Tag Archives: Brain

The Art of Smart Thinking by James Hardt

Summary
  1. The Biocybernaut institute helps you increase your alpha waves through highly specialized neurofeedback training. Raising alpha waves and suppressing beta waves (the rational, thinking mind) helps increase creativity, IQ, meditation, helps emotional healing and a lot more
Key Takeaways
  1. Most people not accessing their alpha/theta waves which are associated with creativity, joy and higher intelligence
  2. Anxiety negatively affects learning, creativity and memory – alpha and anxiety negatively correlated
  3. Don’t deny or repress emotions. They will only build up and burst out at a later point
  4. Being able to turn brain off leads to more alpha which leads to more creativity and happiness
    1. Theta rarer but can lead to access to Akashic records (collective unconscious)
  5. Edison was famous for his power naps which helped him boost alpha/theta state (tap Akashic records?)
  6. Oxygenating brain helps greatly with creativity. Dr. NakaMats who has over 3,000 patents including the floppy disk, hard disk and digital watch coined the term “brain bubble” where he oxygenated his brain to a great extent and then held his breathe underwater until he simply couldn’t do it anymore. This allows more blood flow to the brain overtime as the carotid arteries that feed your brain expand over time (mammalian diving response increases blood flow to the brain and every other organ as well)
  7. Ego dissolution is the goal of mystical practices and helps lay the foundation for mystical experiences
  8. Neurofeedback one of the best ways to train the brain to reach alpha/theta states. When the brain can become the subject of its focus it has tremendous effects on your ability to reach these states as it creates a virtuous feedback loop
  9. Leaders must lead through a premise of love, never punishment
  10. Mystical/intuitive knowing closer to truth than rational knowing
  11. Different brain waves
    1. Delta- slowest, mainly deep sleep
    2. Theta – creativity, problem solving, Akashic
    3. Alpha – relaxed/effortless alertness, creativity, higher IQ
    4. Beta – effortful thinking, where most people are most of the time
    5. Gamma – fastest, linked to meditation, “eureka” moments
  12. Being able to alternate, switch on/off waves leads to a successful, blissful life as you can rise to whatever occasion you come up against
  13. Non thinking doesn’t mean non awareness.
  14. Higher alpha often leads to ego dissolution and the ego will fight back vehemently to remain in control
    1. Five Hindrances – doubt, drowsiness, distractibility (worry), boredom, aversion (any form of ill will) and forgetfulness
  15. People can train brain waves which leads to control of their central nervous system which has many physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits
  16. Reduce stressors (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, garlic, onions, lack of sleep, worry/anxiety/fear, anger/hostility, sadness/depression, apathy) helps raise alpha and suppress beta
  17. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper
  18. Deep forgiveness vital to overcome anger, depression, fear and reach a higher consciousness
    1. Determine you will forgive self/others, bring to mind the person or situation, create a loving space in your heart, feel the hurt and pain and make it real again, come back to the present and become aware of something good that came from the event, based on this good change your attitude about the past event, forgive the other person and yourself using the alpha tones, see the event again but from the other person’s eyes, feel love in your heart for the other person
  19. Ways to increase alpha – avoid regular exposure to violent shows, TV, video games; meditate, pray (see feelings of flying and floating, feelings of light, lightness and vast space, lavender scents, slow breathing, focus on breathe, slow breathing exercises)
  20. One Biocybernaut feedback session equivalent to 20-40 years of zen training
  21. Don’t let the brain overuse the same neural pathways/mental habits. Keep it guessing, keep learning and trying new things
  22. Youthful brain has a lot of alpha and is a great indicator of overall health
  23. Creative rooms – have a “static” room where you can develop ideas and be calm (plants, rocks, running water) for a sense of peacefulness and alpha waves. Free association, churning over ideas at random and spitting out whatever comes to mind. “Dynamic” room is dark with black and white striped walls, leather furniture and special audio/video equipment. End with swimming pool and “bubble brain”
  24. The zone – nonrational, thoughtless, egoless state where time vanishes
  25. Aim to merge with any activity so completely you lose yourself in it
  26. People have an almost endless capacity to learn and remember things about themselves
  27. Every attachment is related to fear
  28. With training, awareness/consciousness continually expands
  29. Hindrances – attitudes, attachments, aversions, self conceptions and thought processes ingrained in us since childhood. Mood scales during training helps clear the awareness of these inner obstacles which are often subconscious
  30. 80% of illnesses/addictions stem from dysfunctional central nervous system stress response
  31. Alpha spawns insights
  32. Pride (ego) destroys alpha
  33. Neurofeedback democratizes spiritual experiences
  34. Shared feedback almost a merging of people and can be very powerful
  35. “There is nothing more powerful and empowering than honoring your true nature, standing in your truth, becoming your authentic self. When you uncover and express your authentic self, you allow your inner light to shine. You are in touch with your higher guidance, truth and wisdom and can live your highest purpose with joyful creativity.”
What I got out of it
  1. People rely on clear, immediate feedback in any area of their life in order to improve. Meditation is no different. The Biocybernaut institute has some proprietary technology to help you get decades worth of meditation work done in a week through their feedback systems, mood scales and other processes. Really interesting read and does a good job highlighting human potential (note – a lot of it is pretty out there and “woo woo”)

Super Better by Jane McGonigal

Summary
  1. By adopting a more “gameful” mindset you can improve your resilience and better improve other areas and skills
Key Takeaways
  1. 4 rules to turning life into a game
    1. Turn anyone into a potential ally
    2. Use powerups (things which energize you) throughout your day to keep you motivated
    3. Set quests (goals) for you to achieve
    4. Make it all a game with bad guys (obstacles)
  2. Gaming with a purpose and not to escape your problems can have a lot of benefits such as making you more creative and resilient with real world problems
  3. Find quick 5 minute “power ups” which you can do anywhere and that make you happy
  4. Find ways to outsmart or overpower your bad guys (obstacles). Must develop psychological flexibility in order to try things which will challenge you or you might fail. Being mindful of bad guys is vital
  5. By visualizing or giving stupid names to your temptations, nerves, bad guys, you make it easier to overcome them
  6. When struggling with something, try looking at it from a third person point of view. Blas is stressed. Why?
  7. A good thank you requires the benefit of what they did, the effort it took them and spot the strength
  8. Trees give off chemicals which kill off fungus and insects but stimulates humans white blood cells!
What I got out of it
  1. Interesting read and a different way to look at life – make it all a game with bad guys (obstacles), powerups (things that make you feel better), quests (goals), recruiting allies (people to inspire you and keep you accountable)

The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge

Summary

  1. This book is about the unique way the brain heals itself and diseases once thought incurable might not really be so
Key Takeaways
  1. Activities, thoughts, electrical impulses are all used as healing techniques as it spurs the brain to form new and/or stronger neural connections. As the senses are the brain’s way of interacting with the world, it makes sense to use one’s senses to stimulate and mold the brain 
  2. Pain is processed in the brain and it has the ability to turn it off at times
  3. Patient must actively engage and learn about treatments for them to have the biggest impact
  4. Exercise and mental stimulation are both key to a successful brain health program
  5. Lasers can be utilized to help heal and / or stimulate the brain and other areas of the body
  6. Do not underestimate the importance of natural light in the healing process 
  7. Feldenkrais, a French physicist was also an acclaimed Judoist and spent a lot of time learning about how the body and mind are interconnected.
    1. Awareness through movement – move your body very slightly and notice how it affects the rest of your body. Through these practices, he was able to help a lot of people who had chronic pain in different areas of their bodies become fully functional
    2. Aim to never move or do anything compulsively – do them slowly, gracefully and mindfully
  8. Speaks of people with eye issues and how they were able to heal themselves with certain Buddhist practices such as placing the palms over the eyes and imagining blue/black. Like everything else, the eyes are intricately tied to the brain and are the first part to change before the brain
  9. Music is also a potent way to reach the brain. Music can be used to rewire and teach the brain new connections 
  10. Dr. Tomatis figured out that one can only sing as well as one can hear. However, one can train themselves to hear better and therefore sing better (using the electronic ear)
  11. People tend to speak out of one side of their mouthes. Right side generally associated with better listeners
  12. Paul Madaule and Dr. Tomatis at the Listening Center – have had amazing success with autistic children and other mentally challenged cases
  13. Rates of autism have skyrocketed and many think that reducing inflammation is key to reducing the symptoms
  14. Dyslexia doesn’t just affect reading abilities but every aspect of their lives
  15. Chanting can either add or detract energy – high frequency adds. This is part of what keeps Benedictine monks energized on so little sleep
  16. Mozart is the most commonly used form of classical music for listening therapy
  17. Low intensity lasers, pons tongue stimulator and sound therapy have all been effectively used to rewire the brain. Light therapy, tai chi, yoga, music, etc. all used for brain health
  18. Electromagnetic currents and magnetic fields have been used to help bones heal faster
  19. Dr. Roth in Canada uses matrix repatterning to help patients rewire their brains and bodies
What I got out of it
  1. Fascinating book on how alternative approaches have been successfully used to heal and improve the brain

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

Summary

  1. Doidge discusses neuroplasticity extensively – the ability of the brain to rewire itself. This is both a good and a bad thing as we can change our brains in case it gets injured but we are also more susceptible outside influences
Key Takeaways
  1. Discusses a lady who completely lost her balance and through the use of a special tool was able to recalibrate her balance and rewire the brain (pons tongue stimulator – seems to have remarkable positive effects for a broad array of diseases, handicaps, disabilities, etc.)
  2. Shown that people who lose one sense can train others to make up for it this is also known as sensory substitution
  3. People are able to survive in an ever changing world due to our brain’s ability to adapt to anything we throw at it
  4. Pushing the brain by trying new things and learning increases connections and the potential of the brain
  5. There is a critical period in an animals youth where certain stimuli are needed to spur the brain to grow and develop. If the brain is denied stimulation in this time frame, this aspect will not develop
  6. Unlearning often so much more difficult than learning because it occupies a certain part of the brain which can be difficult to rewire – early education and good habits so important 
  7. What you learn can only be as clear as the original message – don’t multitask or split your attention if you truly want to learn something 
  8. White noise can have adverse effects of infants are exposed at a young age as it causes many neurons to fire simultaneously – what is often found in autism
  9. Learning is effortless at a young age because the nucleus basalis is always on. Scientists have found that it can be reopened using an electrode – opening the door to effortless learning in adults
  10. Acetylcholine helps the brain be focused and remember better
  11. Any activity or task which requires your full attention is healthy for your brain’s long term health 
  12. Sexuality is extremely plastic as well and what we experience early on has big effects on us and what were attracted to through life
  13. Pornography desensitizes us and makes actual sexual encounters less pleasant over time
  14. Being in love is big a satisfying feeling not only because it helps us feel great, but also because it makes it harder to feel bad
  15. Oxytocin is a neuromodulator which is used to bond people and animals – between young and their parents as well as between lovers
  16. Even victims of severe strokes can train themselves back to self sufficiency. Training should be as realistic as possible and done in intermittent spurts
  17. Mental practice is not as effective as the real thing but it still has amazing benefits. Actual exercise lead to 30% increases in strength but deeply visualizing the same exercises lead to a 22% increase!
  18. Experts tend to use long term rather than short term memory to solve problems. They don’t memorize facts as much as novices do, rather they remember key steps which can be broadly applied 
  19. Experience and culture both change the brain, it’s mapping and how it functions
  20. Easterners and westerners tend to perceive things differently – easterners see things more holistically whereas westerners perceive things more in isolation
  21. Due to the brain’s amazing ability to respond to new stimuli and training, few limits can be seen in human improvement
What I got out of it
  1. Fascinating book on the brain, how it functions, its amazing potential and where our future might lie

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku

Future of the Mind

Summary
  1. Michio Kaku discusses the amazing research being done on the mind and its potential applications – telepathy, mind control, avatars, and recording memories and dreams to share with everyone.
Key Takeaways
  1. Kaku is a theoretical physicist but believes his unique perspective can help enrich the field of neuroscience
  2. Believes that neuroscience began once Phineas Gage got a spike thorough his brain and changed personalities. First time damage to the brain had been linked with changes in behavior
  3. Speaks of the exciting things to come such as thought controlled exoskeletons for paraplegics and being able to upload your memories and consciousness
  4. Argues that we can never explain consciousness because an object cannot know itself
  5. Consciousness is a mental model of the world which uses many feedback loops with different parameters (sight, sound, etc) with the goal of surviving and thriving. Animals create a model of the world (space) but humans do it with space/time in order to plan into the future
  6. EEGPET scanTESdeep brain stimulation and optogenetics have all been and will continue to be extremely informative tests to help understand, map and analyze the brain
  7. The purpose of memory is to help predict the future
  8. Memories are not stored in one area or chronologically. They are encoded in many different areas and when we recall them they must be reassembled
What I got out of it
  1. An exciting and eye opening account of current beliefs and tests on the brain. The potential technology and applications is fascinating and also a bit daunting. Good read if you are interesting in how the brain works and some possible almost science-fiction brain-based applications

Read The Future of the Mind

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Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das

Buddha Standard Time

 

Summary
  1. Surya Das walks us through how to live completely in the now, in “Buddha Standard Time.” We have the power to manipulate time by altering how aware and mindful we are of the present moment. The practices outlined within are increasingly important in today’s hectic day and age.
Key Takeaways
  1. Buddha Standard Time – timeless time, wholly now
  2. Issue trying to solve – how to wean yourself from the addictions that sap time and energy, to clear out all the debris and distraction. You have much more time than you think. In fact, you have all the time in the world
  3. The more concentration and awareness you can achieve, the more time disappears. It’s not time that we lack in our rushed lives, but focus
  4. Do not chase the small, ephemeral things that result only in loss and suffering if you become dependent on them (social media, fame, money, etc.)
  5. Become mindful of what you pay attention to and become more intentional, objective and observant to the minutiae of your life, the transient experiences. Increases self-control and mental discipline, transforms our attitudes and shifts more towards being more responsive, thoughtful, intentional and aware
  6. Nobody can make us angry if we don’t have seeds of anger in our own heart
  7. It is not what happens to us, but how we respond that determines our character and our destiny
  8. Smiling often is a great practice – it is free and spreads love and kindness
  9. People are terrible multitaskers
  10. Master the lost art of waiting and you’ll make friends with time and grow less bored, irritated or annoyed. Read, enjoy and appreciate the people and sites around you
  11. Take time to slow down – slow cooking, slow showers, slow walking, etc. All help you get back into the moment and appreciate the world around you
  12. The Sacred Pause – practice of creating a moment to respond consciously by breathing, waiting and considering things objectively before responding
  13. True realized masters are not beyond suffering and dissatisfaction but one with it
  14. Cultivate a beginner’s or “don’t know” mind – eliminates ego and wasteful thinking
What I got out of it
  1. Really got a lot out of this book and its tips, techniques and recommendations on how to slow down, be present and mindful. It’s not time that we lack, but focus.

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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

 Stroke of Insight

Summary
  1. Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight discusses the “chronological documentation of the journey I took into the formless abyss of a silent mind, where the essence of my being became enfolded in a deep inner peace.” She suffered a massive hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain and due to her unique position of being a neuroanatomist, had deep insight into her deterioration to the point where she could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any parts of her life. However, this book is not truly about her stroke but more about the beauty and resiliency of the human brain.
Key Takeaways
  1. Warning signs of STROKE – Speech, Tingling, Remember (lack of memory), Off balance, Killer headache, Eyes (problem with vision)
  2. The two hemispheres of our brain work synergistically in order to mesh together two different perceptions of the world. The right side exists only in the present and the border between yourself and the world is “softer” on this side, is more creative and is where joy is experienced, no inhibitions; left side is more organized, linear, detail oriented, divides time, it lives to weave facts and details into a story, is your ego center and is where that “voice in your head” stems from, determines our likes and dislikes, is the judge of everything
  3. She came to understand that her body functioned like a portal through which the energy of who she was was beamed into a 3D external space. “I wondered how I could have spent so many years in this body, in this form of life, and never really understood that I was just visiting here.”
  4. Without the judgmental left hemisphere, she was able to perceive herself as the perfect, whole and beautiful being that she was
  5. I paid very close attention to how energy dynamics affected me. I realized that some people brought me energy while others took it away
  6. “It still blows my mind (so to speak) that I could not see color until I was told that color was a tool I could use…the same thing was true for seeing in three dimensions.”
  7. One of the greatest lessons I learned was how to feel the physical component of emotion. Joy was a feeling in my body. peace was a feeling in my body…and most remarkably, I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong its presence in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me…Paying attention to what emotions feel like in my body has completely shaped my recovery…Nothing external to me had the power to take away my peace of heart and mind. That was completely up to me. I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience.
  8. “My stroke of insight is that at the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is directly connected to my feeling of deep inner peace. It is completely committed to the expression of peace, love, joy and compassion in the world”
  9. You have the power to respond or not respond to any situation. Anything can trigger your anger response or whatever but after that it is your decision if you keep “hooking into this neurocircuitry” or not
  10. Take responsibility for what you attract into your life
  11. There has been nothing more powerful than realizing that I don’t have to think thoughts that bring me pain
  12. Seeing this moment, any moment, as a perfect moment is always a choice
  13. When I become conscious of what cognitive loops my brain is running, I then focus on how these loops feel physiologically inside my body. Do I feel alert? Does my chest feel tight? etc.
  14. Paying attention to your own self-talk is vitally important for our mental health
  15. Be harshly honest with yourself – how your mind and body are feeling and do not be ashamed or try to resist it. If you’re tired sleep, if you’re anxious, ask yourself why and address it
  16. Step one to experiencing inner peace is the willingness to be present in the right here, right now
What I got out of it
  1. Dr. Taylor speaks often about shutting down when she felt people were “energy vampires” or were too loud or anxious. I truly believe that everybody subconsciously registers all this and might be why we instinctively like and dislike certain people. Our subconscious tendencies such as facial expressions, body language, nervous ticks or energy, etc. can have a huge effect on how we are perceived and liked by others

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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow

 

Summary
  1. Divides decision making into our intuitions (System 1) and our slower, more rational side (System 2). People often place too much faith in System 1 and this often leads to trouble. Offers tips and techniques into how to avoid certain psychological fallacies in order to make better decisions.
Key Takeaways
  1. People are intuitively poor statisticians
  2. Studied the role of intuition and how they affect our opinions and outlooks
  3. Availability heuristic – people biased because of heuristics. Most obvious and prevalent example pops up first (shark attacks although very rare)
  4. Resemblance and recall often used but don’t forget to also think about statistics. Farmer and librarian example where describe somebody shy and think librarian but in fact many more farmers than librarians in the world
  5. Goal is to provide a view of how the mind works. Drawing on recent cognitive and psychological findings focusing on biases
  6. Expert intuition strikes as magical when in a special skill but we all have some of it. Detecting anger in voices quickly, etc
  7. Intuition is nothing more than recognition. Sometimes superior recognition, but recognition nonetheless
  8. Affect heuristic – make decision based on gut with little use of reason or intellect.
    1. Fast thinking uses heuristics, intuition and perception/memory and the vast majority of our decisions are made using this systems (but maybe they shouldn’t be…)
    2. Slow thinking based on reason, deliberate thought
  9. Broad framing – do not consider one risk or gamble in isolation, think of all of them spread over your whole life and will see that this decision actually carries very little risk
  10. Setting for yourself certain risk policies will help alleviate some of the narrow framing issues and make decisions easier
  11. In order to avoid hindsight bias, make decisions after very thorough thought or almost none
  12. Pain and pleasure drives mostly everything. Understand that duration of plays a big role when deciding
  13. Time matters greatly and need to make decisions around this. Ultimate finite resource in this life
  14. Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it
  15. 2 selves – experiencing self and remembering self (keeps score and makes decisions)
    1. Make sure to take duration of event into account when making decision
    2. Start judging decisions by how they were made and not only how they turned out
  16. Part 1 – fast v slow and how it affects our decisions
  17. Part 2- updates on judgment heuristics and why so difficult to think statistically
  18. Part 3- overconfidence due to thinking we know more than we do and not recognizing our supreme ignorance. Underestimate role of chance and our use of hindsight
  19. Part 4 – economic agents are rational? Examples of human decisions which aren’t. Prospect theory
  20. Part 5- distinction between experiencing self and remembering self. These two have differing Interests
What I got out of it
  1. We have two systems for basing decisions on – system 1 is the intuitive decision maker and system 2 is the thorough and analytical decision maker. We often rely too much on system 1 and need to be aware of that. Judge your decisions by how they were made as opposed to how they turned out. Somewhat repetitive book but great lessons

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Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi

super brain

 

Summary
  1. Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi describe in Super Brain how to control your brain by learning how to the brain works and some inherent psychological fallacies.
 
Key Takeaways

  1. Your brain is creating reality every minute – make it the reality you want to live in
  2. Adaptability is key to super brain and our survival. It is what has made us the most dominant species ever.
  3. 3 major strengths – letting go, being flexible and hanging loose.
  4. 3 obstacles – habits, conditioning, stuckness
  5. How to expand consciousness – put higher premium on being awake/aware, resist conformity, value yourself, help others, expose yourself to creativity (art, poems, literature, etc), read holy texts, question own beliefs, get past your own ego, aim for highest meaning of own life, can always improve oneself.
  6. 3 strengths – evolving, expanding, being inspired.
  7. 3 obstacles – contraction, fixed boundaries, conformity.
  8. Meditation can physically alter brain and turn on good genes ad then off bad genes
  9. Super brain is detached from the thoughts or feelings the brain is having. I am feeling X, not I am X. And leads to why am I feeling X
  10. Feelings do not want to be pacified, they want to be fulfilled
  11. 4 functions and phases of the brain (must balance all 4 aspects to live a balanced and healthy life) – Instinctive, Emotional, Intelligent, Intuitive
  12. Only a handful of things brain cannot adapt to – chronic pain and anxiety
  13. Successful people almost always better at “feeling” their way through situations
  14. Purpose of universe – to foster life and create experiences for these living things
  15. Successful people internalize every success and this becomes a reinforcing behavior
  16. 7 Balances (True success comes from balancing these 7 areas) Sleep, Physical, Focus, Time in, Down time, Play, Connection time
  17. 3 things you should know for yourself – Your highest vision, Your deepest love, Your longest reach
  18. You are connected to everything in this world. All life is one. People who are animal whisperer understand this. They are empathetic and can relate to the animals’ consciousness. The animal feels this and is why they are so comfortable around each other
  19. 7 degrees of enlightenment (None of these need to be forced and come at different times for different people): Inner calm, Feeling connected, Empathy deepens, Clarity dawns, Awareness becomes more acute, Truth reveals itself, Bliss grows in your life.
 
What I got out of it
  1. Super Brain offers some amazing insights into how to lead a more balanced and happier life. One of the only things you can truly control is your mind and your reactions. Foster the right kinds of thoughts and make sure you’re creating a reality you want to live in. Balance is absolutely vital for a happy and successful life and Chopra and Tanzi show you how to get there. An excellent read.

Buy Super Brain

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