicated an activation of the Broca's area within this group. Among those who had learned by typing on keyboards, there was little or no activation of this area.
"The sensorimotor component forms an integral part of training for beginners, and in special education for people with learning difficulties. But there is little awareness and understanding of the importance of handwriting to the learning process, beyond that of writing itself," Mangen says.
“She refers to pedagogical research on writing, which has moved from a cognitive approach to a focus on contextual, social and cultural relations. In her opinion, a one-sided focus on context may lead to neglect of the individual, physiological, sensorimotor and phenomenological connections.” (see above citation.)
There is no doubt that for writers, the advance from a pen to a typewriter to a word processor has changed the way the writing world works. It is a tool that writers can use to form their ideas and then edit those thoughts to express their final views.
But as a serious artist will tell you, the physical act of drawing or writing ideas down, allows the brain to fully accept and integrate the ideas into one’s conscious and subconscious brain. Therefore, it appears that the pencil remains an important tool as well.
As a child, I remember being directed to draw a simple cross at the top of each assignment. I remember as a college student there was a quiet solace when I continued that tradition.
As adults we are bombarded constantly with electronic beeps, reminders, deadlines and every other interruption possible. This inhibits our ability to be at peace on just about any level.
Perhaps it’s time to stop. Now that we know the impact of physically writing, maybe we need to purchase that journal or that coloring book and build into our daily structure fifteen minutes of peace that our brain and heart long for.
My guess is that those fifteen minutes will lead to something else: that time you desire to find peace and solace with your Adonai who desperately wants to connect with you.