Wellness Wheel


Where do you need to take a closer look?

wellness-wheel

May you be well!

Advertisements

Now Know Flow!


IMG_2087

Now Know FLOW!

In putting together a workshop on FLOW states, here are a few things I’ve learned.

  • Each feeling and thought changes the blood flow and electrical activity in multiple areas of the brain.
  • Neural changes can take place in merely a few hours, but it takes practice and repetition to integrate these new neural patterns into a new behavior or way of being.
  • Thoughts and feelings are VERY important for shaping our perceptions of reality. (Via the Thalamus)

 

Join me

July 14th 6-8PM

as we cultivate

thoughts and feelings

that help you enter Flow State.

  • Functionally, Flow strengthens motivation, creativity, and learning.
    • Flow is the state we are in when we are intrinsically motivated to complete a task (like writing this article).
    • Flow facilitates creativity – when novel information meets old thoughts to create something new.
    • Flow speeds the learning process by enabling us to take in more information, and process it deeper and faster. It enables us to detect more patterns by improving our ability to focus on relevant cues. When more neurochemicals are present during an experience, the more likely a new skill/thought is to move from short to long term memory.
  • Structurally, Flow States are similar to the states Andrew Newberg, MD and colleagues are discovering at UPenn as they map neurochemical changes from spiritual practices.
    • Hypofrontality – the prefrontal cortex (that does all the stinkin’ thinkin’, planning, decision making, etc.) quiets down.
    • A similar pattern of “quieting” moves to the parietal lobe where distinguishing between self and other, or objects becomes blurry. We become one, or absorbed in that which we are engaged.
  • Neurochemically the following are produced
    • Norepinepherine & Dopamine- to enhance learning. (Goal Setting Journal)
    • Anadamide- pattern recognition and lateral thinking- linking 2 disparate concepts together.
    • Seratonin- mood balance and anti-depressant.
    • Endorphins – performance enhancement in brain & body
  • Neuroelectrically, flow takes place on the border between beta and theta brain wave states
    • Beta- Fast moving wave. Stress Response (why you have already taken my stress reduction workshop)
    • Alpha- Day dreaming
    • Theta – Deep Sleep, falling asleep
      • Flow occurs in between theta and alpha
      • Gamma – quick spike when ah-ha moment, only accessible when in theta state.

 

Inspired by the work of Andrew Newberg @ UPENN brain & behavior lab and Steven Kotler at Flow Genome Project.

Mindset Matters.


RootsBrainAccording to neuroscientist, “we have learned more about the brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of human history.” Some may argue about how the representation of our cumulative knowledge of brain science was compiled, but the point is that there has been such an exponential rise in our understanding of how the mind and brain work. One of the very basic propositions has undergone a complete paradigm shift. We used to believe that the adult brain was a fixed entity, that does not change.

WRONG.

We now know that the brain is just like every other system in the human body that changes with exposure, experience, and exercise! What we do to nourish the body, we also “do” to nourish the brain. This adaptability of brain tissue is called neuroplasticity. Certain health behaviors (the foods we eat, thoughts we think, activities we play, and rest from the day) lay the foundation for this “brain change capacity.”

Deep within the brain lives is a structure called the Hippocampus. Limbic system. Am.Hip.Hypo.ThalIt is responsible for working with other brain structures to learn new information, convert short term memories into long term ones, and has even been shown as a factor in boosting self-esteem. This seahorse like structure (how hippocampus got her name from the Greeks) is also one of the areas that produces BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. We’ll stick to BDNF from here on.

BDNF is dubbed a master molecule and is referred to as “Miracle-Gro for the brain” by Harvard psychiatrist, John J. Ratey, MD, author of Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. It is a protein produced by the BDNF gene, and acts as a building block that fosters the growth of new neurons (how cells communicate & how actions to occur), improved the function of those neurons (communicate faster), and protects existing neurons from stress and cellular death. When BDNF is sprinkled on neurons in a petri dish, brain cells sprout new branches required for learning — hence, the phrase ‘miracle-gro for the brain.” According to Ratey, BDNF is “a crucial biological link between thought, emotions, and movement.” In order to increase BDNF production, you must move well, eat well, rest well, and think well. Fret not, we will help you develop this Mindset for Strength!

Now that we understand how one neuron is born and matures, it it important to note that your nervous system works by way of cells “communicating” with each other across “synapses.” A common phrase in these days goes like this, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” The Hebbian theory, proposes an explanation for the adaptation of neurons in the brain during the learning process. It describes a basic mechanism for synaptic plasticity, which results in cells communicating more effectively with each other. Timing is important, but there is a way to prime your brain to learn better, faster, and remember more!

The prescription for health and happiness lies in what we think, how we feel, what we eat, and how we move. We can look through the neural microscope to understand HOW health and happiness are “achieved,” but it takes conscious thought and new habit formation to sustain health and happiness as a way of being. Lets sprinkle some miracle-gro on thy brains, and wire new neural pathways for you to take healthy action with a smile on yo’ face! Join us as we fertilize one new habit at a time.

Dedicated to your true health and whole happiness,

Jordan

Live Bold. You have all the ingredients!


Lets Play!

Hafiz, “To Build a Swing”

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare-
Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Hafiz
Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Sliver hammers,

Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix
Them!

 

39Meditate: Posture


FuzzySunrise

Posture.

Have you ever heard of ‘Laughing Yoga?’ It is actually quite hilarious. Get a group of people together and just start laughing. Try it at work today :-). It is just as contagious as a yawn. We compare posture to laughing yoga because it becomes obvious how our physical posture, or attitude can affect our mental posture, and vice versa.

Good ‘ole Webster has 3 definitions for posture, one purely physical, one in relation to circumstances, but our favorite is, “a conscious mental or outward behavioral attitude.”

Yesterday we created the external conditions for our mental practice. Today we turn to the internal conditions for practice. Witnessing how deeply connected the mental and physical bodies are, it becomes important to set our foundation for alignment and kindness.

Here are some bullet points for approaching your physical posture. Options are provided for a chair and zafu (cushion).

Physical Posture Foundation

  • Upright and dignified spinal posture, with calm belly if possible: Strong in the back, relaxed in the front.
  • Sits bones grounded on chair or zafu.
  • Knees below hips. Once your knees head north of your hips, the pelvis tucks under. Over time this leads to more discomfort and back pain.
  • Navel point supportive, yet relaxed
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Head/Neck floating
  • Eyes gently closed or slightly open with a gaze 4-6 feet in front.
  • Mouth gently closed or slightly open
  • Forehead relaxed

Chair Option:

  • Feet grounded
  • Knees at 90-degree angle
  • Back unsupported on backrest

When we become distracted by monkey wandering mind, return to postural alignment from the inside out. Try it now if you are sitting down, or even if you are standing reading this in line… We call that “waiting meditation.” 🙂

None other than Jon Kabat-Zinn, developer of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction describes the mental posture better. Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living our Psychological Foundation, and self-talk sounds like this

Attitude Foundations for Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Non-judging: Mindfulness is cultivated by assuming a stance of non-judging witness to our own experience. This requires that we become aware of the constant stream of evaluative and judging thoughts that we have—then try to step back. With a non-judging mind, things are neither “good” nor “bad”—but simply present or absent.
  1. Patience: Patience demonstrates that we understand and accept that things have their own time for unfolding. We tend to be impatient with ourselves, expecting we “should” be able to calm the mind, stop the thoughts, or get over whatever is upsetting us. These things have their own schedule and patience allows us to simply observe the unfolding of the mind and body over time.
  1. Beginner’s Mind: In order to be able to see the richness of the present moment, it helps to cultivate a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the very first time. With beginner’s mind, the joys of the world as it unfolds around us become new again, as if we are all children—freed from our old expectations based on past experiences.
  1. Trust: You are your own best guide. This is true. It is far better to trust your own feelings, intuition and experience than to get caught up in the authority of the “experts”. If at any time something doesn’t feel right to you, pay attention, examine your own feelings, and trust in your intuition and your own basic wisdom and goodness.
  1. Non-striving: Meditation is different from all other human activity: we do it not with a goal or destination in mind, but rather with a mind towards simply being—not doing. There is no goal other than for you to be conscious of yourself as you are.
  1. Acceptance: Acceptance involves seeing things as they actually are in the present. We may not like it, but if that’s the way things are, so they are. Sooner or later we all must come to terms with things the way they are and accept them. Acceptance allows us to cease struggling to change things that are beyond our ability to control and is the first step in any genuine process of change. Only with acceptance can the mind become free.
  1. Letting Go: Letting go, also known as “non-attachment”, is fundamental to the mindfulness meditation practice. In our minds, there are often things we want to hold on to, whether they are good memories or bad feelings. Our minds tend to grasp some thoughts and push others away. With letting go, we put aside the tendency to elevate some parts of our experience and reject others—simply letting our experience be what it is, accepting things as they are without judging.

From Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1990

Personal practice was crowded with thoughts today, and that is perfectly fine. The point is the witnessing, and returning to breath and body.

Now that our foundation is defined, tomorrow, a step deeper into the practice.

Love,
JC

 

40 days: Meditate


Incline Red Sunrise

The past 4 months have presented immense change, and although sometimes tough to see, opportunity for growth.  While I’ve committed to other mental practices, formal sitting meditation was one of the first habits to fall from daily practice. Mind-heart continues to remind me that I choose paths less traveled because of the strength built as a function of training with resistance.  Buckle up, sit down, and pay kind attention to the process!

Won’t you join me for the next 40 days, as I re-mind myself of exactly how powerful this practice is? Just as we train the body for some specific use: endurance for the race, strength & power to move masses, we also train the mind for specific use. No matter what we seek in life, material or spiritual, knowing how one’s own mind works is the alpha and omega of enduring success.

40 days.

Step 1. Conditions & Controllables.

Create the conditions that will set you up for success. Neurologically, wiring a new habit MUST be easy in the beginning. We MUST reinforce the success of maintaining this new behavior. For example, I know I will be more committed to a quiet morning practice than to a busier evening practice; a 20 minute practice vs a 45 minute practice. I want a blanket to keep me warm, and the lights dim. My goal is to commit to practice over the next 40 Lenten Days.

These specs may not be right for you, however these parameters are a good place to start:

  • What time of day?
  • How long? (Use a timer, and TRUST the timer- I use Insight Timer App)
  • Where on earth will I practice?

Consistency is key. Once you find your time and place, set it, and forget it! Return to this place for the next __ Days.

Personal Practice Insights

Meditation is a practice of remembering and familiarity. In many ways, remembering to meditate it is a huge obstacle in and of itself. This is why we create conditions that make it easy, and somewhat desirable to simply sit.

When you return to mental practice, the familiarity re-minds you that home is where your tail, heart, and head are in alignment. 🙂 It feels good to come home, but that too takes practice. We will peel back the layers over the next weeks, bit by bit, piece by piece, making mental practice a priority.

Love,

JC

Tomorrow – physical foundation. How should I “sit.”

 

 

 

 

Needs and Wants


Pulpit Rock Upside

What we need is not always what we want.

I asked for strength.

God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

 

I asked for wisdom, and

God gave me problems to solve.

 

I asked for prosperity, and

God gave me brains and brawn to work.

 

I asked for courage, and

God gave me danger to overcome.

 

I asked for Love, and

God gave me troubled people to help.

 

I asked for favor, and

God gave me opportunities.

 

I got nothing I wanted, but everything I needed.

Unknown