Archive for September, 2007





Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to actions. Actions lead to results. But sometimes the problem with thoughts is they don’t support the results we want. If I find myself anxious and in overwhelm, where does that come from? It comes from worrisome and fearful thinking. This, again, is the sentry mind thinking. It’s trying to protect me from some (at this point) imagined danger. Most of the things that the sentry mind is on guard against can’t really hurt us. We don’t worry about the saber toothed tiger around the bend. We worry about our jobs, our loved ones, and our…future.


The first step in any change is Awareness. Here’s a challenge. I want you to take a “trial offer”. You’ve probably done this before. It’s like on a commercial, try it for thirty days and if you’re not satisfied, we’ll refund your money. But there’s no refund here it’s an experiment. Sometimes it feels daunting when we try to consider making a decision that involves life long change. But thirty days? Piece of cake. And this is an excellent way of developing new and better habits.


For the next thirty days I want you to simply observe your mind and watch your thoughts. Try to notice your sentry mind in action. What are the qualities of your thoughts? Are they based in fear and obligation? Or are they based in joy and purpose? A mind based on joy and purpose is natural (and wonderful) but it takes work. A mind based on fear and obligation is normal but it tears you down. And it will drain the life out of you.



Like the previous exercise, commitment takes discipline. Never commit to anything that you are not going to do. Your word must be a law of the universe. The only way to lead a successful life is to have a truthful life. In many warrior traditions a person’s word was a life and death issue they would rather die than live a dishonorable life. You’ll find that if you don’t keep your word, not only will others not trust you, but you won’t trust yourself.

Once you say something you become a creator. And the more you say something and make it happen, the universe listens. The universe comes to “see” that when you say it, it happens and continues to make it happen. If you can say with confidence, “Everything I say, happens!”…this is an incredibly powerful state of mind. But start small. Don’t try to turn lead into gold right away. Start small, and be consistent. Commit slowly and complete fully.

What happens if you MUST break a commitment? Then really break it. Make that phone call or talk to the person in person. And ask permission to break the commitment. By the way, the most important commitments are the ones you make with yourself. You MUST keep your commitments to yourself.


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Here’s a great piece by guest writer Alvaro Fernandez

The LA Times just completed a wonderful 4-part series on how learning and memory work. The NYT re-emphasized the importance of physical exercise for neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons). To put this news in better perspective, let’s review some good lifestyle habits we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains:

1- Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses, full of what Marian Diamond calls the magic trees of the mind. Devote time to practicing mentally stimulating habits.

2- Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weights 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”.

3- Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis.

4- Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.

5- Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use It or Lose It” does not mean “do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567”. It means, “challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”.

6- We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high, listen to inspiring commencement speeches. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.

7- Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.

8- Don’t Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbour… Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbour’s.

9- Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are “social animals”, and need social interaction. Which, by the way, is why ‘Baby Einstein’ has been shown not to be the panacea for children development.

10- Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Better, try to become the next John Stewart.

Now, remember that what counts is not reading this article-or any other-, but practicing a bit every day until small steps snowball into unstoppable, internalized habits…so, pick your next battle and try to start improving at least one of these 10 habits today!

Alvaro Fernandez is the CEO and Co-Founder of SharpBrains, which provides Stress management Workshops and the latest science-based information for Brain Fitness. SharpBrains has been featured by Scientific American Mind, MarketWatch, CBS, Forbes, and more. Alvaro holds MA in Education and MBA from Stanford University, and teaches The Science of Brain Health at UC-Berkeley Lifelong Learning Institute. Learn more at http://www.sharpbrains.com

Copyright (c) 2007 SharpBrains

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The Six Healing Sounds


One of the simplest, yet effective health maintenance programs I know is the Six Healing Sounds. While I use the word sound, they are not made by vibrating the vocal chords, but rather sub-vocally. I learned this simple qigong method from Master Luo Dexiu of Taiwan. Master Luo is a humble yet remarkable man. Easily one of the finest practitioners of the Chinese internal martial arts, Master Luo is a friendly and very approachable man.


There are two ways of performing the six sounds- with a gentle rocking action; and combined with a series of movements. I’m going to teach you the sounds using the former method. In the future I’ll put out some video of the sounds being used with the movements.


You’re going to start with the standing exercise I described earlier on this site. Once you feel nice and relaxed and aligned with gravity, you will start to actively use your breath. When you inhale straighten your body and feel vibrant. As you exhale bend slightly into the hips (the inguinal fold) and rock your body weight slightly forward. Not as far as the balls of your feet but just behind that area (K1). You want your exhale to be longer than your inhale, and take a couple of natural breaths between each sound. As you become more proficient, you can eliminate this stage.


Note: You can perform the six healing sounds sitting as well. To do this simply sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight with your palms relaxed on your knees or thighs.



XU-The Liver Sound

Xu (pronounced- shu) is the sound of the liver and is related to the wood element. Xu helps remove anger and sorrow. As you inhale try to inflate your belly and compress this area as you rock forward, fold into the hips and exhale.


HE- The Heart Sound

He (pronounced- huh) is the sound of your heart and is related to the fire element. This sound will help eliminate hatred and cruelty and will bring joy to your heart.


HU- The Stomach Sound

Hu (pronounced- hoo) is the sound of the stomach and is related to the earth element. This sound can help regulate your body temperature, keeping you from being too cold.


SI- The Lung Sound

Si (pronounced- ssss) is the sound of the lungs and is related to the metal (gold) element. This sound expels heat from your lungs and can bring equilibrium to your nervous system.


CHUI- The Kidney Sound

Chui (pronounced chew-ay) is the sound of the kidneys and is related to the water element. This sound eliminates shock.


XI- The Triple Warmer Sound

Xi (pronounced sheee) is the sound of the triple warmer (san jiao) and is related to all the elements. Regulating the triple warmer helps the circulatory system and central nervous system. This will relieve tension and anxiety.


When practicing the six healing sounds, do each sound six times. Rest between each sound to allow the energy to absorb back into the body. As you are doing the sounds, visualize the organ and gently squeeze the organ mentally.



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Einstein Was Right


Albert Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” We generally live in our conditioned mind and that’s normal. But I don’t think it’s natural. The brain and the mind inside it is a survival mechanism. This conditioned mind’s job is protection. This is one of the reasons why our mind chatter is negative (when it is), because it is based in fear and self-doubt (is Mom coming back, is there something in the closet, am I loved?). So the conditioned mind is like a sentry, watching (and expecting) danger at every turn. It seems, with this conditioned mind, that we have two choices:

  • Recondition your mind with better scripts and better conditioning (I recommend Maxwell Maltz’s Pychocybernetics). Or
  • Bypass the whole fear based conditioned sentry mind and live from your higher self.


One great tool for quieting the mind’s chatter is a practice called vipassana (check out:http://www.deepspring.org/images/vipassana_instructionsJJ.pdf).Vipassana means “insight.” This gentle non-religious practice teaches you to use your breath for developing and deep and lasting pure mind. Of course, there a many other methods as well.

When you can quiet your “chattering monkey” mind you can better respond to the flow of the universe. If we think of the universe as an infinite ocean and ourselves a cup of that ocean, even though we are in the “cup” (our finite lives) we are still part and parcel of that “ocean”. How is the water taken from the ocean in the vessel of a cup different from all the other water in the ocean? We need to pierce the veil of our conditioned minds and tap into the vast universal source. The source is always there, it’s not something we need to strive for, but rather simply realize. If what you’ve been looking for is where you’ve always been looking, chances are you would have found it by now.


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