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Being Brain Healthy: Be Mentally Engaged

31 Mar

I’ve talked, a lot, about how engaging your brain is as easy as thinking about a sensory experience – dive in more deeply and tap into more of your senses. Those thoughts can activate your brain in very distinct and nourishing ways.

spices

 

Another really cool way to be mentally engaged is to actively direct your thoughts – guide your thoughts both to and away from just about anything. This can take many forms but the most common methods are through some kind of focusing or centering activity like practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or other directed/guided techniques.

How meditation and mindfulness changing your brain is a pretty hot topic in research right now. There is growing evidence to support that directing your thoughts through a variety of methods can help you:
• Reduce stress
• Increase both focus and creativity
• Reverse memory loss
• Maximize feelings of well-being
• Decrease depression symptoms
• Boost energy
• Improve mood
• Improve quality of sleep
• Control inflammation
• Elevate outlook on life
• Create feelings of personal control

That is a pretty attractive bundle of benefits. Since meditation and mindfulness have no known adverse side effects, honestly, there is no downside.

Pause on the rocks

I believe that the key factor behind all the evidence is this: practicing a method that allows you to direct how you are thinking makes it possible for you to control chemical releases in your brain. Think about that. You can change your brain chemistry by directing your thoughts…. That is a pretty big concept.

The more actively you participate (the more engaged your efforts), the more likely you are to feel both the short term quality of life benefits and long term brain protective and building benefits.
Sometimes I have a hard time staying focused on one thing and find it difficult to keep my mind from drifting off. If you feel yourself drifting, bring your thoughts back to your breathing. Feel the rush of the cool air in through your nostrils and the warm feeling of an exhale. Your future brain thanks you!

Focus on Your Senses: Dreaming About the Flowers of Spring

12 Mar

Did you know that when you think about a pleasant experience and focus on your senses you nourish your brain with a healing bath of feel good chemicals? You do!

Let’s dream a little today. Close your eyes and imagine the sights, sounds, and aromas of spring. Let them fill every space of your conscious mind. Can you imagine the feel of the cool spring air as it enters your lungs or touches your skin? How about the sound of the rustle of the unfolding leaves or the birds chirping in the background?

Take a minute and focus on how that little exercise made you feel.  The more you practice the better it feels!!!

Take that a step further and play this game, Scrambles, with photos I took of the amazing flowers at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens on St. Lucia.  Check out the beautiful flowers as you work on memory and order!

To play, choose your Level (the game gets harder with each Level up) and then click on the photo on the cover of the album. Study the photo and when the images breaks into pieces, click and drag the pieces to put the photo back together!

 

For me, spring means hiking — perfect temperatures and so many plants ready to bloom!

hiking boots

What is your favorite part of spring?

 

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