Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness

Takes short mindful minutes

We live in an incredibly busy world. The pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we’re always doing something.

0:19 with that in mind, I’d like you just to take a moment to think. when did you last take any time to do nothing?

Just 10 minutes, undisturbed? And when I say nothing, I do mean nothing. So that’s no emailing, texting, no Internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading.

Not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing. I see a lot of very blank faces. (Laughter) You probably have to go a long way back.

this is an extraordinary thing. We’re talking about our mind. The mind, our most valuable and precious resource, through which we experience every single moment of our life.

The mind that we rely upon to be happy, content, emotionally stable as individuals, and at the same time, to be kind and thoughtful and considerate in our relationships with others.

This is the same mind that we depend upon to be focused, creative, spontaneous, and to perform at our very best in everything that we do. And yet, we don’t take any time out to look after it.

In fact, we spend more time looking after our cars, our clothes and our hair than we…

The result is that we get stressed.  the mind whizzes away like a washing machine going round, lots of difficult, confusing emotions, and we don’t really know how to deal with that. And the sad fact is that we are so distracted that we’re no longer present in the world in which we live.

We miss out on the things that are most important to us, and the crazy thing is that everybody just assumes, that’s the way life is, so we’ve just kind of got to get on with it. That’s really not how it has to be.

I was about 11 when I went along to my first meditation class. And trust me, it had all the stereotypes that you can imagine, the sitting cross-legged on the floor, the incense, the herbal tea, the vegetarians, the whole deal, but my mom was going and I was intrigued, so I went along with her.

I’d also seen a few kung fu movies, and secretly I kind of thought I might be able to learn how to fly, but I was very young at the time. Now as I was there, I guess, like a lot of people, I assumed that it was just an aspirin for the mind.

You get stressed, you do some meditation. I hadn’t really thought that it could be sort of preventative in nature, until I was about 20, when a number of things happened in my life in quite quick succession, really serious things which just flipped my life upside down and all of a sudden I was inundated with thoughts, inundated with difficult emotions that I didn’t know how to cope with. Every time I sort of pushed one down, another one would pop back up again. It was a really very stressful time.

3:12 I guess we all deal with stress in different ways. Some people will bury themselves in work, grateful for the distraction. Others will turn to their friends, their family, looking for support. Some people hit the bottle, start taking medication. My own way of dealing with it was to become a monk. So I quit my degree, I headed off to the Himalayas, I became a monk, and I started studying meditation.

3:39 People often ask me what I learned from that time. Well, obviously it changed things. Let’s face it, becoming a celibate monk is going to change a number of things. But it was more than that. It taught me — it gave me a greater appreciation, an understanding for the present moment. By that I mean not being lost in thought, not being distracted, not being overwhelmed by difficult emotions, but instead learning how to be in the here and now, how to be mindful, how to be present.

4:15 I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary. There was a research paper that came out of Harvard, just recently, that said on average, our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. 47 percent. At the same time, this sort of constant mind-wandering is also a direct cause of unhappiness.

Now we’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy, I don’t know, it just kind of seems tragic, actually, especially when there’s something we can do about it, when there’s a positive, practical, achievable, scientifically proven technique which allows our mind to be more healthy, to be more mindful and less distracted. And the beauty of it is that even though it need only take about 10 minutes a day, it impacts our entire life.

But we need to know how to do it. We need an exercise. We need a framework to learn how to be more mindful. That’s essentially what meditation is. It’s familiarizing ourselves with the present moment. But we also need to know how to approach it in the right way to get the best from it. And that’s what these are for, in case you’ve been wondering, because most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but actually it’s quite different from that. It’s more about stepping back, sort of seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going, emotions coming and going without judgment, but with a relaxed, focused mind.

6:04 So for example, right now, if I focus too much on the balls, then there’s no way I can relax and talk to you at the same time. Equally, if I relax too much talking to you, there’s no way I can focus on the balls. I’m going to drop them. Now in life, and in meditation, there’ll be times when the focus becomes a little bit too intense, and life starts to feel a bit like this. It’s a very uncomfortable way to live life, when you get this tight and stressed.

At other times, we might take our foot off the gas a little bit too much, and things just become a sort of little bit like this. Of course in meditation — (Snores) we’re going to end up falling asleep. So we’re looking for a balance, a focused relaxation where we can allow thoughts to come and go without all the usual involvement.

6:50 Now, what usually happens when we’re learning to be mindful is that we get distracted by a thought. Let’s say this is an anxious thought. Everything’s going fine, and we see the anxious thought. “Oh, I didn’t realize I was worried about that.” You go back to it, repeat it. “Oh, I am worried. I really am worried. Wow, there’s so much anxiety.” And before we know it, right, we’re anxious about feeling anxious. (Laughter) You know, this is crazy. We do this all the time, even on an everyday level.

If you think about the last time you had a wobbly tooth. You know it’s wobbly, and you know that it hurts. But what do you do every 20, 30 seconds? (Mumbling) It does hurt. And we reinforce the storyline, right? And we just keep telling ourselves, and we do it all the time. And it’s only in learning to watch the mind in this way that we can start to let go of those storylines and patterns of mind. But when you sit down and you watch the mind in this way, you might see many different patterns.

You might find a mind that’s really restless and — the whole time. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit agitated in your body when you sit down to do nothing and your mind feels like that. You might find a mind that’s very dull and boring, and it’s just, almost mechanical, it just seems it’s as if you’re getting up, going to work, eat, sleep, get up, work.

Or it might just be that one little nagging thought that just goes round and round your mind. Well, whatever it is, meditation offers the opportunity, the potential to step back and to get a different perspective, to see that things aren’t always as they appear. We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.

That’s the potential of meditation, of mindfulness. You don’t have to burn any incense, and you definitely don’t have to sit on the floor. All you need to do is to take 10 minutes out a day to step back, to familiarize yourself with the present moment so that you get to experience a greater sense of focus, calm and clarity in your life.

Patsy Z shared this link
TED. 19 hrs ·

“We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.”

t.ted.com|By Andy Puddicombe

A neuroscience researcher reveals 4 rituals that will make you happier

You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that grey blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy. And here are the rituals:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching will do the job.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of ‘best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

 

Eric Barker, Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Sep. 26, 2015

UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life.

Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

1. The most important question to ask when you feel down

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens.

Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

And you worry a lot, too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala.

That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

But guilt, shame, and worry are horrible, long-term solutions.

So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

What am I grateful for?

Yeah, gratitude is awesome … but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter. So does gratitude.

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable …

Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin.

Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts.

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place.

Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence.

One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

And gratitude doesn’t just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.

But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you’re really in the dumps and don’t even know how to deal with it? There’s an easy answer …

2. Label negative feelings

You feel awful. OK, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

Boom. It’s that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

In one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture.

But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so.

While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused.

Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn’t work, and in some cases even backfires.

But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people, too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.

Okay, hopefully you’re not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as bored. Maybe you’re not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here’s a simple way to beat them.

3. Make that decision

Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That’s no random occurrence.

Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety.

Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines.

Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make?

Neuroscience has an answer.

Make a “good enough” decision. Don’t sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …

As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

Want proof? No problem. Let’s talk about cocaine.

You give two rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn’t have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: Rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

Via The Upward Spiral:

So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

So what’s the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine … whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it’s not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn’t get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that’s no way to build a good exercise habit.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don’t get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.

OK, you’re being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great, but this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let’s get some other people in here.

What’s something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that’s stupidly simple so you don’t get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you.

4. Touch people

No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t it’s painful. And I don’t mean “awkward” or “disappointing.” I mean actually painful.

Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the “other players” stopped playing nice and didn’t share the ball?

Subjects’ brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn’t just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

Relationships are important to your brain’s feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching.

Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting … heck, it even boosts math skills.

Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock.

While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands’ hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband’s hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect.

The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

Via The Upward Spiral:

A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

Don’t have anyone to hug right now? No? (I’m sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there’s an answer: Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30% . Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits.

Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

Via The Upward Spiral:

[T]he text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

Author’s note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.

OK, I don’t want to strain your brain with too much info. Let’s round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness.

Sum up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of ‘best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

So what’s the simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

Just send someone a thank-you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning.

Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment.

Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

Dieting doesn’t work: A personal experience

Three and a half years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. As my New Year’s resolution, I gave up dieting, stopped worrying about my weight, and learned to eat mindfully. Now I eat whenever I’m hungry, and I’ve lost 10 pounds.

Patsy Z shared this link TED, September 26, 2015
Why it’s so hard to lose weight and keep it off:
The science behind why dieting not only doesn’t work, but is likely to do more harm than good.
t.ted.com|By Sandra Aamodt

0:32 This was me at age 13, when I started my first diet. I look at that picture now, and I think, you did not need a diet, you needed a fashion consult. (Laughter)

But I thought I needed to lose weight, and when I gained it back, of course I blamed myself. And for the next three decades, I was on and off various diets. No matter what I tried, the weight I’d lost always came back. I’m sure many of you know the feeling.

1:09 As a neuroscientist, I wondered, why is this so hard?

Obviously, how much you weigh depends on how much you eat and how much energy you burn.

What most people don’t realize is that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly without your awareness. (Most probably it is the second brain that is the main factor: Your intestines)

Your brain does a lot of its work behind the scenes, and that is a good thing, because your conscious mind is easily distracted. It’s good that you don’t have to remember to breathe when you get caught up in a movie. You don’t forget how to walk because you’re thinking about what to have for dinner.

Your brain also has its own sense of what you should weigh, no matter what you consciously believe. This is called your set point, but that’s a misleading term, because it’s actually a range of about 10 or 15 pounds.

You can use lifestyle choices to move your weight up and down within that range, but it’s much harder to stay outside of it.

In the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body weight, there are more than a dozen chemical signals in the brain that tell your body to gain weight, more than another dozen that tell your body to lose it, and the system works like a thermostat, responding to signals from the body by adjusting hunger, activity and metabolism, to keep your weight stable as conditions change.

That’s what a thermostat does, right? It keeps the temperature in your house the same as the weather changes outside. Now you can try to change the temperature in your house by opening a window in the winter, but that’s not going to change the setting on the thermostat, which will respond by kicking on the furnace to warm the place back up.

Your brain works exactly the same way, responding to weight loss by using powerful tools to push your body back to what it considers normal. If you lose a lot of weight, your brain reacts as if you were starving, and whether you started out fat or thin, your brain’s response is exactly the same.

We would love to think that your brain could tell whether you need to lose weight or not, but it can’t.

If you do lose a lot of weight, you become hungry, and your muscles burn less energy.

Dr. Rudy Leibel of Columbia University has found that people who have lost 10 percent of their body weight burn 250 to 400 calories less because their metabolism is suppressed. That’s a lot of food. This means that a successful dieter must eat this much less forever than someone of the same weight who has always been thin.

From an evolutionary perspective, your body’s resistance to weight loss makes sense. When food was scarce, our ancestors’ survival depended on conserving energy, and regaining the weight when food was available would have protected them against the next shortage.

Over the course of human history, starvation has been a much bigger problem than overeating. This may explain a very sad fact: Set points can go up, but they rarely go down.

Now, if your mother ever mentioned that life is not fair, this is the kind of thing she was talking about. (Laughter) Successful dieting doesn’t lower your set point. Even after you’ve kept the weight off for as long as seven years, your brain keeps trying to make you gain it back.

If that weight loss had been due to a long famine, that would be a sensible response. In our modern world of drive-thru burgers, it’s not working out so well for many of us.

That difference between our ancestral past and our abundant present is the reason that Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of the University of Ottawa would like to take some of his patients back to a time when food was less available, and it’s also the reason that changing the food environment is really going to be the most effective solution to obesity.

Sadly, a temporary weight gain can become permanent. If you stay at a high weight for too long, probably a matter of years for most of us, your brain may decide that that’s the new normal.

Psychologists classify eaters into two groups, those who rely on their hunger and those who try to control their eating through willpower, like most dieters.

Let’s call them intuitive eaters and controlled eaters. The interesting thing is that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight, and they spend less time thinking about food.

Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating in response to advertising, super-sizing, and the all-you-can-eat buffet. And a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, is more likely to lead to a food binge in controlled eaters.

Children are especially vulnerable to this cycle of dieting and then binging.

Several long-term studies have shown that girls who diet in their early teenage years are three times more likely to become overweight 5 years later, even if they started at a normal weight, and all of these studies found that the same factors that predicted weight gain also predicted the development of eating disorders.

The other factor, by the way, those of you who are parents, was being teased by family members about their weight. So don’t do that. (Laughter)

I left almost all my graphs at home, but I couldn’t resist throwing in just this one, because I’m a geek, and that’s how I roll.

This is a study that looked at the risk of death over a 14-year period based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercise three times a week, not smoking, and drinking in moderation.

Let’s start by looking at the normal weight people in the study. The height of the bars is the risk of death, and those zero, one, two, three, four numbers on the horizontal axis are the number of those healthy habits that a given person had. And as you’d expect, the healthier the lifestyle, the less likely people were to die during the study.

Now let’s look at what happens in overweight people. The ones that had no healthy habits had a higher risk of death. Adding just one healthy habit pulls overweight people back into the normal range.

For obese people with no healthy habits, the risk is very high, 7 times higher than the healthiest groups in the study. But a healthy lifestyle helps obese people too.

In fact, if you look only at the group with all four healthy habits, you can see that weight makes very little difference. You can take control of your health by taking control of your lifestyle, even If you can’t lose weight and keep it off.

Diets don’t have very much reliability. Five years after a diet, most people have regained the weight. Forty percent of them have gained even more. If you think about this, the typical outcome of dieting is that you’re more likely to gain weight in the long run than to lose it.

If I’ve convinced you that dieting might be a problem, the next question is, what do you do about it?

And my answer, in a word, is mindfulness. I’m not saying you need to learn to meditate or take up yoga. I’m talking about mindful eating: learning to understand your body’s signals so that you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, because a lot of weight gain boils down to eating when you’re not hungry.

How do you do it? Give yourself permission to eat as much as you want, and then work on figuring out what makes your body feel good. Sit down to regular meals without distractions. Think about how your body feels when you start to eat and when you stop, and let your hunger decide when you should be done.

It took about a year for me to learn this, but it’s really been worth it. I am so much more relaxed around food than I have ever been in my life. I often don’t think about it. I forget we have chocolate in the house. It’s like aliens have taken over my brain. It’s just completely different. (No more chocolate? How the brain can get the habit of forgetting chocolate? Or eating all kinds of nuts?)

I should say that this approach to eating probably won’t make you lose weight unless you often eat when you’re not hungry, but doctors don’t know of any approach that makes significant weight loss in a lot of people, and that is why a lot of people are now focusing on preventing weight gain instead of promoting weight loss.

Let’s face it: If diets worked, we’d all be thin already. (Laughter)

Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? Diets may seem harmless, but they actually do a lot of collateral damage. At worst, they ruin lives: Weight obsession leads to eating disorders, especially in young kids.

In the U.S., we have 80 percent of 10-year-old girls say they’ve been on a diet. Our daughters have learned to measure their worth by the wrong scale. Even at its best, dieting is a waste of time and energy.

It takes willpower which you could be using to help your kids with their homework or to finish that important work project, and because willpower is limited, any strategy that relies on its consistent application is pretty much guaranteed to eventually fail you when your attention moves on to something else.

11:54 Let me leave you with one last thought.

What if we told all those dieting girls that it’s okay to eat when they’re hungry?

What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? (At least when dealing with vegetables and fruits?)

I think most of them would be happier and healthier, and as adults, many of them would probably be thinner. I wish someone had told me that back when I was 13.

Emotional Intelligence? And Performance criteria in Meditation research

Mindfulness is the ability to voluntarily bring back a wandering attention, over and over again…

This ability is the very root of judgment, character and will.

And this ability to improve mindfulness requires education and training par excellence … (William James, father of modern psychology)

Before I mention the performance criteria in meditation research, it is good to describe what the book objectives in “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan are:

Emotional Intelligence: Like what?

1. Self-awareness for knowing your internal emotional states, preferences, resources, and kinds of intuitions…

2. Self-regulating your internal emotional states, impulses and resources…

3. Motivating your emotional tendencies that guide and facilitate reaching a few of your goals

4. Empathy and awareness of other’s feelings, needs and concerns. For example, your first intuition on meeting anybody is to say to yourself “I wish for this person to be happy”

5. Building social skills and getting adept at including desirable responses in others…

Performance criteria in meditation research:

1. High-amplitude gamma brain waves: Associated with high effectiveness in memory, learning and perception

2. Healing of psoriasis: a skin condition characterized by red spots that grow larger as the disease worsens

3. Thicker cortex in brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing.

4. Lowering anxiety level:  Increased electrical activity in the brain regions associated with positive emotion…

5. Increased immunity to illnesses: Subjects in meditation group injected with flu shots develop more antibodies to the influenza vaccine

6. Attention- blink span: The normal attention-blink time for processing two successive stimuli is about 50 milliseconds. Meditation exercises reduce the span and permit to attend to two stimuli. Consequently, improvement in the ability to pay attention to information for a prolonged period of time…

Mindfulness permit the self-discovery in a scientific inquiry process.

Training the attention has for objective to improve and develop insight into the mind.

Thus, attention is a powerful torchlight that can spot what we are searching for in a dark room…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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