COWBOY TROUBADOUR: Poems and Stories

A book by Richard McQueary from Grand Lake, CO

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When I think of Richard and describe him to others I say ”he reminds me of the Marlboro Man with out the cigarettes.”

I’ve know Richard for several years now, listened to many of his cowboy stories and poems and videoed several of them which I will share with you a little later.

When I graduated from the Univ. of Nebraska back in 1969 I spent two months that summer  hitch hiking through Europe and England. It was lots of fun and I did some interesting things, often stupid, and made some nice friends along the way. But, it was nothing compared to what Richard did traveling around the world starting in 1963. I almost perished one evening while trying to have too much food and cheap wine in Papilloma, Spain just before the running of the bulls. From listening to his tales about his world travels I still wonder how he survived to tell the stories. 

Richard’s book is dedicated to the memory of is father, William Earl McQueary and is divided into the following four sections:

1) Adventures at the Ranch, Rodeo and School (37 stories/poems)

2) Neighbors, Friends and Folks We Knew (11 stories/poems)

3) Movin’ On (8 stories/poems)

4) Travelin’ (15 stories/poems)

After watching these three short stories of Richards’ I know you will want to go to the local book store in Grand Lake follow this link to Amazon.com .

Shootin’ the Flume:

 

The Constipated Cow:

 

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Super Brain Week 17- Maximum Longevity

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

Whenever a cell ages, you age. This is the biological bottom line. … Ironically, even if you do everything wrong in terms of lifestyle—chronically smoking, stuffing your body with fats and sugar, never exercising—the same brain that is implicated in your horrible choices is itself trying to stay immortal. …. In the general population, life span keeps extending in developed countries. Japanese women are the most long-lived on earth. pg. 220

The last two hurdles are probably “lack of exercise” and “obesity.” In other words, as long as people take prevention seriously and make positive lifestyle changes, the physical basis for living a long time is taken care of. ….. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.—despite advances in treatment, medicine has still not discovered what causes it. …. it takes microscopic wounds or lesions in the smooth lining of a blood vessel to give tiny particles of fatty deposits a place to lodge.  pg. 221

At present, longevity presents a confusing picture among genes, risk factors, and drugs, the latter being favored by the pharmaceutical companies.  … If anything, the focus on drugs has lessened the public incentive to practice prevention, which has no side effects and proven benefits. pg.  221

We’d like to discuss the most personalized approach to longevity, which is tuning into your body. This requires self-awareness. On one hand, you have a lifetime of likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs, and conditioning.  pg. 221 …. On the other hand, you have the wisdom that has evolved in every cell. Anti-aging is a matter of making these two halves mesh. This is a perfect example of survival of the wisest. pg. 222

The Wisdom of Cells – Seven lessons in Longevity. pg. 222 Here are three of them

  1. Cells share and cooperate. No cell lives in isolation.
  2. Cells are self-healing.
  3. The life of the cell demands constant nutrition.

 

Cells become wise over billions of years of evolution; you can become just as wise by using the gifts of self-awareness, paying attention to how biology has solved some of the deepest issues that you face in everyday life. pg. 222

1. Cells share and cooperate. No Cell lives in isolation. pg. 222

Cells are part of the human community and coexistence is the most natural and healthy way to live. …. Some fascinating research has shown that social connections are mysteriously contagious. … The Framingham Heart Study, which has examined risk factors related to heart attacks for 32 years, social scientists made a startling discovery. Obesity, one of the major risks for heart disease, spreads like a virus. In the social network of family, coworkers, and friends, simply relating to someone with a weight problem makes it more likely that you will have one. “According to the data, if one person became obese the likelihood that his friend would follow suit increased by 57 percent. (This means that the network is far more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.) pg. 223

Researchers found that the virus like behavior of obesity could also be applied to other risks like smoking or depression. If you have a friend who smokes, the likelihood that you will smoke increases, while having a friend who quits smoking increases your likelihood of making the same positive change. …. The point is that placing yourself in a positive social context is good both physically and mentally. In a way not fully understood, our cells understand what it means to do good. pg. 223

A 2008 Univ. of Michigan study by Sara Konrath examined the longevity of 10K state residents who had participated in a health study going back to 1957. Konrath focused on those who had done volunteer work in the past ten years, and her findings are fascinating. Individuals who volunteered lived longer than non-volunteers. Of the 2,384 non-volunteers, 4.3 percent died between 2004 and 2008, but only 1.6 percent of the altruistic volunteers had died. …. The key word is “altruistic.” People were asked why they volunteered, and not every answer involved altruism. Some of the participants’ motives were more oriented toward others, such as “I feel it is important to help others” or Volunteering is an important activity to the people I know best.” Other respondents, however, had more self-oriented reasons for volunteering, such as “Volunteering is a good escape from my own troubles.” pg. 224

This is just one example among many to support that invisible traits in the mind-body system have physical consequence. Your cells know who you are and what motivates you. The Michigan research was the first to show that what motivates volunteers can have an impact on life expectancy.  …. As with everything in life, the path from the first step to the last isn’t a straight line but a zigzag that is different for each person. ….. At the level of the self, survival isn’t usually the issue. The issue is the rewards you receive through bonding and connecting, the basic process that makes for a peaceful society. pgs. 224/225

2. Cells are self-healing. pg. 225

When you are self-aware, you learn how to repair your own damage. This comes naturally to cells, although healing is still one of the most complex and baffling bodily processes. We only know that it exists and that life depends upon it. … When we say that time heals all wounds, we are talking about an automatic process, however painful it may be. Grief runs its course, for example, without anyone knowing how shattered emotions are actually healed. … Most of the time healing is a conscious activity. pg. 225 Self-healing means overcoming the pain and finding a way to become whole again. …. healing is part of the vast feedback loop that holds mind and body together. The more you experience even a moment of trying to heal yourself, the greater your ability grows. The triumph over one’s deepest wounds is a spiritual triumph. …. Through self-awareness, you realize that healing is one of the most powerful forces sustaining your life. pg. 226

3. The life of the cell demands constant nutrition. pg. 226

Cells survive by having complete trust that the universe will support them. … a cell can devote all its time and energy to the things that cause life to move forward: growing, reproducing, healing, and running its own internal machinery. At the same time, cells don’t pick and choose what is good for them. … In our culture excitement, risk, and danger are positive words, while balance, proportion, and moderation feel impossibly dull. We take it as our birthright to experiment with rebellion. So we have every temptation to ignore the benefits of a balanced life, and while we experiment, our cells suffer.  …. The important thing is to know what is most nourishing to you personally and put your energies there. ….. When you do that, passion becomes part of balance. …. nourish yourself with the three things that would increase your passion for life. … Leaving specifics aside, your nourishment needs to embrace mind and body. Therefore, your list should include””:

  1. Your highest vision. – Gives you purpose and meaning.
  2. Your deepest love. – Love gives you vibrant emotions and lasting passion.
  3. Your longest reach. – A long reach gives you a challenge that will take years to meet. pg. 227

This is an arc of growing trust, the kind of trust that comes naturally to cells but that gets compromised in our own lives. … A transition come when a new sort of trust—self-reliance—enters. … So it takes constant awareness to keep evolving. The only  true nourishment that lasts a lifetime comes from within. … if you trust yourself, there is no such threat. pg. 228

4. Cells are always dynamic—they die if they get stuck. pg. 228

The brain is forced to be the most adaptable, since all operations in the body, however minuscule, are reported back to it. … if you get stuck in a behavior, habit, or belief that refuses to budge, you are hampering your brain. … Results did emerge—a so-called disease personality was marked by emotional repression and a general uptightness. …. Instead of trying to pinpoint the kind of behavior that makes cancer more likely, we can focus on not getting stuck, since we know that brain cells—and all the body’s other cells—are designed to be dynamic, flexible, and constantly alert to change. … as we age, resistance to change grows. … It’s on the personal level that you must confront your stuckness. .. Your cooperation with nature may meet with resistance at first, but if you press on, it’s the easiest way to live and thrive. pg. 230

5. The balance between inner and outer worlds is always maintained. pg. 230

Cells don’t get hung up about their inner world. They aren’t neurotic or anxious about the future. They harbor no regrets (although they certainly do carry the scars of the past—ask the liver of an alcoholic or the stomach lining of a chronic worrier). …. On the inside, these roots allow various messages to get where they are needed. If you experience denial or repression, or the censorship of certain feelings and the eruption of others, or if you feel the tug of addiction and the inflexibility of habits, all those things can be traced to the cell membrane. … Every experience turns into a coded chemical signal that will alter the life of your cells, either in a small way or in a big way, either for a few minutes or for years at a time. …. Trouble arises when a person seals off his inner world and fails to match it to the outer world. …. The inner and outer worlds become imbalanced through all kinds of defensive mechanisms. … The kinds of screens that people put up include the following. The book mentions 7 here are 3 on pg. 231

  • Denial—refusing to face how you really feel when things go wrong.
  • Repression—growing numb to feelings so that events “out there” can’t hurt you.
  • Victimization—denying yourself pleasure because others won’t give it to you, or accepting the burden of pain because you feel you deserve to.

Emotional resilience implies that defensive mechanisms are not very present, because when they are, a person holds on to old hurts, harbors secret resentments, and incorporates stress rather then throwing it off. Your body pays the price for every defense you put up. … Everyone has psychological baggage, and our tendency is either to protect our inner self from more hurt or to ignore our inner life because it’s too messy to face. pg. 232

6. Toxins and disease organisms are immediately spotted and defended against. pg. 233

The immune system’s chief assignment is to separate harmful invaders from harmless ones. …. A vast array of bacterial flora are in your intestines and need to be there (taking an antibiotic will indiscriminately wipe out most of the bacteria in your body and will throw off your digestion for a while, perhaps dramatically), and an equally vast range of biochemicals course through the blood. …. When mainstream medicine ignored the campaign for a more natural diet and against food additives, it did a disservice to the public welfare. pg. 233

A high-fat and sugar-laden diet is already risky. Caution is the best attitude; eating a natural diet makes the best sense. Why not favor the least toxicity in your diet that you can reasonably achieve? …. To date, no study has shown that people who obsessively take large amounts of supplements or who rigorously eat organic food live longer than people who eat a normal balanced diet. Toxin is a scary word, but a balanced approach is better than total purity motivated by fear. …. Over a lifetime, you are what you eat. That is warning enough. …. the bigger problems are the invisible toxins that degrade well-being. They, too, are well publicized: stress, anxiety, depression, domestic violence, and physical and emotional abuse. …. People put up with toxic lifestyles far too much. pg. 234  …. We can spend years putting up with toxins because our minds find reasons not to change. …. It’s good enough to evolve in the right direction. The wisdom that took billions of years to evolve in cells deserves a few years of serious consideration from you. pg. 235

7. Death in an accepted part of the cell’s life cycle. pg. 235

Cells manage something we can only envy and barely understand: they put all their energy into remaining alive, and yet they are not afraid to die. … Human beings have a more unsettled attitude toward dying, but over the past few decades—accelerating after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s ground breaking 1969 book, On Death and Dying—our social attitudes have become less fearful. … Death is not the equal and opposite of life. It is part of life, which overarches everything. Whatever  is born must die. and yet the cosmic scheme, to die is only a transition to another kind of life. …. Coming to terms with dying is so personal that it transcends belief. pg. 236

Dying should be as dynamic as living, and experience that evolves as you enter it for yourself. …. each person must consider the issue of death on his or her own. ….. If you are afraid of death, it is bad for your body, not because death looms so darkly but because fear of any kind is toxic. …. The picture of feedback loops constantly sending messages to your cells is inescapable. …. The vast majority of dying patients have come to terms with it; hospice workers often note that it is the family of the dying person who have the greatest anxiety and suffer from the most stress. … The path to making peace with death might look something like the following: The book lists 10 on pages 237/238 so if you are curious about them read them in your book.

Achieving wisdom is a lifetime project. …. the positive side of aging, which can be grouped under the rubric of maturity. Older people tend to underperform on tests of memory and IQ compared with younger people, but in areas of lifetime experience, they outperform them. …. no single aspect of IQ equates with maturity. You must live a life to acquire it. Why not live that life in accord with evolution, as embodied in your cells. pg. 238

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Super Brain Week 16—The Anti-Aging Brain

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

To unlock any new promise that super brain holds, we must first solve an old mystery. No mystery is older—or greater—than aging. …. Medically speaking, no one ever dies of old age. Death occurs when at least one key system of the body breaks down, and then the rest of the body goes with it. …… How do we prevent that one critical system from bringing down everything else? You would have to pay attention to the whole body for a lifetime. pg. 207

Uncertainty 1: Aging is very slow.

It begins around age thirty and progresses at roughly 1 percent a year. …. At age ninety, memory can improve rather than decline. … Aging is like a ragged army, in which some cells advance ahead of others, but the whole army moves at a snail’s pace and with great stealth. pg. 208

Uncertainty 2: Aging is unique.

Everyone ages differently. Identical twins who are born with the same DNA will have completely different genetic profiles at age seventy.  Their chromosomes won’t have changed, but decades of life experiences will have caused the activity of their genes to be switched on and off in a unique pattern. pg. 208

Uncertainty 3: Aging is invisible. pg. 208

The aspects of growing old that you see in the mirror—gray hair, wrinkles, sagging skin, and so on—indicate that something is going on at the cellular level. …….But thanks to aging, cells stop functioning with complete efficiency, and then the invisible element raises its heard. Atoms do not have the capacity to go wrong, but cells do. … All these uncertainties lead to a single conclusion. There is no alternative to paying attention to your whole body for your lifetime. …… The real challenge, as we see it, is to make lifetime well-being so desirable that it stops being a penance.  …. No cell in the body is an island—all are receiving an unbroken stream of messages from the central nervous system. Certain messages are good for cells, and others are bad.  ……  Clearly you want to send messages to tell every cell not to age. … If you can maximize the positive messages and minimize the negative ones, anti-aging become a real possibility. ….. It turns out that anti-aging is a gigantic feedback loop that lasts a lifetime. Read about the UC Davis conclusion that meditation helps the anti-aging process. pg. 210  …. Meditation brings a sense of well-being to the mind, while silently spreading the same feeling, via a chemical like telomerase, to your DNA. Nothing is excluded from the feedback loop. …. The mind-body connection is real, and choices make a difference. pg. 210

Prevention and Risks pg. 211

The physical side of anti-aging is similar to prevention programs for any lifestyle disorder. …. Let’s review the main points.

  • Eat a balanced diet – cutting back fats, sugar, and processed foods. The preferred diet is Mediterranean: olive oil instead of butter, fish instead of red meat, whole grains, legumes, mixed nuts, fresh fruits, and whole vegetables to provide plenty of fiber.
  • Avoid overeating.
  • Exercise moderately for at least one hour three times a week.
  • Don’t smoke,
  • Drink alcohol in moderation , preferably red wine, if at all.
  • Wear a seat belt.
  • Take steps to prevent household accidents (from slippery floors, steep stairs, fire hazards, icy sidewalks, etc.),
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It may also be helpful as you grow older to take an afternoon nap.
  • Keep regular habits.

In terms of prevention, the physical side of anti-aging keeps being refined. Take the issue of obesity, which has now reached epidemic proportions in America and Western Europe. ….. it is the risk factor for many disorders, including heart disease, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. … belly fat, is being targeted as the most damaging to the body, as well as altering metabolic balance. …… fat sends out hormonal signals that are damaging to the body, as well as altering metabolic balance. Unfortunately, exercise alone will not get rid of belly fat. A general weight-loss and exercise program is needed; eating sufficient fiber also seems to help combat belly fat. pg. 211

Knowing what’s good for you and doing it are two different things. …. Fewer than 20 percent of adults get the amount of exercise recommended for good health; one out of every ten meals is eaten at McDonald’s, where the food is high in fat and sugar and almost absent in fiber and whole vegetables. pg. 212

Compliance is difficult when our brains are wired to make the wrong choices. … With repetition, these tastes become the ones we prefer. Given enough repetition, they become the tastes we reach for automatically, Victimized by Unconscious Habit. pg. 212

It’s futile for health experts to nag the public year after year to change its ways and then expect compliance. …… The worse you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to drift into discouragement. ….. Clearly, to prevent aging, we have to crack the problem of noncompliance. pg. 213

Conscious Lifestyle Choices pg. 213

The secret is changing without force. Anything you force yourself to do will eventually fail. Anti-aging isn’t built in a day. Whatever you do now, you must keep doing for decades. So let’s stop thinking in terms of discipline and self-control. Some people are prevention saints—they consume only one teaspoon of total fat per day in their diet, because that’s the ideal amount for heart health. ,,, To achieve it, you need to create a matrix for making better choices. By, matrix, we simply mean your setup for daily living. pg. 213 … A matrix is more substantial and sustainable. That’s why we surround ourselves with support for the behavior we like best. … The real secret is to live inside a matrix where the mind fells free to choose the right instead of feeling compelled to choose the wrong thing. pg. 214

MATRIX FOR A POSITIVE LIFESTYLE pg. 214

  • Have good friends.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Sustain a lifelong companionship with a spouse or partner.
  • Engage socially in worthwhile projects.
  • Be close with people who have a good lifestyle—habits are contagious.
  • Follow a purpose in life.
  • Leave time for play and relaxation.
  • Keep up satisfying sexual activity.
  • Address issues around anger.
  • Practice stress management.
  • Deal with the reactive mind’s harmful effects: When you have a negative reaction, stop, stand back, take a few deep breaths, and observe how you’re feeling.

Success comes when people act together; failure tends to happen alone. … It’s important to establish your matrix early and keep it going. Studies have shown that losing a spouse suddenly leads to isolation, depression, higher risk for disease, and shortened life span. But if you have a social network beyond your spouse, you have a cushion against these baleful consequences. …. The most crippling aspects of aging tend to involve inertia. … Starting in late middle age, new things gradually fall by the wayside. Passivity overtakes us, we lose our motivation. Countless old people find themselves stranded by inertia. pg. 215

Linking with Immortality

The latest wave of seniors are making “positive lifestyle changes” if not quickly enough (and with not enough equality). ….. The best life is rooted in a vision of FULLFILLMENT, so that it’s the life one would want to extend. pg. 217 … Aging is a highly complicated form of entropy; it’s not as simple as a star using up its fuel, collapsing upon itself, and exploding in one last dramatic death throe as a nova or supernova. … The situation is so complex, in fact, that each person can choose which side, creation or destruction, to favor. It’s your choice.  …. You are responsible for your own growth, and yet the choice is more than personal. …. It awaits your decision, and wherever you go next, reality will follow. pg. 219

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Super Brain Week 15–Where Happiness Lives

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

If you can make reality, what would an ideal reality look like? To begin with, it would look personal. As your brain constantly remodels itself, it conforms to what you, as a unique individual, want from life. …. most people aren’t’ especially skilled at making their personal reality a happy one. Only recently, with the rise of a new specialty known as Positive Psychology.  pg. 183

Competition can turn into a never-ending process, and its rewards decrease over time. A study of top tennis champions found that they were motivated less by the joy of winning than by the fear and disappointment of losing. ….. The current fashion in psychology holds that happiness can never be permanent. …. only flashes of happiness, temporary states of well-being that are not permanent at all. … Our feeling is that the problem lies with reality making. If you have more skill at creating your own personal reality, then permanent happiness will follow. pg. 184

MOVING TOWARD LASTING HAPPINESS – there are eight on pages 184,185 here are four of them

  • Give of yourself. Take care of others, and care for them.
  • Set worthy long-range goals that will take years to achieve.
  • Have emotional resilience.
  • Develop close, warm social bonds.

It lists 9 things to “not do”. You can read them on page 185.

Paradise Is Personal

Brendon Grimshaw story about his island paradise

He gave of himself while working at something he loved.

His life also conforms to the concept of a fully integrated brain, one that merges every need that the brain is designed to serve. These include on page 187:

  • Connecting with the natural world
  • Being useful
  • Exercising your body
  • Finding work that satisfies
  • Fulfilling your life purpose
  • Aiming beyond your limited ego-self.

It takes the entire brain, acting as an integrated whole. Happiness is then rooted in the feeling that you are complete. …. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, now at UCLA, who has made a career of examining the neurobiology of human moods and mental states. …. The route to healing, he maintains, is to trace symptoms like depression, obsession, anxiety, and so on back to the exact brain region that is causing a block. …. Since every thought and feeling must register in the brain, it makes sense that psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety are indications of faulty wiring. That is, a neural pathway has been laid down that continues to repeat the undesirable symptoms or behavior. …. But neural “wiring” can be changed, such as through therapy—Siegel uses talk therapy in conjunctions with his brain-centered theory. pg. 187

Siegel’s goal is a healthy brain that sustains a person’s well-being. … The brain needs healthy nutrition every day. His approach is in accord with ours, since he prescribes a “healthy mind platter” of daily nourishment, with the idea that a healthy mind leads to a healthy brain. On is mind platter, Siegel and colleague David Rock place seven “dishes.

  • Sleep time
  • Physical time
  • Focus time
  • Time in
  • Down time
  • Play time
  • Connecting time

All aspects of life lead back to the brain, the nutrition offered on Siegel’s mind platter could be far more important to the body than any conventional advise. Your brain has an enormous talent for integration, but more than that, if it is used holistically, the brain thrives on putting everything together. pg. 188

Doing the Work pg. 188

Inner Work: Sleep time, focus time, time in, down time

You have had enough sleep to be adequately rested. You focus intensely, with enough down time to let the brain rebalance and find and easy resting place. You have down time for doing no mental work—letting the mind and brain simply be. And you set aside a period for what many Westerners neglect: going inward through meditation or self-reflection.  pg. 188

Siegel points out, the brain is caught between two dysfunctional states: Chaos and rigidity. … We casually describe chaotic people with ill-defined terms like flight, “a mess,” hysterical, out of control, spacey—all attempts to get at a state of disordered confusion. … Rigidity counters chaos in the wrong way. Rigid people have clamped down. Their behavior is set along fixed patterns. They deny themselves any spontaneity, and they resent (while secretly fearing) anyone who is spontaneously happy. … rigidity leads to severe judgments against others, enforcing rules with harsh punishments. pg. 189

The key thing to absorb here is the natural cycle that every day should follow. …. sleep research has indicated that all but the tiniest fraction of adults needs 8 to 9  hours of sleep each night. …. Most people are aware of the importance of sleep, but as a society we don’t do what is good for us in this area. … Our overworked, overstimulated society ignores these three areas.

Outer Work: Physical time, play time, connecting time pg. 191

All brain processes are inner and all behavior is outer. Speaking generally, however, when you interact with someone else, you are doing outer work. You build a family and find things to do together. As many sociologists have pointed out, this area of life used to dominate everyday existence, at a time when families sat around the fire or an evening and ate every meal together. …. That’s no longer true. … Physical separation makes outer work harder. …. By spending hours focused on video games and social networking, young people are expanding one set of skills—the eye-hand coordination needed for video games and the technical expertise for computers—while neglecting the neural pathways for interacting with people face to face. pg. 191

The brain needs physical activity, even though we think of this organ, naturally, as mental. But because it monitors and controls the body, your brain participates in physical stimulation. … Being depressed keeps people shut inside and inactive. Replacing outdoor exercise with compulsive computer activity puts the body in a sedentary state, which is unhealthy. Being totally sedentary increases the risk of almost every lifestyle disease, including heart attack and stroke. ….. The message to get out and exercise has increasingly fallen on deaf ears—guilty deaf ears—as Americans and Europeans grow more sedentary and gain weight. pg. 192

A third of adult Americans are overweight compared to where they should be, and another third have become obese. Exercise has a direct brain connection, when you consider what it actually does. …. What we tend to overlook are the feedback loops that connect the brain to every cell in the body. …. Each step of doing more exercise adds benefit to your health, but the single largest benefit comes from getting off the couch in the first place.  Your cells want to be part of the world. …. The breakdown of simple cause-and-effect is vital for us, however. It leads to the idea of the fully integrated brain as essential to health—a super brain. pg. 193

Making the Link

Once stress and behavior entered the picture, you’d think that the brain must have become a major player, but it didn’t. There was still no model for explaining how an external stress could enter the body and find a physical pathway to the cells. … By the late 70s such a pathway began to emerge with the discovery of messenger molecules, a class of chemicals that turn moods, stress, and disorders like depression into something physical. The public began to hear about brain cells in detail as biologists named the neuropeptides and neurotransmitters that leap across the synapses, the gaps between neurons. pg. 196

Every cell in the body contains receptors that are like keyholes, and the brain’s chemical messengers are the keys that precisely fill the hole. To simplify a complex mode, the brain was telling the entire body about its thoughts, sensations, moods, and general health. The link between psyche and soma, mind and body, had been made at last. … It is now generally accepted that psychological factors contribute to the risk of developing heart disease. The list of factors includes: pg. 196

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality traits
  • Type A behavior
  • Hostility
  • Social isolation
  • Chronic stress
  • Acute stress

Your heart participates in mental distress and can react with clogged arteries—an amazing finding compared with what was medically acceptable several decades ago. …. The brain became the centerpiece of a chemical symphony orchestra with hundreds of billions of cells joining in, and when they were in total harmony, the result was increased well-being; meanwhile chemical disharmony led to higher risk for disease, “early aging,” depression and decreased immune function, as well as all the lifestyle disorders—the list keeps growing beyond heart attacks and strokes to include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and probably many if not most cancers. …. We fully endorse Siegel’s concept of a healthy mind leading to a healthy brain. A mind that reaches for higher consciousness brings even more benefits, especially in terms of happiness. pg. 197

SUPER BRAIN SOLUTIONS – Self-Healing

Healing is as natural as breathing, and therefore the key to healing is a lifestyle that optimizes what the body is already doing.

A Healing Lifestyle  – book lists 10, here are 5 of them from pg. 198

  • Practice the recommended amount of moderate healthy exercise.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Avoid toxic substances like alcohol and nicotine.
  • Strengthen the mind-body connection.

The best healing is prevention; there is no getting around it. But the last item on the list—strengthening the mind-body connection—may be the most powerful, and for most people it’s new territory. pg. 199

Being Your Own Placebo pg.199

Placebo is Latin for “I shall please.” It’s a good way of describing how the placebo effect works. … Where did the patient’s relief come from? It came from the mind telling the body to get well. To do that, the mind must first be convinced that healing is about to occur. … placebo effect. contrary to widespread suspicion, is a “real” cure. Pain is diminished; symptoms are alleviated. … Self-healing through the placebo effect depends upon freeing your mind of doubts—without deceiving yourself. People need to know more about the mind-body connection, not less. …. All healing is, in the end, self-healing. Physicians aid the body’s intricate healing system (which coordinates immune cells, inflammation, hormones, genes, and much else), but actual healing takes place in an unknown way. When it comes to the mind-body connection, healing should involve the following basic conditions: 3 of the 5 on page 200

  • The mind is contributing to getting well.
  • The body is in constant communication with the mind.
  • Once the person receives treatment that he trusts, he lets go and allows the healing response to proceed naturally. pg. 200

When the placebo effect woks, all five aspects are involved. The patient’s mind cooperates with the treatment and trusts it. … There is open communication, and as a result, cells throughout the body participate in a healing response. … When you believe that a sugar pill is going to cure you, those healing messages will begin to have an effect. … The greatest promise lies in the fact that a mental intention of “I shall please” is know to work. Being your own placebo requires applying the same conditions as in a classic placebo response: 3 of the 5 listed on page 201

  • You trust what is happening.
  • You don’t send conflicting messages that get tangled with each other.
  • You let go of your intention and allow the healing system to do its work.

The mind doesn’t intrude with doubts and fears. But in serious illness, doubts and fears play a marked role, which is why a practice like meditation or going to group counseling has been shown to help. Sharing your anxiety with others in the same predicament is one way to begin to clear it. …. Many of us deal with illness through misleading processes like wishful thinking and denial. … To trust what your body is telling you requires experience. You need a certain amount of mind-body training, and that takes time. It’s well documented, for example, that a positive lifestyle, which includes exercise, diet, and meditation, reduces heart disease. …. It requires patience, diligence, and time. pg. 202

Dealing with anxiety is far more effective if you attend to it years before you ever get sick. The mind-body connection has to be strengthened before trouble arrives. … One way to do so is to site quietly with your eyes closed and simply feel the body. … What you want to do is to increase your sensitivity and your trust at the same time. Your body knows at a subtle level where dis-ease and discomfort are. pg. 202

Your immune system eliminates thousands of abnormal cells every day. Everyone has tumor-suppressing genes, although how they can be triggered is as yet unknown. … Every cell in the body knows, through chemical messengers, what every other cell is doing. Bringing your conscious mind into the loop adds to this communication. pg. 203

We can venture that the placebo effect falls into the same category. It’s a voluntary response that we could use if only we learned how to use it. The healing system seems to be involuntary. You don’t have to think in order to heal a cut or a bruise. But the fact that some patients can make their own pain go away when given a sugar pill implies, very strongly, that intention makes a difference in healing. pg. 203

Here is a short Youtube.com video on the placebo effect:

Here is a TED video about the Placebo Effect with a little different slant to it

The doctor refers to the Spontaneous Remission Bibliography Project. Click on the project characters and go to the site.

Watching this video reminded me of something which happened to me while living in Kansas City, KS around 1987.

I had grow up in Southwest Nebraska back in the 50s and 60s. My father was a medical doctor in which I had complete faith in his healing skills as did many of his patients. While living in K.C. between 1983 and 1989 I frequently drove the 400+ miles to visit my parents. After arriving in McCook one Friday evening my father invited to go to the hospital with him to check on a female patient with atrial fibrillation or AFib. If her heart had not returned to a normal heart beat he was going to use the electrical shock paddles on her to correct her condition. He wanted to know if I like to watch and learn. I did.

After arriving and walking to her room she greeted us with, “Dr. Batty, I’ve been pressing on my neck (curated artery) so much this afternoon it’s sore (Dad had told her that for some reason if you stopped the blood flow in the curated momentarily while in AFib sometimes the heart beat would return to normal). We looked at the oscilloscope (I think that’s what it was called) to see what it looked like. It did not look normal. Dad said a couple things to her then leaned down and touched her neck. Immediately the scope changed to a normal hear picture and the patients eyes grew to  large orbs. Dad chuckled in his quiet way and told her things were looking better. If her heart stayed in sync through the night she would probably be going home the next day.

As we left her room that night Dad did his little chuckle again and said he had no idea what had caused her heart to return to a normal rate. After watching the above video I now believe I know.

Steve

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Super Brain Weeks 12, 13 & 14- From Intellect to Intuition

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

Intellect is the primary way that your brain has evolved to counter obsessions based on fears and desires. Rational thought allows you to strategize on how to obtain what you desire, and activity that dominates everyone’s life. But it also acts as a counterbalance to reign in your emotions. pg. 149

At the level of personal experience, the never-ending interplay between emotion and intellect creates a running internal discourse, which is broadcast in our brain during every waking moment. …. The discourse is more an internal dialogue, where old and new ideas contend. The person must decide which to favor, the brain’s wired-in reactions or new and unknown responses. That can be a problem. pg. 150

It comes naturally to our intellect to ask questions and look for answers. The human mind has an endless craving for knowledge. We live on two parallel tracks. On one track we experience everything that happens to us, while on the other we question those experiences. pg. 151

Despite the notion that we are driven by lower impulses like sex, hunger, anger, and fear, the higher brain dominates everything. …. The higher brain marks the arrival of self-awareness. Every example we’ve given uses the word I as part of the thought; I is the conscious being who is using the brain. The instinctive and emotional phases of the brain dwell in the world of the subconscious. pg. 152

In humans, the intellectual phase of the brain blends instinctive drives and emotions with knowledge gained from experience. … “Man is the only animal who has to be encouraged to live.” There’s a more positive way to say the same thing: humans refuse to be dictated to by our lower brain, even when it comes to survival. ….. The intellectual brain uses logic and rational thought in order to deal with the world in a mindful manner. ….. Responding to any situation requires understanding, while reacting doesn’t. Understanding isn’t an isolated event. There’s always a social context. You must empathize with others; people must communicate and make meaningful connections. pg. 153

Human society depends on teaching, which requires a special kind of brain, one that instantly turns experience into knowledge. … We don’t teach just by example, either, but by talking. Complex language accelerated the evolution of the brain, because it allows for a more sophisticated mode of communication. It also allowed us to be capable of symbolic thought. pg.154

Dyslexic children, for example, have learning difficulties with reading due to a defect in brain development in the womb. Their brains put words and letters in reverse order. pg. 155

In truth, we are constantly making reality, a process that embraces every region of the brain in a constantly shifting interplay. …. As with any phase of the brain, intellect can go out of balance. If you are too intellectual, you lose the grounding of emotions and instincts. This leads to overly calculated actions and castles in the air. pg. 155

Essential points: Your intellectual Brain – books lists 5, here are two. pg. 156

  • Intellect never operates in isolation but is blended with emotions and instinct.
  • Responding to the world implies being responsible for the world.

The Intuitive Phase of the Brain; pg. 156
Your intellect is part of your birthright, which includes and insatiable need for meaning.  …. Right and wrong, good and bad, are so basic that the brain is wired for them. ….. helping is a built-in response. pg. 156

Balance and harmony are the keys to a successful brain, just as they are for the stability of the universe. pg. 160

A curious irony of the brain is that the intellectual brain is that the intellectual brain can dismiss the intuitive brain as mere superstition. …. Whole areas of your life depend upon intuition—empathy, for example.  When you walk into a room, you can sense if the people in it are tense or have been fighting before you arrived—that’s intuitive. pg. 160

Empathy is defined as the understanding and sharing of others’ feelings. … empathy became a critical component for social survival. …. More broadly, empathy has paved the way for moral reasoning and altruistic behavior. … Empathy is different from sympathy, which does not involve sharing another’s state of mind. …… The empathy-associated regions of the cingulate gyrus are larger in females than in males and are generally smaller in schizophrenic patients, who are often tragically isolated in their emotions and delusional about what other people are feeling. pg. 161

Empathy has also been associated with mirror neurons, a class of nerve cells that are known to exist in lower primates like monkeys. …. The pernicious side of mirroring may be that when a young child witnesses negative behavior, such as domestic abuse, a brain pattern may be triggered. It is known that abused children often grow up to become abusers, so imprinted are they with such behavior. …. No one knows the full functioning of mirror neurons, but they seem to play a key role in social attachments, the process by which we attain security, nurturing, and alleviation of distress from our relationships.    pg. 162

We are confronted with the riddle of where mind ends and brain begins. Anyone who has ever fallen madly in love will testify that this mystery gets very personal. …. from the super brain point of view, we can argue that the brain is an incredibly fine-tuned organ that produces the emotions we need at any given moment. ….. Despite their undeniable power, our emotions are generated to serve us. pg. 163

This is where the intuitive mind enters the picture. It rises above emotion and intellect, giving you an overall picture of things (which psychologists call a gestalt, (the image of reality we assign to various situations.) pg. 163

All of the following things fall under the category of intuition: here are two of the 5 on page 163

  • Knowing that someone else is lying.
  • Using irony, which says one thing but means the opposite.

First impressions, made in the blink of an eye, are the most powerful. What has emerged from recent studies is that first impressions and snap judgments are often the most accurate. pg. 164

Essential Points: Your Intuitive Brain. Here are 2 of the 5 listed on pg. 166

  • Snap judgments are accurate because intuition doesn’t need processing by the higher brain.
  • The intuitive brain has no limits that are foreseeable—everything depends on what the mind wants the brain to do.

Putting It all Together

Having taken apart the fourfold brain, what do we get once it is put back together? A superb tool for reality making, which has infinite possibilities. The best way to achieve health, happiness, and success is by balancing all four phases of your brain. Your brain goes out of balance when you favor one part over another. … with enough repetition, the favored regions of the brain gain an advantage; the un-favored regions start to atrophy. pg. 167

But your true identity isn’t found in any of these separate regions (emotional brain, intellectual brain, instinctive brain, & intuitive brain).  You are the summation of them all, as the mind controls them. …. You have trained it to use you. It’s hard to really absorb that every thought is an instruction, but it is. pg. 167

Holistic mode of the brain pg. 167 the book gives 7 things, here are two

  • It remembers what you like.
  • It makes a note to repeat the same pleasure in the future.

Putting it all together is the human mind’s single greatest achievement. …. Our aim is to expand the brain’s holistic mode. …. But to expand the brain’s emotional centers is threatening. We typically identify with people who are most like us (in race, status, education, politics, etc.) and feel alienated by those who are most unlike us. ….. As you grow older, your tendency is to narrow your likes and dislikes, which means that you are denying your brain its ability to be holistic. pg. 168

If you examine its physical design, the brain is a highly integrated organ in which various regions and their resident nerve cells are constantly communicating with each other. …. We are evolving as a choice, not as nature’s necessity. The brain is moving in a more holistic direction. … Our favorite phrase for this trend is “survival of the wisest.” If you choose to, you can evolve through conscious choices. pg. 170

WHERE THE BRAIN IS GROWING – How to become part of the Next Evolutionary Leap – The book lists 12, here are four of them. pg. 170

  • Don’t promote conflict in any area of your life.
  • Value compassion.
  • Try not to feel that you are always right.
  • Show genuine concern when someone else is in trouble.

If you use the whole brain, the universe certainly does have a purpose, to foster life and the experiences that life brings. When your own experiences become richer, the universe gets better at serving its purpose. That’s the reason why the brain began to evolve in the first place. pg. 171

SUPER BRAIN SOLUTIONS – Finding Your Power” pg. 172

Reality making should lead to a reality you actually want, not the one you find yourself in. But that can’t happen until you find your power. … A powerful person is the combination of many traits, each of them trained into the brain:

What’s In Personal Power? the book lists 8, here are 3 from page 172

  • Self-confidence
  • Optimistic outlook
  • Ability to overcome obstacles

Whenever someone feels powerless to change a situation, whatever it may be, one or more of these elements is missing. …. The difference has to do with feedback. Each started at  a point not very different from anybody else. They internalized every small success and reinforced the next opportunity. They trained the brain by absorbing experience and pushing the bar higher. pg. 172

People who feel powerless, on the other hand, have trained themselves by absorbing negative experiences. The process remains the same so far as the brain is concerned. Neurons are neutral about messages of success or failure. …. Its crucial to find  your power, all the more so when the world’s wisdom traditions keep repeating, age after age, that infinite power is hidden inside every individual.  …. The issues of power are all “in here,” where you relate to yourself. pg. 173

Now that we know what personal power isn’t, we can list the five steps that bring true power: pg. 173

  1. Stop giving away your power.
  2. Examine why it’s “good” to be a victim.
  3. Develop a mature self.
  4. Align yourself with the flow of evolution, or personal growth.
  5. Trust in a higher power that transcends everyday reality.

Each of these points depends on a single thread that ties them all together: the reality you see all around you has been constructed from individual currents flowing in, around, and through you. “”pg. 173

1) Stop giving away your power.

Becoming powerless doesn’t happen in a single dramatic stroke. …. It’s a process, and for most people, the process is so gradual that they don’t notice it.
You are giving away your power when you please others in order to fit in. Or when you follow the opinions of the crowd. Or When you decide that others matter more than you do. Or when you let someone who seems to have more power take charge of you. Or when you hold a grudge. pg. 174

All hidden power is self power. If you chip away at your self-worth, what replaces it is a series of compromises, false gestures, habits and conditioning. Your brain gets trained to view life as a gradual decay in exciting challenges, and without such challenges, reality making becomes a routine affair. … The next time you feel a threat, ask how you can turn it into an opportunity.  pg. 175

2) Examine why it’s “good” to be a victim.

We define being a victim as “selfless pain.” … Most victims sacrifice themselves on the alter of worthless causes. “Good Suffering You don’t Need: The book lists 8, here are 3 of them. pg. 175

  • Taking the blame for someone else’s mistakes.
  • Letting your children disrespect you.
  • Not speaking the truth.

Victimization, once it becomes a habit in the brain, restricts your responses. … Victims always find “good” reasons for their plight. ….. A victim is always being done to. pg. 176

Breaking out: First and most important, realize that your role is voluntary. You are not trapped by fate, destiny, or the will of God. …. Don’t procrastinate, and don’t rationalize, get out. pg. 176

3) Develop a mature self. pg. 176

Human beings are the only creatures who do not mature automatically. The world is full of people stuck in childhood and adolescence, no matter how old they happen to be. To Mature is a Choice. No project is more decisive for personal power—and happiness—than the project of become a mature adult. … There is a sharp divide between seniors who have aged to be regretful, unfulfilled, and depressed and seniors who look back with contentment and inner satisfaction. … The maturing process starts with a vision of the goal. To us, the goal is embodied in the phrase core self. This the part of you that shapes your reality, placing you at the center of experiences you personally create. pg. 177

How It Feels To Have a Mature Core Self pg. 177 – 9 are listed, here are 4

  • You don’t feel controlled by others.
  • You don’t live for approval; you aren’t crushed by disapproval.
  • You give respect and receive it from others.
  • You feel safe in the world and like where you belong.

To have a mature self is to be the author of your own story; it is the exact opposite of being a victim, who must live a life authored by others. … In truth, your life journey becomes far more exciting if you are following a vision that inspires you year after year. Visions create the opportunity for fulfillment; therefore the core self is the source of enormous power, from which your future grows. pg. 178

Breaking out: To being, shift your allegiance away from superficial activity, and toward the deep project of become a completely authentic, mature person. …. Aim for the highest goals you can imagine that would bring fulfillment. Seek out people who share the same vision and are achieving success. Once you know where you are headed, the path unfolds with its own inner guidance. Allow this to happen; your unfolding potential need reinforcement day by day. pg. 178

4) Align yourself wit the flow of evolution, or personal growth. pg. 178

Future evolution is a choice. …. Your survival isn’t at stake; your fulfillment is. …. Desire is the key. … If what you desire is likely to help others, the odds are higher it will be attained.

What Makes A Desire Evolutionary? pg. 179 – 10 are listed, here are 5

  • It doesn’t repeat the past but feels fresh and new.
  • It brings a flow of contentment.
  • You don’t regret it.
  • Fulfilling it will serve others as well as yourself.
  • It expands your awareness as fulfillment grows.

Breaking out: Honestly look at your everyday life and the choices you are making. Ask yourself how to increase the better choices and decrease the bad ones. Step by step, follow up your conviction to evolve. pg. 180

5) Trust in a Higher Power that Transcends Everyday Reality. pg. 180

Nothing that we’ve described so far will come true without a higher vision of reality. …… Whatever is holding you in a powerless state, if you are destined to be stuck there, you aren’t going to regain power. … When you ask to be connected to a higher reality, the connection is made. pg. 180

Glimpses of Higher Reality pg. 181 – 10 are offered, here are 5

  • You feel watched over and protected.
  • You recognize blessings in your life that feel like acts of grace.
  • Your feel gratitude for being alive.
  • You’ve experienced moments of pure ecstasy.
  • Miracles seem possible.

Breaking out: Escape routes exist everywhere in consciousness. All you need to do is be aware of the potentials hidden in your awareness and latch on to them. Ask – “What are the possibilities in life that you hungered to fulfill but never did?”… If you pursue something you deeply cherish, higher reality will reconnect with you.  Read the last paragraph on page 182. I found it powerful.pg. 182

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Super Brain Week 10&11–The Emotional Brain

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

Fear and desire are bred in your instinctive brain, mediated by your emotional brain, and negotiated by your intellectual brain. ….. The human brain has added layers of new upon old. Each layer keeps integrating what came before rather than throwing it away. While past memories of pain and discomfort drive fear, memories of past pleasures and enjoyment drive desire. …. The emotions based on fear and desire work hand in hand with each other. pg. 133

For Example, your fear of rejection by your social group dovetails with your desire for power and sex, sustaining the individual and the species at the same time. …. Emotions have names, like envy, jealousy, and pride. … So, emotions are a step in the direction of awareness. pg. 134

You must be mindful of your fears and desires. They have no control built into them, and neither does the reptilian brain. …. Smelling a perfume or chocolate cookies is enough to bring memories flooding back from the past because the limbic system unites smell, memory and emotion. pg. 134

With the emergence of the emotional brain, awareness began to pry itself loose from physical survival. … Huge areas of life should be on automatic pilot, and therefore they are. ….. But emotions, even as they well up spontaneously, mean something, and meaning is a department we all want to be in charge of. ….. The emotional brain feels no emotions. You feel emotions while using it. pg. 135

Memory is the most powerful way to make emotions stick, and once stuck, they are difficult to remove. …. The struggle to break the grip of old conditioning, which creates pain today by remembering the pain of yesterday. …. You are laying down impressions in your nervous system all the time. Every like and dislike you have is due to past impressions. …. Emotions guide preferences, and computers are devoid of emotions.  pg. 136

You need to have an open emotional life and to value your feelings. But when emotions gain the upper hand,  there is more evolving to do. In particular, we believe that you should be a witness to your emotions. …. By observing your anger, you create a small gap between you and your emotion. … In that tiny act of detachment, the emotion loses momentum. … As with any phase of the brain, emotions can go out of balance.  pg. 136

If you indulge your emotions long enough, you become their prisoner. …. Repressing the emotions is also strongly linked to becoming prone to illness. pg. 137

ESSENTIAL POINTS: YOUR EMOTIONAL BRAIN – here are two of the five on page 137

  • Don’t hold on to negative feelings by justifying why you are right and someone else is wrong.
  • Ask if you really need to be having the reaction you are having. If the answer is no, the unwanted feelings will begin to go back in balance.

limbic

The Limbic System: It houses our emotions, feelings of pleasure associated with eating, and sex, and short-term memory. Located here are two individual areas, the thalamus and hypothalamus, as well as the amygdala and hippocampus, which control short-term memory.

The amygdala determines what memories are stored based on the emotional response that an experience invokes. The hippocampus is responsible for short-term memories and sends them to appropriate parts of the cerebral cortex for long-term storage. This region is particularly affected in Alzheimer’s disease. The limbic system is tightly connected with the olfactory lobe, which processes smell. This is why a certain scent can trigger such strong memories. pg. 138

Evolution honed the alliance between the instinctive and the emotional brain to ensure our survival, but if overused, that alliance can become our worst enemy. This is because the instinctive and emotional brains are “reactive” – they mindlessly induce a state of arousal. pg. 139

Emotional stress can cause physical illness. This has happened to me on three occasions.

 

SUPER BRAIN SOLUTIONS – PERSONAL CRISES

Many people react to personal crises with fear, which is instinctual. But it’s possible to have a more integrated approach, which is to say, using your higher and lower brain together. A personal crises is just a challenge magnified to drastic proportions, and challenges are part of everyone’s life.  … The outcome of your life depends on how you deal with its darkest moments. Will they be turning points or setbacks? What we call wisdom comes into play here, for most people make important decisions based on impulse or its opposite, habit. …. “Life is difficult.” But wisdom can be an incentive to conquer the difficulties, transforming frustration and defeat into turning points and breakthroughs.  pg. 142

Any time things go badly wrong, ask these three questions: pg. 142

  1. Is this a problem I should fix, put up with, or walk away from?
  2. Whom can I consult who has solved the same or similar problem successfully?
  3. How can I reach deeper into myself for solutions?

Three questions NOT to ask when something goes wrong: pg. 143

  1. What’s wrong with me?
  2. Whom can I blame?
  3. What’s the worst-case scenario?

The sad truth is that millions of people constantly dwell on the questions they should not be asking, while only a fraction seriously ask the right questions, leading to the right actions. pg. 143

1. Is this a problem I should fix, put up with, or walk away from? pg. 143

Unless you can answer this question clearly and rationally, your vision will be clouded by emotional reactions. …. Bad situations can often induce bad decision making, and so to get to the point of making good decisions, you must clarify your inner confusion. Pause to consider— with consultation from those you trust—a course of action that begins with finding a fix. If the fix isn’t there, ask why. pg. 143

Don’t trap yourself through judgment and punitive moral attitudes. In, general, because finding a fix takes effort and walking away feels risky, most people put up with bad situations, even ones in crisis, such as a violently abusive spouse or serious signs of heart disease due to obesity. Only a small percentage of people (under 25 percent) seek professional help for their emotional problems, while most people report that they deal with emotional difficulties by watching more television. pg. 144

The overall result is self-defeat. No solution can ever be found by running in three different directions. So clarify your situation and act on what you clearly see. …. When you feel calmer, sit down and examine the crisis. Write down the alternatives, making a column each for fix it, put up with it, and walk away. Write down the reasons for each. Weigh them carefully. Ask someone you trust to read your list and comment. Once you’ve decided what to do, stick with it unless strong indications point in a new direction. pg. 144  Here is a real life example in a blog I wrote about My Anger: http://mybecomingaware.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/my-anger-treepart-1/

2. Who can I consult who has solved the same problem successfully?

Bad situations aren’t solved in isolation, but our emotional reactions undoubtedly isolate us. ….. We entertain shame and guilt, and once these corrosive feelings take hold, we have even more reason to shut down. …. Finding someone who has gone through the same crisis gives you and example to follow, a confidant who understands your plight, and an alternative to withdrawing into isolation. Victims always feel alone and helpless. … There’s no substitute for talking to a person who has entered a dark place and come out successfully. pg. 145

Stop and stand back. Ask “Are you getting the right feedback? Is something positive, something you can use, coming out of every encounter? Is the other person truly sympathetic?” pg. 145

ACTION: Find a confidant to tell your story to. Seek a support group; go online to find blogs and forums—the possibilities are much greater than before. …. Put their words to the test  by writing down the solution being suggested. pg. 146

3. How can I reach deeper into myself for solutions? pg. 146

Turning a bad thing into a good thing is up to you. …. Ask “How can I reach deeper into myself for solutions?” THE LEVEL OF THE SOLUTION IS NEVER THE LEVEL OF THE PROBLEM. …. Repetitive thinking that gets nowhere. Old conditioning that keeps applying yesterday’s outworn choices. … The relevant insight is that you have more than one level of awareness, and at a deeper level you have untapped creativity and insight. pg. 146

Your higher brain contains the potential for creating new solutions, but you must cooperate. …. Constant pressure leads to constant worry. Mounting anxiety fuels the lower brain, which amps up its reactions. ONLY THE HIGHER BRAIN IS CAPABLE OF DETACHING THE MIND FROM INSTINCTIVE—EMOTIONAL REACTIONS. pg. 146

If you value insight, that also helps. Set up the right circumstances for a breakthrough: be quiet for a set part of the day. Close your eyes and follow your breath, until your body begins to calm down. Physical stress blocks the higher brain. Make sure you are well rested, insofar as that is possible. Keep away from stressful triggers and people who make you feel vulnerable.  pg. 147

In your quietness, ask for an answer. …. You can ask your higher self or simply have an intention that is focused and clear. Then back off and relax. Answers always come, because the mind is never at a loss for channels of communication. …. Generations of wisdom support the notion that creative solutions arise spontaneously. pg. 14

ACTIONS:

  • Allow a space for inner quiet.
  • Detach yourself from worry; don’t get involved in the chaos.
  • Understand these nurturing conditions …

The three questions you shouldn’t ask will haunt you unless you consciously push them aside. …. Remind yourself, in your moments of clarity, that this is self-punishment. Open a wedge of clear thinking in order to breakdown the instinctive-emotional reactions that want to take hold. …. Join the minority that sees a clear path out of present darkness, that never submits to fear and despair, and that does its part to lead everyone out of crisis into a future full of light. pg. 148.

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Super Brain week 9 – Anxiety

As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.

Anxiety creates a false picture of the world, piling on things to be afraid of that are in fact harmless. The mind adds fear. If the mind can undo the perception of fear, the danger will vanish. ….. To begin with, life cannot exist without fear, and yet fear creates paralysis and misery. …… Drugs don’t’ cure mood disorders, including anxiety. …. Medical studies have found only a few things that the mind-body system cannot adapt to: one of them is chronic pain and the other is anxiety. pg. 118

Free –floating fear means the thing you fear is not a specific threat. …. Once you become anxious in a pervasive sense—as happens , for example, to chronic worriers—the whole brain gets involved. Fear is targeted and specific; anxiety is pervasive and mysterious. People who suffer from it don’t know why. pg. 118

In other words, their reality making has gone awry. Anything or nothing can trigger anxiety in them. They always have something to be afraid of, a new worry or threat. To find the solution, they must learn not to fight the fear but to stop identifying with their fears. …. Achieving detachment is only possible if you can get at what makes fear so sticky. pg. 119

HOW ANXIETY BECOMES STICKY – the book lists six, here are two pg. 119

  • The same worry keeps returning. Repetition makes the fear response stick in the brain.
  • Fear feels bad, and you shove the pain out of sight. But repressed feelings endure. What you resist persists.

 

Fear reaches out with many tentacles, and every attachment is unhealthy. To undo fear, we need to break its reality down. Each part, taken on its own, is manageable. You can dismantle it for the simple reason that you are at the center of reality making. pg. 120

1. The same worry keeps returning. Repetition makes the fear response stick in the brain.

Repetition deepens the rut that keeps any response fixed. … In the case of anxiety, they internalized the repetition. You turn into the abuser delivering the same “be afraid” message over and over. …. The mind, trapped inside itself, can’t look far enough to see that chronic worry does no good. It doesn’t recognize the repeated, obsessive assault of fear st negative. It becomes a kind of fix. pg. 120

To end the influence of repetition, awareness must come into play, by consciously thinking thoughts like the following. pg. 121

  • I’m doing it again.
  • I feel bad when I worry.
  • I need to stop at this moment.
  • The future is unknown. Worrying about it is pointless.
  • I’m doing myself no good.

People who are stuck in self-destructive worrying know the old pattern doesn’t work from the get-go. They break out of it not by learning to stop the mental process but by overriding it with an emerging awareness that says, “The fear isn’t real. I’m the one creating it.” The anxious woman became aware that she was abusing herself through self-induced fear. She learned to stop herself when the merry-go-round of worry started to whirl. pg. 122

2) The fear is convincing. When you believe in the voice of fear, it takes over. pg. 122

If you think that something is true, it sticks with you. … But being convincing isn’t the same as being true. … You can be too convinced by your suspicions. pg. 122

Anxiety is the most convincing emotion of all, in part because evolution has hardwired the brain to react with the fight-or-flight response. …. But when the condition is free-floating anxiety, the voice of fear isn’t telling you the truth. It is using the power to convince you, even when you have nothing to be afraid of. . If you can say to your fear, “I don’t believe you. I don’t accept you,” its power to convince will diminish. …. Here the mind must lead the brain. pg. 122

The mind exists to sort out the real form the unreal. pg. 123

When the mind is leading the brain out of anxiety, it has thoughts like the following. pg. 123

  • Nothing bad is happening to me. I can handle the situation. and five more on page 123.

By pitting the voice of fear in its place this way, you make it less convincing. Each time you do it, repetition comes to your aid instead of undermining you. Every realistic appraisal makes the next one easier. Anxiety has no power to convince when you see that reality doesn’t match your state of alarm. pg. 123

3) The fear stirs a memory. What you fear resembles something bad in your past, which brings back the old response. pg. 123

As much as you try to live in the present, your brain stores and learns from every experience by comparing it with your past. ….. The destructive side of your brain, which fuels anxiety, makes you a “prisoner of the past.”  pg. 123

Once the brain is exposed to a painful experience, the brain gives a privileged pathway to remember the pain if it should come up again in the future. …. For example, child psychologists make a distinction between telling a child what to do and telling him what he is. … We rely on our parents to tell us how we are as small children, and if what they say is destructive, there is no escaping without consciously healing the old memories.

Bringing awareness to the stickiness of memory requires new thoughts like the following. pg. 124

  • This feeling is how I felt a long time ago. & five more on page 124.

Memory is the ongoing story of your life, and it does no good to keep reinforcing the story unconsciously. You need to step in and add something new, however small. Memory is incredibly complex, but it tends to trigger a simple reaction. pg. 124

While having your reaction, you can work on it, examining your response, moving the negative feelings that are evoked, and not running away until you feel you have had the response you want to have.

4) Fear leads to silence. From shame or guilt you don’t speak your fear, so it festers. pg. 125

We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that more often than not, abused children keep quiet and suffer in silence. Child abuse relies upon their reluctance to speak out. ….. Switch to anxiety as the problem rather than abuse, and you see that the mind plays a double role: it accuses a child of doing something wrong and at the same time it tells her that she is being violated. pg. 125

Speaking out your fear untangles the bind. ….. You need more than a listener. You need a confidant, someone who has been through the same kind of fear. … Well meaning friends are not necessarily good at this. pg. 126

Emotional maturity begins with knowing that thoughts aren’t actions. Having a bad thought isn’t the same as carrying it out. Guilt doesn’t recognize the difference. …. The point is to get out of the anxiety that the thought induced. To get to the point where you can find such a mature confidante, you need to cultivate thoughts like the following: here are thee of the six listed. pg. 126

  • I don’t want to live with my guilt.
  • Silence is making it worse.
  • The truth has the power to set me free.

5) Fear feels bad, and you shove the pain out of sight. But repressed feelings endure. What you resist persists. pg. 127

But the simple tactic of pain avoidance backfires in the brain. You’ve probably heard the old challenge, “Try not to think of an elephant.” The mere mention of “elephant” triggers associations in the brain. This is essential for human existence—it’s how we learn, by steps of association. At this moment you associate the words on this page with all the works you’ve ever read, and thus you can decide to absorb and accept what you’ve reading or not. pg. 127

Repressed feelings rise up like ghosts. Sometimes you feel anxious because your fear is trying to rise up. But repression is tricky. You can feel anxious because you are worried about keeping secrets; or because you know that one day you will be exposed; or because the pain of avoiding pain is too great. …. The antidotes to repression are two: openness and honesty. If you are open to all your feelings and not just the nice ones, you don’t have to repress anything. ….. The important thing is to heal. pg. 128

To speak the feelings that you have suppressed for years, your biggest risk is that the person in whom you confide will react judgmentally, at which point you may wish you had kept your secret hidden. But then, guilt has a nasty way of making us turn to the wrong people when we want to bare our souls. That’s because we still play the double role of abused and abuser. ….. We seek the out because we know they will judge us. So you must prepare the ground first, with thoughts like the following: here is one of the four on page 129

  • It’s scary to come clean, but that’s how I will heal.

Just remember that forgiveness is the last step, not the first. You approach it step by step. Your responsibility to yourself is only to want to forgive yourself and then to figure out the next step, however small, to get toward healing. ….. You stop heeding fear and learn to accept your feelings for what they are: natural events that belong in our life. pg. 129

6) Fear is crippling. You feel to weak to do anything about it. pg. 129

Fear’s ability to freeze you in your tracks is mysterious and changeable. pg. 129

How you choose to reinterpret any bit of raw input can work to your advantage. That’s how you decided to stand up to the bully on the playground or got back on the horse after it threw you. ….. The way out of any fear is to get past its power to frighten you. ….. People allow themselves to be frightened by fear. Manageable anxiety was transformed into panicky behavior. pg. 130

Anxiety tells you that you are in great danger, and the body doesn’t operate with a rheostat to turn the fear response up and down—it only knows on and off. …. But it is necessary to defuse the fear of being anxious, you need to cultivate thoughts like the following on page 131: Here are two of the six.

  • I am not going to die, no matter how scary this is.
  • The more I face fear, the more control I gain over it.

The aim is always the same: to get to a more detached place. Phobias prove that reality isn’t strong enough to conquer fear…. Knowing you are the reality maker. That is the pivotal point. Once you regain the clarity that comes from knowing how reality is made, you’re free. You’ve invaded the workshop of the brain and declared that you are in control. The creator has returned.

I found the following youtube.com video very interesting and possibly a good place to start.

Physician, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant Martin L. Rossman, MD, discusses how to use the power of the healing mind to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, change lifestyle habits, and live with more wellness. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [3/2010] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 17631]

 

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