Your Health Destiny Meets How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci Series!
You may not know this about me, but aside from studying medicine, meditation, energy healing, qi gong, CrossFit and positive psychology, I have also been studying with best selling author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Gelb, learning how to enable anyone to access their creative genius.
Why? You might ask.
Because Michael’s and my work are quite synergistic in enabling individuals to connect with their internal and external resources to thrive in life, rather than dive. With his seven da Vinci principles, Michael provided me with a new language and techniques that go along perfectly with my scientific understanding of how the brain and body function at their best.
Again, you still might ask, “Why?” or “How is this so?”
Well, Leonardo da Vinci was indeed a genius as well as a very healthy man. He was an anatomist, architect, botanist, city planner, engineer, equestrian, inventor, geographer, geologist, military scientist, musician, painter, philosopher and raconteur. He also spent time in nature, was an avid athlete, healthy eater, and meditator. Leonardo basically embodied much of what I write about in Your Health Destiny, which makes him a perfect mentor to help you cultivate your own aliveness, ability to problem solve, stay healthy and vibrant, and ultimately reach your full potential.
The da Vinci principles as Michael defines them are:
• Curiosità — An insatiable quest for knowledge and continuous improvement
• Dimostrazione — Learning from experience
• Sensazione — Sharpening the senses
• Sfumato — Managing ambiguity and change
• Arte/Scienza — Whole-brain thinking
• Corporalità — Body-mind fitness
• Connessione — Systems thinking
Today, I am going to focus on Curiosita.
Do your remember being a child? You were curious about everything. You wanted to know why, how, if, what and where. Much to your parents’ dismay, you asked questions constantly. Too many questions according to them. With your imagination, you created something from nothing. The world to you, was enormous with possibilities.
And then you grew up and your state of curiosity changed. You were shut down, told to stop asking questions or punished somehow for making mistakes, while rewarded for doing something “right.”
In wisdom traditions, your early state of openness and curiosity is likened to the state of an open heart, a state that comes to children naturally, as they have not yet had many bad experiences that caused them to feel badly about asking or trying new things. A child’s brain is also not fully developed, so he or she cannot understand fully the meaning of different experiences, especially difficult ones. As a result of the negative experiences that are hurtful or painful, as a child grows up, the heart shuts down to avoid making mistakes or getting hurt again. With this shutting down, however, the desire to be interested, curious and creative is lost. In stress physiology terms this translates to negative experiences triggering negative emotions (a closed heart) and a stress or fear response that disables the brain from clear and creative thinking, and even learning.
Now Leonardo da Vinci never let go of his state of curiosity. He stayed young, in other words. He had many failures and set backs, but these negative experiences never stopped his drive to learn and create. Rather, the experiences propelled him to keep going. With an open mind and open heart, he was able to cultivate his genius as his brain developed more. Stress did not stop him. He was on a constant quest to discover more, to investigate the unknown, and find answers to questions that had not even been asked yet.
What can you do to tap into Curiosita like Leonard da Vinci?
1. One of the exercises Michael Gelb suggests is to carry a journal or notebook with you at all times, like Da Vinci did, so you can jot down your ideas as soon as they happen.
2. Practice asking questions. You probably want to practice how you ask questions first as most of you have been programmed to ask questions that will lead to a “right” answer. Part of asking questions to access Curiosita is to know that there is no right answer, but there is a right question. Take any given situation or problem and ask using your “Ws”:
• What: Is the problem? Underlying issues? My perception or perspective? etc.
• When: Did it start? Does it happen? etc.
• Who: Cares? Causes it? Can solve it? etc.
• How: Does it happen? Can I change my perspective? etc.
• Where: Does this happen? Do I need to look? etc.
• Why: Is it important? Does it persist? etc.
As Michael writes,
“Some people like to muse on the philosophical conundrum ‘What is the meaning of life?’ But more practical philosophers ask, ‘How can I make my life meaningful?’
3. Observe little children and take notes of their curious nature and behaviors.
4. Observe how different you think and problem solve when you feel stressed and overwhelmed versus calm and positive.
5. Practice power breaths to calm the stress response, quiet the negative thoughts in the mind and open your heart:
Breathe in and count 1-2-3.
Breathe out and count 1-2-3-4-5.
Do this for several cycles of breath while imagining that your are releasing the tension from your mind and body with every outbreath.
Then imagine that as you breathe in, you are breathing in light and a sense of openness and curiosity into your heart and mind, while still letting go of tension as your breathe out.
Do this for several cycles of breath and then imagine that your heart and mind slowly open like a flower, filling with light and a sense of curiosity.