Cognitive Neuroscience: (Part 2) Breathe

Undoubtedly we all face multiple demands each day, such as a heavy workload, experiencing stressful events in the world, caregiving for a family member, or concerns about making ends meet. When we are in a state of stress or overwhelm, our bodies release chemicals like cortisol. The hypothalamus responds to stress or perceived stressful situations by setting off nerve and hormonal signals sending messages to the adrenal glands that release a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Being in a state of stress regularly can result in cortisol toxicity, and it places a lot of wear and tear on the body. This increases the risk of numerous health problems like, digestive disorders, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, sleep problems, memory and concentration impairment and depression.

Slowing one’s breathing down and breathing more deeply begins a process of changing your body’s physiology.  Breathing more deeply and slowly and adding a renewing emotion like gratitude or love will bring about very positive change within your heart, your autonomic nervous system and your brain. You can reach a state that neurocardiologists call “coherence.”  Coherence is when your heart, autonomic nervous system and your brain are in sync and a state of balance. When in coherence, chemicals like DHEA are released that help you feel good, enhance health,  and give you energy.

Tip #2 in this series: HeartMath® Institute’s Quick Coherence® Technique

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 6.45.41 PM

Try this technique anytime you are experiencing stress, before attending meetings, and beginning and ending your day. The Quick Coherence® technique is practical and can easily be used during a busy day. At first you may wish to do the technique with your eyes closed. As you get familiar with using it, try the Quick Coherence® technique daily with your eyes open; you’ll likely use the technique more often.

© Blog Copyright 2016, Mary Claire O’Neal

Quick Coherence®is a registered trademark of Doc Childre

Mary Claire O’Neal is a HeartMath® Certified Trainer and Coach, communication and leadership consultant, and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World.

For more information:  maryclaireoneal.com

 

 

Advertisements

Create Balance During the Holidays

 

Experience balance during the holidays

Living in balance can be a challenge in our day-to-day lives, but during the holidays, balance is needed in order to truly experience the spirit of the season all the way through the New Year.

What helps in consistently creating balance? The answer is pretty simple but the living of it requires focus and attention.  Here is the “how”—drum roll, please:  Being in the present moment.  But what does that mean, really?

Being in the present moment doesn’t mean that you don’t plan or don’t look at the effects potential actions might bring. In fact, being in the present moment requires both of those things. It also means that you look at what is right in front of you and take it step by step to make your way to your goals.  When a stressful or urgent situation comes up, look at what is right there in sight—what opportunities are there for you to see in that moment. Being in that present moment will allow you to take action that recreates balance baby step by baby step.

For instance, say, you have a big “to do” list, and you are waiting in a long line during your holiday shopping. Instead of taking yourself out of the moment and worrying about all that you have to get done (getting more and more stressed and frustrated), take yourself back in the moment and remind yourself that balance is right there, now. You may find that you are can then enjoy a couple of children in line laughing and being playful (reminding you of the joy of the holidays). Or you might find that the elderly woman in front of you needs assistance and you are able to help her. You might notice that something you have been looking for is in a display right next to you in the checkout line (and you can check one more item off your “to do” list instead of driving across town.)  Funny, sometimes, how being in the moment can work out, and it does bring more balance to our perceptions and experiences when we see that each moment has those opportunities.

Sometimes being in the moment may bring you to the realization that you are dreading yet another year of hectic shopping, wrapping, traffic, and long lines. Maybe you decide instead to negotiate with family and friends to simplify and just do gift cards. Or even negotiate giving to each person’s favorite charity for the holidays instead of giving stuff. You may come up with the idea to negotiate drawing names so that everyone just buys one gift, and everyone receives one gift.

This is the time of year to be at our best–a time to LIVE the spirit of the holiday season in love, goodwill, peace and joy. Be fully here, balanced and able to see the wonderful opportunities in this moment.

A Free, Easy Way to Bring More Balance into Busy Lives

When asked, most people say that taking a walk out in nature is a very effective way to bring more balance and health into a busy life. Time outside, away from activity and technology, can bring more clarity of mind when you are stressed or facing situations beyond your control. Taking a walk in the sunlight, feeling the breeze, and enjoying the beauty around you is very refreshing for the mind and spirit with the added benefit of healthy exercise for the body.

Find a place to walk that is accessible and easy to get to from your home or place of work.  A city park with pathways or a local arboretum can be convenient but still offer the balancing, healing effects of green space: trees, grass, plants and animals.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while taking a break outside to gain more balance and health:

1. Give yourself enough time so you don’t have to hurry. A 40 minute walk is really enough time to refresh the mind and get some good exercise. Brown bagging your lunch at a picnic table before your walk can even give you enough time on your lunch hour. If you have the luxury of more time, that’s even better!

2. Try to take your walk in silence. Instead of listening to music with earphones (which can draw your attention away from the experience around you), try to focus on the sights and sounds in the environment–the plants and flowers, the wind in the trees, birds chirping, or the rushing of water in a stream or fountain. This will help to keep you in the present moment.

3. Have an intent for your walk. Examples of intents can be:  “To bring more balance into my life” or “To give my mind and body a break for pure enjoyment and health.” Having a clear intent can help you get the greatest benefit from your walk.

© Copyright Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World:  The Art of Joyful Living. www.maryclaireoneal.com


Being the change through choices

I’ve had to make some big changes in my life over the past year–changes that needed to be made in order for me to function at my highest and best.  I’ve been a vegetarian for over 25 years, but even with that kind of healthy diet, there were things that were creating difficulty with my health.  I discovered that salt was a big problem, creating edema, headaches and other aches and pains.  I know this now because when I have taken just the salt out of my diet, many of those symptoms fade or go away.  There are other things in my diet I’ve had to say “bye, bye” to lately, as well.

Being a vegetarian all of these years has not been hard for me at all, but taking the salt out was my personal kryptonite. It has not been easy, mainly because I was addicted to it.  I always preferred salty over sweet, and so sugar was not something that I craved or wanted. I CRAVED salt and didn’t know how much until I took it away. And it is in almost every prepared vegetarian whole food that I’ve found–except things like canned beans or tomatoes (no salt added).  While I’ve always loved fresh veggies, fruits and grains, that’s my diet now. Pretty much, I have no prepared sauces or foods (when I say prepared foods, I mean prepared whole foods), salad dressings, or eating out. I loved eating Asian, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern food out, and that’s gone now. I order a salad when I find myself out or at a meeting and put lemon juice and olive oil on it.  I was a vegetarian foodie (gourmet vegetarian cook and loved eating out), and I’ve gone through the stages of letting go, discomfort, even some grief, and a bit of whining. But I’ve come to the simple understanding that it is what it is.

Why am I writing about something as mundane as this? Because the human being of me is letting go of the things she loves–letting go of things that brought much pleasure–not really wanting those choices but having to make them. Newer and clearer awareness of my body being a temple and making choices that are best for me out of that awareness is an important part of it. It’s true, I’m healthier. I feel better. I’ve lost weight (almost 45 lbs. to date). My mind is clearer.  A very big gift is the empowerment within me of the awareness that I’m bigger than this is, or the very wise words that are thousands of years old,  greater is that which is within me than that which is without.

This is all about communication.  Lots of communication with myself and some communication with others. What I’ve found drives all of this is love. I didn’t make these choices because I didn’t like what I looked like or because I wanted to fix myself–which seems to be the biggest motivating factor for many in our culture for making changes like this. The deepest and most sustaining force in this change for me was love for my life and to be functioning at my highest, best, healthiest and strongest.

The world changes by us changing ourselves, and what I’ve found in my life to be the most lasting change for the highest is always and ever the change made because of and with love.

© Mary Claire  O’Neal

Take a snapshot of the big picture of your life

When we are faced with a challenge or difficulty in our lives, it’s good to give it focus so we can find solutions. However, it’s easy to slip down the slippery slope of giving the challenge too much attention so that it is amplified and magnified, appearing bigger in our perception. When that happens, it can lead to overwhelm or even fear. One really quick, easy way to regain a balance in perspective is what I call, Taking a Snapshot of the Big Picture of Your Life©.  You simply start writing down everything that is good, that is working, that is joyful. Write down all the things you are grateful for in your life.  Make the list as long as you can.  Soon you will have a very long list. When you look at all these things, you can see more of the “big picture” of your life and then see the challenge as only one thing or area in the very large picture.  This can immediately help create a balance in perspective, giving the area of challenge a more realistic proportion. This balance in perception will bring more clarity, and one can more easily find solutions, options and choices in dealing with the challenge.

© Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach, speaker and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World.  For more information:  www.maryclaireoneal.com