I tend to analyze myself constantly. Am I smart enough? Am I focused enough? Am I too emotional? All of those self worth questions invariably lead me to think about the brain: how it works and what can I do/eat/read to make it work better. Part of my brain self education came through a book suggested to my by my fabulous yoga instructor, Cindi Bersinger, over at Power Yoga San Marco. Pretty much everything she says is filled with wisdom, so last summer when she told the class she was reading Buddha’s Brain by Dr. Richard Mendius, I (and I’m sure a few others) ran out to get it. And it was fabulous! It really changed the way I think about thinking, if that makes any sense. It’s all about how you can physically change the connections in your brain just by thinking! It uses scientifically proven neuroscience for working toward better relationships, healthier self-esteem, greater emotional well-being, more effective actions, and deepened spiritual understanding.
Then one day, I was watching TED talks on TV, and happened to see Jill Bolte Taylor’s amazing talk about what it was like to experience a stroke as a neuroanatomist. I’ve watched her video “A Stroke of Insight” several times since and am looking forward to reading the book that has stemmed from it. She explains our dual personas which are divided by the right and left brains and the Nirvana she reached when she temporarily lost one side during a stroke. It was really a mesmerizing story. You can watch the 20 minute video here:
Fantastic stuff, right? A group called Symphony of Science used part of her talk to create an awesome song called, “Ode to the Brain”, which I have also watched many times. Good luck trying to get the chorus out of your head, though!
Anyway, imagine my joy last week when I spotted National Geographic’s new “The Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew/ A User’s Guide” on the magazine rack:
You better believe I brought it home and almost forgot to put the groceries away in my hurry to dive in. (See what I mean about lack of focus?) It’s FULL of great information on the learning brain, the perceptive brain, the unconscious brain, the emotional brain, and the aging brain. There are also some brain puzzles and really great photos included. (Time Magazine also made a similar issue in 2007, but I haven’t read it.)
So, what have I discovered in all my brainy obsession? I’ve discovered that the brain is a complex, fragile, get surprisingly resilient masterpiece that can be damaged by over consumption of alcohol, drugs, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and negative thinking. The bright side is that it hums like a well oiled machine on good food, plenty of sleep, full hydration, and exercise (both brain and body – think soduku AND the elliptical machine).
I’m writing about this now because it is New Year’s Eve and I know many of you will stay out late, drink too much, and grab a Krystal burger or two on the way home before falling asleep in your little black dress on the couch. (Not that I’ve ever done that.) But I’m saying just take a moment to be thankful for your amazing brain and try to give it a little consideration tonight. Maybe alternate champagne with bottled water, take a multivitamin, skip the liquor shots, eat some walnuts, berries, salmon, broccoli, whole grains, and/or chocolate tonight, and snuggle up with the one you love shortly after the ball drops so that you can wake up in 2013 rested, hydrated, and hangover-free. Maybe schedule in some meditation time and a little cardio when you wake up tomorrow to start the year off right. Carpe diem! Seize the new day and the New Year . I wish all of you a happy, content, prosperous, peaceful new year full of joy, love, and good health.