Your brain is your main operating system and is worthy of your time, care and attention. Brain atrophy is far more common these days as our gadgets and Google searches have created mass lay offs for the human brain.
Mind Mapping, created by Tony Buzan, is one of the best, most efficient ways to offset some of this dormancy and can fire up both sides of your brain regularly and easily.
My husband, Dion Flynn, introduced me to Mind Mapping years ago. It changed his life and the way he retained information, wrote theater, planned and taught his students and clients. He swears by it. He teaches a wildly popular workshop for creatives about how to use mindmapping in their creative process. (We even know of a romance that grew directly out of a mind mapping class my husband taught!).
Brilliant Brains Nourish Both Right and Left Hemispheres of the Brain
Scientists Roger Sperry of the California Institute of Technology and a Nobel Prize winner and Robert Ornstein discovered that the left and right side of the brain have distinct dominion over certain areas of ability.
The right side of your brain controls rhythm, spatial awareness, Gestalt (whole picture), imagination, daydreaming, color, dimension and the left controls words, logic, numbers, sequence, linearity, analysis, and lists.
This means that if we're incredible artists yet lousy at calculus and mathematics, we've essentially developed and spent time practicing and developing our art and haven't spent lots of time on our left brain math ability.
Mind Mapping can help you play with and engage both sides of your brain.
Mind Mapping Made Easy
For a thorough overview of mind mapping, I recommend Tony Buzan's book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain.
Grab a piece of paper, colored pencils - think of a project you've been overwhelmed by or need to brainstorm about and create your own Mind Map now:
7 Steps to Making a Mind Map (from Tony Buzan)
- Begin in the center of a blank page turned sideways. Why? Because starting in the middle gives your brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.
- Use an image or picture for your central idea. Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focused, helps you concentrate, and gives your brain more of a buzz.
- Use colors throughout. Why? Because colors are as exciting to your brain as are images. color adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your creative thinking, and it's fun.
- CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why? Because your brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.
- Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your brain.
- Use ONE KEY WORD PER LINE. Why Because single key words give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.
- Use IMAGES throughout. Why Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes!
Please share in the comments what you experienced....
In elementary school, it's a wonder that we don't get formally introduced to our minds. The wonder, magic and sheer magnificence of it impacts every facet of our lives. The mind literally shapes our lives.
Take a second, look around and the state of your life will tell you what ideas you hold in your mind. Hopefully you're good to yourself and have cultivated experiences that have enriched you. Most likely, you'll find that you're content with lots of choices you've made and have a few regrets. The good news is we have choice around what we choose to cultivate. With some work and effort, we can change our habitually way of thinking if it no longer serves us. We must if we want new, dynamic experiences.
Thoughts are Food
Thoughts feed us and fuel us or they weigh us down. Thoughts lead to feelings and feelings can be light and exhilarating or heavy and disempowering.
We need to carefully choose our thoughts and see where we've been harboring fugitives. For instance, if our self esteem is not where we'd like it to be, and we keep disqualifying ourselves for that job, that vision, that [fill in the blank]...we need to weed out the thoughts and practices that lead us down the well worn path of negativity. Our story won't change until we drop thoughts that no longer serve our highest good.
To create a new experience:
We begin by simply noticing. Notice and report whenever you catch yourself telling yourself something that doesn't empower you. You can say, "Oh there it is. I'm comparing myself again."
So we drop the disempowering thought. It's like taking out the garbage. Garbage will start to smell and grow mold and invite unwanted critters. Negative thoughts create smelly, old storylines.
We replace the negative thoughts with high vibe thoughts in the present tense: "I'm a wildly successful yoga teacher creating limber Brooklynites everywhere." You get the idea...
Nature abhors a vacuum so we take care to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Be daring -set the bar high!
Try this out and please tell me what you discover!
Are you living a joy-filled, abundant life? If yes, congratulations! I'm truly inspired. You're evidence of the abundance of the Universe.
If you're feeling a bit stuck please read on.
Right effort can create fulfilling deep and lasting change.
Dr. Bruce Lipton of Stanford University says that the subconscious mind "ultimately casts the deciding vote" on how much abundance, happiness and success you will experience. Apparently, the subconscious is "one million times more powerful" than your conscious mind he's found.
Recognizing the power of your mind and heart is where change begins. Your reality is merely a manifestation of the thoughts, values and beliefs you hold. This is the good new and the bad news. We can keep that which works and take an inventory, heal and change that which is not working for us.
Writing a free association letter to that area of your life where change is desired (i.e., "Dear Money", "Dear Career", "Dear Dating", etc.) can be a telling and powerful exercise. A 1-3 page letter will give you definite clues as to what is going on subconsciously.
After writing the letter, let yourself relax. When we relax, we open ourselves to our inner wisdom. We then access our subconscious. Our subconscious is at work 24 hours a day, 7 days per week so it's worth feeding it nourishing, purposeful food.
To access the subconscious:
Relax by sitting in a comfortable position in a quiet space. Sit with a straight spine, hands resting on your lap.
Envision something that brings you calm and peace - floating on a riverbed, a blue sky, vast and clear. Tune into your breath. Take 5 deep breaths, inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds. Let yourself sit for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Settle in.
For a more powerful experience, use a guided meditation that focuses on that area in which you want to see growth and change. There are lots of guided meditations readily available online.
Notice what comes up for you.
Begin affirming, daily, for at least 5 minutes in the morning and evening, that which you do want. Visualize it. Feel it. Affirm it. Let yourself envision your most ardent dream. The Universe is listening and will deliver.
By identifying that which you do want, very specifically, you're letting the Universe know that you're ready and willing to receive joy, abundance and light. You're transcending thoughts by feeling and allowing. You're breaking through. Keep at this practice and you will manifest.
A wandering mind is often an anxious and unhappy mind. Harvard mindfulness expert, Daniel Gilbert, says:
"People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy… 'Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,' Killingsworth says. 'In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.'… Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects’ mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness."
Mindfulness, tuning into the present moment, is an extremely effective self soothing technique and a worthy practice to cultivate. Here are 5 guidelines to bring to your mindfulness practice:
1. Watch your mind for 5 minutes. Set the timer if necessary for 5 minutes. Then breathe. Tune into your mind. Watch it. What does it do? Where does it go? What are its defaults? You'll be amazed at how busy it is, how focused on the past and future it is. Just observe without judgment.
2. Recognize that YOU are not your thoughts. As you tune into the frequency that is your mind, you'll begin to see the stream of thoughts. They are not who you are. Your essence is separate from your thoughts. You are light, essence, eternal--yes, even spiritual. Your thoughts are like trinkets in the pocket of your mind.
3. Begin to label your thoughts. Categorize and label your thoughts for what they are - angry, fearful, funny, etc. "There goes an angry one."...."Haha! That was a funny thought." "That was a 'I want to get more" thought." Just notice and label what is coming up and gain clarity.
4. Decide What is Useful. Begin deciding on what thoughts are useful and where they lead. Decide what you want to discard. Ask "is this thought leading me some place I want, need or can afford to go to? Is this a thought I want to nurture?" Here you can literally spare yourself a week, a month, years of potential suffering as you begin to see that thoughts are seeds that you plant and that will bear fruit eventually. Weed out the thoughts that do not serve your life's purpose.
5. Be Compassionate. Mindfulness practice enables self compassion. By cultivating mindfulness, you're soothing yourself by recognizing that all sorts of thoughts will float through your mind and that you can let them be. The practice creates choice. You are separate from your mind. You can lovingly detach from mind and not believe or act on the thoughts it feeds you.
In the comments please feel free to share your thoughts (ha!) and your experience with mindfulness practice.
As a little girl, I watched Charlie (Bucket) and the Chocolate Factory again and again and again. Gene Wilder was the perfect Willie Wonka. His crazy curls could generate a spark and his cornflower blue eyes beamed, most surely because he had a direct line to the One who could grant all wishes, thought my little girl self.
Mr. Wonker seemed to have a secret way of gaining access to the world (the Chocolate Factory) of miracles. What he really had was a script and a great set design that captured the imagination of millions.
To access the miraculous, there are 3 essential realms we need to say yes to:
- the present moment;
- connection with others;
- a practice of faith (over fear)
In these realms, we participate and dance with the Universe. Becoming a miracle magnet becomes possible.
We also need to "play big" as Tara Mohr so brilliantly outlines in her book Playing Big: Practice Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead.
What miracles have you experienced in your life? Do you notice a pattern? Please leave a comment and let us know!
"Start where you are. This is very important. Meditation practice is not about later when you get it all together and you're this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world-that's a fine place to start. That's a very rich place to start-juicy, smelly. ...Just where you are-that's the place to start." ~Pema Chodron
The present moment.
It's the great equalizer because every living creature has access to it now.
It's rich with sound, taste, smell, visual food.
We can take refuge in the present moment, use it as our momentary resting place.
In it we can breathe. Five breaths in, 5 breaths out.
How do you access and relate to the present moment? Please let us know in the comments.