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How to Win the War Against Peace of Mind

How to Win the War Against Peace of Mind
    Photo credit: erasmusa (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    In some parts of the world, today is a day set aside to remember those who have fought for the freedom that their citizens enjoy. It is a day where these nations reflect on those who have died for a cause and those who fight for it even to this day so that peace can prevail over war.

    But there will be so much “noise” coming at us today – a day where we seek quiet so that we can properly remember what this day represents. Our minds will have a difficult time finding peace because of the firehose of information that enters our home and office each and every day. It may seem harsh, but it is as if we are battling our own ongoing war against the things that threaten our peace of mind – a peace that we so desperately need in order to truly enjoy our lives.

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    While it’s important for us to stay informed, it is also important for us to let our minds rest – even wander – from time to time. I suggest that even those who are figthing the literal wars in our world today (and those of the past) would want those at home to be mindful not just of what is going on outside of their own self, but also to be mindful of themselves internally. Inner peace is just as important as outer peace.

    If you’re constantly fighting a losing battle in the war against your peace of mind, here are some strategies you can use to start fighting back – and winning.

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    Disconnect to Connect

    Turn things off. The television, the Internet, the phone. Remove them from the equation – if only for a little while. Do that every day for a set amount of time. Perhaps you only feel comfortable doing it for 30 minutes a day. Go with that. After you start to adjust, bump it up to a full hour. Then keep raising the stakes until you feel that you’re not losing your mind in a sea of external factors and are able to balance what you’re taking in with what you’re simply letting go.

    You need to free your mind in order to give the space it needs to remember things better. The more clutter you have in your mind, the harder it is for you to find what is worthwhile in there. Disconnecting instantly removes the intake of a lot of psychic clutter, and can serve to actually create a better filtering system when you do reconnect. As a result, you’ll be able to better connect with what really matters and let go of what really doesn’t.

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    Capture the Moments

    Capturing things is one of the keys to creating a more productive “you”, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about capturing moments. That may mean drawing a picture, taking a photo or journaling. What you’re doing is not systematizing the capture process, but you’re fleshing out moments in time on the canvas of your choice. This kind of capturing is more likely to create a peaceful feeling than writing down to-do lists or breaking down a new project.

    When was the last time you sat down somewhere and just transposed the moment in time you were in using a method that felt right to you? Maybe you need to bring a digital recorder into the bathroom and sing in the shower – that could be a release for you. Then you’ll be able to listen to that recording later and just know that it was a moment that you captured where you let yourself go. Having an agenda with no care of what the outcome needs to be can be one of the most freeing things you can experience.

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    Visualizaion and Spiritualization

    See where you want to be. Look forward without looking at all. Let your mind go to where you let it go when your dreams were brand new. That’s visualization. See the change that you want to be in the world so that you can be the change that you want to see in the world.

    Spiritualization doesn’t have to be a religious experience. It can simply be a walk along a beach while you take in the wonders around you. It can be true meditation. It can be yoga or Tai Chi. It can be going to church. Accessing your spiritual self gets easier the more often you do so – as long as it is something that is accessible to you. Don’t go down another’s path; find your own. Don’t be afraid to do that. Those who have fought for freedom certainly weren’t. Honour them by facing the fear and doing it anyway.

    Give Peace a Chance

    The noise is getting louder every day. Quiet and solitude is getting that much harder to find. There’s nothing wrong with either, but there is something wrong with too much of either. Peace of mind and balance are both difficult to achieve and even tougher to maintain.

    Using the above strategies may not see you win every battle, but by using them consistently you give yourself a fighting chance to win the war.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

    4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain (Beginner’s Guide) Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

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    Last Updated on June 27, 2019

    Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music

    Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music

    If you love listening to music, you’re in good company. Charles Darwin once remarked, “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” Albert Einstein declared, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” Jimi Hendrix called music his “religion.”

    I’ve always been in awe of people who can sing and play guitar. As a young girl, I secretly listened to singer-songwriter music in my bedroom into the wee hours. As a rebellious teenager, I cranked rock ‘n’ roll in the house whenever I had to do chores. I always felt great afterwards – now I know why.

    Recent research shows that listening to music improves our mental well-being and boosts our physical health in surprising and astonishing ways. If we take a music lesson or two, that musical training can help raise our IQs and even keep us sharp in old age. Here are 15 amazing scientifically-proven benefits of being hooked on music.

    1. Music Makes You Happier

    “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” – William James

    Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University, injected eight music-lovers with a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine receptors after they listened to their favorite music. A PET scan showed that large amounts of dopamine were released, which biologically caused the participants to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.[1]

    So the next time you need an emotional boost, listen to your favorite tunes for 15 minutes. That’s all it takes to get a natural high!

    2. Music Enhances Running Performance

    “If people take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem

    Marcelo Bigliassi and his colleagues found that runners who listened to fast or slow motivational music completed the first 800 meters of their run faster than runners who listened to calm music or ran without music.[2] If you want to take your running up a notch, listen to songs that inspire you.

    3. Music Lowers Stress and Improves Health

    “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from.” – Billy Joel

    Listening to music you enjoy decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress.[3] This is an important finding since stress causes 60% of all our illnesses and disease.[4] One study showed that if people actively participated in making music by playing various percussion instruments and singing, their immune system was boosted even more than if they passively listened.[5]

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    To stay calm and healthy during a stressful day, turn on the radio. Be sure to sing along and tap your feet to the beat to get the maximum healing benefit.

    4. Music Helps You Sleep Better

    “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

    Over 30% of Americans suffer from insomnia.[6] A study showed that students who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before turning in slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine.[7]

    If you’re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a little Bach or Mozart before bedtime to catch some Zs.

    5. Music Reduces Depression

    “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou

    More than 350 million people suffer from depression around the world.[8] A whopping 90% of them also experience insomnia.[9] The sleep research above found that symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the group that listened to classical music before bedtime, but not in the other two groups.

    Another study by Hans Joachim Trappe in Germany also demonstrated that music can benefit patients with depressive symptoms, depending on the type of music. Meditative sounds and classical music lifted people up, but techno and heavy metal brought people down even more.[10]

    The next time you feel low, put on some classical or meditative music to lift your spirits.

    6. Music Helps You Eat Less

    “There’s a friendly tie of some sort between music and eating.” – Thomas Hardy

    Research at Georgia Tech University showed that softening the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer calories and enjoy their meals more. If you’re looking for ways to curb your appetite, try dimming the lights and listening to soft music the next time you sit down for a meal.[11]

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    7. Music Elevates Your Mood While Driving

    “That’s what I love. Not being interrupted, sitting in the car by myself listening to music in the rain. There are so many great songs yet to sing.”  – Alison Kraus

    A study in the Netherlands found that listening to music can positively impact your mood while driving,[12] which can lead to safer behavior than not listening to music. The next time you feel frustrated in traffic, turn up the tunes to improve your state of mind. It won’t hurt your driving performance – it may even help you drive more safely.

    8. Music Strengthens Learning and Memory

    “Music is the language of memory.” – Jodi Picoult

    Researchers discovered that music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not you’re a musician. Subjects memorized Japanese characters while listening to music that either seemed positive or neutral to them.[13] The results showed that participants who were musicians learned better with neutral music but tested better when pleasurable music was playing. Non-musicians, on the other hand, learned better with positive music but tested better with neutral music.

    Memorize these results. You now have a strategy to study more effectively for your next test.

    9. Music Relaxes Patients Before/After Surgery

    “He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel de Cervantes

    Researchers found that listening to relaxing music before surgery decreases anxiety.[14] In fact it’s even more effective than being orally administered Midazolam, a medication often used to help pre-op patients feel sleepy that also has gnarly side effects such as coughing and vomiting. Other studies showed that listening to soothing music while resting in bed after open heart surgery increases relaxation.[14]

    Globally, 234 million major surgeries are performed each year.[15] If you or someone you know is going into surgery, be sure to bring some soothing tunes to ease anxiety. It may work better, and will certainly have fewer adverse side effects, than the meds they dispense.

    10. Music Reduces Pain

    “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marely

    Research at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. Other research showed that music can decrease pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be either classical pieces, meditative music, or songs of the patient’s choosing.

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    Bob Marely was right about this one – listen to music you love to take your pain away.

    11. Music Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Remember

    “The past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity.” – Oliver Sacks, M.D.

    A non-profit organization called Music & Memory helps people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related dementias remember who they are by having them listen to their dearest songs. The awakening is often dramatic. For example, after Henry listens to music from his era, this wheelchair-bound dementia sufferer who can barely speak sings Cab Calloway songs and happily reminisces about his life .

    Dr. Laura Mosqueda, Director of Geriatrics at the University of California at the Irvine School of Medicine, explains that because music affects so many areas of the brain, it stimulates pathways that may still be healthy.[16]

    One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia,[17] so odds are you know someone who has it. To connect with loved ones who suffer from age-related dementia, try playing some of their best-loved music.

    12. Music Improves Recovery in Stroke Patients

    “I know why the caged bird sings.” – Maya Angelou

    Research at the University of Helsinki showed that stroke patients who listened to music they chose themselves for two hours a day had significantly improved recovery of cognitive function compared to those who listened to audio books or were given no listening material.[18] Most of the music contained lyrics, which suggests that it’s the combination of music and voice that bolstered the patients’ auditory and verbal memory.

    Stroke is the number 5 cause of death in the United States.[19] If you know someone who has suffered a stroke, bring their favorite songs as soon as you can. Listening to them can significantly ramp up their recuperation.

    13. Music Increases Verbal Intelligence

    “Music is to the soul what words are to the mind.” – Modest Mouse

    After only one month of music lessons (in rhythm, pitch, melody and voice), a study at York University showed that 90% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had a significant increase in verbal intelligence.[20] Researcher Sylvain Moreno suggests that the music training had a “transfer effect”[21] which enhanced the children’s ability to understand words and explain their meaning. Other research found that musically trained adult women and musically trained children outperformed those without music training on verbal memory tests.

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    No matter whether you’re an adult or a child, if you want to boost your verbal skills, try taking music lessons!

    14. Music Raises IQ and Academic Performance

    “Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

    Research shows that taking music lessons predicts higher academic performance and IQ in young children.[22] In one study, 6-year-olds who took keyboard or singing lessons in small groups for 36 weeks had significantly larger increases in IQ and standardized educational test results than children who took either drama lessons or no lessons. The singing group did the best.

    To help your children achieve academic excellence, encourage them to sing or learn to play an instrument.

    15. Music Keeps Your Brain Healthy in Old Age

    “Music is the true breath of life. We eat so we won’t starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live.” – Yasmina Khadra

    A study with healthy older adults found that those with ten or more years of musical experience scored higher on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study.[23] The non-musicians scored the lowest. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” says lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.

    Business magnate Warren Buffet stays sharp at age 84 by playing ukulele. It’s never too late to play an instrument to keep you on top of your game.

    Plato had it right when he said, “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” No matter whether you’re young or old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, music can improve the quality of your life in numerous ways. It reduces stress and anxiety, lifts your mood, boosts your health, helps you sleep better, takes away your pain, and even makes you smarter.

    New research shows that music “can communicate basic human feelings regardless of the listener’s cultural and ethnic background.” We’ve only just begun to understand all the ways this universal language can profit the world.[24] Rather than cut funds for music and art programs in schools, why not invest in exploring all the secret places that music reaches so that we may continue to reap its amazing benefits?

    More About Music

    Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] McGill: Investigations of the links between music, emotion and reward, Valorie Salimpoor
    [2] The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: How Does Music Aid 5 km of Running?
    [3] Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1
    [4] The American Institute of Stress: Master Your Stress
    [5] J Music Ther.: The effects of active and passive participation in musical activity on the immune system as measured by salivary immunoglobulin A (SIgA).
    [6] The Better Sleep Guide: The Insomnia Statistics
    [7] J Adv Nurs.: Music improves sleep quality in students.
    [8] World Health Organization: Depression
    [9] Dialogues Clin Neurosci.: Sleep disturbances and depression: risk relationships for subsequent depression and therapeutic implications
    [10] Dtsch Med Wochenschr.: [Music and health–what kind of music is helpful for whom? What music not?].
    [11] Georgia Tech News Center: Helpful Hints for Healthy Holiday Eating
    [12] Ergonomics.: The influence of music on mood and performance while driving.
    [13] Front Psychol.: Pleasurable music affects reinforcement learning according to the listener
    [14] J Clin Nurs. : Soothing music can increase oxytocin levels during bed rest after open-heart surgery: a randomised control trial.
    [15] Wise Geek: How Many Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?
    [16] Alzheimers.net: Music Therapy For Dementia: Awakening Memories
    [17] Alzheimer’s Association: Facts & Figures
    [18] EurekAlert: Listening to music improves stroke patients’ recovery
    [19] Heart.org: Heart and Stroke Statistics
    [20] APS: Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function
    [21] Pacific Standard: Music Training Enhances Children’s Verbal Intelligence
    [22] PLOS: Practicing a Musical Instrument in Childhood is Associated with Enhanced Verbal Ability and Nonverbal Reasoning
    [23] US News: Music Training May Help Keep Aging Brain Healthy
    [24] The Mind Unleashed: This is How Music Is Indeed a Universal Language

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