Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Neuroscience’ Category

The better response will become your new default reaction

Keep a journal of your triggers

The five-step process below came into my computer’s inbox today, and I believe it is beneficial to be reminded that we do have the power to make different choices around our ‘habits’.

Meditation/mindfulness is a wonderful tool to support us on this journey.

Five Key Steps to Habit Change

Tara Bennett-Goleman’s new book, Mind Whispering: A New Map to Freedom from Self-defeating Emotional Habits, explains the neuroscience of habit change. She recommends mindfulness as a way to bring unconscious habits back into awareness where they can be changed. And she outlines a simple five-step process for making that change.

1) Familiarize yourself with the self-defeating habit. Get so you can recognize the routine as it starts, or begins to take over. This might be by noticing its typical thoughts or feelings, or how you start to act.  You can also follow Paul Ekman’s simple suggestion: keep a journal of your triggers.

2) Be mindful. Monitor your behavior –thoughts, feelings, actions – from a neutral, “witness” awareness.

3) Remember the alternatives – think of a better way to handle the situation.

4) Choose something better – e.g., what you say or do that would be helpful instead of self-defeating.

5) Do this at every naturally occurring opportunity.

Tara cites the neuroscience evidence that the more often you can repeat the new routine instead of the self-destructive one, the sooner it will replace the self-defeating habit in your basal ganglia. The better response will become your new default reaction.

Shared by Alexia Miall

Alexia is co-facilitating one of our Meditate for Life courses in Sydney commencing in August. These 8 week courses are conducted in a variety of locations. You can visit our website for all the details.

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a major career change in 1980 to Adult and Transformational Education.  She has been privileged to share this incredible journey with 1000’s of like minded souls through her extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, life coach, therapist, and mentor.  She managed her own training company in Victoria during the 1990’s, and during this time was the Course Leader for a training program from which the Banksia Environmental Foundation formed.

Alexia has acquired further education in Adult Education in Training; Somatic Psychotherapy; Life Coaching; Conflict Resolution; plus Accreditation in many behavioural and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The science of EPIGENETICS

The science of EPIGENETICS

Book Review: The Biology of Belief  by Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

Here is a science based book that is not only accessible reading but has the potential to radically change the way we think and ultimately the way we live our lives. That’s quite a claim! If you’re not interested in changing your life for the better right now, don’t read any further as it takes a bit of time to read and absorb all the science. My first read admittedly was a scan to see if I wanted to really get into it. As I had a science background in my early life, I found it compelling and illuminating. And I don’t often go overboard about books, especially when my main genre of reading is travel stories.

Back to the topic of how our thinking and beliefs affect our lives totally. It’s simple, but not easy.

We’ve been taught that we are like machines, run by bio-chemicals and DNA. As a world renowned cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton has discovered that it is actually the opposite. Our entire biology is shaped by the intelligence of each of our 50 trillion cells. And the single most important way to influence them is through the energy of our beliefs. Some of the areas included in this book are:

The science of EPIGENETICS – what it is and why it is important and revolutionary.

Bridging the gap between QUANTUM MECHANICS and biology. This is the key to knowing how your cells listen to the energy of your thoughts

The chemistry of STRESS and LOVE. How your body, mind, and immune system change with each emotional state.

Turning the immense power of your MIND into your most valuable tool for health and well – being.

“Since the publication of Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton has been widely embraced as one of the most accessible and knowledgeable voices of new biology”.

I can’t really say more than that.

We would love to get your feedback if you have already read it. If you haven’t read it yet but do later, please let us know what you think.

 

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie has co-facilitated residential programs with Petrea for more than sixteen years. Prior to that Wendie spent over 25 years as a teacher, school principal and was involved in educational leadership and facilitation of school executive groups.

Ten years of this time was spent in PNG where she taught and worked for the government. Wendie has been travelling since the early sixties and is especially attracted to Asian cultures. She holds degrees in Anthropology, Education, Sociology, Theology and Political Science. Her current passions are her grandchildren, travel biographies, exploring Asia, 4×4 driving, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching movies on the big screen at home.

 

Read Full Post »

Is your glass half full?

Is your glass half full?

It is easy to take what you have for granted and be chronically dissatisfied.  Focusing on what blessings you have can transform your mind and your life.

Benefits

  • Provides antidote to chronic dissatisfaction
  • Increases your awareness of your blessings
  • Helps you stay in the present moment

It is so easy to be caught up in feeling a chronic sense of lack, encouraged by a culture that says you never have enough and are never good enough.  You may find yourself fixated on that new car, a better relationship, new towels or a different place to live as the key to making you a happier person.  But you may have noticed, seeing your glass half-empty all the time makes for a miserable life.  Always looking to the future means you aren’t really present in the life you have right now.  By meditating on gratitude on a daily basis, you will reduce your dissatisfaction and increase your contentment with the life you have.  Happiness, you will discover, is ultimately a state of mind.

Meditation

When

If you are preoccupied with wanting things you don’t have.

Preparation

Write down everything you want that you don’t have.

Then write down ten things you are grateful for.

Practice

  1. Find time to be alone in a place where you will not be disturbed.  Sit in any way that makes you comfortable.  After doing the preliminary exercise above, read over the ten things that you have listed.
  2. Generate a sincere sense of gratitude for each item on your list.  If you are grateful for your health, feel thankful for your good fortune.  If you have a car, no matter what condition, be sincerely grateful to have transportation.  If you have a partner, think of their wonderful qualities and be grateful that they are a part of your life.
  3. After you have gone through your list, sit quietly and thank yourself, God, the universe, or whomever or whatever you choose, for the gifts you have been given.  Resolve, on a daily basis, to be mindful and grateful for the blessings you have.

From the The Meditation Bible by Madonna Gauding.

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a major career change in 1980 to Adult and Transformational Education.  She has been privileged to share this incredible journey with 1000’s of like minded souls through her extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, life coach, therapist, and mentor.  She managed her own training company in Victoria during the 1990’s, and during this time was the Course Leader for a training program from which the Banksia Environmental Foundation formed.

Alexia has acquired further education in Adult Education in Training; Somatic Psychotherapy; Life Coaching; Conflict Resolution; plus Accreditation in many behavioural and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

Read Full Post »

Buddah

We live in a world that is changing rapidly and feels out of control.

There is an enormous amount of research happening about the brain, mind, and consciousness. Science knows a hundred times more today than it did in 1990 about what happens to the brain when we engage in contemplative practices like meditation.

This is great news for those who say “I can’t meditate”!

There is now good motivation to meditate because it actually changes our brain. The days of saying “Brain cells die as we age, the brain is fixed, you can’t change your mind, I am stuck in this thinking” is over. And here is why.

We now know that that the brain of people who regularly meditate becomes thicker. (not more stupid!) It becomes thicker in two major regions of the brain. One is the pre-frontal cortex, located right behind the forehead. It’s involved in deliberately paying attention to something.

The second brain area that gets bigger is the insula. The insula tracks both the interior state of the body and the feelings of other people, which is fundamental to empathy. So when we regularly meditate it helps us become more self aware and empathic.

Now that is motivation!

This is neuroplasticity in action which is really the idea that as the mind changes, the brain changes.

In the Buddhist tradition the mind takes the shape of whatever it rests upon – or more exactly, the brain takes the shape of whatever the mind rests upon. So if we are regularly thinking of regrets, resentments, quarrels with others, self reproach, and continually commenting of everything that isn’t working for us, it will change our brain in that direction, because the neurons that fire together wire together.

Conversely, if we think about those things that are going well, what we are grateful for, good connections we have with others, our positive qualities, what we have accomplished in our day, we are going to build neural pathways and circuits of positivity.

This is good news when we live in a world that is changing rapidly and feels out of control.

No matter what is going on “out there in the world” we can choose to stay more peaceful and calm by the regular practice of mindfulness or reflection or meditation or whatever we want to call it. The facts are in. When we meditate we change our brains and we change our lives.

If you haven’t started yet, today is a good day to commence changing your brain and your mind.

See Rick Hanson’s book The Buddha Brain.

www.RickHanson.net

 

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie has co-facilitated residential programs with Petrea for more than sixteen years. Prior to that Wendie spent over 25 years as a teacher, school principal and was involved in educational leadership and facilitation of school executive groups.

Ten years of this time was spent in PNG where she taught and worked for the government. Wendie has been travelling since the early sixties and is especially attracted to Asian cultures. She holds degrees in Anthropology, Education, Sociology, Theology and Political Science. Her current passions are her grandchildren, travel biographies, exploring Asia, 4×4 driving, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching movies on the big screen at home.

 

Read Full Post »

The Placebo and Nocebo Effect

Continued……Read Part 1 here.

The Placebo and Nocebo Effect

The power of the mind to affect health has been known to the medical community for a long time and goes under the guise of “placebo effect” and the “nocebo effect”. The placebo effect is any beneficial change to a person’s health as a result of their belief in a treatment, irrespective of the efficiency of that treatment. Yet ironically, it is often seen as a nuisance, particularly in clinical trials, rather than a powerful tool. Despite this, it has been observed in many areas of medicine – from mental health, where it was recently estimated that the effect of a large majority of anti-depressants is mainly due to positive patient beliefs  about treatment [2], to  relief of arthritic pain in the knee where a sham surgery resulted in similar levels of pain relief as the real surgery [3]. This is not to say that belief will cure all. Instead it seems that a significant placebo response is generally observed in about 35% of all patients. However, the placebo effect clearly demonstrates the ability of our mind to improve our health and therefore should be an important part to our tool kit to health.

A tool can be used for good or evil. Our mind is a tool and is no exception to this rule. Negative beliefs can be detrimental to our health, in what is termed the “nocebo effect”. There have been several well documented cases to the power of the nocebo. The majority of these cases involve a person in a position of perceived power, such as a medical doctor or spiritual leader, giving a negative message to a patient who then incorporates it into their belief and live out message. One such case was recorded in a cardiac ward at a large catholic hospital in USA, where a cardiologist observed that one of his patients had taken a turn for the worse  and was about to die. A priest was called to administer last rites, but by mistake he went to stable patient next to the dying man. With an impressive air of authority he gave the last rites to the wrong man, who promptly died within 15min. The dying man survived for another 4 days [4].

Those in authority are not solely responsible for our health, as it is our own belief in their prognosis that gives power to the placebo/nocebo. Indeed, research has shown that we have the same ability to cause a placebo or nocebo response with our own health. Chemotherapy has a dreadful reputation and will often make patients feel violently nauseous. However, it seems that those who expected to be sick before starting treatment experienced the worst nausea during treatment[5]. Furthermore, nausea often starts before the treatment is given; a clear sign of nocebo.

In all these situations of placebo and nocebo the only cause was a change in belief, a change in both our unconscious and conscious minds. Indeed, the stronger your belief the greater the effect.

Your mind and Your health

Understanding that our mind has an effect on our body is one thing, but it is our health that is our concern. So what can you do?

Firstly, be aware of the effect that others have on you. Having a doctor telling you that you have 6 months to live may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your clinical support is overly negative or didactic, then find other doctors who support you. Similarly, be aware of friends and family and how you feel around them. If you find yourself increasingly negative around them, then try to surround yourself with those that uplift and support you.

Secondly, be aware of your own thoughts and feelings. They can have a huge effect on our physiology. If you are like most of us and your mind is constantly digging up past experiences or painting a horrific future, then do not despair. Instead try a guided meditation or some of the more physical meditative practices like yoga or Chi Gong. These will help quieten your conscious mind so you can direct it towards healthy thoughts.

Remember that the conscious mind trains the subconscious mind, and the subconscious instructs the body. With regular practice you will be able to consciously direct your body towards a healthier path.

May peace, love and health be with you on your journey.
Astley Friend

References:

1.               Ranganathan, V.K., et al., From mental power to muscle power–gaining strength by using the mind. Neuropsychologia, 2004. 42(7): p. 944-56.
2.               Kirsch, I., et al., Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med, 2008. 5(2): p. e45.
3.               Moseley, J.B., et al., A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med, 2002. 347(2): p. 81-8.
4.               Spiegel, H., Nocebo: the power of suggestibility. Preventive Medicine, 1997. 26(5 Pt 1): p. 616-21.
5.               Colagiuri, B., et al., How do patient expectancies, quality of life, and postchemotherapy nausea interrelate? Cancer, 2008. 113(3): p. 654-61.

Astley Friend

Astley Friend is both a traveller on his own cancer journey and a medical scientist with a keen interest in the relationship between our self, our mind, our body and our health.

Read Full Post »

The mind is still one of nature’s great secrets

The mind is still one of nature’s great secrets – it controls everything we perceive, from sight to pain, along with the unconscious functioning of much of our body.  Science is beginning to unlock some of these secrets, and with each discovery we are piecing together its potential.  It is in understanding the relationship between our mind and body that we are uncovering the “power of the mind” over our body and health. This is not to say that the mind is the solution to all our health problems, but research is revealing that it does have a significant influence over our health and, in some cases, may be the difference between life and death.

Your mind

Before we can delve into the role that the mind plays in health, we must first define what is meant by “your mind”. Your mind is broadly divided into the conscious and subconscious. Your subconscious is simply everything that goes on in your mind that you are unaware of. It ranges from all your sensory input to the unconscious modulation of your organs like your immune system, heart and gut. It is this control over the body that is essential for influencing health. It is also the autopilot that does repetitive tasks the same way you first learnt. For example, when driving home we often get there without thinking – the subconscious mind drives us along the well known route.

In contrast, your conscious mind is everything that you are aware of. It includes the sensory information in your subconscious that you pay attention to. For example, when reading this article your attention is on the words, not on the feeling of shoes on your feet; thus you are aware of the words and not your feet (until now). Your conscious mind also includes your ego and self identity. Repetitive conscious thoughts also train the subconscious. So, to learn to drive a car, you had to continually consciously practice (thereby training the subconscious) until it became almost automatic.

Your mind, both conscious and subconscious, is dependent on the communication between brain cells called neurons. As a result, the mind needs the brain to function. Destroying the brain destroys the mind. Damage to certain parts of the brain will lead to predictable damage to our mind. For example, damage to an area called the fusiform facial gyrus can lead a person to still see and describe the features of a familiar face, but no longer recognise who the face belongs to.

Importantly, the relationship between the mind and the brain works both ways. The mind also directly influences and changes your brain. The more your mind activates (by thinking) a certain part of the brain, the more the brain changes in response to make it easier to use that part of the brain.

In regards to your health, this becomes important as repetitive conscious thoughts teach or instruct the subconscious, which in turn instructs the body through the nervous system. This was demonstrated when researchers at the Lerner Research Institute, USA measured the  finger muscle strength of three groups of young healthy volunteers [1]. The first group did nothing; they were the controls or comparison group. The second group were made to mentally practice lifting their finger (15min/day x 5 days week) for 12 weeks. The third group physically practiced lifting their finger for the same time period. Compared to the first group, the physical group increased their finger muscle strength by 53%, but fascinatingly, the mental group also increased their strength by 35%. Therefore, repetitive conscious thoughts are able to have a physiological effect on our body.

Now what happens if these thoughts are either beneficial or detrimental to our health? We get what is known as the placebo effect and the nocebo effect.

To be continued……

Astley Friend

Astley Friend is both a traveller on his own cancer journey and a medical scientist with a keen interest in the relationship between our self, our mind, our body and our health.

Read Full Post »