Meditative Monday Series: Mental Clearing for 2019 – Week 2
Clearing Out Brain Fog
Last week, I provided a list for you to begin the mental clearing process. In Part 1 I provided you with a Process Exercise that requested that you demonstrate love for yourself by committing uninterrupted time for yourself. This task is #intentionalliving at its most basic level. Did you do that for yourself or were you unable to do that for yourself? In either case, indicate how that felt and what that meant to you. If you did not, indicate the same, but also include why it didn’t happen. Are you thinking “I was tired” or “I work long hours”? I encourage you to begin thinking about restructuring a few things in your daily routine that is just for you as a way of ensuring better #worklifebalance. Be mindful that this is a judgment-free zone, as you’ll be sure of by the time we get to Task #2 in Week Three (3) where we learn how to #practicenonjudgement. Remember that we are all here to support each other in the little ways that we can. So, if you’re brave enough and want to share your success with how that worked for you or any challenges with the process. I encourage you to share your experiences in the “Comment Section” here to help someone who may be struggling with this task.
Additionally, I asked you to engage in a meditative practice, journaling, among the other 6 remaining tasks on the list for our 2019 #newyearcleanse guided by my “Mental Clearing Process”. Today, I want us to focus on how to work through the implementation of one part of it, that is Committing Time, Meditative Practice, Journaling. And, in Part Two (2) how to clear out “Brain Fog” to get started by incorporating healthy antioxidant-rich foods and snacks into your diet as a means obtaining a mental clearing utilizing antioxidants as functional foods.
In last weeks Blog Post at https://telebehavioralwellness.com/mental-clearing-the-jump-start-process/, I made some suggestions for beginning you mental clearing journey by what I call “Priming the Pump” nutritionally by adopting a more anti-inflammatory diet. It is important to prevent oxidative stress to the body as a whole because it has been linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, and other inflammatory or ischemic conditions. Did you know that it is estimated that worldwide by 2030 more than 65 million people will be affected? Mood and memory can be impacted by some foods and have negative effects on your brain, and increase our risk of dementia. (The World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer’s Disease International). Just as important every day far more people experience “Brain Fog” which is additionally a sign of inflammation. Symptoms of which may include feeling scattered, stuttering or stammering when speaking, processing information slowly, just to name a few. For more information about this take a look at Datis Kharrazian book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?
There are several enzymes system within the body that scavenge free radicals, which adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases. When the critical balance between free radical generation and antioxidant defenses is disrupted oxidative stress significantly contributes to all inflammatory diseases. However, there is a role for dietary antioxidants as functional foods in the management of human diseases. The principle micronutrient (vitamins) antioxidants are vitamin E (α-tocopherol), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and B-carotene. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients, so they must be supplied in the diet. Dietary and other components of plants form a major source of natural antioxidants. We can benefit tremendously by integrating into our diets a higher intake of foods with functional attributes including high level of antioxidants in functional foods.
Simultaneously we must obtain and maintain clarity of the mind because it is both essential for our brain health which is central to cultivating attention, which plays a huge role in our productivity, performance, and ability to make sound decisions. Be proactive because we can additionally control and avert many infections which more often than not are triggered by inflammation, so safeguard yourself and commit to eating sugar-gluten-casein free and probiotic-rich foods. So, besides the snack suggestion that I shared with you last week, what can you additionally really eat substantially as a meal plan on a daily basis as part of a regular dietary mental cleanse to help you get that mental clearing?
Try these preventative and protective options for reducing inflammation of the brain:
Oily Fish ~In particular, wild salmon for its omega-3 fatty acids
Chia Seeds ~more omega-3 than any other plant-based food
Avocados ~rich in vitamin E and good fats
Cacao (raw) ~antioxidants and flavanols, or dark chocolate (slightly sweeter taste)
Green Leafy Vegetables ~especially Kale and Broccoli, both are very high in vitamin K, with Broccoli being additionally full of choline.
Coffee ~a 2 cup max
Nuts ~vitamin E and antioxidants
Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng ~phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) that stimulate brain activity
Stevia ~a natural herbal, sugar-free sweetener provides blood sugar regulation
Fermented foods ~provides infection and enhances digestion, are very alkaline and cleanse the blood.
Curcumin and Turmeric ~boost memory and increase blood flow to the body and the brain, e.g curry foods, etc.
Forstall your death nail, NIX the following from your dietary intake!!
Sugary drinks ~high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Refined Carbs ~sugars and highly processed grains, e.g. white flour
Trans fats ~artificial fats, e.g. typically in shortening, margarine, frosting, snack foods, prepackaged cookies, ready-made cakes, etc.
Highly processed foods ~high in sugar, fats, and salt, e.g. fried foods, processed meats, etc.
Aspartame ~increases the brains vulnerability to oxidative stress and disrupts the production of its neurotransmitters
Alcohol (excessive alcohol consumption) ~disrupts sleep patterns, e.g. associated with poor sleep quality, memory loss, behavioral changes, etc.
Predatory fish and some seafood ~mercury toxicity disrupts the central nervous system, neurotransmitters and stimulation of neurotoxins, limit eating shark, swordfish, tuna, orange roughy, king mackerel and tilefish
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep your brain hydrated and incorporate daily exercise to improve blood flow to the brain. Both are essential to help reduce long-term brain inflammation. To keep our brain efficient avoid dehydration to assure that essential chemical like salt and electrolytes are in balance. Be mindful that dehydration is our brain’s way of telling us that the water in our brain is depleted, and when that happens not only does it physically shrink but this also can trigger headaches because our brain is roughly 60% water.
Demonstrate more love for your brain as the most important organ in your body and the one that keeps all the systems in your body functioning. As you can see what we put in our body filters eventually to our brains demonstrating that diet definitely has a big impact and can contribute towards our mental cleaning journey as we root out any preventable inflammation and Brain Fog.
Committing Time For Yourself
Let’s presume that having and committing more time for yourself is your endpoint, ask yourself what steps that you need to take in order to achieve that goal? In other words, focus more time on acknowledging how many of those steps you can realize to get closer to setting aside and having the time you need. Set up your day with a clear focus for achieving what you absolutely must accomplish. Don’t get carried off by emails, texts, or social media feeds, which are ultimately are interruptions you’ll need to keep to a minimum to “buy” time back for your day. Schedule a time of the day to be plugged in online, and resist the temptation to peak. Instead, think all your “feeds and timelines” will still be there when you get to them. Respect your “To- Do” List and regularly update it throughout the day, to include revisiting it and adding new priority items as needed which includes building in priority human interactions strategically. Spend more time with activities that you’ll get a greater more positive value from, as opposed to less important activities. Typically they’ll be the activities that will have the largest contribution to your personal life or your career. Procrastination is not your friend, unfriend it because it’s slowing you down. Practice bad habit-breaking techniques that will help you unlearn habits that do not serve you. Here are some useful tools: The Power Of Habit (C. Duhigg), Willpower (R. Baumeister and J.Tierney), The Craving Mind (J. Brewer), Irresistible (Adam Alter), and Hooked(Nir Eya), Barking Up The Wrong Tree (Eric Barker), et al. Understanding and mastery over bad habits can contribute towards helping us achieve our goals. Multi-tasking while it can be a useful skill it in and of itself is cliche’ and over-rated, limit it. The science shows us that while we can do it, we can’t effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. And, do we really do each task equally well? Don’t punish yourself for falling short in your day, any remaining task will undoubtedly be there the next day, so make sure you spend a few minutes to review your day to maintain your momentum and create positive energy to take on the day.
Implementing a Meditative Practice
Identify space that is uniquely yours where you will have only minimal disturbances. If it’s in your home enjoy the process making it yours as a reminder of its meditative purpose. Experiment with what time of the day or night allows you that is in line with your temperament that would allow you a regular time to practice.
Be mindful of your body positioning, like whether your practice works for you better if you are sitting up straight versus lying down, or if your feet are planted, your hands resting in your lap or knees, and whether or not your eyes are closed. Select whatever position allows you to feel the least amount of tension or strain on your body.
Once your relaxed be mindful of the natural sensations your feeling with your breathing. Your breath will change naturally and with rhythm, let it. As your mind begins to wander bring it back to your breath mindfully by acknowledging that your mind has wandered. Stay with it until your practice time has ended.
If you haven’t yet found that physical space to carve out for yourself there other forms of meditation you may also enjoy that can be equally beneficial if personal or non-private space doesn’t exist for you right now in your life, and if you don’t want to sit in your car until you locate a designated space, some of these include: Relaxation & Body Scans meditation, Sound Meditation, e.g. singing bowls meditation, primordial sounds, mantras, binaural beats, etc., Affirmations (silent or audible), Prayer (silent or audible), Guided meditation (audio file, podcast, CD or video) Yoga Meditations, specifically Kundalini, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, and Aerial Yoga, Qigong (Chi kung), Tai Chi, Walking Meditation, and Riding Meditation, etc.
I have experienced quite a few of these mindful meditation practices with great success as they all are flexible enough to do in a public space. No matter which practice approaches that you want to explore here are just a few resources to help get you started in general.
Free Guided Meditations:
Head In The Clouds https://headintheclouds.typepad.com/head_in_the_clouds/links-to-free-online-guided-meditations.html
Free Binaural Beats https://free-binaural-beats.com/
Yoga Nidra https://youtu.be/vvldC6mzLvA
Free Meditation Mobile Apps:
Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com/
Three Min Start (Book & Audio) by Mahankirn Kaur http://threeminstart.com/products/three-min-start-book/
A final note: I additionally recommend Mahan’s book because I worked with her as a Personal Assistant for her popular and effective “Three Min Start” book, which are 22 Simple Techniques to Improve Mood and Reduce Stress. Mahan lays out a practice designed for busy lives, is simple to do and can be done anywhere. A woman with a beautiful Spirit, Mahan is a Los Angeles based global yogi and healer who has studied with the only two living masters of the ancient healing technology of Sat Nam Rasayan from India and has received the highest level of certification in this healing modality.
If you have already had a journal, use it. If you don’t have one, go buy one, get some paper, or begin an electronic record using one of these resources for some suggestions. Zapier does a review of the best electronic journaling apps for 2019, which can be found at https://zapier.com/blog/best-journaling-apps/. While many people are family with the popular Evernote https://evernote.com/, additionally here are a few more useful apps which have a lot of the expanded functionality, provide interactive writing prompt, and are free. These include:
750words https://750words.com/, Dabble.me https://dabble.me/ —best for journaling by email, and Glimpses https://getglimpses.com/ —best for free journaling on Windows. But, don’t sleep on Google Docs usefulness as well for having a cloud-based way to record your memoirs and safeguarding and maintain your privacy as well. You can even dictate your journal entry by voice if you’d rather not type them.
Visualize yourself writing. Create a routine, schedule time for writing, and commit to journaling consistently. Begin your journaling process by breathing and doing a simple breath focusing relaxation exercise before you start. If you’re new to this type of practice or get stuck enough to believe that you have writer’s block, try this one: https://youtu.be/5_N98E5-7jo. The feeling of writer’s block is a sure sign of a cluttered mind, that may feel like it is frozen and in need of a jump start. If you’re experiencing this state of taking a step back and contract with yourself to come back to the day’s journal entry, or power through the perceived block by writing about how your feeling about being stalled.
As you begin your journaling practice being more aware of your thoughts, surroundings, and small details. Allow yourself to feel and be in your body, and experience the practice with all five senses. Be mindful of what you notice and your trigger memories. Translate your experiences into words. Be as descriptive as you need to be to flesh out what you are trying to say or what is unfolding. Don’t put too much focus on grammar, spelling, or punctual. Your not perfect, so free yourself up from that construct of constraint, relax, let go, and let it rip!
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