Countdown: Top 8 Brain Exercises – #6

In this 8-part article series, we are counting down the Top 8 Brain Exercises that you can easily engage in for boosting your brain health and overall well-being.

The information shared in this series is inspired from the book How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist by Andrew Newberg M.D. & Mark Robert Waldman.

After you read this article, I challenge you to actively practice this exercise and test it for yourself.

Approach this process in a spirit of curiosity and fun. See what happens.

Are you ready?

Here we go…….

Top Brain Exercise #6: Consciously Relax

Stress is currently North America’s #1 killer.

The emotional stress that you experience, the stress that causes you to say “I’m feeling stressed-out”, comes from how you think about your situations.

A lot of that stress comes from what’s going on in the back of your mind.

Subconsciously, your brain is playing out scenarios and comparing them with your past to see which one is most likely.

For example, if you’re in a situation where you’re stuck in traffic and late for an important appointment,  your brain is calculating in the background, “If I’m late, people will lose trust in me. If they lose trust in me, they won’t want to do business with me. If I lose their business I won’t have money. If I don’t have money, I’ll lose my home. If I lose my home, my spouse will leave me…” and so on.

All these equations your brain plays out creates tension and stress within the mind and body.

It’s time to give your brain (and body) a break!

WHAT TO DO

Rest is for the body. Relaxation is for the mind.

When you combine the two, you have a powerful way to use your brain to replenish your well-being and offset the negative physical effects of stress.

To relax your mind, the key is to actually stop thinking for a while – you’ll want to consciously put your brain in neutral.

How?

Well, thoughts come from what you focus your attention upon.

So the key is to place your complete attention upon something neutral and intend to observe it without judgement or expectation – just be present with it.

One of the most powerful (and neuro-scientifically validated) techniques for reducing stress is also incredibly simple – but not always easy. It is the act of consciously focusing upon your breath.

Instructions

Place your attention on the tip of your nostrils where you can physically feel the air flow in and out.

Stay focused upon the physical sensation of the act of breathing.

If your mind wanders, it’s okay. Simply notice that your attention has moved and gently guide it back to your breath. Repeat gently without judgement as often as needed.

Continue this process for a few minutes and then notice how you feel. Chances are, you’ll be more relaxed.

Do this consistently every day and see if you can’t work your way up to 20+ minute long sessions and increase the span of time you are able to maintain consistent focus upon your breath.

Some Other Quick Suggestions
Additional exercises you can do to consciously relax are things like scanning each part of your body, one muscle group at a time, and intend for those muscles to release their tension. You’ll feel them relax more deeply with each conscious intent.

When combined with calming music, your body will relax more quickly as studies have shown that calming music sharpens cognitive skills and improves your sense of spiritual/emotional well-being.

Also, simple repetitive activities (personal rituals) that are pleasurable and meaningful to you can also take you into a state of deep relaxation.

One example of this is, the repetition of a Rosary by a person of the Catholic faith.

Whatever is repetitive, pleasurable, and meaningful to you can help you relax your mind and body and restore your well-being.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO

No naps or watching TV here!

Conscious relaxation is about Intention, Relaxation, and Open Awareness.

No judging yourself for having your mind wander. Just allow things to unfold and observe them as they do. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your original focus.

This is not an exercise in meaning. So don’t focus upon what anything means, it leads to your mind wandering. Simply focus upon accepting whatever happens with no expectation for what might happen next. Be curious, like a child.

YOUR INCREDIBLE BENEFITS!

You naturally rest your body when you sleep at night but not necessarily your mind. It needs rest too. Consciously relaxing your mind interrupts the brain’s release of stress-stimulating neuro-chemicals which then allows your body to relax even more.

Lowering stress reduces your high blood pressure, heart disease, and pain.

Your ability to cope with stress increases with regular practice.

Consistent practice gives you access to better moods, better brain functioning, better decisions, better overall well-being.

Your life can be better, yes?

I now invite you to intentionally relax your mind every day by gently noticing the physical sensation of your breath for a few minutes without any judgements or expectations and make it a part of the rest of your life.

 

Stay tuned as the next article in this countdown series, reveals Top Brain Exercise #5 !

If you liked this article, please ‘like’ and ‘share’ it.

 

© 2014 Trent Janisch – thepoweryouare.com

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