Mind, Body, and Spirit

I’m trying to document all of the areas that I’m zeroing on in my pursuit to think clearly and focused at all times. What I’m learning, and what I’m truly believing, is that the mind, body, and spirit work together in sync and influence areas like focus, concentration, memory and other areas like creativity, happiness, outlook, etc. Many overlap, but I tried below to put some of the tools, strategies, and theories into the 3 different buckets.

I’m not necessarily weak in all of these areas, but I do want to keep them in mind and not ignore any. And I will go through exercises even if I think I’m stronger in one area. Because maybe a “jumpstart” in an area of strength can boost an area of weakness.

While “spirit” scares some people off, I don’t think it necessarily means a religion or religious practice. The way I see it “spirit” revolves around a life with purpose.

In the spirit of visualizing the 3 as a cycle, there can be seemingly unrelated downstream consequences (positive and negative) to getting on or off track in one area. I’ll try to expand on each in later posts, but here are some:

Meditation – I haven’t started yet, but will start to spend 20 minutes a day in quiet meditation. Many of the sources I’ve found recommend meditation.
Mindfulness – Be conscious of your mood and state at all times. And ask yourself things like, what should (or shouldn’t) I be doing right now.
Brain and Memory Games – This might be on the bleeding edge, but I’ve been experimenting with games like dual n-back (and others), which some neuroscientists believe can stimulate and change important parts of your brain.
Choice of social circles – Birds of a feather flock together. Do your friends, co-workers, etc. help of hinder your pursuits?
Input and inspiration – Garbage in, garbage out. Fill your head with junk, then junk will come out. Intellectually stimulate the mind, and good things (ideas, etc.) will follow.

Exercise – Exercise has been shown to enhance brain function.
Nutrition – Certain nutrients (like Vitamin D and Omega 3s) have been shown to enhance brain function. Others (like sugar, especially fructose) have growing evidence that show they are detrimental to overall health and brain health relating to mood, behavior, and habits.
Hydration –  Drink plenty of water. So simple, but surprisingly I find it hard to stick to.
Sleep – Get plenty of sleep. I find this hard to adhere to also.
Healthy body weight, lifestyle, etc. – No brainers (pun intended)

Purpose in life – This can be things big and small. This is a very good place to start when setting goals.
Happiness and gratitude – Getting back to the “brain influences the mind, and the mind influences the brain,” studies show that practicing positivity and gratitude influence the “wiring” of the brain–thus influencing the entire cycle in a good way. Examples are keeping a journal or just purposely finding time each day to think about the good things.

Soon I will be posting more about each of these areas. “Stay tuned.”

What I’ve Been Up To (short)

If you want the long story, I wrote a very long post on my personal blog.

Here is the long story short(er) errr, not as long.

Key Methods:

  • Be mindful – be in and aware of the present
  • This means not having your head buried in a smart phone and checking Twitter every 2 minutes. I’ve read enough studies that show how this behavior is detrimental to the brain. Yes, detrimental to the brain itself.
  • Be deliberate – force yourself to ask “what am I doing now and why?” and “what am I not doing, and why?” and “what should I be doing, and why?”
  • Have purpose – The previous series of questions should uncover productive things. If not, find something productive/enlightening/intellectually simulating/ social, etc.
  • Like a couch potato, you should not let your brain become a potato either.

I had no idea how much downstream those methods positively affect. What I’ve learned recently is so, so, so eloquently described in a book I’m reading right now, The Accidental Creative. I highly recommend the book.

Also, one overarching method above all else is to DO. I’m not saying I’m finished with this endeavor, but I’m sure I’ve pinpointed my roadblocks. Had I not started to travel down this road full steam, I would not have stumbled into these critical realizations. There is a point where you need to put theories to the test. And if they don’t work for you, surely you’ll learn something else or be put on another path, and eventually the right path.

I’ve also taken the advice of the other books I’ve read. I’ve forced myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve identified and focused on what I’m passionate about. I’ve completely dropped any time wasters. And most importantly, I haven’t forgotten my current strengths while working on my weaknesses.

Also, I’ve stumbled on some far out stuff… Only time will tell if this stuff will prove successful. It doesn’t hurt to try, right? Through all of this, I sort of came across a relatively newer field of neuroscience (disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night) that deals with neuroplasticity. In layman’s terms, just like you can adhere to a healthy diet and exercise program for the body, there are things you can do to influence and improve the brain (like meditation, positive thinking and certain brain games and exercises). I’ll post more about this in upcoming posts, but I completely believe in it and trust the neuroscientists on the forefront of this. I’ve started the brain games and will start meditation soon. One book I read mentioned, “the mind influences the brain, and the brain influences the mind.” So you can very easily put yourself into a downward vicious cycle of a spiral if you don’t do the right things to stimulate your brain–or vice versa.

Also, also… There is not doubt that there is interconnectivity between the mind and body. So physical exercise and healthy eating is a big part of this all too. You can read about my healthy living pursuit on my personal blog as well.