Mindball: Are You Calmer Than Your Three Year Old?

This cool hat will tell you if you think like a three year-old. Mbot does.

We celebrated Memorial Day by visiting The Stomach Center (Mbot renamed The Arizona Science Center) where, thanks to a game called Mindball, I proved that I can consciously calm my brain more effectively than Mbot can calm his (a fact I know Husbot would question).

Which was a remarkable feat, because, by the last day of a three-day weekend filled with fabulous fun family time (and no time to myself, except for two hours that morning during which I washed the dishes, did four loads of laundry, and cleaned a bathroom), I was feeling anything but calm. I was torn between feeling grateful and joyous at having such a wonderful family (and such good weather for zoo-going, bike-cruising, and water-parking) and feeling stressed and panicked at not having had any time to write. At all.

But here is the Mindball brain-activity read-out, which backs up my claims of my ability to calm myself, although at the moment the picture was taken, only Mbot’s brain activity was being charted, in the window at the left.

How do you play Mindball? See that long plexiglass tunnel on the table? Inside is a metal ball. A player sits at each end of a table, puts on a funky hat with a cord coming out the top, and tries to think calm thoughts. “I am sitting on a beach. I am listening to waves. I have a babysitter for the entire day.”  The ball rolls away from whoever is calmer and more focused. If the ball reaches your end of the tunnel, you lose.

Mbot lost four times in a row, but not for lack of trying, kind of. He switched chairs once, just to make sure I wasn’t sitting in the Magic Chair of Calm. (I wish!) Distractions abounded. All around us were people and other interactive exhibits, one of which replayed, about every three minutes, the sound of a car crashing. I finally had Mbot stare at the ball, place his fingers in his ears, and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” softly to himself. It was really, really cute, but his brainwaves still went through the roof.

I was starting to worry that Mbot had ADD, and then calmed myself remembering that he’s supposed to be this way–he’s three. But it set me thinking, and on the Mindball website, I discovered that the same brainwave technology– EEG Feedback Training— is being used with great success to help children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.

It made me think, too, of the effect of writing on my brain. It must stimulate my alpha waves. Focusing on communication and self-expression through the written word must calm me, allowing me to focus more, which calms me more–a self-perpetuating zen state. I don’t have a Mindball machine to back up this theory, just years of experience. I wish refereeing disputes over who had the green water pistol and who had the red one had the same effect.

So, wonderful weekend memories, and a sigh of relief at sitting back down at my computer. What was your weekend like? The ball’s in your court.

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