Visual Exercise

It’s a well researched fact that visualizing something, taking a penalty kick for example, improves your actual performance. By performing the physical task of drawing, we can train our mind’s eye in a fun and easy way.

Some of my thinking here is inspired by the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. The simple act of drawing, often overlooked, changes how our visual imagination works. This is so useful at any age and for any problem. Being able to engage in a visual way when looking for solutions. It gives a different perspective and acknowledges that some people naturally think this way.

I’ve recorded a youtube video to accompany this article…

It’s really important to play along. When trying this out, pay attention to the sensation of drawing. We are going to start using simple materials. A compass, a pencil, some paper, a rubber and a pencil sharpener.

We are going to build up a geometric shape using circles alone. Use this as an opportunity to practice a different kind of mindfulness. Instead of the breath, we will be aware of the feeling of using a compass. If you haven’t used one in a while, the first few attempts at this will be “learning to use a compass”. Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake (that’s what the rubber is for).

I’ll give some tips, but I don’t want to spell it out too clearly. The beauty of this is that by doing it for yourself, you notice the right way naturally.

Keep the pencil sharp, and level with the point of the compass. Put some firm pressure on the point of the compass (it is no harm at the start to really mark the centre of the circles). Place the tip of the pencil on the paper and, leaning it away from you slightly, twirl the top of the compass between finger and thumb.

If you pay attention to how it feels to do this your muscle memory kicks in quite quickly. You notice that you make fewer mistakes when absorbed in the action rather than in thinking (don’t let your left brain know, but that is the essence of meditation).

The Pattern

Draw the first circle.

Place the point of the compass anywhere on the edge of the first circle and draw another.

Choose a point where the second circle meets the first. Place the compass point here and draw the third circle.

Repeat this working around the original circle, drawing a circle with its centre at each point that a circle crosses another.

The pattern that we end up with is often known as the Seed of Life or Flower of Life. This is enough for an introduction and it is good to play with this a few times to get familiar with it. Experiment with colour and shading.

It’s easy to see some beauty in the patterns that we create. Extending these patterns on creates beautiful snowflakes, fractal patterns and more. In the future I will write another example expanding on the usefulness of this exercise.

For now I will drop some links for you to explore for yourself. I think that this way of training your eye has endless applications. From design and art, to conceptualising quantum theory. The next extension of the pattern contains within it all of the complex 3D shapes that we can imagine.

It’s almost like downloading CAD for your brain’s operating system.

And it’s fun.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes.
That’s what the eraser is for.