Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Some people give love. Others receive love. The ones who truly win at life embrace love wholly, at all times. If you are able to embrace love in how you view the world and present it in everything you do, you'll open yourself up to heal the most important areas of your life.
Dr David Hawkins

Monday, 29 November 2010

Repulse the Monkey

Here is Simon's Repulse the monkey for Aine sorry I took so long to post it.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Fascinated by machinery, a Japanese farmer bought a big foreign tractor to grow his corn and apples in northern Japan. Thirty years ago he had a conversion, however, to growing organically, a conversion that involved learning about sharing, about participating in nature's gift economy. Below is one of his experiences. ]

The giant tractor transformed the overgrown waste land into fields at an amazing speed. The power was sensational. Neat fields of corn of the sort found in those foreign magazines appeared amongst the dense thickets. They were the Honey Bantam variety. It was probably thanks to the fertile soil that they grew so well.

However, he was troubled by the damage caused by racoon dogs. Just when they were ready to be harvested, the plump sweet corn was ravaged.

‘I placed traps in several places around the fields, but ended up trapping a young raccoon dog. The mother stayed next to it, and didn’t run away when I approached. When I tried reaching out to release the trap, the young raccoon dog bared its teeth and got really upset. It seems harsh, but I held its head down with my rubber boot as I released it from the trap. It didn’t run away though. Right in front me, the mother started licking the young one’s wounded leg. Seeing that, I felt I’d committed an awful crime.

I told them ‘Stop eating our corn!’. But then I started leaving small piles of second-rate corn around the edges of the fields. When you produce corn you end up with quite a bit of corn that looks something like my toothless mouth. They’re not good enough to sell. I left it all. The next morning when I went to the fields, they’d completely disappeared. But the raccoon dogs had caused no other damage at all. So at harvest time I decided to stop using the traps and put out the cobs with kernels missing. After that, damage by the raccoon dogs stopped almost completely. So I figured that farmers suffer this sort of damage because they take everything. That was what came to mind. After all, we’d turned what used to belong to the raccoon dogs into fields. I worried that if I actually fed them, the raccoon dogs would end up being even more bother, but that didn’t happen. Which I thought was strange. I suppose you could say that my eyes were opened to the mysteries of nature. Anyway, I realized that nature didn’t work in the way that most people thought. This was probably the turning point as far as my ideas about so-called ‘efficient’ agriculture were concerned.

--Akinori Kimura

Monday, 22 November 2010

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
--Mark Twain

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thanks to Michael for withdraw and push and crossing hands the last postures of this introductory form. Enjoy your practice !

Withdraw and Push (1) from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tai Chi warm-ups

Here again is the first lesson of the introductory tai chi form.

Introductory Taichi Form from Heartworker on Vimeo.

" We think differently from all other creatures on earth, and we can share these thoughts with one another in ways that no other species even approaches . . . We alone brood over what didn't happen, and spend a large part of each day musing about the way things could have been if events had turned out differently. And we alone ponder what it would be like not to be. . . No other species on earth seems to be able to follow us into this miraculous place." Terrance Deacon ( What wonderfully amazing creatures we are !)

Monday, 8 November 2010

The number 1 best way to exercise your brain.
Faith. No matter what choice we make concerning our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we will never know for certain if we are absolutely correct in our beliefs. We can make educated guesses about the world, but some degree of uncertainty will always remain. We can't even trust our eyes when it comes to something as obvious as color, because color doesn't exist in the world.Light waves exist, but we can't see them at all. Color is a product of our imagination, and so is our perception of the world.To believe in anything we have to rely on faith. None of us can be certain if we have made the "right" decision ,especially when it comes to dealing with abstract concepts like justice, fairness, or moral ideals. If we don't have faith that we are making the best decisions we can then we will be swallowed up in doubt. And doubt at least as far as your brain is concerned, is a precarious state in which to live.
Recently, a team of National Institutes of Health concluded that " a moderate optimistic illusion " appears to be neurologically essential for maintaining motivation and good mental health. They also found that highly optimistic people had greater activation in (anterior cingulate) the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by meditation.
Faith is essential for maintaining a healthy brain,but if you exclude exercise and companionship, you are going to cripple your health. So why not nurture all three. Meditation seems to be the best way to make spiritual values neurologically real. Meditation undermined the everyday doubts and anxiety we all harbor when we reach for new goals and ideals. In other words meditation will strengthen your faith - in yourself, in people, and in God

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The 2nd best way to exercise your brain.
Dialogue with others. Language and the human brain coevolved with each other, allowing us to excel over many of the physical and mental skills of other mammals and primates. If we don't exercise our language skills large portions of the brain will not effectively interconnect with other neural structures. Dialogue requires social interaction , and the more social ties we have, the less our cognitive abilities will decline. In fact, any form of social isolation will damage important mechanisms in the brain leading to aggression, depression, and various neuropsychiatric disorders. Just don't let yourself get trapped in angry dialogue as irritable conversation will do considerable damage to your brain. Instead talk about abstract ideals like harmony and peace. Ask what your neighbor thinks of evolution and the Big Bang !

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The 3'rd best way to exercise your brain.
Aerobic Exercise. Vigorous exercise strengthens every part of the brain, as well as what it is connected the- the body. If you are between the ages of eighteen and ninety, exercise is going to lengthen your life. How much should you exercise ? In general the more intense the better but it is important to find the "right" amount of exercise that feels the best for you.
Exercise can be viewed as a form of meditation because it involves sustained concentration and deliberate regulation of body movements and breathing. Studies have shown that it enhanses relaxation and spiritual well-being.
Meditative exercises such as tai chi and yoga do wonders for your body and brain.They have similar cognitive benefits to other forms of contemplative meditation, and in recent research it was shown that these exercises can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, help control the symptoms of diabetes, reduce chronic back pain, and prevent the onslaught of migraine headaches.
All forms of exercise enhance neural performance and rebuild damaged circuits caused by brain lesions and strokes. Exercise improves cognition and and academic performance. It repairs and protects you from the neurological damage caused by stress. It enhances brain plasticity. It boosts immune function. It reduces anxiety. It can be used to treat clinical depression, and it is just as effective as antidepressants. In fact for older patients , exercise is equivalent to twelve sessions of psychodynamic psychotherapy. It slows down loss of brain tissue as you age, protects you from Alzheimer's disease, and reduces your vulnerability to chronic illness.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The 4'th best way to exercise your brain.
Meditate .
"I wish I could say that meditation and intensive prayer were number one, because that's where our research has been focused. However when it comes to enhancing spiritual experiences, it certainly takes first place. If you stay in a contemplative state for twenty minutes to an hour, (practicing tai chi) your experiences will tend to feel more real, affecting your nervous system in ways that enhance physical and emotional health. Antistress hormones and neurochemicals are released throughout the body, as well as pleasure-enhancing and depression-decreasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Even ten to fifteen minutes of meditation (tai chi) seem to have significantly positive effects on cognition, relaxation, ans psychological health, and it has been shown to reduce smoking and binge-drinking behavior.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The 5'th best way to exercise your brain. Yawning !
Here is an article on yawning I posted last year.
Laugh if you want (though you’ll benefit your brain more if you smile), but in my professional opinion, yawning is one of the best-kept secrets in neuroscience. Even my colleagues who are researching meditation, relaxation, and stress reduction at other universities have overlooked this powerful neural-enhancing tool. However, yawning has been used for many decades in voice therapy as an effective means for reducing performance anxiety and hypertension in the throat.

Several recent brain-scan studies have shown that yawning evokes a unique neural activity in the areas of the brain that are directly involved in generating social awareness and creating feelings of empathy. One of those areas is the precuneus, a tiny structure hidden within the folds of the parietal lobe. According to researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London, the precuneus appears to play a central role in consciousness, self-reflection, and memory retrieval. The precuneus is also stimulated by yogic breathing, which helps explain why different forms of meditation contribute to an increased sense of self-awareness. It is also one of thought possible that deliberate yawning may actually strengthen this important part of the brain.

For these reasons I believe that yawning should be integrated into exercise and stress reduction programs, cognitive and memory enhancement training, psychotherapy, and contemplative spiritual practice. And, because the precuneus has recently been associated with the mirror-neuron system in the brain (which allows us to resonate to the feelings and behaviors of others), yawning may even help us to enhance social awareness, compassion, and effective communication with others.

Why am I so insistent? Because if I were to ask you to put this magazine down right now and yawn 10 times to experience this fabulous technique, you probably won’t do it. Even at seminars, after presenting the overwhelmingly positive evidence, when I ask people to yawn, half of the audience will hesitate. I have to coax them so they can feel the immediate relaxing effects. There’s an unexplained stigma in our society implying that it’s rude to yawn, and most of us were taught this when we were young.

As a young medical student, I was once “caught” yawning and actually scolded by my professor. He said that it was inappropriate to appear tired in front of patients, even though I was actually standing in a hallway outside of the patient’s room. Indeed, yawning does increase when you’re tired, and it may be the brain’s way of gently telling you that a little rejuvenating sleep is needed. On the other hand, exposure to light will also make you yawn, suggesting that it is part of the process of waking up.

But yawning doesn’t just relax you—it quickly brings you into a heightened state of cognitive awareness. Students yawn in class, not because the teacher is boring (although that will make you yawn as well, as you try to stay focused on the monotonous speech), but because it rids the brain of sleepiness, thus helping you stay focused on important concepts and ideas. It regulates consciousness and our sense of self, and helps us become more introspective and self-aware. Of course, if you happen to find yourself trapped in a room with a dull, boring, monotonous teacher, yawning will help keep you awake.

Yawning will relax you and bring you into a state of alertness faster than any other meditation technique I know of, and because it is neurologically contagious, it’s particularly easy to teach in a group setting. One of my former students used yawning to bring her argumentative board of directors back to order in less than 60 seconds. Why? Because it helps people synchronize their behavior with others.

Yawning, as a mechanism for alertness, begins within the first 20 weeks after conception. It helps regulate the circadian rhythms of newborns, and this adds to the evidence that yawning is involved in the regulation of wakefulness and sleep. Since circadian rhythms become asynchronous when a person’s normal sleep cycle is disturbed, yawning should help the late-night partygoer reset the brain’s internal clock. Yawning may also ward off the effects of jet lag and ease the discomfort caused by high altitudes.

So what is the underlying mechanism that makes yawning such an essential tool? Besides activating the precuneus, it regulates the temperature and metabolism of your brain. It takes a lot of neural energy to stay consciously alert, and as you work your way up the evolutionary ladder, brains become less energy efficient. Yawning probably evolved as a way to cool down the overly active mammalian brain, especially in the areas of the frontal lobe. Some have even argued that it is a primitive form of empathy. Most vertebrates yawn, but it is only contagious among humans, great apes, macaque monkeys, and chimpanzees. In fact, it’s so contagious for humans that even reading about it will cause a person to yawn.

Dogs yawn before attacking, Olympic athletes yawn before performing, and fish yawn before they change activities. Evidence even exists that yawning helps individuals on military assignment perform their tasks with greater accuracy and ease. Indeed, yawning may be one of the most important mechanisms for regulating the survival-related behaviors in mammals. So if you want to maintain an optimally healthy brain, it is essential that you yawn. It is true that excessive yawning can be a sign that an underlying neurological disorder (such as migraine, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or drug reaction) is occurring. However, I and other researchers suspect that yawning may be the brain’s attempt to eliminate symptoms by readjusting neural functioning.

Numerous neurochemicals are involved in the yawning experience, including dopamine, which activates oxytocin production in your hypothalamus and hippocampus, areas essential for memory recall, voluntary control, and temperature regulation. These neurotransmitters regulate pleasure, sensuality, and relationship bonding between individuals, so if you want to enhance your intimacy and stay together, then yawn together. Other neurochemicals and molecules involved with yawning include acetylcholine, nitric oxide, glutamate, GABA, serotonin, ACTH, MSH, sexual hormones, and opium derivate peptides. In fact, it’s hard to find another activity that positively influences so many functions of the brain.

My advice is simple. Yawn as many times a day as possible: when you wake up, when you’re confronting a difficult problem at work, when you prepare to go to sleep, and whenever you feel anger, anxiety, or stress. Yawn before giving an important talk, yawn before you take a test, and yawn while you meditate or pray because it will intensify your spiritual experience.

Conscious yawning takes a little practice and discipline to get over the unconscious social inhibitions, but people often come up with three other excuses not to yawn: “I don’t feel like it,” “I’m not tired,” and my favorite, “I can’t.” Of course you can. All you have to do to trigger a deep yawn is to fake it six or seven times. Try it right now, and you should discover by the fifth false yawn, a real one will begin to emerge. But don’t stop there, because by the tenth or twelfth yawn, you’ll feel the power of this seductive little trick. Your eyes may start watering and your nose may begin to run, but you’ll also feel utterly present, incredibly relaxed, and highly alert. Not bad for something that takes less than a minute to do. And if you find that you can’t stop yawning—I’ve seen some people yawn for thirty minutes—you’ll know that you’ve been depriving yourself of an important neurological treat.
Andrew Newburg is director of Penn’s Center for Spirituality and the Mind.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The 6'th best way to exercise your brain.

Consciously relax, this does not mean taking a nap, or assuming the position of a couch potato in front of a television set. I'm talking deliberately scanning each part of your body to reduce muscle tension and physical fatigue.( Actually why not do that right now, while you're reading allow yourself to become aware of some part of your body that feels tense, welcome that feeling of tension and become curious about it, how does it feel, melt right into the tension, spend a few moments in that feeling. Now pay attention to a part of your body that feels soft open and relaxed, welcome the feeling of relaxation, become curious about it , how exactly does it feel, allow yourself to melt right into that sense of relaxation. Repeat this exercise two more times, by the time you have done this you will feel very relaxed.)

Simple , repetitive activities that are pleasurable and meaningful can also take you into a deep state of relaxation (T'ai Chi). In a recent study it was found that the ritual practice of counting rosaries lowers tension , stress and anxiety. Relaxation does much more than relieve body tension; it interrupts the brain's release of stress-stimulating neurochemicals . Lowering stress reduces heart disease, high blood pressure and pain.

Coincidentally Alice lives at No.6. Amazing woman.