September 17, 2017
I bet I caught your eye with that photo…it probably reminded you of all the times you’ve heard or seen an emergency vehicle and without even thinking about it pulled over to the side of the road in order to let it pass as easily as possible.
Turns out that sirens and flashing lights are actually patterns “expressly designed to make it very difficult for the parts of the brain that process sight and sound to ignore” according to Kitty Chisholm, a British coach, expert on the neuro-psychological basis of behavior change, and author of the new book “Neuroscience for Leadership.”
But why do you think we need all of those really loud sirens and flashing lights in order to capture our attention lightning-fast in an emergency?
It's because in general we're a nation that's gotten pretty good at NOT paying attention (because we're really good at multitasking which means we have to semi-ignore lots of things in order to do a lot of things at once.)
That’s actually a bit scary, wouldn’t you agree? But there is hope.
I recently watched Kitty’s TEDxLondonBusinessSchool talk entitled “Pay attention: you can change your brain” and it was FASCINATING! Here are the highlights:
· Attention is like the conductor for a whole series of neural synapses and pathways in the brain…it’s the mechanism through which the brain focuses resources so if you can direct your attention you're directing which part of your brain gets the largest portion of resources.
· Why is that important? Because the brain is both highly resourceful and result-oriented so different parts of the brain compete in order to do anything.
· And we’ve learned all this through two studies:
1. An experiment in which monkeys received a reward when they pushed a particular lever. At first, the part of the monkey's brain that controlled the lever-pushing finger developed more neurons and neural pathways…eventually, however, the part of the monkey’s brain that heard a particular sound he was beginning to associate with the reward PRIOR to actually pushing the lever developed more neurons and neural pathways.
2. And brain scans of London taxi drivers revealed that the part of the brain they used to listen to passengers and navigate traffic was very highly developed UNTIL THEY STOPPED DRIVING CABS FOR A LIVING, then that part of the brain returned to normal size.
· The bottom line is that the human brain is trainable from the moment we're born to the moment we die…all that's required for brain growth at any age is to practice paying attention and finding something to practice paying attention to is EASY as long as you feel passionate about it (otherwise you’ll never stick to it.)
· And it turns out that practicing meditation is one of the easiest way to practice paying attention.
The only problem is that for most people meditating while sitting still is REALLY difficult so becoming passionate about it is about the last thing that’ll ever happen, right?!
So if you’ve ever wanted to meditate but decided it simply wasn’t your thing, consider trying T’ai Chi Chih which is often referred to as “joy through movement.” Just one of the reasons why practicing T’ai Chi Chih can be profound for so many people is because it’s movement-based and EASY which, to a brain that really wants to meditate but simply can’t figure out how to get passionate about it, translates to FUN (and simply enjoying something is, of course, the first step towards becoming passionate!)
Sound good? Then don’t delay (my next classes are right around the corner)… click here for info on 3 classes at 2 locations. I’m also teaching another very special class at the beautiful Mt Cuba Center…I’m not advertising this class on my website so click https://education.mtcubacenter.org/wconnect/CourseStatus.awp?&course=174WEL202&Publish=ANYWAY for complete info and to register. Still have questions? Click here to watch a couple of short videos and all will become clear.
But don’t go anywhere just yet…I have a few more thoughts that really deserve your attention!
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to think clearly when you’re loaded up on over-processed food? Brain chemistry simply doesn’t run smoothly when you’re malnourished which is oddly true more often than not in this country…a LARGE majority of us are overweight AND malnourished (a situation that has NEVER happened before in human history!)
The food you eat is like fuel for your car: you can put old fashioned leaded gas in a brand new car but you can’t expect the car to run properly, right? So eating over-processed, nutrient-deficient food is simply instructing your brain not to function at its best.
But before you start feeling brain damaged just thinking about overhauling your entire diet try one simple trick: EAT MORE VEGGIES!
Why? Because every major world health organization (including THE World Health Organization) now recommends that we eat 9-13 servings of fresh whole produce EVERY DAY just to MAINTAIN our health. In fact there’s actually a growing body of evidence to suggest that consuming EVEN MORE than the daily recommendation of vegetables and fruits improves health WITHOUT LIMIT…in other words, the more fresh whole produce you eat the healthier you’ll be. Let’s face it, eating more fresh veggies makes sense on every level but here’s one more really relevant reason why you should: you’ll not only think more clearly but YOU’LL FEEL GREAT (and, of course, feeling great when you eat healthy food is the first step towards becoming passionate about healthy food!)
But does 9-13 servings of veggies a day sound like an unattainable goal? Think again my friend and try a Paleo diet…click here for more info on my next PALEO MADE PRACTICAL class (but again, don’t delay…classes fill up QUICKLY!) and find out for yourself how EASY it is to think more clearly while improving your mood, your sleep, your relationship with food, your health (and your weight just as a side effect) in no time flat!