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How to Find Your Way Towards Consciousness and Calm

How to Find Your Way Towards Consciousness and Calm

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    When Thinking Gets in the Way

    Lately I’ve written much about the chaotic mind, the propensity we have to over-think and the inability so many of us have to escape the internal noise, get out of our thoughts and find our way back to a little tranquility. Or as Happy Gilmour calls it, our Happy Place. Being constantly trapped in our stinkin’ thinkin’ can be a ticket to depression, anxiety and stress… not to mention the possibility of those less-than-desirable decisions, behaviours and outcomes. If you’re a chronic over-thinker, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All too often our thinking gets in the way of our happiness and our peace of mind. And our career. And relationships. And potential. And health. And… the list goes on.

    The realisation that “I am not my thoughts” can be a very liberating one for people who not only identify strongly with their thoughts, but actually become their thoughts. In case you’ve never been told, I’ll tell you now:

    You are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not you.

    Thought Happens

    Thought happens automatically, independently and continually, as do all of our internal processes – circulation, respiration, chemical reactions, sweating, vaso-constriction and dilation, digestion, healing… and many more. Yes we can choose what we do with, or about, our thoughts, and yes we can ‘manage’ our cerebral landscape to a point, but the human condition means that thoughts will constantly arrive in our head, like a never-ending stream of cars pulling into a petrol (gas) station. And naturally, many of those cars aren’t vehicles we wanna drive.

    What the…?

    We’ve all had those completely weird “where-the-F-did-that-thought-come-from” moments. Surely you remember that time when you fantasized about killing your annoying neighbour because he played his music so loud… okay, maybe that was just me.

    I knew I shouldn’t watch Dexter before bed.

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    Of course there is also conscious thinking on our behalf – which usually comes in the form of problem solving, strategic planning, memory recall and organisational thinking, but in truth, much of what happens at that gas station above our shoulders is – despite us.

    It just happens. And happens. Like waves crashing on the beach.

    Finding our Way to Consciousness

    The beginning of consciousness and inner freedom is having an ‘awareness’ of our thoughts without necessarily being completely identified with them. Observing them without being ‘in’ them. The relevant picture I have in my mind is of me standing on one side of an old timber fence, with my arms and chin perched on the top. On the other side of the fence my thoughts parade by me like models on a catwalk. They are unaware of me but I can see them clearly. They are mine but they are not me.

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    In this place, I am merely an observer of my thoughts.

    In this place I have the choice of investing time, energy and emotion into those thoughts… or not.

    The Observer

    Once I become the observer and not the inhabitor of my thoughts, I have the ability to move from mental and emotional incarceration, to total freedom. Freedom to create an existence beyond the confines of my conditioning, my social programming, my fears and my (once) destructive thinking. Freedom to create an identity, reality and purpose beyond my chaotic mind. And freedom to discover who I am and what I can become, beyond my thoughts.

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    Feel free to borrow my fence.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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