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First place, gold medal: Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain receives book award

Author and consultant Patt Lind-Kyle has been named a 2010 Living Now Book Awards gold medalist in the Health/Wellness category for her book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain.

Part of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (known as “Ippys”), the Living Now Book Awards are awarded in 30 lifestyle categories, and are “intended to promote newly-published lifestyle books that will help readers enrich their lives in wholesome, Earth-friendly ways.”

Chosen from among 428 total entries, Lind-Kyle’s book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-60415-056-8, $26.95) explains the science behind neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to grow, change, and forge new neural pathways at any age. The book, accompanied by companion guided-mind training CDs, also gives readers the instructions and tools necessary to “rewire” their own brains for increased focus, emotional control, reduced stress levels, and higher levels of balance, creativity, and happiness.

More than just a study of how personality typing, meditation, mind training, neuroscience, and brain chemistry intersect and interact, the book is a tool that readers can use to achieve a higher state of personal evolution.
“The truth is, the world we live in will never magically become stress-free,” Lind-Kyle observes. “But it is possible (and surprisingly straightforward!) to train yourself to meet challenges head-on with a stable, focused, and calm mind. And that will make all the difference.”

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About the Author:
Patt Lind-Kyle is an author, therapist, speaker, trainer, and consultant. She is a former professor at Foothill College, and founder of a learning assessment company that applies neuro-monitoring tools for stress management, health, and peak performance. Her research, writing, and teaching in the mind/brain field center on using an EEG brainwave monitoring system to help individuals maximize their brain-mind potentials.

Patt has written a chapter in Audacious Aging: “Building Community from the Inside Out” (Elite Books, 2009). She is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (SwanRaven, 1994).

For more information, please visit www.pattlindkyle.com.

About the Book:
Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-60415-056-8, $26.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and through major online booksellers.

About the CDs:
Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Companion CDs for the Book (2-CD set, $14.95) contains six sessions that guide listeners through the exercises and practices relating to each of the four brainwave frequencies as described in the book. The CDs can be used in conjunction with the book, or as a stand-alone tool. To download a free mp3 of one of the exercises or to purchase the CDs, please visit http://www.pattlindkyle.com/sho/cds/.

Dottie DeHart
DeHart & Company
The Piedmont Center
1375 Lenoir Rhyne Blvd. SE,
Suite 109
Hickory, NC
28602
Direct Phone: 828-325-4966
Direct Fax: 828-325-4968

E-mail: DSDeHart@aol.com
www.dehartandcompany.com

Video interview: Science and Spirituality with Emmett Miller, MD

Patt Lind-Kyle talks about the integration of science and spirituality with respect to the mind and brain working together to arrive at a sense of who we are.  This short video is segment 3 of the interview with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio with Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain.

Watch here:

Remember the importance of a good, long YAWN

Remember the importance of a good, long YAWN

(this article is re-printed from Bottom Line’s Daily Health News)

3-SECOND ENERGY BOOST

Yawning is something we mostly stifle — after all, it’s embarrassing to yawn in the face of another as if to announce that you didn’t get enough sleep or, worse, that you’re bored. That’s a shame — because researchers have discovered that the humble yawn is a major contributor to mental alertness… keeps our brains properly cooled (literally)… and helps us to shift from one activity to another, even to adjust from one time zone to another. They recommend using yawning consciously as a tool to make life better. For example, yawn soon after awakening to rev up your brain for the day or at night to help calm yourself and promote sleep.

THE SCIENCE OF THE YAWN

Most people believe that we yawn to bring oxygen from the air into the body, but that’s wrong, says psychotherapist Patt Lind-Kyle, MA, the author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. She calls yawning an “exercise for the brain” based on the growing number of studies that have found that it facilitates mental efficiency. Yawning does its magic by literally forcing extra blood directly to the brain. When you yawn, your facial muscles broadly contract and then relax, and this action pushes oxygen-rich blood into the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the location of the “executive function” that covers planning, organization, decision-making, personality expression and many other crucial activities.

The yawn also sends blood to stimulate an area called the precuneus, which is involved in consciousness along with memory and motor coordination. As far as serving to cool the brain, a 2007 study at State University of New York-Albany found that performing difficult mental tasks, such as processing lots of information, actually increases brain temperature. Though we’re all familiar with the way ongoing mental labor can trigger yawning, it’s not because it is tiring. Again, the yawn sends blood to the brain to curtail its rising temperature, which is how it helps to maintain mental efficiency. Interestingly, both yawning and body thermoregulation seem to be controlled by the same area of the brain, the hypothalamus.

PUTTING YOUR YAWNS TO WORK

Okay, so now we know that yawning can increase our efficiency in a number of areas… how can we take better advantage of this? Just decide to yawn and then do it — and I mean do a real face-stretcher! I’ll tell you how in a moment, but first here are some situations in which Lind-Kyle suggests adding a yawn…

  • To stimulate better thinking. When you are preparing for an   exam, a presentation or an important conversation, you can enhance your performance by yawning several times first. During an exam, don’t be shy about yawning when you find yourself losing focus or starting to stumble in your thoughts — it will help.
  • To reduce jet lag and reset energy levels. At 20 weeks gestation, fetuses start to develop a wake/sleep pattern and as part of the process, they yawn… a lot. Lind-Kyle says that we can consciously use yawning to help reset our wake/sleep patterns, including when suffering jet lag. To start, yawn five times or so as soon as you get off the airplane. When you’ve experienced how well this refreshes you, Lind-Kyle says you may soon begin to do it intuitively — you’ll find yourself yawning whenever you feel yourself starting to drag. She says that yawning can be used in this manner to help you acclimate to high altitudes and to reset your energy level as you switch from one activity to another, such as from sleep to wakefulness.
  • To improve your mood… and, possibly even your relationships. Yawning is associated with increased levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter released from the hypothalamus that is associated with pleasure, motivation and sociability. Lind-Kyle says that when two people yawn together, it can help diminish tension in the relationship… and fortunately, yawning is highly contagious, so it’s easy for both of you to get in on the act. If nothing else, a shared yawning session should make for a few ice-breaking laughs.
  • For relaxation. Curiously, although yawning serves to stimulate the brain, a deep yawn and wide stretch also relax the body. Lind-Kyle, who leads meditation classes, always starts with a healthy yawn, which she says gets people relaxed quickly. She said that bringing on a few deep yawns at bedtime may help you get to sleep.

HOW TO BRING ON A YAWN

We think of yawns as automatic, but it’s surprisingly easy to make yourself yawn…

  • Focus thoughts on yawning. Yawns are not only contagious from person to person — even thinking about a yawn can help trigger one, says Lind-Kyle. Close your eyes and picture a yawn, or say the word “yawn” repeatedly to encourage one.
  • Fake a yawn… or two… or three until a real one sets in. Lind-Kyle says she generally gets a real yawn after one or two fakes, but however long it takes, stick with it — it will happen.
  • Consciously slow your breathing. The decreased oxygen may help trigger a yawn — flaring your nostrils as you breathe in may make this happen faster.
  • And finally, the best yawn is one you fully experience, Lind-Kyle says. So go all the way — open your mouth wide, scrunch your face fully, and take a deep, full breath. Just be ready to explain yourself if you’re in company!

Video Interview: How Patt got started (with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio)

In this video interview with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio, Patt talks about:

  • how she began her book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain and
  • the difference between spiritual consciousness and ordinary consciousness
  • how an EEG machine helped Patt understand her own brain waves states and apply that knowledge for others
  • how she got started working with the 4 brain waves

If playback gets stuck or hangs up, try turning off “HD” by rolling over the upper right-hand corner of the playback window and clicking “HD on” to toggle HD playback off.

For more videos of Patt Lind-Kyle, subscribe to her podcasts or watch her videos on her website video pages.

Six Tips for your Brain in a Digital World

SIX TIPS FOR YOUR BRAIN IN A DIGITAL WORLD

All our minds seem to be whirling in an electronic dance like the whirling dervishes of years past. In airports people are talking on cell phones, answering emails, texting, computers open on their laps to Facebook and they are watching the overhead CNN report and doing this all at once.  The same thing occurs in schools, in offices, on the streets and in cars.  It doesn’t seem scary for us to talk on the phone or text while driving a car. In our homes the tech life of computer games and social networking are taking over the minds of our children as they live their life in electronic and virtual realities often not wanting to eat, go to school or relate to us as their parents (who may be doing the same things as the kids).

Our digital age is changing our culture, reshaping our minds and habituating our interests. This digitized world we live in is beginning to consume our time, our energy and our social life. It is like an overpowering compulsiveness that is taking over the world. I have read reports that our digitized life is yet another addiction that has become a world wide epidemic.  For most of us it certainly is a growing experience that we have a dedication to, obsession with, infatuation with, passion for, love of, and yes, enslavement to our gadgets.  Call it what you will it is a craving, a yearning, a desire, and a hunger for something in order to feel satisfied; in order to be happy. The neruoscientist Jonah Lehrer coined the term “information craving.”  Our digital compulsions and cravings are just another dopamine high. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that gives us the reward of pleasure. Dopamine changes our mood, our feelings and increases our energy. Like any addiction we get hooked on the stimulus of an electronic world and our dopamine brain wants more and more of it. The more we stimulate with these digital gadgets the more we deplete the dopamine and so the more we try to stimulate ourselves with them to get its high.

The Digital Environment and the Brain’s Social Network

This digital environment would not be a problem if our brain had a strong enough self-regulating system to adjust to this intense digital stimulation. The self-regulating circuits in our brain are the newest, most easily tired and overwhelmed areas of the brain. Self-regulation is in the prefrontal cortex of our forehead area.  The prefrontal cortex of the brain has only one neural circuit for our inhibiting process for self-regulating our behavior and this inhibitor becomes diminished when it is over used. In today’s digital environment the prefrontal cortex is not only over used, it easily becomes depleted of energy to function properly.

Virtual conventions via computer now bring people together from all over the world who have played computer games with each other for years. This is a birth of a new social network to connect people together digitally after only knowing each other’s Avatar name in cyber space. The brain also has its own social network with all its 40 quadrillion neural networks.  What is important about the brain’s social network is that it needs to have people socialize in person, face to face, not by email, texting, Skype or through other virtual means. The brain uses face-to-face social interactions and social connections as a positive reward to us that brings energy, balance and flow to our lives. This system of face-to-face connection with people is essential for our survival.  If the brain does not have in the flesh, face to face social connections you will increasingly feel lonely as it craves the connection to others. The brain needs the activation of our mirror neurons from other people to stimulate our brain activity. Not getting that mirroring connection from others it will substitute more and more digital substitutes like any addiction. To find this connection the brain will use similar circuitry to when we crave sugary foods, alcohol and other drugs.

The Multi Tasking Challenge of Our Digital Tech Life

Consider the young man, Josh. He is a freshman in college.  He is highly motivated to be a success in his college career.  With that in mind his family is paying for his education at a prestigious school. Going into his freshman year they bought him the school staple of digital gadgets. They got him a new HD TV, an iPhone, an iPod and a 27 inch iMac computer.  Digital tech life is normal for Josh and his schoolmates. Josh expects to have the latest and best digital gadgets. When I went to college I had a pen, paper and books in my backpack.  With all this digital gear we would expect Josh to be more effective and efficient at his studies. Like most students he multi tasks. He watches TV, works at his Mac writing a report, texts friends, checks email and Facebook and has earphones on listening to music on his iPod. All good, yes? Not really. A survey of students who multi tasked the most and the least were evaluated by University of Stanford professors Nass and Wagner. They found in their study that students who spent less time reading e-mail, surfing the net, talking on the phone and watching television performed best.  These students were much better at ignoring irrelevant information, organizing information into memory and were able to quickly swift from one thing to another. It is not a big jump to recognize that the same thing happens to all of us. Too much multi tasking jumbles us up and makes us tired and less effective in the same way as what the researchers found with students.

With the increase of this digital tech life shift neuroscientists have discovered the impact on our brain.  Neuroscientists have found that our brain automatically changes its structure and its function through repetitive thoughts and experiences. They call this process neuroplasticity. The brain can be molded and changed constantly by what we put our intention on. This is great for Josh who has the dream and intention of becoming a successful student and a success in life. However, as we delve deeper into the brain’s capacity to function effectively we find that it has some unexpected surprises.  The big surprise for Josh and for all of us in this fast paced digital world is that the brain can’t handle the multiple activity of watching TV, texting, talking on the phone and Googling on the computer while reading a book or Kindle all at the same time.

For Josh to be successful he needs to know how to use the brain’s hardware and the mind’s software. Knowing how our prefrontal cortex works will challenge his digital multi tasking. More importantly we all need to learn to control our digital addiction to multi tasking. The area in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (our forehead) is the newest evolutionary part of the brain that holds memory, creates our understanding, makes decisions, recalls information, inhibits our emotions and much more. It is a very small area and represents only 4 % of the brain. Since it is our emotional inhibiting system metabolically it needs oxygen, nutrients and glucose to make it work successfully and efficiently. When this part of our brain gets over loaded it begins to shut down. As this part of the brain gets tired and stressed we increasingly become inefficient and ineffective in whatever we are doing. The brain wants relaxation and rest from activity. It wants fresh air for oxygen, a good meal to bring up the glucose and exercise to release any toxins. The secret to success for this area of the brain is to prioritize and do one thing at a time! Here are some principles and tips to increase our effectiveness and reduce our digital addictions:

Six Tips to Support the Brain in Your Digital Life

Prioritize and do one thing at a time and group items together to follow an order of the day
The brain blossoms and is efficient, remembers and understands more clearly when there is no distraction. Too many things going on all at once creates fatigue in the brain very quickly. On the other hand the brain grows when you put focused attention on one thing at a time. If you are working at the computer turn all your other digital “stuff” off. The prefrontal cortex is organized to prioritize and operate in sequence with the least distractions. At the top of your priority list put the item that will take the most focus and concentration from you to get it done. Now. Let me add one radical priority. Not only don’t text and drive, don’t talk on the phone while driving. I know the argument. You talk to passengers if they drive with you. Research shows that there is a big difference between phone talking and live passenger talking in driving safety awareness. I want to take a step further and suggest that when driving alone turn off the radio. Focus on the awareness of the sensations of being in the car – hands on the steering wheel, aware of your body in the seat, etc. –  looking consciously at what is going on outside around you. Your brain will love this. Remember: one thing at a time of what is really the priority of what you are doing!

Do Critical important tasks in the morning like reports, planning, taxes, class reports, etc. and more repetitive, less thought focusing tasks like emails in the afternoon
Because of the sleep time re-energizing of the brain, mornings are the most productive activity time and this is when you schedule important mental work. The morning is the prefrontal cortex’s most effective activity time. This part of the brain grows tired by the afternoon and it loses energy, becomes easily distracted, falls into moods and becomes temperamental. The capacity of the prefrontal cortex is not large and it therefore can only handle no more that three items in the morning segment of time that you can be at work on.

Take a physical activity break every hour when you are working on the computer, phone or other digital gadgets
If you work at your computer to crunch numbers, Google for research, surf the net for airfare, text on your phone or scan Facebook set a timer for an hour stop what you are doing and get up and move around, do some stretching, take the dogs outside, smell the flowers and take in the natural world around you. Build into your schedule at least three times a week to exercise an hour or more. Walk, do yoga, run, work out at the club, do what you enjoy, but do it! When you are exercising don’t plug in your mp3 and listen to podcasts or music. Focus, concentrate on your body. Feel it, listen to it as this conscious focus on the body nourishes and energizes the brain. The brain needs this constant physical refreshment away from our digital environments.

Have daily social interaction and connection face to face with family and friends
The best diet for your brain would be to focus on fewer mental issues in a given day and increase the daily serving of social interaction with others and connection with the natural world. No phone calls, iChat or texting to connect with others all the time. Go to lunch, take a walk with a partner or friends, play ball with your kids, read stories to each other and talk about them. Come on, you know all the things that you miss doing with others. Just do it!

Consciously do some kind of relaxation, meditation or mental training everyday
In the morning before you get going with the day do at least 20 minutes of mental training, and another 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Use my Companion Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain CDs to guide you into relaxation and more inner mental awareness. Mental relaxation and inner silence grows the prefrontal cortex and increases your capacity to be creative and productive. There are loads of research to support this.

Do a digital fast one day a week.

My husband and I take Saturday as our digital fast day. We turn off our computers, the iPhones and don’t touch email or Facebook. I know, I know the emails pile up if you don’t look at them several times a day. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to deal with them after taking a day off. Instead of using our Kindle we will read a regular book. Instead of typing we will write with pen and paper. Making this change makes the brain more flexible and more able to do creative work. Fasting breaks the habituation patterns that we get into so easily. More importantly it will change your perception of what you are doing with people and situations around you.

It is time we all make an effort to understand the impact the new digital technologies have on us and on our brains. It is time to understand how to more effectively work with them and not have them control our lives. We need to continually train our minds in order to help us develop a calm, peaceful, and stable environment inside ourselves and with people around us.  If you make the effort to work with the brain, the brain will reward you with satisfaction, pleasure and happiness and these digital gadgets will become our servants instead of masters who enslave us.

Video Presentation: the 4 Brain Wave Frequencies

In this video, Patt describes the different areas of the brain and the 4 brain wave frequencies: beta, alpha, theta and delta.

New video: The importance of Attention

In this video from Patt’s recent presentation at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City, Patt emphasizes the importance of attention by telling a powerful story.

New video: Patt leads a group meditation using the Alpha brainwave frequency

In this video, Patt guides a group through the series of steps needed to relax the body in preparation for mind training. This video is from a group meditation that occurred on December 2nd, 2009 at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City, CA.

The Sleeping Brain: the gift to the brain-mind body

THE SLEEPING BRAIN

My curiosity about sleep and the brain was stimulated when I began meditating right before I went to bed.   I found that after meditating I went to sleep easier, slept deeper and without interruption. When I awoke I felt good, rested and energized.  Observing the change in my sleep after meditating each night I asked myself, “What goes on in the brain and body when I sleep?  And why does meditation make a difference?”  To knowing now how the brain works when I sleep has validated the importance of sleep for our health as well as not missing a night of meditation.  Here is what I discovered.

I thought the brain slept when I slept.   Sleep research says that this is not so. The brain is busy most all night long but is in a slower brain wave. (Remember we have four brain waves that impact our brain-mind-body in different ways – beta, alpha, theta and delta.) It is imperative that we prepare our brains just like we prepare ourselves to go to sleep.  During the day we are making decisions, plans, socializing and organizing our life situation. Generally we are in the fast beta brainwaves to accomplish this activity.  But when we sleep we need to do the opposite and move into the slowest brain wave called delta.  This means we need to slow down our activities as well as our minds before bedtime.

Many people read before they go to bed. If you do be aware of what you are reading as it may stimulate a faster brain wave.  This is also true of watching a stimulating TV show or movie or even doing a computer search right before you go to bed. When you use a cell phone before sleep beta brain wave activity increases.  One fascinating piece of research is about cell phones. It has been observed that there is a concentration of beta waves that build up in the brain caused by the interference of microwaves from the cell phone.  With all these stimulations and particularly with cell phones it takes a longer time to fall a sleep as the brain needs time to quiet down after the agitation from the cell phone electrical field.  Thus, using cell phones before going to sleep alters brainwaves and may cause insomnia.  Given the build up of beta brain waves before we go to bed makes it becomes increasingly important to use meditation as good way to slow down our brainwaves. Meditation slows down the beta waves and lets us move more quickly into a deeper brain wave pattern.

Stages of Sleep

So what is our brain doing while we sleep? There are five different stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1 is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.
  • In stage 2, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves.
  • When a person enters stage 3, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves.
  • In stage 4, the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep, and it is very difficult to wake someone from them. In deep sleep, there is no eye movement or muscle activity. It is in this deep sleep when bedwetting, sleepwalking, and night terrors can occur.  These events happen when the chemical neuro-modulator GABA, is low in our body system. When it is low we are unable to put the brakes on our emotions and control our motor nerves. It has been observed that sleepwalkers can literally drive a car and not know they are doing it. Often this will happen when the body is physically over stressed. Balanced GABA keeps us from making unconscious movements and tossing and turning restlessly because GABA slows down our motor nerve activity so that we have relaxed muscles. When GABA is deficient strong emotions can arise and the motor neurons can take command over the body. It is this emotional arousal and motor neuron control that causes walking in your sleep. However, it is also in this deep sleep stage that one can feel deeply rested and refreshed if you have a higher level of GABA. My experience indicates that doing the theta meditation with the companion CD to my book can naturally help activate the neuro-modulator GABA before you sleep. GABA is one of the important neurotransmitters to evaluate when you are having difficulty sleeping. My book has an assessment in it that can give you an indicator of whether your various neurotransmitters are weak or strong.
  • In stage 5 it is hard to be awakened and your brain is busy and is especially active in the forehead area.  The brain at this point in your sleep is almost as active as it is during the day.  This is the stage where you dream and your muscles are suppressed and your limbs temporarily paralyzed.  But your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate accelerates and your eyes jerk rapidly.  This stage is called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. You are in this stage 20% of night time sleep and the last time you experience REM is right before you wake up. This last REM experience permits us to remember our dreams. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night. Older adults spend progressively less time in REM sleep.

During these 5 stages the spinal cord neurons slow down and in some cases stop firing. Our breathing and heart rate move into a slower rhythm.  The forehead area of the brain is the frontal cortex. In this area brain activity slows down like a car that is idling.  When this happens basic nerve cell repair of your brain and body takes place and growth hormone is being released into the body. Also, dead cells are discarded through the blood and lymph systems and learning is being consolidated from the day. The brain is working in our behalf to repair and restore our body, but the question is: are we getting enough sleep to have all that done for us?

Experts say most of us are not getting enough sleep. For example, babies need 16 to 18 hours, toddlers need 15 hours, school age kids 11 hours, teens need 9 hours and adults need 8 hours and elders need to sleep a little more.

It is 3 am and you wake up anxious. Insomnia is why many people do not want to go to sleep because it is a time when you struggle to go back to sleep and you toss and turn and wonder if you will be able to stay awake the next day. It appears that 30% of the population have insomnia. I have found that many people find their way back to sleep by turning on my Delta meditation CD and before they know it they are back to sleep. The longer you are awake the less slow wave sleep you will have. This is why I encourage people to use the meditation CDs to put them quickly back to sleep.

People who are sleep deprived sometimes takes weeks to get back into the rhythm of sleep. This is especially true for those who travel a lot.  But sleeplessness may also be caused by an overactive mind or emotional storms raging in the brain.  For other people sleeplessness may be caused due to physical health issues from medications, interactions from caffeine, chocolate, restless leg syndrome, physical or mental stress and pain. Sleep experts say that insomniacs underestimate the amount of time they actually sleep and how much sleep they actually need.  Although eight hours is what is indicated the sleep need for each of us is highly individual.

Sleep deprivation is the difference between the amounts of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. Sleep deprivation grows every time we skim some extra minutes off of our night’s sleep.  Studies show that short-term sleep deprivation leads to a foggy brain and increasingly poor vision. The good news is that sleep deprivation can be repaid by sleeping longer than our normal sleep periods, but it may take a couple of months to get back to a natural sleep rhythm.

If you wake up groggy you may have too much melatonin in your system and not enough cortisol to get you going in the morning. By doing a Beta meditation it can bring the cortisol and melatonin back into proper balance. A wee bit of meditation in the morning will make the world go around a little better for you!

Sleep is the gift to the brain-mind-body. Learning how to prepare our selves for sleep, having meditative tools to deal with sleep issues and understanding what we should do and not do to achieve maximum health through sleep is a critical and important challenge for each of us in these difficult times.

“Say good night, Gracie.” “Good night Gracie” . . . and sleep well.

(George Burns at the end of their radio program to Gracie Allen and Gracie’s response.)

Rewire your New Year’s Resolutions

Eating right, visiting the gym religiously, triumphing over the mid-afternoon sugar (or Venti fat+sugar+caffeine) attack, quitting smoking, saving money…wouldn’t it be nice to make 2010 the year when your resolutions actually stick? The fact that people make New Year’s Resolutions in the first place—whether they’re about fitness or kicking addictions or getting out of debt—shows that many, many of us are dissatisfied with our lives.

But before you sign up for a new gym membership, buy any new gadgets, or join a support group, you need to put the odds of success in your favor by focusing on the right problem. The key to changing your life is to consciously rewire your brain.

In other words, to achieve physical (or financial) fitness, you first need to develop mental fitness.

That applies to getting fit or quitting smoking or strengthening your marriage, or whatever.  You can change your life in any way you want to change it. But first you have to understand what’s at the root of your problems: your mind and the way it directs your brain to function—basically, where you place your attention.

Why Resolutions Fail

The main reason why resolutions so often fail is that the lifestyle habits that brought you to your current level of pudginess, or caffeine have carved neural pathways in your brain that can’t be changed by sheer willpower; as they pointed out in “What the Bleep Do We Know“: what fires together wires together. Instead of looking at your body’s behavior as something bad that needs banishing, realize that it might actually be telling you something: that you’re depressed, bored with your job or relationship, or perhaps trapped in the past. It could be your fitness failings are actually symptoms, and you’ve made your poor squishy thighs the undeserving scapegoat for your general unhappiness.

Fortunately, new breakthroughs in science have shown the brain to be a highly flexible organ, and constantly in flux, responding to the events in our lives by continuously rewiring itself.

You can actually change the brain’s size, how it functions, and how the neurons in the different parts of the brain connect – dubbed “neuroplasticity” – by consciously training your mind.

Over the years I have come to realize what immense power mind training has. Our minds can essentially be trapped by the ways in which they function, which can put us into frantic and depressed conditions. Mind training helps us focus our attention, quiets a scattered mind, and brings flexibility and clarity that enable us to see other options.

Why Mind Training Will Give You Resolution Success

The words “brain” and “mind” are often used interchangeably, but in reality, the mind is the CEO of the brain, telling it what to do; the brain simply acts on orders. For example, if you’re reading a book, the mind tells the brain to turn the page, and the brain responds by sending messages through the nervous system to your arm and hand, enabling you to complete the action. While the mind has no specific location, the brain itself is a physical organ, akin to “a three-pound tofu-like” mass atop the spinal cord.

Each part of the brain is characterized by a specific brainwave, which, for many of us, is where the root of the problem lies: one wave dominates the others, causing dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors.

By learning to focus on each type of brainwave separately, you can eventually retrain them to work in harmony, integrating the brain-mind and producing a feeling of peace and awareness. This is called “synchrony”. Opening the brain to synchrony is when the “magic” happens because you can consciously begin to change the way you do things. Of course, the mind can (and does!) lead us astray, but it also has the ability to reform itself when it achieves synchrony.

A key part of mind training is meditation, which activates the brain’s circuitry and actually helps the brain to grow. (Studies back this up, showing that the more someone meditates, the thicker their brain matter becomes.) Meditating also makes it easier to control emotions and respond to stress and crises with greater ease – poise, even.  Meditation is a scientifically proven method of training the mind, and thereby of changing aspects of your life.  Meditation can train the mind to reduce health problems and stress, and it can also increase your potential and success in life by enabling you to attain synchrony. Essentially, it will allow you to reprogram and evolve your brain to a higher state of consciousness and function. My various classes, workshops and retreats are all designed to teach and practice brain/mind meditation.

There are four tools to train & awaken the mind and with practice help you accomplish your resolutions.

1. INTENTION Quite simply, the brain thrives on direction and purpose. When you give yourself intentional directions, you give each level of your brain a specific focus to explore how that particular “frequency” functions. For example, you might set your intention on having emotional awareness. Think of intention as being about “what.”

State your resolution as a result. Be very specific and clear what your goal is.
“I will lose 5 pounds and keep it off through regular exercise balanced eating within three months.” Intention is not about the process of taking the pounds off, rather it is a focus that keeps the mind focused on achieving a new pattern.

2. ATTENTION This is where you are focusing. When teamed with intention, it enables you to establish a field of awareness and sustain your mind in a single-focused manner. Since concentration can bring balance and stability, attention is essential to reducing stress. Attention is about “where.”

Concentrate on repeating and practicing your intention for 21 days. Research has found that it takes at least 21 days to begin to rewire the neuronal pathways which will produce a changed behavior. If you miss a day it is okay. Keep going until you at least have completed the 21 days and notice what you’ve accomplished, but more importantly how you feel about yourself.

3. RECEPTIVITY The mind is adept at blocking out what it does not wish to acknowledge…which is what got you in this mess that you are trying to resolve! Learning instead to embrace what is on your mind will sensitize you to what is happening in each moment; instead of reacting automatically, your responses will become more flexible. Receptivity is about “when.”

Accept who you are and what you do without self-judgment or criticism. Changing behavior with a resolution is often one step forward and two back. Noticing how you judge your self or rationalize or excuse yourself for not following through on your resolution will alter the mind/brain pattern. We reinforce the old patterns of the neuronal pathways through judgment and guilt. By affirming ourselves rather than negating we rewire the brain faster. Give yourself recognition and acknowledgement for your commitment to shift from negative to positive. Remember your resolution is just a way to practice how you can work with your mind/brain to create the kind of changes you want in your life.

4. AWARENESS Distinguishing between what you think is happening vs. what is actually happening is easier said than done. True awareness comes from being attentive and not getting lost in the randomness of your thoughts. Being truly aware means you are open to meaning, purpose, hope, and better able to penetrate that “me-me-me” veil that can fog your mind. Awareness is about “how.”

Who you are is bigger than any resolution that you want to make in your life.
When we are aware and watch the traffic of thoughts in our head and name them as they pass through – planning, anger, fear, judgment, etc. – we create a level of objectivity that reduces stress and lets us experience a different quality of our life. As you go through the 21 days of changing behavior and accomplishing your resolution notice how your mind will try to trick you and rationalize why your resolution is failing or you are not strong enough, or don’t have enough will power, etc.  When those thoughts come up just name them and you will discover that they will have little power over you. As the practice of your awareness grows you wake up more and more to the world and round you and who you really are.

Practicing all four of these tools with a resolution gives you a practical means to learn how to rewire your brain/mind and make the kind of changes you want for your life.

The mind-brain is facile, flexible, and plastic.  With training, it is possible to reprogram what blocks the mind’s Flow and move quite rapidly from a less evolved state of mind to a higher state of synchrony, one that better serves us and the life around us.

When you achieve your New Year’s Resolutions through rewiring your brain, you are also doing a good deed for your fellow man by contributing to the collective evolution of the human species.

You’re helping manifest in your behavior a state of kindness, love and caring for our planet. Not a bad return for a small investment of your time and energy!
And to think, you just wanted to look better in your favorite jeans!