Saturday, May 30, 2020

Jigsaw Puzzle Therapy

I've been working on improving brain function with jigsaw puzzles and have noticed a significant improvement in even the ability to read faster and comprehend more of what I read. Many articles on aging include the necessity of maintaining your cognitive function. I initially got started as a means to pass the time.


"Solving puzzles helps reinforce existing connections between our brain cells. It also increases the generation of new relationships. This, in turn, improves mental speed and thought processes. Jigsaw puzzles are especially good for improving short-term memory. Our short-term memory helps us remember shapes and colors and visualize the bigger picture to figure out which pieces will fit together."

In addition to improved memory, benefits include better problem-solving skills, improved visual-spatial skills, improved mood, keeping your brain active to delay dementia and Alzheimer's, lower stress levels, increased attention to detail, and an increase in productivity.

I had been doing a lot of Word-Find puzzles and even wrote a previous blog post about it. Now I am on jigsaw marathon. Perhaps, I can call it jigsaw meditation. While working on them, I can zone out for hours at a time... which is not necessarily a good thing as I also disconnect from what my body is doing... like slouching. In addition to the few I already owned, I borrowed from the apartment complex community room and from the girl who comes during the week to assist me.

When I first open the box of a new jigsaw puzzle, I scan the pieces. Are they all the same? Are they thick or thin? Do they have drastically different shapes? I wonder whether I will be able to complete it or not. (Self-doubt.) Some have been relatively easy, but some have been especially difficult. The more difficult ones include 3D, watercolor paintings, and ones with mostly backgrounds of a similar color.

How can I compare this with life? When I enter a room full of people, I scan the room. Who is there? Who is not? Who are they sitting with? Who would I like to sit with? People. Relationships. When I first meet someone, I wonder if we will connect or if we will be drastically different. I wonder about their personalities, their life experiences, whether they are simple-minded or complex. How much personal information I can safely share with them. Sometimes, everyone in the room is the same nationality. Sometimes, there is a mix. Sometimes, one person of a different nationality is in a room full of people who are all the same. Since I would feel odd in that situation, I wonder if they do.

With 3D puzzles, depending on the time of day and the lighting, the colors and images keep changing. Inconsistency. I think of 3D as 3 dimensional. Our 3-dimensional world includes the senses: sight, smell, hearing, tasting, and touching. Yet there is also 4D and 5D that a person must develop the ability to understand in order to believe in those dimensions. In energy medicine, 4D and 5D are included in your overall assessment. Doing a 3D puzzle requires a newer level of patience on my part. Perhaps I am to develop a newer level of patience with people.

I wonder how many new brain synapses are forming as my eyes get accustomed to looking at something that continuously changes. I've noticed how the 3D puzzle stimulates parts of my brain that eventually figures out how the variations of the pieces fit together. I may have to take long breaks between pieces, but then I am enthralled when I return to "know" and remember where new pieces belong.

This is what happens in my life. Perhaps yours, too. The epiphany.

Just over a week ago, someone gifted me with a Thomas Kinkade puzzle... watercolor. I looked at this puzzle being 1,000 pieces of watercolor splotches and felt overwhelmed without even trying it. I am fully aware of how many times I have done this with life. I looked at the entire situation with anxiety vs. the mentality that one piece at a time is all I needed to tackle, and eventually, the project would get done, especially if all the pieces are there, or the situation would work out.

With many watercolor paintings, there are no definitive lines. Life has no definitive lines. The only thing certain is change. After already giving up on a previous watercolor puzzle, I accepted the gift from both the person and the Universe as an opportunity to expand the capacity of my brain. I must rely on fitting shapes together vs. colors. I must take a different approach to solving the problem. I have to take many breaks to give my brain a chance to catch up with the new synapses it is developing.

In my book, Appearances: A Journey of Self-Discovery, I wrote a chapter titled Jigsaw Puzzles.

"My life is a giant jigsaw puzzle, with God the only one who knows what the completed picture looks like. I receive more pieces with each experience. It may take hours, days, weeks, months, or years for me to figure out how they fit, but when I do figure out where the pieces go, and I step back to look at how it is coming together, I am always amazed. Piece by piece, I am formed by the many experiences I have. I wonder how old I will be before it will be finished, whether it's completion will happen as I make my transition to the spirit world, or whether I will have an opportunity to study and observe the completed puzzle when I get old and life slows down."

Well, I sure was surprised when the last piece found its spot. I can't believe my brain managed to process and complete what felt like a monumental task. There were times it seemed like my brain even knew where to find a piece from one of many trays I use to organize them after looking at an empty spot on the board. I decided this one is going up on my bedroom wall to remind me that in life...

...many times, we must rely on and trust our intuition (6th sense) vs. 3D senses. Everything always works out... even if it is very different than what you hope for. 

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