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11 Simple Easy Ways to Improve Your Brain Health

Your brain’s health affects the way you feel and function each day. By making a few simple changes or additions to your lifestyle, you can make a positive difference. Best of all, improving brain health can provide additional benefits in terms of happiness, productivity, overall well-being, and more. Try these strategies for building a healthy brain today! Read more of this post

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Meditation & Mental Health: Why They Go Hand-in-Hand

Meditation can help mend your mind, your body, and your soul. This is why meditation is one of the most positive practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your mental health. Many question what relationship meditation and mental health truly have. Though the relationship is complex, there are many parts of it that can be explained.

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Diet and You: How Diet Affects Your Physical and Mental Health

In the modern era, we don’t think about our daily diet. In a world where there is a McDonald’s on every corner and there is a rack of candy by every checkout, we have every excuse to eat poorly. But what happens when we have a consistently poor diet? Unfortunately, the saying “you are what you eat” rings true.

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Can Smartphone Apps Provide Mental Health Support?

Smartphones as an extension in providing mental health support

Mental health problems are things that the world needs to address more seriously. Cases of such problems are increasing around the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Even first world countries like Japan aren’t safe from the high rate of suicide due to depression. Read more of this post

Mental Strength Building: The Benefits of Brain Training

With our daily lifestyles consistently filled with endless stress and distraction, we may be overlooking an often forgotten, yet majorly important aspect of our bodies: our brains. In a culture that moves a mile a minute, making some quality time for you and your mind can often be a difficult thing. We often work like mindless drones and are constantly bombarded with daily distractions such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and television, which can simply take over all of our spare moments. And not to mention other stress-filled aspects of our lives such as dealing with money, houses, children and so much more. Read more of this post

Never Mind Consciousness, Mind the Subconscious

There is strong neurological research evidence to show that humans are controlled by their subconscious mind, and not their conscious minds. The subconscious mind is that which lies directly below the conscious mind and which is important for all major functions and activities of human body. Indeed it would not be untrue to state that every living micro organism in one’s physical body, every fiber in the nerves and every minute cell in one’s brain is nourished, stimulated and controlled by the subconscious. It is the subconscious that is responsible for the state of one’s wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health. Read more of this post

Summer: The Essence of Change

If you’ve noticed, we are officially engaged in the midst of the summer madness. Swimming, snow cones, and weekend barbecuing have taken hold throughout the country, taking advantage of the warm summer sun. I want you to imagine yourself at your favorite summer destination. Is it the beach? It it abroad? Are you with your family? Let the sun hit your face, relaxing your muscles. Your breathing is deep and thankful for what you have been given. Are you there? Enjoy this escape… Read more of this post

Change Your Life With The Power of Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John F. Kennedy Read more of this post

Wabi Sabi is Not Food, But You Can Eat It!

I often take notice of things around me that don’t seem to fit in their current environment. These objects have a simplistic way of standing out amongst all of the organized things that coordinate. In a way, these items disorient my mind as my mind searches for organization. Out of this, a state of mind arises. This state of mind enables an appreciation for this disorganization. Interestingly, when we take a closer look we find that this is not a disorganized object at all. Read more of this post

The Physiology of Meditation

Meditation can de-stress you and place you in a serene state of being. Even though this is something meditation does very well, research now shows that the things we do with our body(i.e. meditation)actively effect our brain cells. In fact, the research goes on to say that our genes our changed when we take part in physiologically changing acts. These genes are either turned off or on that are associated with inflammation, cell-aging, and free radicals. This allows the body to repair these factors that contribute to cell damage. These changes have been known to change the “fight or flight” reaction, as well.  This plays more into how our habits change our world, even on a cellular level. Read more of this post

Create Abundance With The Summer Solstice

Did you know that solar power is consider one of our greatest societal accomplishments to date involving energy? Individuals that use solar power are always looking to score the most amount of absorbed power on any single given day. Yesterday, they hit a peak day, and they knew it was coming. June 20th, 2013 arrived the Summer Solstice in where the sun hovered in the sky appearing to stand still for the longest time of the season. This allowed solar power operators to collect a huge amount of renewable energy within a single day. This made June 20th a very powerful day power producers.

summer solstice

The Summer Solstice is a Pagan, Celtic, and Druid tradition that dates back hundreds of years. The main theme of the solstice is abundance, citing if celebrated correctly one can manifest any into the material world. Around the world people celebrate by communing in large drum circles, parties, and rituals. If you notice, everything done during the summer solstice is a communal event. This is very important, for the spirit of the summer solstice is just that; one of a great coming together.

Although you may or may not believe in particular religions or traditions, the religions featured during this celebratory time have very real rituals they follow during the summer solstice. For Pagans, the following themes, symbols, and spells apply:

Herbs – basil, chamomile, daisy, elder, pine, St. John’s wort, tyme, yarrow, frankincense, fennel, lavender, and lily

Essential oils and incense – frankincense, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, lotus, jasmine, rose, wisteria, and myrrh

Colors – yellow, white, red, blue, green, tan

Decoration – anything reminiscent of the sun (yellows, reds, oranges), dried herbs, potpourri, fruits, summer flowers

Gemstones – any green stone (e.g. emerald)

Foods – mead, fresh fruits and veggies, lemonade, cookies and cakes decorated to honor the Sun, and of course plenty of ale

Spellwork – Litha is the perfect time for any magick but is especially good for Animal Protection and Marriage & Vow Renewal spells

Litha Incense – 2 parts Sandalwood, 1 part Mugwort, 1 part Chamomile, 1 part Gardenia petals, several drops of Rose oil, several drops of Lavender oil, several drops of Yarrow oil

Orange Honey Butter – 2 Tablespoons grated orange zest, 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, 1 – 2 Tablespoons honey, Combine ingredients and chill until ready to eat. Yum!

If casting spells and chanting doesn’t seem like something that would fit your personality or beliefs, then a good way to spend your summer solstice would be to simply enjoy the day and the day following by honor the mid-summers day with acknowledgment. So often we get caught up in our busy lives and forget to honor the earth we stand on. Be thankful, grateful, and compassionate towards others. In the spirit of the ancients, the ancients would be proud if you did.

 

A Zen Approach to Our Politically Driven World

When we think of Zen we think of a solitary monk sitting on a comfy pillow in a quiet room chanting or simply meditation. Most of the time we never think to cross Zen and politics. Politics has turned into a rough sport between high rolling lobbyists and power hungry politicians. Not to be nieve, not all politicians start out bad, nor do all of them end up bad. It’s the system that we should blame, and the system is where we can inject a drop of Zen.

zen, politics, news, philosophy

The Mall in Washington, D.C. is 1.4 times larger than Vatican City. This amazing fact my give you some insight into how we few our political system. For millennia, we have viewed ourselves as the ultimate power structure, untouchable, and incorruptible. In large scale, when claims such as these are made we know that the system is simply better at hiding the problems rather than fixing them. Therefore, we must act like a dedicated monk and dissect the way we think about politics and our government in order to develop some detachment and peace from it.

Detachment? Yes, that was the implication. How can something so deeply rooted become detached from our sense of self? This is where Zen comes in; we need to establish political information and structure as if we were handling our ego. When we look at our ego, i.e. sense of self, we often look at the parts that make it up. Our likes/dislikes, fears, wants, needs, and conditioning. This too can be applied to the way we interact with political matters. We must first understand the conditioning that is involved. Asking: Is our way of looking at politics conditioned by the way we were raised? Are the views we hold true naturally ours? Are there other views that appeal to us but we’ve been scared to embrace them for reason of exclusion from friends or family? When we get to the center answers to these questions we realize that not all of our views are as organic as we originally thought. We find that many of our base views about politics are founded in past condition and fear. Ironically, these are the two main culprits when dealing with the ego as well. By using awareness and compassion we can learn to embrace the view we are more apt to hold as true versus the preprogrammed methods of looking at the political system.

Through this inspection, we can understand more clearly our position larger issues that effect the whole of humanity. We are, therein, able to step back and look at our interpersonal relationships associated with the political topic. Would we no longer be friends with some people? No, that’s an alienation tactic. Instead, we would estable report with those of different view structure in order to know them as better human beings, allowing them space to express their individuality. This could aslo be summed up as, political compassion.

After we have taken a step backwards, we are now ready to look for patterns in the way we react to political statements and situations. Are we subjecting ourselves to conditioned habit forms of action and reaction that place us in a defensive stance when confronted with opposing views? How does this deep our relationships with others or spark real solutions towards pending political problems? Most of the time they don’t. By acting in knee-jerk fashion we don’t give space for our thoughts to breath. We react habitually because we are comfortable(settling) with that way of reacting to conflict. Most of the time these are defense mechanisms that are put into place to keep us from getting hurt. When discussing politics with someone of different view keeping our thoughts and reactions in check is incredibly important towards the validity of the relationship. Unfortunately, politics has a way of dividing friends, family, and organizations. We become deeply invested in our point of view, so much that we forget that there are other points of view out there that may be right as well even if they are conflicting with ours.

As we endure this time of political change we need to approach each situation as a time to become more aware, egos in check, and watchful of how we react. And just like in 1798 when John Adams spent seven months on his farm in Massachusetts to care for his ill wife Abigail, we too should take time out to take care of the system that is in need of constant care and attention.

Is Your Mind the Problem or Solution?

Did you know that every time your heart beats, your arteries carry 20 to 25 percent of your blood to the brain(Piedmont Brain Tumor Center). The harder you think, the more oxygen and fuel your brain will use from your blood – up to 50 percent. This insightful fact confirms how how amazing our brain is. Psychologically speaking, the average number of thoughts a person has each day is 70,000. The majority of them the same couple of thoughts, repeated. Create this visual:  There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain. The distance around the world at the equator is 24,900 miles – amazing. 

We have gently discovered that our brain is an amazing part of the human body. Accounting for the way we see, feel, and experience the world. However, it seems that this main headquarters for our life is the center of many of our problems. The brain[and body] aslo has the ability to adhere to habit forms and substance addiction. In this sense, we struggle day in and day out with the right decisions for our life. Must of this battle is waged in the thinking mind. Even though psychiatry and philosophy works to come up with answers concerning the thinking mind, the results are still very inconclusive. Each philosopher claims to have answers. But upon closer inspection, we find their rhetoric just as flimsy as those that came before them. Even though many of these outstanding academics fail to come to solid conclusive results, there are constants that remain throughout many of these streams of exploration. I will showcase this four characteristics that are subtle parts of our lives. These characteristics shape our lives, they are key. If you wish to change your life for the better, implementing change in these areas will do that for you.

 

 

  • Habits: Habits first arise in the mind as, simply put, thoughts repeated. Think of a bad habit. Got it? Now, what if I told you that you had the power to change this habit(exchange)out for one that will serve you? This may seem crazy or outside of your view of current thought, but it’s not only possibile, its a necessity. Each habit can be changed, but only if it is replaced by another habit. This shift is a good time to become clear about what you want. Once you make that decision, you will be able to replace a habit with a habit that serves your goals and dreams. For some reason, along the way somewhere, we developed this idea that habits are bad. Habits aren’t bad, bad habits are bad. If I commit to setting a habit of getting up early every day for the purpose of seeing the sunset, that habit is a really good habit. This habit allows me to see every sunset in my lifetime – pretty good if you ask me. So the key here is to find what you want to replace, than, get clear and commit to repeating it in your mind. This may seem like insanity at first, but just think of all the things you’ve done this with yielding no results.
  • Actions: Actions are the direct result of your habits. When you realize this, you fully understand that habits literally form our lives. From how we walk to how we talk, habits shape every aspect of our lives. This brings to light the issues in our lives and how we can turn them around by simple not enlisting in our habitual reactions. The argument here is that we can’t control the events that happen to us. This is a cop-out. Yes, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to those situations that come into our field of experience. This is the second key to turning around your habits to habits that server you versus destroy you. The core mindset here is to become present during an experience where you would normally react a certain way. Once you become aware of how you are acting, you can take action to change the way you react.
  • Environmental Change: As soon as your habits are aligned with your goals and dreams, and your actions have taken hold the new patterns. You are now ready to watch your environment change to support your goals. Once you start to take action on the new habit forms developed in your mind, your environment will change(sometimes rapidly)to support the actions you are taking. Do you remember the sunset analogy? Once I have made the committed habit to get up early for the purpose to see the sunset, taking action to rise out of bed early, I will see the curtains open by my hands, the tea being made, and the yoga mat laid out. My environment will experience even further changes as I continue this each day. My environment will literally change to support what I have envisioned in my mind.
  • Purpose: I decided to place this last as a form of deconstruction of the steps. Once you have understood these steps, you now need to focus on the purpose for the change in lifestyle. Your answer shouldn’t be “for a better life”, we all want that. Dig deep and really understand your goal and purpose for changing a habit, and therein your life. Why am I honestly changing this habit. Get clear, focused, and lasered in on your goals and dreams. Align your habits with your goals that you’ve now discovered. Once you have aligned your habits towards your goals and dreams the actions will take hold, enabling your environment to support your efforts. Take the risk, take the change. Whats the worst that could happen? Your life remains the same…?

 

Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About

This is a guest post from one of our loyal readers honesttogodjo.

Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About

There are some things that are not comfortable to talk about.  Not to yourself and certainly not to other people. The reason things are uncomfortable to talk about is mostly that we worry about what people will think of us. In other words we are judging ourselves and then projecting the judgment out on to the world. It’s rather mental, but it’s a cultural habit we all have. Read more of this post

Panic Attacks: Stop Scaring Yourself!

WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK?

Panic Attack!

A panic attack is a period of intense fear and worry that a person experiences with or with out an identified trigger that appears to come out of nowhere.

A panic attack usually does not last for more than 10 minutes.

People who have experienced a panic attack at some point in their lives have described it as the most terrifying and uncomfortable situation they have ever been in, especially if the person was having a panic attack in a public/social situation.

More times than not, panic attacks are mistaken for heart attacks and many people rush to the ER for medical attention. People usually are diagnosed with panic attacks when the doctors find absolutely nothing wrong with them. It takes a lot of time for most people to accept that what they experienced was “just” a panic attack because of how intense the feeling could be.

A panic attack can be seen as some kind of a “glitch” in our autonomic nervous system which is responsible to send a general “alarm” to our bodies to either “fight or flight” when we are in a dangerous situation. People who experience panic attacks may have an over sensitive or hyper-reactive autonomic nervous system.

TWO TYPES OF FEARS:

During a panic attack a person will experience two types of fears.

The primary fear is the initial and physical experience of pure panic; racing heart, interrupted breathing, sweating, etc.

SYMPTOMS THAT COMMONLY OCCUR DURING A PANIC ATTACK:

1.) Numbness/tingling sensations

2.) Dizziness,faintness, difficulty balancing

3.) Racing and/or Pounding heart

4.) Chest Tightness

5.) Sweating

6.) Shaking

7.) Hot Flashes

8.) Feeling unreal or as if you’re in a dream

9.) Nausea or abdominal discomfort

10.) Shortness of breath

11.) Fear of dying

12.) Fear of “losing it”

13.) Fear of losing control

14.) Intense need to flee or escape

The secondary fear are the thoughts that follow these physical sensations a person experiences during a panic attack.

THE CYCLE:

Treating individuals who experience panic attacks and a variety of different anxiety disorders, I’ve come to learn that addressing the secondary fears (thoughts) first have been extremely helpful in decreasing the intensity of the attacks. Let’s take a look at some of the very common false beliefs and thoughts that most people have during panic attacks.

“I’m going to stop breathing”

“I’m going to pass out”

“I’m going crazy”

“I’m going to embarrass myself”

“I’m going to fall”

I’m going to have a heart attack”

“I’m going to die”

These thoughts and internal dialogue will only intensify your panic attack, so cut it out!

Not so easy right?

Well here are some facts about panic attacks that may help you negate these thoughts and help you kick panic attacks in the ass.

MYTH BUSTING!

Busted!

You will NOT suffocate because of a panic attack:

When distressed, your body tends to tighten the muscles, and that includes your neck and chest muscles which reduces the extent of your respiratory function. This does not mean there is anything wrong with your lungs or breathing at all. If you are not taking in enough oxygen, your brain will utilize it’s built in mechanism to force you to take deeper breaths or gasp. Yes, the feeling of suffocating IS NOT PLEASANT, but trust that you will not actually suffocate. There are no recorded deaths of suffocation during panic attacks 🙂

You will NOT faint because of a panic attack- Due to hyperventilation, (fast,fast breathing) during a panic attack, you may feel light headed which may give off the impression that you are going to faint. NO! Your blood circulation to your brain has slightly decreased. This is far from deadly. Allow the light-headed feelings to diminish, they will with time, along with slowed breathing.

Guess what!!? During a panic attack your heart is beating a little quicker; people usually faint when their hearts slow down.

So Much Panic!

You will NOT fall during a panic attack:

Sometimes you may feel as if your legs are too weak to hold your body which triggers the thoughts “I’m going to fall”, which then leads to “I’m going to embarrass myself or get hurt”.

Adrenaline is released during a panic attack which sometimes causes dilation in blood vessels in your legs. This feeling is JUST a feeling. Your legs are not actually weaker, they are just as strong as they were before the panic attack.

You will NOT go CRAZY during a panic attack:

A common reaction to rapid breathing is the sensation of feeling “not in reality”. Again, this is JUST a sensation. If you experience a feeling of disorientation or “dream like”, tell yourself that this is just a reaction to a change in your breathing. People do not go crazy from a panic attack. Mental illnesses are complex and usually progress slowly over time. There are no recorded “psychosis” due to a panic attack.

Stay Strong!

You will NOT have a heart attack during a panic attack- A healthy and strong heart can beat 200 beats per minute for as long as several weeks without a problem! Your heart can withstand a lot more than you think it can. There is a MAJOR difference between what your heart feels like during a panic attack and during a true heart attack.

THE DIFFERENCES:

During a panic attack your heart may pound and beat more rapidly and sometimes people complain of some pain. This pain quickly subsides.

During a true heart attack, there is much more consistent pain involved and intense pressure against the chest. This pain gets worse and worse.

EKG research indicates that during a panic attack, there are no abnormalities in the heart other than rapid beating. EKG tests indicates quite a few abnormalities in the heart during a heart attack.

APPLYING IT:

Now that you have learned a little more about the realities of panic attacks, try to replace your catastrophic thoughts with your knew FACTUAL knowledge. You are not going to die from a panic attack. Yes, they are scary, traumatic, and serve as interruptions in the lives of many, but don’t give them THAT much credit.

You may tell yourself, even after learning and knowing all of this, that during your next panic attack, that this one is different. you may tell yourself, “This time it’s really a heart attack.”

Well now you will know that that is one of the most common thoughts people have during panic attacks.

A last piece of advice- Embrace the symptoms. The more you try to avoid these symptoms,  such as isolating yourself, constantly seeking medical attention, avoiding walking,talking and just being during a panic attack, the more you will reinforce your false beliefs that they are dangerous. You are stronger than a panic attack. Laugh at it. Millions of people experience panic attacks.

THERE ARE NO RECORDED DEATHS DUE TO PANIC ATTACKS!

You will NOT go CRAZY during a panic attack:

A common reaction to rapid breathing is the sensation of feeling “not in reality”.

Again, this is JUST a sensation. If you experience a feeling of disorientation or “dream like”, tell yourself that this is just a reaction to a change in your breathing. People do not go crazy from a panic attack. Mental illnesses are complex and usually progress slowly over time. There are no recorded “psychosis cases” due to a panic attack.

You will NOT have a heart attack during a panic attack- A healthy and strong heart can beat 200 beats per minute for as long as several weeks without a problem! Your heart can withstand a lot more than you think it can. There is a MAJOR difference between what your heart feels like during a panic attack and during a true heart attack.

ATHLETES WOULD BE DROPPING DEAD:

If our hearts could not sustain some rapid beating once in a while, don’t you think athletes would be dropping to the floor left and right?

You may tell yourself, even after learning and knowing all of this, that during your next panic attack, that this one is different. you may tell yourself, “This time it’s really a heart attack”. Well now you will know that that is one of the most common thoughts people have during panic attacks.

A last piece of advice- Embrace the symptoms. The more you try to avoid these symptoms,  such as isolating yourself, constantly seeking medical attention, avoiding walking,talking and just being during a panic attack, the more you will reinforce your false beliefs that they are dangerous. You are stronger than a panic attack. Laugh at it. Millions of people experience panic attacks every day.

No One Dies From Panic Attacks!

THERE ARE NO RECORDED DEATHS DUE TO PANIC ATTACKS.

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