Neuroscience, Meditation and Well-being

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Sep 172012
 

An article from ” The Review: The Weekly Beaker,” states that Buddhist monks compared the mind in a meditative state to malleable gold. Modern neuroscience is proving that to be true.

Meditation changes the brain in many ways. And these changes can improve the quality of our lives. It:

  • Decreases stress
  • Increases the sense of well-being and peace
  • Contributes to being positive
  • Improves mood
  • Quickens thinking and mental processing
  • Establishes thoughts and habits more easily
  • Improves health
  • Decreases pain

Meditation and self-hypnosis access the same types of brain waves and can induce these kinds of changes in the brain. Practicing either of these can give you these kinds of results.

Our western culture values success, achievement and accomplishment, but that it comes at a cost. We physically and mentally run ourselves into the ground. Modern neuroscience is proving that we can literally improve our brains. Meditation and/or self-hypnosis help us to rebuild those inner resources and cultivate awareness and insight. And that could further our productivity and success.

Read the full article: The Weekly Beaker: The Neuroscience of Wellbeing – Meditation.

Use Positive Imagery To Rewire Your Brain And Ward Off Depression

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Feb 272012
 

When a person comes to see me, as a hypnotherapist, to work on stress, I teach them relaxation and have them create a peaceful place in their minds. I tell them, “This can be a favorite vacation spot, or a place you create solely in your imagination.” The main idea is that it’s serene and safe.

I’ve heard people poke fun of the idea of a “peaceful spot.” They can’t believe that anything so simple can be effective. But after working with hundreds of people with this concept, I’ve seen the positive results. Practicing relaxation daily with this image can reduce stress significantly. I’ve seen stress, pain, and anxiety decrease immensely with this technique.

Recently, I read an article about girls who were susceptible to depression. They were able to rewire their brains to reduce this risk. People like them have an overreaction to upsetting experiences, which can be seen in brain scans.

Stanford researchers scanned the brains of these girls to see how they responded to negative pictures. The area of the brain that responds to stress showed increased activation on the scans. The researchers then instructed them to think of pleasant experiences and shift their focus from negative to positive images. On brain scans, it showed that the part of the brain triggered by stress calmed down.

Even several days after the exercises, the girls showed the same reduced reaction to stressful images. They were able to rewire their brains to be less reactive to stress, which in turn reduced the likelihood of depression later on.

This is very similar to the technique I teach my clients. But I also include relaxation, which reduces stress on its own. You can rewire your brain so you don’t overreact to stress, which will reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that you experience in your life.

Practice relaxation and imagining yourself in a special place. Then imagine an upsetting image, and immediately switch your attention back to your special place and all its peace.

This is one of the traditional ways hypnotherapists, like me, have used to help clients deal with stress. It’s gratifying when the techniques I’ve used for so many years are proved to be valid by scientific research.

Inspired by: Study suggests girls can ‘rewire’ brains to ward off depression.

~ Linda-Ann Stewart

Lift Your Mood To Be More Innovative

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Nov 142011
 

When I’m writing an article and in a happy place, my creativity flows relatively smoothly. An article may not fall onto the page fully formed, but even if it comes together in pieces, ideas come to me rather easily.

However, when I’m upset, anxious or angry, trying to write an article is like dragging an anchor over rocky ground. It gets caught on each small stone, and I have to work it free. It’s a struggle and anything but enjoyable.

Now a study has actually validated that being in a positive mood allows the brain to think better and more creatively.

“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking,” says Ruby Nadler, co-author of a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda at The University of Western Ontario carried out this study.

They found that a positive mood allowed subjects to better able think innovatively, creatively and strategically. They suggest music, or even watching funny videos online to increase this type of productivity.

Employers may object to what they consider wasting time, but it actually may improve employee’s efficiency and morale. So employers may want to consider your lifting your mood a positive use of time.

Information in this article is based on an article at Science Daily, Positive Mood Allows Human Brain to Think More Creatively.

~ Linda-Ann Stewart

The Problem Solving Capacity of Your Subconsious Mind

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Aug 302011
 

Have you ever walked away from a problem, then had a light bulb go off in your head and had the answer? That’s the way the mind works when it’s looking for solutions. Several recent studies have validated that your subconscious mind is hard at work while your conscious mind is otherwise engaged.

Apparently, your subconscious has been hard-wired to accumulate information to make the best decisions for you. According to research, the conscious mind does a better job at making analytic decisions. But the subconscious mind is more capable of solving greater challenges and making discoveries.

Learning to trust the subconscious is key to allowing it to dealing with complex problems. If your conscious mind keeps turning the issue over and over again and keeps it front and center in your attention, the subconscious never has a chance to work on it.

Just like when you try to remember someone’s name and let it go. Shortly thereafter, while you’re in the middle of doing the dishes, it pops into your mind. You have to be able to let go of the problem.

The subconscious also helps you make better decisions. It uses the same process as with problem solving. Evaluate all the information, and then go on to some other task. This allows the subconscious to process the data. If no insight comes to the surface, reassess or gather more information and let it go again. Eventually, you’ll get a sense of which direction you want to go.

Your subconscious mind is creative, resourceful, and a problem solver. It processes the information that your conscious mind has given it and comes up with a solution. Now, research and studies are validating what many of us have known for decades.

Information in this article based on these studies from Science Daily:
Decision-Making May Be Surprisingly Unconscious Activity
Our Unconscious Brain Makes The Best Decisions Possible
Eureka! How Distractions Facilitate Creative Problem-Solving
Profound Impact Of Our Unconscious On Reaching Goals Revealed

A Positive Mindset Is More Important Than Skillset In Business

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Jun 092011
 

Even with incredible knowledge, abilities and skills, your beliefs and attitudes can hold you back in all areas of life. This is especially true in the work arena. If you have a negative mindset, it can cost your job or a promotion.

In a recent study, Harvard lecturer, Paul Stoltz and recruiter, James Reed surveyed thousands of employers. They discovered an overwhelmingly majority of employers, 98%, considered mindset to be the most important thing in hiring.

81% of employers considered it more important than skillset when granting a raise. And a whopping 91% chose it as vital when giving a promotion. Employers would trade 7.2 normal employees for 1 with a winning attitude.

So create a strong winning, positive attitude and mindset to find, keep and excel at your job. You can always develop better skills once you have this foundation.

Are You Ready For Greater Self-Esteem?

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Mar 092011
 

Writer, speaker and hypnotherapist, Linda-Ann Stewart, will be offering an exciting free teleclass this month. In the highly educational, free one-hour teleclass, “Self-Esteem Isn’t Earned, It’s Learned.,” Linda-Ann will discuss whether self-esteem is earned by achievements, or a learned trait. She will also cover how people can improve low self-esteem, and develop the confidence to achieve what they want in life.

There are two critical questions you must ask yourself to achieve your life’s goals.

  1. How can I develop self-esteem that’s true and will see me through life’s trials?
  2. Can I earn it by doing more or learn it by taking some important actions?

Self-esteem is the all important gauge of how you feel about yourself. It gives you a sense of worthiness and feeling of being competent. High self-esteem allows you to feel appropriate and assured, as a person. It is the foundation inside yourself on which everything else is built. With good self-esteem, there’s nothing you can’t do.

Self-esteem is also necessary to feel a connection to God, Spirit or the Universe. If you don’t feel good enough for the world, or worthy enough for the good Life can offer, why would you feel like you are acceptable to God?

This one-hour conference call at 5:30 p.m. PDT, Thursday, March 24, 2011 will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • What self-esteem is
  • How self-esteem develops
  • What steps to take to gain a sense of self-worth
  • And more

There is no charge for the teleclass, except for normal long distance fees. Registration is limited. For more information, or to register now, visit www.Linda-AnnStewart.com/se-tlcls.html

This life-altering opportunity can open the gates to help people achieve all they want from life. Register today to improve your life.


Yet Another Reason To Be Positive

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Mar 012011
 

ScienceDaily (2011-03-01) — A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found “clear and compelling evidence” that — all else being equal — happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

Another study has found that being positive, moderately happy and having reduced stress increases health and longevity. They tend to have healthier immune systems and recover faster. This isn’t true for just humans but animals as well.

Pessimism, depression, and anxiety are associated with lower immune system, more disease, and a shorter life span.

One of the study’s authors, Ed Diener said, “…that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states.”

Since what we think directly affects the way we feel and our mood, here’s just another reason to be optimistic and positive. And optimism is a skill that can be learned. Aren’t the benefits worth it?

To read the entire article, visit Happiness improves health and lengthens life, review finds.

Are You Ready For A Better Life?

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Feb 212011
 

When you have a difficult situation arise in your life, does it cause anxiety, fear or depression? That’s a normal reaction, but not one that allows you the creativity and resources you need to find a solution. But there is a solution that will help you deal with difficult situations and feel empowered.

Linda-Ann Stewart, life coach, hypnotherapist and speaker, is presenting a free teleclass to help deal with life’s challenges with a better attitude, which opens the door for greater opportunities of success.  The teleclass will address how you filter new situations through old experiences, which shuts down the possibility of discovering better outcomes. You’ll learn how your thinking can lead you to success or defeat you before you’ve begun.

“I’ll share one simple technique that could transform your life,” Ms. Stewart says. It’s one I’ve used for decades, and have shared with many people.” It’ll shift your attention from the worst case scenario to a more positive possibility. And she’ll explain why it works.

This teleclass will give you insights about transforming your attitude to be more constructive, giving your creative mind more energy to uncover hidden benefits from the challenge you’re facing.

Join Ms. Stewart for the one-hour teleclass, “Create Something Good Out Of Life’s Challenges” on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 5:30 PST. Space is limited. To learn more and to register, visit Linda-AnnStewart.com/creategoodteleclass.html.

Use Gratitude Lists To Increase Your Optimism

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Feb 092011
 

Remember how you were always told to count your blessings? It was to get you to focus on what positive things were in your life, rather that dwell on the negative.

Listing three or more things that you’re grateful for each day is one of the best ways to begin to become more positive and optimistic. It doesn’t make the difficulties go away, but by focusing your attention on better things, you feel better and are able to deal with challenges easier.

Studies are now finding that using this simple technique for just three weeks actually still affects a person positively six months later. The mind has been trained to look for good in the world. Not only does this increase happiness, but it also can help those with depression.

When things look darkest, look for some good in your life. Use it in your personal and professional life. Practice it when you feel down, stressed or pressured. You’ll be training your brain to work at more positive outcomes.

The original source for this article was Want to Boost Your Office Optimism? Try the Tetris Effect at Psychology Today.

Exercise Is Effective To Combat Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

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Jan 252011
 

Many years ago, I was depressed from a relationship breakup. I knew that exercise would help my mood, so I forced myself to go for a walk. After 30 minutes, on the last quarter-mile to my house, I checked in on my mood and found it had improved by 80%.

In the years since, many studies have validated my experience. Exercise is considered almost magic in what it can do for depression and anxiety disorders. I know it felt like magic for me.

Yet another study has come out verifying how amazing exercise can be for these mental conditions. Exercise reduces depression, anxiety, and stress, increased energy, and re-establishes positive behaviors.

Until my walk, I hadn’t been able to plan or work on a project that needed my attention. Afterwards, I had the energy and ability to focus on what I needed to do.

Drugs and medications take weeks, if not months, to start working and give people a light at the end of the tunnel. Exercise is effective within 25 minutes. Imagine taking a pill, and a half-hour later feeling significantly better.

Yes, it’s hard to drag yourself out to do it, but keep the end result in mind. In a half-hour, you could feel better if you exercise, or you could feel the same as you do now because you sat on the couch. Which do you prefer?

To read more about this current study, visit  Sports Are 80 Percent Mental: Is Exercise The Cure For Depression?