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A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind

A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind


    The human mind is always talking, especially in the conscious state, when you are awake. The average human being breathes around 21,600 times in twenty-four hours. And in those twenty four hours, an average person goes through sixty thousand thoughts. Thoughts reveal the human mind’s talkative nature, developed over millions of years of evolution.

    Meditation is the art, the science, of quieting your mind. However, a great number of meditators will quit meditation at the early stages — before they can even gain any tangible benefits from meditation. There are certain practices that can help a meditator develop their meditation skills. Such practices that help them not only meditate flawlessly, but also experience greater peace and joy in life.

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    One such practice is called mauna. It means “to observe silence”. It is in silence alone that one is able to examine the drift of one’s thoughts. It is easier to realize the talkative nature of mind while observing silence. Quietude of the speech is merely one type of silence; the ultimate goal is quieting the mind.  The inexplicable bliss one experiences is beyond all verbiage. In the beginning stages, you can compare observing silence to fasting, a fast from speaking.

    So, let me share with you the practice of observing silence. Start with small periods first. The shortest being at least one straight stretch of twenty four hours. I know given your commitments, that it may be hard to be silent for twenty-four hours but trust me — the results will make you want to do it more often. If you are merely observing silence of the speech by refraining from speaking, you are only fifty percent there. The practice involves observing complete silence; that means not holding any type of conversation. Please see the chart below: 

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      For example, let’s say that one Saturday night you decide to observe silence for twenty-four hours. You vow to start your practice on Sunday morning and end it on Monday morning. During that time, if you make any verbal comments, the impact is red and huge. Basically that is instant failure; you need to restart the practice. Avoid interactions of all types, and refrain from watching television. In the initial stages, you can read a newspaper or a book — even that brings down the quality of your silence. However, as you progress you will need to give up reading during periods of silence as well.

      Ideally, you should just be in a room in your own company. Observing silence does not mean that you can just sleep for sixteen out of twenty-four hours. You will merely be wasting your time in that case. Remember, we are not observing sleep but silence. The more mindful and alert you are, the better your practice. When in complete silence, you start to gain awareness of the talkative nature of your mind. The restless nature of the mind is best revealed and tamed in a state of quiescence.

      Observing silence has a negative impact on your ability to meditate. But that’s only in the initial stage. That is because your mind is not trained to be quiet. You are likely to experience a certain restlessness as well. You need not be alarmed; it is only natural. With persistence and patience, a quietude starts to dawn. And that is going to get you ready for good meditation. Observing silence is comparable to preparing a fertile ground to sow the seeds of meditation.

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      (I wrote on the types of conversations human mind is always holding some time ago; you may want to read up on that here.)

      The practice of observing silence is absolutely critical for the seeker desiring to experience a state of “superconsciousness”. Just like when you are enjoying yourself listening to your iPod, the external noise seems to subside automatically. The inner music of the soul renders all external sounds immaterial. You no longer feel bothered by who is saying what about you. You no longer feel the urge to join the rat race.

      Instead, you get time to stop, to pause, to think, to contemplate…and better lead your life.

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      (Photo credit: Mindful Practice at Sunset via Shutterstock)

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        Last Updated on August 12, 2019

        12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

        12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

        Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

        But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

        I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

        Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

        1. Nuts

        The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

        Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

        Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

        Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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        2. Blueberries

        Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

        When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

        3. Tomatoes

        Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

        4. Broccoli

        While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

        Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

        Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

        5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

        Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

        The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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        Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

        6. Soy

        Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

        Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

        Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

        7. Dark Chocolate

        When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

        Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

        8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

        Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

        B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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        Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

        Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

        To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

        9. Foods Rich in Zinc

        Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

        Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

        Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

        10. Gingko Biloba

        This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

        It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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        However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

        11. Green and Black Tea

        Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

        Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

        Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

        12. Sage and Rosemary

        Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

        Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

        When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

        More About Boosting Brain Power

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

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