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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!

Video: Interview with Lew Sitzer on NCTV

Patt on NCTV with Lew Sitzer from Patt Lind-Kyle on Vimeo.

In this interview with Lew Sitzer of NCTV, Patt answers the following questions:

Why did Patt write her first book, When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up?

  • Was it about her own personal journey?
  • How can illness be a gift?
  • What did Patt discover after interviewing 40 professional women?
  • How did  come into being?
  • What was Patt’s chapter in Audacious Aging about?
  • What inspired Patt to write Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain?
  • What did Patt discover in 6 months of silent retreat?
  • How does the book integrate scientific research with practical tools?
  • What does EEG stand for?
  • How does Patt use an EEG to help people achieve balance?
  • What is the difference between the mind and the brain?
  • How does multi-tasking affect the brain?
  • How do we deal with negative thoughts?
  • What tools are most helpful for healing the mind?
  • How do we learn how to focus our thoughts in a positive direction?
  • What happens to our brain waves when we think positively?
  • How can these tools be helpful to children and families?
  • Could this be a replacement treatment for drug therapies?
  • How does this work relate to happiness?

 

 

New feature: Subscribe to Patt’s interviews as ITunes Podcasts

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Now you can easily download all of Patt’s audio and video interviews onto your mobile device or into your iTunes library by subscribing to Patt’s Interviews Podcasts.

Here is the current list of podcasts available:

  1. New audio: Interview on KVMR’s Women’s Show 12:35  –  In this relaxing interview with Catherine Allen on 89.5 FM KVMR Nevada City, CA, Patt shares:  how she got started with meditation and became interested in the relationship between the brain and the mind,  how she uses an EEG machine to measure b…
  2. New audio interview: Patt on Nancy’s Bookshelf (NPR – Chico, CA) 28:22   – In this interview with Nancy Wiegman on “Nancy’s Bookshelf” on National Public Radio – Chico, Patt goes into more detail about:  the different brainwave states and how to recognize them, case studies of Patt’s clients who achieved success with P…
  3. New video: Patt on Sacramento and Company – Patt is a guest on Sacramento and Company and discusses “Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain” with Melissa Crowley and Guy Farris.
  4. Audio Interview: Insight on Capital Public Radio 9:31 – In this interview on the Insight Program with Jeffrey Callison on Capital Public Radio, Patt talks about  how meditation can help us change our neural pathways to create more positive thoughts and reduce anger, the research behind her concl…
  5. Audio Interview: Conversations with Michael Stone 49:43  – In this interview with Michael Stone from November 10th, Patt talks about  her journey to where she is now and how she became a meditator, the difference between spiritual and ordinary consciousness, how the mind uses attention and intention…
  6. Audio Interview: Central Valley Business Times 12:13  – In this interview, Patt talks about neuroplasticity, how we can form new patterns of thought, memory or emotion to improve our lives through meditation and other techniques, and her personal story of how she discovered the benefits of meditation.
  7. Audio interview: Patt on Conscious Media Radio 1:07:36  – Recently, Patt was interviewed on “Emerging Breakthroughs” (part of Conscious Media Radio) by Dr. David Kamnitzer.  Dr. Kamnitzer is a chiropractor, nutritionist, and stress management specialist who received his B.A…

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

How yawning can positively affect the brain and your life

BLOG #1: YAWNING
Hi Everyone,
Well, this is my first blog and it combines Mental tools and tips and Brain-Mind research. My intention is to get a blog to you each week and provide insights, inspiration, practical tools, tips and research on the brain-mind. I am absolutely fascinated by the brain-mind research and my understanding continues to grow since writing my book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. Besides the brain-mind information I will also let you know about tele seminars, workshops in your area or appearances at conferences and public presentations that I will be doing. For example, all of you in the New Mexico area I will be doing a weekend workshop in Santa Fe February 26-27. You can contact Elisa Bongiovanni for more information. 505-988-8839. Do check regularly the website under “Patt’s Events” for what I am doing. So, now take three yawns and notice what happens in your body and your mind.
Many people believe that yawning in the presence of others is disrespectful.  Thus, we cover the yawn by placing our hand over our mouth.  In our society when you yawn it is thought of as a sign of boredom. But this simply is not true. Recently, extensive research about yawning has been studied. Here are some examples of the benefits of yawning from the research.
Sara felt the time crunch as she had lots of details to take care and not enough time to do them.  She had taken on the leadership role to organize a charity musical event for blind children.  She knew she had taken on too much but her determination kept her on track in these final moments. In the morning as Sara sat at her desk shifting through all the things to do she observed herself yawning. In fact, she yawned quite a few times.  She thought it strange as she had a good nights sleep. She wondered why she was yawning.  After several yawns she noticed a mental clarity, she was more relaxed and more alert which helped her be efficient with her time to finalize the details of the event.
Josh had been lying in bed in a coma for two weeks after his accident. His mother patiently came to the hospital to see him every day. This day as she came into his room she noticed him move and make some sounds.  And then suddenly Josh yawned several times even before he opened his eyes.  As he opened his eyes and spoke she was overjoyed and knew that he was back to our world and would be getting well.  Josh’s yawning continued over several days, she recalled. She kept wondering why he yawned as he came out of a coma.?
Janet and Ray had a disagreement that lasted all week.  Each time they came home from work they would rekindle the argument. Finally, after carrying the anger and tension around all week they were able to talk honestly about their concerns and feelings. After the clarity of their talk they felt closer.  As they sat back on the sofa Janet began to yawn and then Ray began to yawn as if it were “contagious.” They both laughed and felt so good to be relaxed and at ease with one another again.
These antidotes about yawning point to some interesting research about how yawing effects our brains. The researchers at the institute of Neurology in London found that yawning stimulates a unique neural activity in the area of the brain called the precuneus.  The precuneus plays a major role in being more conscious, self-reflection, aids in relaxation, alertness, and good memory. Thus, when the we take in a deep breath such as a yogic breath in meditation the precuneus is a stimulated, makes us more alert and that is why we feel sense of deeper self awareness.
Tip number one: Yawn as you meditate several times (particularly as you begin the session) because it brings a deep relaxation and reduces stress. You will notice as you yawn that you will have more mental efficiency. The benefit is that it promotes the maintenance of vigilance and alertness just as Sara yawned and needed her mind to be efficient in her time crunch.
Brain researcher Andrew Gallup at State University of New York at Albany says that yawning promotes and maintains mental efficiency by keeping brain temperature in homeostasis. Therefore, yawning helps cool down this part of the over active brain as it regulates the temperature and metabolism of the brain. His research found that yawning increases when people are engaged in difficult mental tasks. Yawning helps contract the facial muscles during a yawn which forces blood through cerebral blood vessels to the brain, which may function to increase alertness. Thus, yawning may reduce sleep as it reflects a mechanism that maintains attention. Yawning also increases when people are in a change from inactivity to activity and vice versa.
Tip number two: When you are focused intensely on a project and need to stay alert and conscious take a moment to yawn every 20 minutes or so, and then sit back and relax. Concentrated activity takes a lot of energy to stay conscious. Our yawns are primarily located ln the new evolutionary part of the brain called the prefrontal lobe. It is this part of the brain that easily gets stressed and fatigued.
I imagine Josh was resetting his brain with his yawns after awakening from his coma. This notion is supported from the research that Florenza Giganti has done at the University of Florence, Florence, Italy.  Yawning helps regulate the circadian rhythms of newborns and also people that come out of a coma or a late-night partygoer. Yawning resets the brain’s internal clock. Yawning appears to arouse a neuromuscular rewiring. As in a coma there is a disturbance in the brain stem. Yawning then may rewire the brain to create a harmonious progress in the brain stem.
Tip number three: Remember when you are traveling by plane and changing time zones yawn to reset your circadian rhythms. Yawning will help to reset your body from jet lag.
Janet and Ray began to feel more connected and less stressed and as they yawned they stimulated dopamine, which activates oxytocin the pleasure and relationship bonding chemicals. The more these chemicals are activated the frequency of yawning increases.  Yawning is also contagious as it triggers the mirror neurons that literally mirror another persons behavior or emotional state. People who are on antidepressents may experience yawning more often especially in the first three months of taking the SSR’s.  So as I say, “individuals that yawn together stay together.”
Tip number four: In stressful relationships situations simply stop the conversation and yawn together several times. If nothing else you may get a few laughs with each other. Remember, laughter is pretty close to yawning!
If you have any questions or comments about yawning lets have a dialogue.

BLOG #1: YAWNING

Hi Everyone,

Well, this is my first blog and it combines mental tools and tips and brain-mind research. My intention is to get a blog to you each week and provide insights, inspiration, practical tools, tips and research on the brain-mind. I am absolutely fascinated by the brain-mind research and my understanding continues to grow since writing my book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. Besides the brain-mind information, I will also let you know about tele seminars, workshops in your area and/or appearances at conferences and public presentations that I will be doing.

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