Sunday, February 13, 2011
A staggering fifty million Americans have high blood pressure. Often, people who have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, do not realize it because the disease does not have any warning signs or symptoms, earning it the nickname the ‘silent killer.' Patients who are untreated for a number of years not only quietly damage their internal organs, but also run the risk of serious health problems such as heart attack or stroke -- and stroke is very bad for your brain! In fact, unchecked hypertension can deduct 10 to 20 years from your life.
Transcendental Meditation has been used and studied as natural means of reducing high blood pressure for over four decades. A recent pilot study showed a more than 50% reduction in mortality rate from heart disease over a five-year period in participants practicing TM. More than $5 million in NIH Scientific funding has been awarded to continue study these treatments of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
TM has also been shown to slow the aging process, reduce cholesterol, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Introduced to the West more than 40 years ago by the Indian Spiritual teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, TM is a meditation technique for reducing stress and developing full mental and physical potential. It is practiced 15-20 minutes twice a day, sitting comfortably with eyes closed. More than five million people throughout the world have studied transcendental meditation.
Cesar Molina, M.D., a cardiologist in Palo Alto, California, said, "A single hypertensive medication for one year can cost as much as $l,000, and the effects will last no more than one year. The cost of learning TM is much less, and the benefits will last you a lifetime."
Breathe, smile and relax. That's a little shift toward meditation!
Bright light in your winter day,
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Oxytocin: The Cuddle Chemical
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and hormone with quite a reputation.
In addition to oxytocin's powerful effects on the body, it strongly affects your mind and behavior. It is nature's antidepressant and anti-anxiety hormone. It creates feelings of calm and a sense of connection, so it actually shapes how you view the world. The whole universe looks like a better place when you feel tranquil and loving. Oxytocin also reduces cravings, which makes it the key to healing addictions of all kinds.
Have you heard the saying, "the more you give, the more you get?" Well, it applies to oxytocin, too. The more you nurture and connect with others, the more responsive your body and brain become to it. This makes it an unusual neurotransmitter. Compare it with substances like alcohol or caffeine. The more you use them, the greater the quantity you require to obtain the same effect. Oxytocin is the opposite. The more you give and nurture, the more strongly you respond.
Consciously encourage oxytocin production with caring behavior. In this way you protect and strengthen the bonding connections in your brain and tap the health benefits of sustained levels of oxytocin.
Quite a wonderland, that brain!
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
INSPIRATION. Think about it.
Diving into the neural net this morning, I realized the power in our urge to seek inspiration. Inspiration feeds the brain in so many ways, it is well worth surrounding yourself with inspiring books, quotes, colors, images, and sounds.
Serotonin, the pleasure chemical, is one likely side effect of being inspired. We are more capable of meeting the challenges of our lives in the presence of inspiration. A sense of purpose accompanies inspiration, along with higher self-esteem.
There are many ways to trigger inspiration. That book you return to so often, with its quotes or parables, is offering you a neural habit of inspiration-induced brain chemicals. Talk about win-win! You take something you already enjoy, and as it feeds you in the moment, your brain is being wired to repeat this with more ease and more connections each time you use it. Images of loved ones and loved places which trigger good memories can be part of your palette of inspiring input.
Listening to your special morning music, whatever it may be, can pave the way to a fully inspired moment. Think of it as the vehicle, waking you to your best expression of you. As you come into your day, give yourself these powerful stepping stones to the point of inspiration. You know when you are inspired -- you breathe deeply, and your mind sparkles in some recognizable way. The pesky negatives wired into thought fade into the background. Now your day is wide open. You are activated!
Monday, February 07, 2011
Newness: The Stuff of Brain Growth
Many of us are thinking of changes we want for the coming year. This is a beautiful opportunity to incorporate brain growth as part of a health-conscious lifestyle.
Newness is the key to triggering dendrite growth. The “growth end” of the brain neuron, the dendrite area, literally reaches as we open our minds to new understanding, new connections, new experiences and new skills. This reaching can be seen as a kind of a stretch. Put your arm out and reach toward a nearby window or door. Look at your hand and watch your fingers extending. That’s what your dendrites do when confronted with newness. In that process, supported by the basic nutritional elements of brain health, your dendrites grow in complexity and length. Age does not affect this ability to grow your brain power. Happy day!
Research has shown that in people whose brains have made extensive dendritic connections, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s never manifested even when the brain upon autopsy showed the changes of Alzheimer’s disease. This alone is powerful motivation to consider triggering dendrite growth.
How do we bring this element of newness into our lifestyles? Take a moment to review your normal day. We all have a number of routines, familiar and automatic. There’s a clue to look at in your routine. What are you doing automatically? Changing little things in those automatic actions will begin to trigger dendrite growth. Try switching hands when you brush your teeth, and you will get an idea what it feels like when your dendrites are reaching. It may be uncomfortable or annoying. Look at that experience of “uncomfortable,” and you can see what newness requires.
Now think about some areas of your life where you might really enjoy reaching beyond your comfort zone. What is intriguing, fascinating to you? What gives you a little stir in your heart or midsection? What moves you?
When I committed to doing fifty-five blogs in a row on brain health, I felt a sensation of excitement, mixed with an anxious whir. Also mixed in there was curiosity and anticipation. Nothing to do with comfort. All those different feelings add up to a worthy foray into newness, and here I am.
I invite you to journey through your day with an eye to the routine you have created. Do this with love, and see what unfolds.