Summer is here and we feel quite lazy, looking forward to holidays and quality time. But summer can be the ideal time to do brain training, along with physical training. Here are three easy ways-
1. Use the hand that you don’t write with- so if you are right handed, use your left one to do tasks that you might do with your right, even writing. This helps the brain to make new connections and think differently.
2. Learn another language- if you are travelling somewhere, try to learn and speak at least some of the words and phrases that you may hear. Try to speak it too. Again, it has been shown that learning languages helps you become smarter.
3. Sleep more- Sleeping rejuvenates our brains and body. It has not been found out exactly why we dream but some say that it helps to process our thoughts, questions and emotional issues. You may find that you can work better with a short siesta of 20 minutes in the afternoon- many eminent scientists have used this technique.
Now I come to the second book I bought from the library sale (please read the last two posts if you are new to this). This was the ‘Healing power of the mind’ by Tulku Thondup (a Tibetan Buddhist monk). I would like to share from this book, the most powerful visualisation and relaxation exercise I have done.
This is about nothingness and imagining that you are slowly dissolving into air and your surroundings- expanding to become part of it. Most mindfulness exercises ask you to become mindful of your body, thoughts and actions.- you are asked to ‘look’ at your body, feelings or actions and consider them lightly, letting them go. With this ‘nothingness’ exercise you let go of everything. It is very difficult to achieve at first but becomes easier and easier, achieving this state easily. Perhaps this is what drugs to you I thought but without the harmful effects. The first time I did it, it was not easy. However, with time, melting into my surroundings has become easier for me. I felt relaxed with the heaviness of life gone- I felt like air and light.
Thondup also talks about not ‘grasping’ state of mind. A lot of worry and stress come from grasping- people, power, position, fame etc. By doing this exercise of dissolving, it is the opposite of grasping. I have this photo of snow drops and other spring flowers which disappear after the spring, only to arrive beautiful and rejuvenated with life next spring. We also do a similar thing during sleep, perhaps even during death. So doing this while alive can also have a rejuvenating effect.
Try it and let me know if it works for you!
I practice architectural design that is based on low energy principles- materials that use little energy to manufacture, materials that are from recycled sources and can be recycled and buildings that are low maintenance and need little energy to run. Low energy appears to be something that gives the building long life.
Hearing about an Indian actor, Abir Goswami, who sadly died today aged 33 after having a massive heart attack on an exercise machine in the gym, I think low energy works for human beings too. My Uncle, whose first death anniversary falls today, was a ‘low energy’ person- he practised yoga, not the gym, he ate and spoke slowly and calmly, living and enjoying every moment. He lived up to an age of 96, looked no more than 60 years old and died peacefully in his sleep. He used to say, “Hurry and worry are the worst things in life.” There is a theory that we have certain amount of life energy and if we use it too quickly, then we fall ill or our bodies fail in some way. That is why we have to rest when we are ill and often feel rejuvenated after such a forced rest. Indian yogis who are reputed to live for around 100 years, practice meditation and yoga- both of which are low energy activities. “Hurry too much and you will miss the boat”- so goes the saying.
With all the slow movements such as slow food, idleness, tai-chi, etc getting very popular today and even medical research supporting the view of slowness, I am convinced that going slow helps us all. No matter how much faster your latest computer or telephone may work, the ultimate processor, i.e. your brain, will always work at a certain peak speed and will often slow down in moments of concentration. Being slow is not the same as being lazy- my Uncle was always busy doing things that mattered to him, i.e. using his life energy purposefully. Slow induces calmness and tranquility that I associate with water, so I made up with my son’s help this haiku to help me remember to slow down and enjoy the moment-
Still, Life, Open Water- slow
Your tranquil head
Flows down to follow your heart