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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!

Zooming In: A closer look at what is good for you!

21 Jul

This week’s Zooming In (today) and Zooming Out (tomorrow) puzzles are all about brain healthy activities — those everyday things that you can do to promote good balance and overall health — mind, body, and soul.

Reducing stress is a key factor in maintaining a healthy chemical and electrical balance in your brain.   Can you guess what stress reducing activity this is?

P1110278 (2)

 

Or this?

Left handed hiking (2)

Challenging yourself mentally and learning new ways to do things helps you build up the reserve you will need when you find yourself running at “the wall” at full speed with very little gas left in the tank.  Teach your brain that there is more than one way to solve a problem.   What is this a piece of?

Books 1 (2)

Or this?

Typewriter Dubovik Bulgaria (2)

Enhancing experiences by turning up the sensory volume (adding more sensory data or amplifying what is already there) keeps the chemicals flowing and fills in experiences.  Any guesses what this is?

cacao beans split 2 (2)

Or this?
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Tomorrow, today’s “slices” will turn into the whole picture!

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