Have you ever thought that you can train your brain just like you can train your body at the gym? It’s actually possible thanks to juggling. Lots of researches and experiments prove that simple juggling with three balls leads to brain tissue development – basically it increases the amount of gray matter in the brain. It shows also that brain development is possible not only in childhood, but in adulthood as well.
Before all the goods and wonders that juggling can do to your brain, let me introduce you to some origins of this art. Juggling is actually one of the oldest circus arts which was presented by wandering artists on fair markets. In Byzantium they were called ‘ioculatores’ and ‘circulatores’ in ancient Rome. First jugglers came from India to Egypt, from where they next moved to Greece to eventually reach Roma. However, in medieval France the word ‘jongleur’ (‘juggler’) described all the musicians and singers traveling around France and Spain. Jugglers in Middle Ages were considered as magicians, since they knew how to play with illusion. These times making tricks were based on unusual dexterity, which made it looks like magic. First masters of this art were Asian people, especially coming from China. In the mid-nineteenth century on European stage appeared artists from China and India who could juggle with plates, tridents and daggers.
However, to start with simple juggling you just need two or three balls in size of tennis balls. As difficult as it seems in the beginning, it’s actually not and anyone can learn how to juggle. There is one saying among the jugglers that 1% of humanity doesn’t have the ability to learn juggling. It’s only a rumor though and a lot of people, hearing this saying, claim to be in this 1% who can’t ever juggle. Personally, I was like that at the beginning and I can assure you, that if you won’t lose your patience easily and won’t give up shortly after start, you can do that!
Juggling can help to focus attention and improve concentration as well as visual-motor coordination. We never actually think, how many complicated moves we make in our daily routine. Even everyday activities like walking or cooking require a complex sequence of movements and focus. And just to think how much we can develop all the abilities, when we control three balls by throwing and catching them. Additionally, thanks to juggling one person can develop really nice sense of rhythm; improve reflex and ability to maintain balance and proper posture.
We were talking about the “external” effects of practicing juggling, but how does it actually work for our “internal” possibilities? It is proven that juggling can help in the process of learning and remembering the facts. Carole Smith, American specialist of physical education, run some tests, which proved that improving visual-motor coordination at the same time improves the ability of reading and writing. This is the reason, why juggling was introduced to pupils who had problems with reading, writing, learning or focusing attention during classes. Psychologists and pedagogues consider juggling as an exercise that can cure many disorders, such as dyslexia. But as I mentioned before, juggling is useful not only in childhood but also adulthood. We tend to think that mostly we learn in early years and with age it comes more and more difficult. Improving some skills, such as juggling and practicing them can help us to maintain a healthy and fully functional mind, still open for new things to learn.
You still don’t quite believe? Let me tell you about one experiment made by brain researchers at University of Regensburg in Germany. There was a group of 24 people which was divided equally: 12 people learned juggling and continue practicing it and 12 people didn’t juggle at all. After 3 months in juggling people group in each person was observed increase of brain tissue in two areas. Thanks to both of these areas we are basically able to process information’s about moving objects. The experiments that were run have key meaning for rehabilitation and restoration of brain tissues damaged after accidents or in case of illness.
Juggling is more and more used also for to reduce stress and find an inner harmony. It helps us to think less about things that burden our minds too much. Increasingly, we can hear about the forms of therapy in which juggling is used as a way of introducing the patient into a state of relaxation. Moreover, juggling is used in children hospitals to bring some colors and laugh in gray everyday life.
My point is – find your own reason to start juggling. Whether you want to focus or relax or just have some fun, juggling is always a good idea!