Brain health is a big topic. That’s why we’re so interested in it. But it’s a topic with endless avenues for discussion, rumination, and exploration. Without some guardrails, it’s tough to decide where to start. We want Mind.On to act as a lens that focuses on the different aspects of our lives that impact and affect our brain health. Here is how that works:
Periodically, we will introduce a specific theme to guide our discussions about brain health
For the next few weeks, all of the content we share, questions we ask, and conversations we have will be oriented around that theme
After a few weeks, we will host an event with all of you to close out that theme
We hope that each theme engages you, the people in our community. We want to hear what you have to say. We hope you’ll share your thoughts, questions, and inspirations with us.
The whole purpose of Mind.On is to explore brain health, together. That means for each theme we dive into, we want as many perspectives and ideas as possible.
We will get the ball rolling, but we want to learn and to share as a community because every single brain has something to offer.
How will we choose each theme? Well, you already did. A few months ago we got a head start by holding a session with 20 or so people from the Mind.On community. Over the course of an afternoon, they produced a list of themes that they want to explore, themes like: climate change, relationships, money, and more. But we can’t give you the whole list just yet.
What we can tell you is that from that list, we’ve selected our first topic:
For the next couple of weeks, it’s Mind.On_Communication. To give context for the theme, we each wrote a bit about where our heads are at with this topic:
Kerry: The more I open my mind to communication, the more complex and vast it gets. Sure, there are the “heavy hitters” like verbal and written communication, but there are so many other intricate ways we transfer information from human to human. Like physical communication (touch and body language, intimate or not), communication with the self vs others (again, intimate or not), communication through the different artistic mediums, non-verbal communication in sport, communication with complete strangers vs loved ones. Even in the space of verbal and written, there is so much to unpack and with each scenario, something important is happening in our brain. And that’s only me thinking about humans! I am refraining from letting my brain think about humans to plants and other animals, then those beings communicating with each other…
Some big questions I want to explore off the bat are:
Why is communication so important to life?
How does it affect our brains?
How can we learn to communicate better/in new or more effective ways to improve the health of our minds and quality of life?
Rebecca: Over the past few months I’ve become fascinated with non-verbal communication. My curiosity was sparked when I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers - the gist of which is that humans aren’t very good at translating non-verbal cues. Gladwell even suggests that certain conversations would be better without face-to-face interaction. This threw me for a loop. I’m someone who speaks with my full body. I’m not particularly eloquent and I often trip over my words. My non-verbal gestures play a significant role in the way I communicate. Now that we’ve entered the world of Zoom and FaceTime, I’ve found communicating with family and friends to be more taxing than ever. Certain feelings are difficult to communicate through a screen, and I feel a little lost without the cues from eye contact and body language.
I’m looking forward to doing a deep dive on this topic and trying to understand how the current situation has impacted the ways we communicate.
Some questions I want to unpack are:
What feelings are typically conveyed through body language?
How will social isolation affect the way we interpret non-verbal communication after this is over?
What happens to the brain when we communicate digitally versus communicating face-to-face?
Bryson: I’m impressed at Kerry’s ability to avoid mentioning the ongoing pandemic in her thoughts above. I can’t seem to help but dwell on it. Through the lens of widespread social distancing, communication feels more important and more relevant than ever. I think we’re all feeling that. Having our ability to connect in person yanked out from under us has been jarring. I’m an introvert, for the most part. I recharge by spending time alone. But not being able to socialize with close friends, with the people I love, is a challenge. I can feel the effect it’s having on my brain, wearing at my mind a little more each day. At the same time, I’m fascinated by our collective resiliency and ability to adapt. I had a friend tell me today that he has had more conversations (via video chat, of course) with close friends in the last three weeks than he has in the last year.
I’m fascinated by how my mind is affected by communication.
Some initial questions I want to discuss with everyone are:
How will extended periods of minimal physical social contact affect us?
How will moving our professional communications online affect us? How will this new working reality impact our brain health?
What’s your favourite way to communicate with other people? What’s your favourite way to communicate with yourself?
What we really want out of this project is to hear from you. Introducing our first theme is meant as a conversation starter. Does it resonate with you? When you hear “brain health and communication,” what does it make you think about? Over the next few weeks, we have more conversation starters to share with you, and we hope you’ll respond. This blog is going to be a place for you to share your thoughts and learnings with this community. If you’ve got something to say, drop us a line at email@example.com.