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3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

    We are a few weeks into 2012 now and some of us that made New Year’s resolutions have discovered that in our zeal to achieve change, we have created resolutions that have us feeling too constrained. For most people however, success lies in practicing a balanced approach to life.

    Finding balance means adopting the path less travelled, and rethinking arbitrarily determined timelines in favour of creating our own timelines and strategies —  that work for ourselves.  And for some of us, that also means rethinking the whole idea of “cleanses” and austerity as penance for excess, instead embracing a few simple pleasures that can bring us a little bit of joy throughout the entire year.

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    I’m here to tell you that a little tipple can help you do that! Keep the following 3 things in mind to help you drink your way to a more balanced you.

    Think of cocktails and spirits as a health tonic

    Many of the spirits and liqueurs we enjoy today were originally concocted as health tonics. And the ingredients that give them their distinct flavour profiles also have healing properties. For example, gin was originally distilled in the 1500’s as a means of making the benefits of juniper berries widely available to the masses. Chartreuse, containing 130 herbs, was created by monks in the 1600s as a health tonic. All of the Italian amaros, incluing Fernet Branca, and Campari, were originally consumed as digestifs, intended to promote optimal digestion. And Cognac, was actually available during prohibition by prescription.

    While this may seem far-fetched, consider that herbalists creating healing tinctures use 80 proof alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of the herbs they prescribe.

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    Quality over quantity

    While it often goes without saying that moderation is the key to a healthy, happy existence, I’m going to say it anyway. Deprivation is the surest route to “falling off the wagon” of our well-meant resolutions. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of the binge/abstain cycle is to invest a few extra dollars or time in a better quality of beverage.

    For those also resolved to reign in their spending in 2012, the good news is that finding a good quality spirit or wine does not mean having to lay out $100 for a bottle of single malt. There are bargains to be had if you are willing to look at alternatives. If you enjoy single malt scotch, for example, but find it too spendy for your pocketbook, try a bourbon or an aged rum for less than half the price.

    You will get all the enjoyment of sipping on a nuanced beverage, without the sticker shock.

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    Pick your potion

    With so many lifestyle and health-related diets out there these days, finding a spirit that is “allowed” on many of these diets leaves many people opting out altogether (see the reference above to deprivation). Whether you are on a Paleo diet, or a slow-carb diet, or a gluten-free diet, there is a quality beverage for you out there.

    For those looking to minimize their grain intake, the good news is that a quality spirit is far better than beer, and there are more microdistillers experimenting with creating spirits from fruit. Red wine is better on the carb front than white wine. And remember that organizations such as the Celiac Association are working at the local level with wine and spirits purveyors to research and educate about gluten-free options.

    Picking your potion does not need to be a complicated affair, instead it’s a matter of being more mindful about what we consume.

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    Conclusion

    I wish you well in 2012, and raise a glass to all of you seeking balance in your lives. Remember to consider the health benefits of a life well-lived. A moment of reflection while sipping a delicious beverage, or connecting in the evening with your spouse over a glass of wine, may have more benefits than you think!

    (Photo credit: Bottles of spirits and liquor at the bar via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on June 20, 2019

    Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

    Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

    There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

    More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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    Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

    You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

    During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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    Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

    Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

    The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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    This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

    Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

    The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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    This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

    This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

    Conclusion

    While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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    Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

    Reference

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