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You and Your Mind : Mental Exercises


Too many of my friends and associates are in mental anguish.  We call it mental illness here in the United States, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in four suffers.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml

Now before I speak of the mind, please understand that there are mental illnesses that cannot be cured by mental control.  Some minds are so short circuited that no amount of conscious mind control can heal them.  This blog is for the rest of us, but even those who are beyond repair should read on as they may find some moments of clarity in this exercise.

We need to get over the exalted status of the brain.  Americans are raised to believe that the mind has a physical and a spiritual side.  That you can control the physical, but the spiritual is beyond your control and is there to help you with your life.  Unfortunately, those who believe in the spiritual power of the brain are left to be a slave of their brain.

To explain further, let me use the example of the fist that kept hitting its owner in the face.  The person believed that the fist was possessed by the devil and therefore he was not able to stop the fist from hitting him in the face.  The funny part is that he never restrained the fist.  He was convinced that through prayer and begging god, the fist would eventually stop hitting him in the face.  The two lessons from this example are:

1)       You can indeed stop your fist from hitting you in the face by simply mentally stopping it from hitting you in the face.  (Obviously, epileptic and other disorders that have fried the signaling mechanisms do not apply to this solution.)

2)      If you can’t stop your fist, restrain it.  Tie it down so that it cannot hit you.  (This is the exact method used by psychiatrists who prescribe mind bending drugs.  They are simply restraining the behavior.)

The thought of simply praying for your fist to stop hitting you in the face without taking any additional actions is insanity.  The same goes for depression, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, anger, prejudice, and hatred.  All of these are fists hitting you in the face and you are simply praying that they go away.

You have no idea that your brain is an electric switch that acts much like a computer.  Get over the idea that it is a magical organ with a will of its own.  Treat it like a muscle.  You can get the brain you want as easily as you can get the body you want.  Think of it as P90X or aerobics for the brain.  Here is the regiment.

1)       The first thing you should do when you wake up is to reflect on yourself and compliment yourself.  Brain exercises go further than this.  You need to force 10 positive thoughts into your head.  Ten things that you are really looking forward to during the day or ten things that happened to you yesterday that were positive and fulfilling.  (something free, some bargain, sex, a good (healthy) meal, a good body workout, a walk, a swim, a great smell, etc.)  This is positive seeding and there is no limit to the number of items, only a minimum number of items required.  No less than 10.  If you cannot think of them, then try until you do.  No one can start with less than 10.  As you learn to remember the good things for the following morning, it will become easier.

2)      Calculations:  During the morning, you need to spend 10 minutes doing calculations that have nothing to do with you personally.  Unfortunately adults only do calculations that are upsetting or mundane.  Your job may have repetitive calculations that cause you stress.  Balancing the checkbook is always stressful.  These do not count.  You may also not count things that are horrific like the number of dead in a group of war battles, the number of illnesses in your neighborhood, or anything like that.  You need to do positive calculations.  (How many tiles in the ceiling, how many petals in a bouquet, how many dogs in a park, how many trees in an area, how many shells in a square foot of beach, how many bees in a flowering bush, etc.)  It does not have to be difficult math, although that is what I enjoy, but you need to count or calculate positive things.

3)      Dietary intake:  Depending on how urgently you need a mental cure is exactly how serious you need to be about dietary intake.  If you are desperate, you need to switch to whole foods, raw foods, zero processed foods, no caffeine or stimulants, no medications that make you drowsy, and no fried foods.  This is the intake necessary to heal a sick brain.  Like muscles, working your brain in a positive way, and achieving aerobic mental exercise, you can build a stronger, healthier brain, but if you have a very sick brain, you need more than just the exercise.  The intake listed above is an extreme, and you may want to think about some moderate changes in diet if your mental state is not an emergency.  The truth however is that there are specific foods for a health brain.  For more on dietary intake read the book : The Brain Diet: The Connection Between Nutrition, Mental Health, And Intelligence by Alan C. Logan

4)      Daily brain instructions:  You need to believe that the brain is just an organ so that you can believe that you are able to provide your brain with instructions and it will follow them.  Because the brain is the organ that develops your thoughts into coherent messages, it is also the organ that can accept thought or spoken (spoken is more powerful) commands.  The list of commands your brain can accept are as diverse as the problems you are facing.  You should speak these commands after a good meal in the morning and after you have done your calculations exercise.  The brain is more open to suggestion after these activities.  Examples of commands that you can speak to your brain are:  “think about happy things”, “think about others more”, “think about living longer and keeping the body healthier”, “stop thinking about doing that thing”, “stop thinking about that person”, “stop considering doing that”, “stop believing that it will never happen”, the list is endless.

5)      Spasm control:  When your brain begins to race with thoughts, or go to a thought that you do not want to follow, it is a brain spasm.  You need to massage it back into order.  Brain spasms are a fire that needs food.  You need to fight it with deprivation of input.  I personally close my eyes, think of the blackness and think of a single word.  I use the word black because it links with the darkness of closed eyes and gives my brain less room to create.  I do not let my mind expand on that word, just simply contemplate the darkness of closed eyes and the single word until the racing has stopped.  Note:  I also use this to go to sleep.  The daily exercise for a racing brain is not to slow it down like many medications by psychiatrists, but rather to direct it to useful racing.  Be glad that you have a mind that wants to run quickly.  Train it to run in a single direction.  You need a thought purpose.  Think of an answer that the world needs, or that you need, but cannot solve.  When your brain begins to race, remember that need and start to think exclusively on that need.  Not only will your brain begin to race in the direction you want it to go, but your anxiety about the racing thoughts will go away and you may indeed come up with some very good solutions to world and personal problems.

6)      Sorrow control:  Your brain my send a sorrow signal at any time.  You have hundreds of thousands of experiences in your life and many of them are sad.  Something as simple as a bird hitting the windshield of your car a year ago can have a profound effect on you tomorrow, if you mistake that sorrow signal for anything other than an electric impulse.  Sorrow, as you feel it emotionally is your conscious decision to validate the electrical impulse.  Because the brain is just an organ, it reacts predictably to your response to that electric impulse.  If you dwell on it, the memory becomes stronger and you will very likely feel it again in the future.  ALSO, if you dwell on it, the brain has additional hormonal and electrical activities that occur that deepen your sorrow, and possibly even experience physical pain.  To combat sorrow, simply reject the impulse.  Move onto something else quickly.  You are not denying that this happened, you are simply not allowing any of your brain’s processing time to be allocated to that memory.  Move on to something else.  Let you brain know that you are not interested in dwelling on the subject.  The brain responds precisely to your request UNLESS you are lying to yourself and you want to dwell on the sorrow.  Like any other emotion, sorrow is a choice.  You must accept the brain’s suggestion that you feel sorrow in order to slip into the hormonally charged feeling of sadness.  The daily exercise for sadness is view real sadness.  You need to volunteer at any facility with people who have serious problems in their lives.  Not that your life issues are not serious, but setting yourself in a place where you are the strong one, and others are the weak ones, will teach your brain that your problems are manageable.  The combination of addressing and moving on when the brain suggests your personal sorrow, and the ability to manage and protect others from sorrow makes you a powerful being capable of happiness in any circumstance.

7)      Anger control :  Anger is not an emotion.  Anger is a response to the acceptance of a long line of suggestions by the brain.  Some people who are quick to anger have a shorter line of suggestions, but it is always more than one.  Anger is an accumulation of suggestions that leads to a lack of control and a chemical reaction of violence.  The answer to anger management is zen.  Each time you feel the hormones that pump into your muscles begin, stop everything, close your eyes and begin positive thinking exercises.  Capture the trend mentally and bind it.  Your body is now charged with adrenalin so you will be seeking a release.  Don’t.  Mentally inform your brain that it has wasted valuable resources mistakenly.  Your brain is an efficiency machine.  The thought of wasting a burst of adrenaline is like you dropping a hundred dollar bill and not being able to pick it back up.  It will not take long for the brain to become slower to suggest anger and the pumping of valuable resources in support of that anger.  The daily exercise for anger is very similar to the exercise for sorrow.  With anger issues, you need to give.  Physical exertion in any form that benefits your community is the best possible exercise for anger.  It will take a while for you to train your brain to slow the release of adrenaline, and you need to work it out of your body.  Do community service that entails physical labor.  If you cannot find a chance to do that than simply start working on the ground that surrounds you.  Get permission to plant flowers or bushes or anything that needs your care and physical attention.  Put in food bearing plants in your back yard that require harvest.  Put in a form of renewable energy like a windmill, solar panel, solar water heater, or install a brick path.  This will work all the chemicals out of your body.  The intervention of zen meditation every time your brain starts running down the path towards anger will correct the pattern and make anger less of a knee jerk reaction and more of a conscious choice.

8)      Communication:  The last brain exercise that you need to do daily is positive communication.  You need a friend that you can have a discussion with at least once a day.  You need to have someone to bounce things off and get input from on a daily basis.  The brain exercise in this is your effort to never speak about the same thing twice unless they request it from you.  In other words, you have to come up with a new discussion topic every day that will captivate them.  They will help you by filtering your topics from boring to exciting.  Many of us fall into the pit of only being able to talk about one thing.  A husband, a wife, money, religion, or self pity are the typical pits of repetition.  This brain exercise will bring you out of that pit and make you a functioning human capable of having friends.  NEVER speak of the same topic twice unless the friend asks you about it.  That is the key to good communication and a fulfilling friendship.

ItiA

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