Thursday, June 30, 2011

Using Your Whole Brain

Another day of multi-tasking, reading e-mails, juggling responsibilities and cramming facts means another day of using only half your brain. Research studies estimate the majority of people living in the developed world are trained to think with the left half of their brains. Not a bad thing if you’re organizing information and situations or developing detailed plans. The left brain excels at order and detail.

The problem? Without your right brain, you’re missing the big picture. You won’t find creative solutions to challenges. Your intuition is locked away. And, you may be less flexible.

Not that you want to use your right brain instead of your left brain… ideally, you should use your whole brain. Chances are you’ve got the left brain covered – the question is how to access the right brain.

And, you guessed it, meditation is one of the answers:

1.      Sit quietly and comfortably
2.      Close your eyes
3.      Try to relax all your muscles. Start with your feet and progress to your face – telling each body part to relax.
4.      Breathe through your nose. Pay attention to each breath. As you exhale, repeat a word like peace or relax, or a brief phrase such as “I am completely calm” to yourself. Breathe easily.
5.      Continue for at least ten minutes (twenty is better). If you get distracted that’s O.K., it’s part of the exercise. Just acknowledge where your mind goes, let it go, and go back to repeating your word. When you finish sit quietly for several minutes.
6.      Don’t worry if you’re not immediately successful in achieving deep relaxation. It will come with time and practice.

Another option for accessing the right brain is repetitive physical exercise. Running or getting on an elliptical machine or treadmill can help access right brain potential.

Breathing exercises can help as well.

1.      Sit comfortably (and yes, that is a theme) and release the tension in your body.
2.      Use your thumb and index finger to press down on your nostrils. Release pressure on one nostril and inhale.
3.      Switch the pressure on your nose and exhale. Inhale.
4.      Switch the pressure on your nose and exhale. Inhale
5.      Breathe through your abdomen
6.      Practice for at least ten minutes (and up to thirty)

Studies suggest that alternating your breathing between left and right nostrils helps build neural pathways through the corpus callosum (the junction point between the left and right hemispheres) in the brain.

Good luck!


Monday, June 27, 2011



For those who don’t meditate, the very word conjures images of a saffron-swathed swami seated pretzel fashion amidst tinkling wind chimes.

The reality is much different. Studies have shown that meditation boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, can be used to manage chronic pain or alleviate anxiety. The health benefits are real.

Put aside the vision of Tibetan temples and find a comfortable chair that allows you to sit up straight. A dimly lit room and soothing music are options that can enhance your meditation but they are not essential.

Close your eyes.

Breathe. Deeply. Focus on it. Inhale and exhale slowly. Deeply.

Now imagine descending with each breath. Perhaps you’re on an elevator and each time you exhale means you’ve passed another floor. Perhaps you’re on the stairs and each exhalation represents a step downward. Concentrate on your breath and reaching the ‘ground floor.’

When you’ve arrived, focus your mind on each body part body you want to relax. Your neck? Imagine each kink melting away. After your body is relaxed, imagine a peaceful place – a tranquil beach or a tranquil wood. Relax your mind.

Get back on your elevator or staircase and climb back up to consciousness.

Easy-peasy. And, the more you meditate, the easier it becomes.

Check in often for more tips on meditation and its benefits.