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I came across  to  this audiobook as part of a series of books I am researching on Cognitive Behavior, Neuroscience and Brain’s Neuroplasticity. It is, as the title implies,  remarkable in the frontiers of Neuroplasticity.

This is a field that really attracts me. I find everything related to how the brain works and it’s ability to change itself fascinating. I don’t just listen or read about it, I research  it and find out how I can benefit from it.  Over  the years I have been taking information from books, online articles and anything I can find about the subject. Lately, I have been implementing all this information into an action plan to enhance my brain and improve my life.

This plan includes major changes in my lifestyle from changing what I eat, how I sleep, how I spend my time and resources, to the kind of supplements I take,  the quality of material I listen to or watch on tv,  and to the kind of methods and tools I use to hack my  brain and optimize my body.

This book by Norman Doidge  M.D. is the kind of book I needed to expand my arsenal of tools to enhance my lifestyle.  I have taken several notes below, reviewing the material of the book and researching further on the techniques, methods and devices available in the field of Neuroplasticity. I am already into action, taking the next steps, setting up appointments with local centers and professionals  offering these methods.

The notes below are mine taken from the book and from their respective sources and Wikipedia. Credits to where is due and I don’t claim any of it nor I intend to violate  any rights by posting them. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s366/sh/1b869ea2-2945-454e-8e0b-21b28bf76372/7adf2bf23baea4dfe0d49519edee3252

The “Great Awakening”  is a personal journey that takes a lifetime to understand but doesn’t have to take a lifetime to become aware of it and accept.

It does requires an open mind, developed over time, not clouded with prejudice, judgements or even by our general sociocultural ideologies.

As for me, life has become brighter, optimistic and more meaningful once I became aware and open to accept it and understand it.

Read the full article by the author provided on the link below.

By Paige Bartholomew, a Licensed Psychotherapist, Sufi Master Teacher and passionate advocate for the healing of all souls.
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1) God (All That IS) is our creator.   He is pure love.  He is capable of presenting himself to humans as personal, but He is, at the same time, impersonal, eternal, and unfathomable. He is all that is in every level of existence, physical and non-physical.  God and his creation are ONE.  There is only one being here.

2) God first created humanity, then WE created the world we’re experiencing and all the drama in it. 

3) All of the world that we see is a dream. In reality, we are still with God in heaven – safe – and we are dreaming all of this.

4) Everything we experience in life is a mirror of our own inner beliefs. God does not get involved with this process. He simply allows it to happen as we dream it up.  This is the meaning of “free will”.

5) God doesn’t reward or punish us.  We do that to ourselves by judging ourselves as “good” or “bad”.  God just loves and accepts us in whatever we choose to be, think or feel.

6) Hell isn’t a place – it’s a state of mind.  It is the state of mind we go into when we veer away from the Truth. It feels bad because we (mistakenly) believe we are separate from God.

7) It’s not God’s job to make sure we feel or know him.  God is always present.  God is always revealing Himself to us.  It’s our job to open to his presence.

8)  Prayer is important, but it doesn’t work the way may have been taught.  God doesn’t grant requests.  When we pray for help from God, it opens us to be able to feel His presence.   Things change in our life when we open to His love.  

9)  God is always with us. He does not abandon us.  We are the ones who abandon God. We dream of a world that is scary and separate, forgetting we are in the arms of our beloved at all times. 

10) Just like the traditional religions teach, there are higher worlds than this one. Like the movie, Inception, these worlds look like nesting dolls – a dream within a dream within a dream. 

11)  To move on to the next world after death only takes one thing: forgiveness.  We do not have to be perfect.  We do not have to perform glorious feats of holiness.  We do not have to punish ourselves for mistakes we have made.  We must only forgive.  You’ll know when you’re doing it because you’ll feel acceptance for all things, which brings a feeling of peacefulness.  Forgiveness makes us feel peace.

http://thespiritscience.net/2015/07/12/the-11-spiritual-truths-of-an-awakened-soul/

Affirmation

When we affirm a child’s feelings, it gives them a sense of authenticity. When our children are sharing their feelings or opinions, they want us to listen to them, identify with them, and affirm them. [Tweet This] It would go something like this. Your son comes home and says, “Man! My math teacher made me so mad today, he said I wasn’t trying.” Well, your instinct might be to try to downplay the situation like this, “Oh son, he probably didn’t mean anything by it. Let it go.” Or you might say—before you even address his feelings—”Now son, were you trying? Maybe he had a point.” Or, “You’re a big boy now; you can’t get so upset about things.”

Those are all attempts to control or fix the situation. Instead try, “Son, I am so sorry that happened. How do you feel about it now?” Then just listen, let him know you understand how he’s feeling and thank him for sharing his feelings. In doing so, you are telling him that he can be real and authentic with his feelings and with you. Even when we don’t agree with our children, we can still affirm their feelings and them as individuals.

Acceptance

When you give unconditional acceptance, you give a child a sense of security. This basically comes down to one principle that must be conveyed to our children: “I don’t love you because of what you do or achieve, I love you because you’re my child.” Our love and affection should not be based on grades, behavior or achievements.

Appreciation

When we express appreciation, it gives a child a sense of significance. Appreciation is one of the most powerful motivators for right behavior in our kids. [Tweet This] So the more we “catch” our children doing things right and we express our appreciation, the more motivated they will be to behave better. You can express that appreciation by saying something like, “Thanks for telling me the truth about what happened. I know it wasn’t easy, but I really appreciate the way you are owning and taking responsibility for your actions.” Appreciation can also be expressed by writing a short note of encouragement to your child. Here are 7 Notes You Should Write to Your Child.

Applause

When we applaud our children, it gives them a sense of confidence. As parents, we sometimes get so focused on instructing and disciplining our children that we forget to applaud them. Your applause can literally be putting your hands together for your child at their recital, their game, their school. It can also be with your words. These 6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say will help you get started.  We must be bold in applauding our children.

Availability

When we are available to our children, it gives them a sense of importance. We can say all we want about how important our children are to us. But if we’re not available to them, our words will ring hollow. Sometimes, our automatic response to our kids when they approach us is, “Not right now, I’m busy.” But our children should come before our TV watching, our hobbies, and our work. So when our kids come to us, our response should be to stop, drop, and listen. Stop what we’re doing, drop to our knees, and listen to them, hug them and play with them.

Apology

When we apologize to our children, it gives them a sense of trust. Over the years, there have been many occasions that I have apologized to my wife, Susan, and our five children. Fessing up about our mistakes, confessing when we are wrong, and asking for forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of humility and strength. Trust is earned, and one way to earn the trust of my children is for them to know that I am completely trustworthy and honest. Admitting my error and apologizing for it helps earn that trust. It shows them that I’m the real deal, not a guy who always thinks he’s right.

Affection

When we show our children affection, it gives them a sense of lovability. All children want to feel like they are lovable. If they don’t get love from you, they will get it somewhere else. Here are a few things you can do to show affection. Wink at your daughter across the dinner table. Give big hugs to your son. Develop a bedtime tuck-in routine for your children. Hold your daughter’s hand. Have a special nickname for each of your kids. Wrestle with them on the floor. Give them piggyback rides.

Accountability

When we hold children accountable, it gives them a sense of responsibility and self-control. Children need the disciplines of responsibility and self-control to function successfully in life. As parents, we mustcreate rules and boundaries for our children. Once those guidelines are set, we must be consistent in enforcing them.

http://www.markmerrill.com/8-as-of-effective-parenting?utm_term=markmerrill&utm_campaign=MM+Blog+Post&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20303082&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–U3dG8DxXpldH3cc1S78YdyC75sJkcFSD3Kdt4btP5KucNViSD7GT3NRcAdBJrbJrkGi6NpsQ3bk5mzoAThTwpBwevDQ&_hsmi=20303082

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Here is a good source of mindfulness scripts to help you practice mindfulness whether doing it for yourself or helping someone else.

Mindfulness can be challenging in the beginning but it doesn’t  have to be.  The key is not to have any expectations but to let it happen by practicing every day . Start with few minutes each morning  before even getting out of bed. Later you can add it to your daily schedule,  5 minutes at a time. Be consistent and soon you’ll realize that it has become part of you. This is a great habit to develop for overall wellbeing.

Rememeber….” if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

http://mindfulnesshamilton.ca/meditation-scripts

Into the rabbit’s hole: sensory deprivation chamber is one of my favorite ways to unwind from the ouside world and into my own world.
There are many benefits of using these chambers but in essence,  you’re temporarily disconnecting yourself from the environment  and connecting with your inner self. Two major senses are turned off for a while, sight and sound. The chamber is designed to be somewhat soundproof; when you float, you’re listening to your own breathing, your heart beat and sometimes even your digestive system at work. The chamber or tank is completely dark and you won’t be able to see a thing even with eyes open. So, it is best to keep them comfortably shut. Best feature of this chamber is the floating, your body is not subject to gravity and free to roam the chamber. Combine all three, it makes a Zen experience.

Not all chambers/tanks are created equal and it all depends the place you visit. Some tanks will offer dim light , if you’re claustrophobic,  others soothing sounds but for me, dark and soundless please.

There are few things you should know before “diving” into the hole.

You’re floating in hundreds of pounds of  salt (epson salt), so you don’t  want to touch your eyes or any orifice for that matter. It is recommended not to use the chamber if you recently shave or have any open wounds.  Remember salt!

A more important  note, make sure you go to the bathroom before you enter the chamber. You will be inside for a period of 60 to 90 minutes so,  you have been warned!

If you’re asking yourself ” wow, 60- 90 minutes?” and don’t think you can handle it, guess  what the outcome might be? Best is not to think about it. You will know when your time is up by the sound of music, a dim light turning on or if you’re still not sure, the circulation pump will turn on automatically.  So no worries float-naut, enjoy the experience.

If you’re still thinking what to do during all that time with yourself,  alone, naked floating in the dark,  I have some suggestions for you.

First, don’t float thinking you will do this thing first and then do that. This is time for yourself, just relax and everything will unfold as it should. If you’re ever in doubt,  the best thing to start is by just breathing and relaxation.

Float-nauts beware: this is not the place to worry about your past, present circumstances and your uncertain future. You will not last longer as anxiety will creep up and you want to get out.
This is a place to breathe, relax and be mindful of what’s going on inside you. Whatever comes to mind, let it be. Soon, you’ll get the hang on this and will enjoy it.

Breathing:

Nose breathing – breathing in and out through your nose

Buteyko method -keep mouth close and using the minimum amount to breathe. Start with 5-10 seconds of minimal breathing  and then increase to 30 or more. This is gradual so don’t expect to do one minute the first time.

Systema breathing, belly breathingdiaphragmatic breathing– consciously breathing through nose filling up the belly and exhaling through your mouth.

Breath holds- inhale, hold breath 5 to 10 seconds and slowly exhale.

Relaxation :

Tension/relaxation– inhale tense a body oart, exhale fully relax. Alternate body parts ( lower body, upper body , specific body part, etc.)
Body extension – with the breath, extend through fingertips or toes. Like stretching.

Yogic poses or mudras– go creative here, no specifics. If you have experienced with mudras (gestures or positions) go for it. Nothing fancy, crossing fingers over chest or belly or behind neck will do. The universal OM mudra works well too.
As for yoga poses, try stretching like you would on the ground to open hi/pelvis, etc. It doesn’t  matter if you touch walls or bottom of the chamber. Explore and discover ways to find relaxation.

Train your Kegel muscles, the love muscles . Yep, try it.

Vocalizing breath– tune into your own frequency.  Try vocalizing OM sound with your mouth close. It wil have a tremendous vibrating effect while in the chamber that you can only feel ( and hear).

Body rotations. Like I said above, explore the bounderies of your chamber. No splashing though…remember salt! Do smooth transitions without splashing water or creating waves.

Meditation or prayer– you will have time for this, don’t rush it. It will come to you. Think gratitude,  think in the now. Not the past, not the future and NOT in your problems. I use this time to assess my current situation with a sense of gratitude without judgement and make plans for the immediately future. That is, what I’m going to do once I leave the chamber.

Sleep– it does happens, though it’s a bit tricky. I often find myself waking up as if I’m at the edge of a cliff about to fall over. Obviously you don’t want to turn to your side inside of the chamber but if your body naturally rolls over when you’re sleep, this may happen inside the chamber.

If at any point you get water in the face, STOP. Raise your upper body to a vertical position and carefully wipe the sides of the face, close to the nose away from your eyes, but whatever you do….DO NOT touch your eyes.

These suggestions are just a few.  You can create your own experience for a relaxing and mindfulness float.

If you’re still not sure, again don’t worry.  Your float guide will help you in the induction process.
There is much to gain by trying the sensory deprivation chamber, so go on my friend float and I’ll see you on the other side.

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I’m facinated about how my brain works. It is a personal journey  I have taken on for a while, researching information about neurotransmitters and how influences the brain at the cellular level. I experiment with my findings and incorporate them in my daily life.
The subject of neuroplasticity is extensive yet still we know so little about it.  Enjoy this cool infographic. It’s very informative  and should motivate you to explore more about it.

This Nifty Infographic Is a Great Introduction to Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Therapy

by Robert Montenegro

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/this-nifty-infographic-is-a-great-introduction-to-neuroplasticity

Top photo credit: Jezper / Shutterstock

The Willpower Instinct

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Willpower Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal. Let’s go deep into willpower to see if there’s validity on its truth on whether I’m powerless over my weaknesses  or just plain excuse to justify my addictive personality. Actually  BOTH!

Things to consider:

Commitment instead of progress. “Why am I doing this?”

Self indulgence is self sabotage

Remember the WHY as in WHY I’m doing this.

Instant gratification or long term reward?

Moral- licensing : justifying or saying that it’s right or ok to do something despite of knowing that is not by comparing with something else that feels right

Delayed gratification

Mandatory 10 minutes rule to curb temptation.  When the need to self, imidiate gratification arises,  wait 10 minutes and ask the question of wanting it again afterwards.

1. Ask yourself weather what I’m going to do now will have repercussions in the future?

2.  Is it worth it instant gratification now or should I wait for the big reward later?

3. will all be happy with this decision in the future?

Think current happiness? Over long term rewards?

Giving in? Or sticking out?

Reframe the situation and  outcome. Is this your spending in or investing in?

Burn the ship- the Cortez tale . When Cortez sailed to conquer new lands, he burned his ships to send a message to his men that there will be no turning back. Only going forward. Keep in mind for goal setting and determination.

Mandatory 10 minutes delay. See your  future self… it’s neither a stranger nor a superhero. It’s still your present you!

Concentrate on positive actions of what I want and not what I don’t want. Enable positive talk rather than prohibition or can’t do or have talk.

Surfing the urge. A skill that builds overtime.  Feel it but don’t automatically give in. Ride the urge, feeling all the sensations when temptations or cravings come in. Be aware, accept what’s happening.

1. Wait, stay put, sense the craving before acting out.
2. Breathe
3. Ask what I really want at the end

The foundation of self control:

1.Self awareness
2.Self care
3.Remembering  what matters most

It’s impossible to prevent what comes into our mind. All we can do is to chose what to believe we can do.

What is happening in my environment that is shaping my behavior? Ads, marketing trends, tv, people, peer pressure?

New Willpower definition: self awareness is the one step I can always count on to help me deal with what is difficult and what matters most.

Check out The Willpower Instinct on hoopla digital.
https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11212837 #hoopladigital

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When you understand how neural pathways are created in the brain, you get a front row seat for truly comprehending how to let go of habits. Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. You travel over the superhighway many times, and the pathway becomes more and more solid. You may go to a specific food or cigarettes for comfort over and over, and that forms a brain pathway. The hopeful fact, however, is that the brain is always changing and you can forge new pathways and create new habits. That’s called the neuroplasticity of the brain.

I used to drive with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, and I wanted to train myself to drive with one foot only. It took some time, as I had a strong neural pathway for two-footed driving. But because I had the will to do it, I built a new pathway, and I rewired or reprogrammed my brain. You can remove a behavior or thought or addictions directly from the brain.

Because of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ever-changing potentials, anything is possible. People who’ve had strokes can retrain their brains to function again by building new pathways. Smokers and overeaters and many others can learn new behaviors and attitudes and can transform their lives.

Whether you work with others on their habits or you work with your own (or both), you can apply these understandings to boost your success.

Some Powerful Ways to Retrain the Brain

1. Identity the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.

You may remember the punch line “The light bulb has to want to change.”  You have to have a high intention to change as well. If there is this high intention, then creating new pathways in your brain is bound to happen.

2. Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.

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Look at feelings, thoughts, and how the body is responding to the habit, and see what results you’re creating in your life. Be the witness, and  be aware.

3. Shift your focus.

This is very important. To create a new neural pathway, you take the focus off the old habit, and then that old habit eventually falls away. Don’t pay attention to the donuts and cakes. Take your awareness and focus it on good, wholesome, healthy delicious foods.

4. Use your imagination.

You can build new neural pathways not only with new behaviors, but through the imagination. Just imagine the new behaviors over and over and over. Keep repeating that in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

Say “no” or “cancel” when an old thought or impulse comes in, and say, “I don’t have to do that anymore.” Then turn toward the new neural pathway you’re building and keep on going in the right direction.

6. Use aversion therapy.

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an optional path. I like to call it “the maggots on the chocolate cake technique.” I used to love candies and sweets, and when I stopped eating them, I still had to pass by them when I walked by the candy store in town. I used aversion to train my brain to walk on by: “That’s junk,” I said to myself. “It’s made in factories, sickeningly sweet, makes me feel bad. The company makes it so sweet just to addict buyers. I don’t want any of that.” So I talk myself out of it. I’ve use it with many clients (only those who say they want it) on smoking, junk food, cocaine and many other behaviors.

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

When you get specific, it’s easier to build new neural pathways. You “make it official.”  Decide if you want to exercise instead of overeating or if you want to eat fruit instead of candy. Just keep focused on the new choice.  You may want to create affirmations and anchors to reinforce your choices. This can be “I’m free or “I’m in control.” Reinforce this with energy therapies like EFT or other techniques.

8. Transform the obstacles.

Look at what’s in the way. Look at secondary gain – what you’ve been getting out of the old habits or pathways. Look at the stress in your life and how you can handle it differently. Get your mind in the place of possibility. Handle the emotions and thoughts and get on a new superhighway in your mind.

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

Listen to our guidance. Know you have the Force within you, and therefore you have great power. Meditation creates new pathways and brain changes. Actual studies have been done on the brains of monks to show meditation’s effect on neural circuits of the brain.

10. Transform and make the shift.

Know that transformation is always possible and that you can create new brain pathways whenever you’re ready to make the shift. When you keep your mind in the “I can do it!” space, you get a clear sense that you’re done with the old and on a new beam now.

Some people feel we’re being rewired spiritually for anew era. There’s great upheaval now in our world. And there’s a process of transformation happening on earth in which huge changes are taking place for all of humanity. You have to be present in the moment, overcome your fears, and get to know the Infinite source so you can be a vehicle for the light to predominate on the earth.

Credits: www.marilyngordon.com

Via: http://themindunleashed.org/2014/03/train-brain-let-go-habits-10-methods-creating-new-neural-pathways.html#

Love Your Wife.
Actively loving your wife is incredibly beneficial to your children. The number one source of security for kids is when they know that their dad loves their mom and is committed to her for life.

And remember that your spouse is not the enemy. You are on the same team. When my wife, Susan, and I have disagreements over things like disciplining our children or finances, she’ll often say to me, “Remember, I’m on your team.” Marriage is the ultimate team sport. You and your spouse were designed to complete each other, not compete with each other.

If you are not married to your child’s mother, your patience and kindness towards her are still crucial to your kids.

2. Spend Time with Your Kids.
How you spend your time is a reflection of what’s important to you. You value your kids by being with them and making memories that will last a lifetime. As my five kids were growing up, I tried to be intentional about spending one-on-one time with each of them doing things that they enjoyed. I often put those times on my calendar as very important appointments. Remember, it’s not just about quality time; it’s about quantity time.

3. Be a Role Model.
I cannot overstate the importance of a father modeling the type of behavior he desires in his children. Role models don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk of honor. Want to be your children’s hero? Then be what you want your children to be.  These 5 Ways Parents Can Be a Role Model for Kids will help you be a good model for your kids to follow.

4. Understand and Enjoy Your Children.
Like you, every child has unique DNA, unique fingerprints, and a unique personality. In order to be the best father you can be, you’ll need to understand your children as individuals and learn to show them you appreciate what makes them unique. Take note of what each of your children needs from you the most. One may need encouragement. Another may respond better with affection. Kids grow up quickly, so just enjoy being with them.

5. Show Affection.
Children long for a secure place in this fast-paced world. They find it most often in the warm embrace of a parent. As children grow, so does their need for acceptance and a sense of belonging. Dads meet that need in a way no one else can when he offers a hug or a kind word, and expresses his appreciation and love for his children. If nothing else, make sure to say, “I love you” every day.

6. Secure Your Family’s Financial Future.
Financial stress is one of the leading factors that tears families apart. In order to put your family in a position of strength, you have to shore up your finances. First, hate debt. Do everything you can to get out of it as quickly as possible. Then, make sure you establish a budget that not only trims expenses but also allows you to save and share with those in need. Have proper insurance. Finally, make sure you live and teach these frugal principles to your children as well.

7. Eat Together as a Family.
Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinnertime. Yet the communication and unity built during this time is integral to a healthy family life. Sharing a meal together—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—provides structure to an often hectic schedule. It also gives kids the opportunity to talk about their lives. This is a time for fathers to listen as well as give advice and encouragement.

8. Discipline with a Gentle Spirit.
True discipline is a function of a father’s love for his children, which is why it should never be hard-nosed or harsh. The goal of discipline is not to intimidate or tear down, but to mold and correct. Correcting your kids should be done in private, and you and your wife should be unified in how you discipline. Strive to be consistent.

9. Pray and Worship Together.
Families that have a healthy prayer life and take worshiping God seriously help their children understand that there is an ultimate authority in their lives—an authority who loves them and who provides moral absolutes for them to live by. Every child needs to know that there is right and wrong, good and evil. Living under the authority of God will give them that knowledge.

10. Realize You’re a Father Forever.
Someday every father must let go. As he allows his children their freedom to direct their own lives, a good father realizes that he doesn’t abandon them at a dorm room, a wedding altar, or the door of their first job. He continues to love, encourage, coach, and convey his wisdom to his children forever.

http://www.markmerrill.com/10-essentials-for-the-successful-dad/

“the most important battle is to overcome yourself”- Myamoto Musashi

The key is to stay calm in the face of fear and to do that you must have a sense of control…self control.

Actions are determined by emotions/feelings and these by what we. encounter everyday in our lives.

Preparation: physical training as well as psychological. Creating situational awareness to our surroundings , visualizing scenarios of what could go wrong, ways to anticipate a situation and formulating an action plan.

This rehearsal will prompt the mind to act instead of reacting in a real experience , staying calm and with a sense of control in the situation.

http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/02/samurai/

http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/02/samurai/

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