Improve life by controlling your mind

There are many things in life that are beyond our control. World events, radical views of other people, and political decisions are some of the things that can infuriate us, causing us to have anxiety, fears and even hatred.

Often, our lives can seem out of control. Sometimes we can feel trapped in a life that is dull and boring. A recent survey concluded that more than 70% of people are in jobs they don’t like, but they can’t leave because they need the income.

In all this haze of things that can upset us, there is one thing that we can take responsibility for, and that is our own state of mind. People can control us but they cannot control our minds. And we can change our state of mind for the better. We can learn to live a life that is wonderful, even if we can’t control external influences.

How?

Transform your mind

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. It is a way of learning to accept the life we lead in a way that fulfils us. It is a way to achieve happiness, greater physical health, and better mental wellbeing.

In this series on meditation, I am going to explore the subject in detail. I will be looking at the scientific background to meditation and I am also going to look at the various forms of mediation that are used by religious and non-religious groups around the world. Most importantly, I am going to teach the subject so that you can learn the basics. This post is a shorter version of my first podcast on the subject; Mediation Part One.

So, let’s make a start. What is meditation?

Well, it is a practice that is rooted in ancient history and it is a topic of modern science. Over the last ten years there has been an increased awareness about the subject, with many scholars, psychologists and neuroscientists carrying out research into the benefits of regular practice.

The brain is full of beta waves

If you were to hook up your brain to an electroencephalogram (EEG) during meditation you would find that your brain beta waves decrease. Beta waves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness. Beta waves are seen when we are alert, when we are problem solving and focused on a task. These waves show that the brain is active.

When we meditate, our beta waves slow down. Researchers have found that practicing meditation for 20 minutes every day, and slowing down our beta waves during this time, can have a significant effect on our mental and physical health. During meditation, the brain is able to make new neuro pathways that connect the left and right hemispheres. Scientists believe that the formation of these pathways helps to trigger healing in the body and help to reduce anxiety and mental distress.

During meditation, brain waves slow down to much lower frequency waves. When the brain changes to low frequency waves the level of neurotransmitters and endorphins in our brain increases and it is well-known that lower frequency brain waves increase the amount of serotonin, an important chemical that alters our mood. Many meditators say they reach a ‘natural high’ at the end of their session. This is usually because the level of endorphins that make us ‘happy’ increase during meditation.

Endorphins boost our cognitive ability and our ability to concentrate. They help improve our memory and our ability to learn new things.

Different waves for different things

The subject of brain waves is complicated. We have different brain waves, each of which produce different things that the brain needs. Why do we sleep? Well, during sleep our brains enter different states of activity and brain wave frequency. Chemicals are released at specific frequencies, and the balance of these chemicals is essential for mental wellbeing.

Regular meditators experience ‘extreme bliss’. This is usually achieved when brain waves slow right down to much lower frequencies; the delta brainwave. It is impossible for people to experience delta states when they are awake, it is only when we enter into deep meditation that we experience this state of consciousness.

Delta waves is known to have a profound effect on the physical body. This is when the body can really heal itself. The pituitary gland is instructed to release human growth hormones to help repair and to rejuvenate muscle and tissue. Delta waves are associated with deeper connection into the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is where we have all the answers to life, but it is hard to reach. Only for a few minutes during sleep do our conscious and subconscious minds connect. However, during the delta state, our conscious and subconscious minds are connected and it can reveal many interesting things.

Have you ever had a “gut feel” about something? Of course you have. Where did it come from, that gut feeling. Well, it probably came from the subconscious mind. As you cultivate your delta brainwaves, your intuition will increase, bringing with it an unbelievable ability to trust your gut instincts.

Many people believe the delta brainwave is the bridge between higher planes of reality. Spiritual gurus believe it is while in the delta state of mind that they connect with life’s universal energy. This is where you can learn to tap into the forces that govern our existence.

Meditation is good for us

From a scientific point of view, then, meditation is good for us. It certainly can do no harm. The key is to do it regularly, twenty minutes every day is a great starting point. As you become good at it, your brain will go quickly into delta state, and it is during this state that the real benefits of meditation will occur.

For a longer explanation of the science behind meditation, listen to my first podcast on this series; Meditation Part One.

In part two I will look at some of the western philosophies of meditation.

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Meditation is the key to happiness

Perhaps not the key but definitely the locksmith

Okay, so as soon as you read the word “meditation”, you are going to turn off. Or, you are going to think about baldy monks or hippies on cocaine. But, please, give it a chance and read on.

“Meditation is the key to happiness”. That’s what I read recently on a blog. Well, I don’t really believe it is the “key” to happiness, it is perhaps the locksmith who can sell you the key!

I have read numerous books, features, blogs and other stuff on the subject of meditation and I have found a plethora of different theories and opinions on how it works. Even after all the stuff I have read, I still don’t know exactly how it works. But, the one single thing that is important in all of this is – it actually does work.

I started teaching meditation ten years ago. Most of my committed students would be very unhappy if someone were to stop their daily practice. That is how important it is in many people’s lives.

I want to introduce you to the practice of meditation. I am not saying you have to do this to achieve your dreams but it will most definitely help you to achieve what you want from life.

My theory

Everything we do involves energy. When we eat, talk, walk, run, even sleep, we generate and use energy. When we think, neurotransmitters in our brain link up, to create thoughts and memory. Neurotransmitters use energy. Everything involves energy.

Although scientists are good, they are still not good enough to know everything there is to know about energy. However, scientists do mainly agree that meditation allows us to capitalise on the lower frequency energies within our bodies.

The lower frequencies of energy in our bodies is where all the healing takes place. Low frequency resonance helps muscles to repair, it helps digestion of food, it helps brain chemicals sort themselves out and it helps our organs to work better.

But, there are some spooky things too. Things that I don’t understand but I will mention it for the sake of a balanced view.

Cosmologists believe that low frequency is the pathway to “connection”. It we are generating low frequency energy, we will be linking up cosmically. That’s the mystery part of meditation. That is why Buddhists, Zen monks, Taoists and a whole bunch of other ‘ists believe that meditation is the key to success.

In conclusion, I think there is some science we know about and there is a lot of “mystery” elements of meditation that we don’t know about. But, and here is the big part, meditation works.

Try it and you will be amazed

My major recommendation to anyone who wants to live a fulfilled life is to get into meditation. I honestly believe you will be amazed if you embrace this simple idea.

You will find a million books, CDs, DVDs pamphlets and other stuff to buy. You will find courses that range from ten minutes to two weeks. All these things are designed to – take your money. There is no need to spend anything at all on learning the basics of meditation.

All you need to get started is instruction on a simple technique. I have a free podcast that you can download to help you get started.

Before you listen to the podcast, find a nice quiet place to sit. It only takes five minutes so silence the mobile phone, the TV, the kids and take time out for yourself. Sit on a chair that gives your back support. You don’t need to sit in the lotus thingy. You won’t need to chant or sign. Just sit quietly and enjoy the calmness that you will feel.

I am keen to hear all about your experiences with meditation.

Before I go, here’s a funny. Why did the meditation teacher give no change when a student paid for a meditation cushion? Because change comes from within.

Check out my podcasts on http://www.ahelpinghand.biz

 

 

 

 

Brain super foods

The brain is a chemical factory

The brain is a chemical factory. It makes special messengers called neurotransmitters, which regulate our mood, emotions, and mental well-being. Neurotransmitters relay messages from one neuron to another, and from one part of the brain to another part.

Neurotransmitters are either excitatory, causing a neuron to send a signal, or inhibitory, preventing a signal from being sent. The excitatory system speeds things up, and gets things moving, while the inhibitory system helps slow things down or stops signals from continuing.

If levels of excitatory neurotransmitters in our brain gets too high, you can feel out of control, overexcited, racy, or anxious. If inhibitory neurotransmitter levels get too high, important signals may be stopped, which can lead to symptoms of depression, fatigue, or compulsive behaviours.

Imbalances in our brains can cause an endless list of health challenges, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, insomnia, memory problems, irritable bowel syndrome, hormone dysfunction, migraine, and even early death.

What affects the balance of brain chemicals

Well, many things.

Prolonged periods of stress can seriously deplete the levels of these chemicals. We are all different though; some people can absorb vast amounts of pressure yet remain unaffected while other people will suffer imbalances after only mild pressure.

Poor diet is another factor. Neurotransmitters are made in the brain from proteins and certain vitamins and minerals. If nutrition is poor, and there isn’t enough of these materials around, an imbalance can develop.

Genetic factors can play a part too. People with a family history of mental illness are more at risk from suffering similar conditions.

Toxic substances like heavy metals, pesticides and some prescription medication can cause permanent damage to brain cells.

Hormone changes are a known cause of low levels of certain brain chemicals.

A myth about antidepressants

Once symptoms emerge, correcting imbalances in the brain is not as simple as taking a few pills.

Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, are needed by brain cells to help them communicate properly with adjacent cells. Most antidepressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which stop serotonin being reabsorbed into cells. This is a good thing because if serotonin is not reabsorbed it becomes available to do more work.

Now for the bad news. Antidepressants such as SSRIs do not “make’ serotonin. If there is a shortage of this chemical in the brain, no amount of antidepressants will do any good. Antidepressants will only work if the raw ingredients are present.

What are the raw materials?

An amino acid that has been proven to increase the level of serotonin in the brain is 5-hydroxytryptophan. L-theanine is another important material because it regulates the secretion of serotonin and dopamine, while l-tyrosine is a building block of neurotransmitters. Calcium citrate, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin C are used to convert 5-hydrotryptophan to serotonin.

Although it is possible to get all of the above chemicals from over-the-counter supplements, there isn’t really any need because all of these are in abundance in certain foods. Two foods in particular are classed as brain super foods; avocado and extra virgin olive oil.

Avocado is one of the healthiest brain super foods on the go. The fruit is packed with monosaturated fats (the good type of fat), vitamins K, C and B, and folate. Research has concluded that this food can keep chemicals in the brain in perfect balance, helping prevent strokes and improving cognitive function.

Real extra virgin olive oil is truly a brain food. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are found in the oil, including this in your diet can greatly improve learning and memory. It has even been proven to reduce age-related brain disease.

The benefits of keeping the brain healthy are obvious. By increasing the amount of these foods in your diet, brain cells can work properly and, more importantly, can work in perfect balance.

Check out my latest podcasts on http://www.ahelpinghand.biz