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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.

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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!

Looking Beyond Distractions: Noticing Small Changes in Beautiful Things

17 Mar

The first step to memory is attention. If something does not catch your eye and sink in you have 0% chance of recalling it later.

Attention is something you must work on if you want hone that skill. Practice, practice, practice is the only answer.

Today’s puzzles throw in a twist — all of the photos are of multi-layered subjects, ones that lead your imagination (and your focus) away from the details. This presents a challenge you encounter each day and one so worth practicing!

How quickly can you find the one photo (ones I took while in Anse la Raye, St. Lucia) that is not exactly like the others?

extra drum mural static

hair bows static

big hat mural static

Is there something that makes is hard for you to pay attention?

When do you feel like you get so lost in the scene that you lose the details?

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