Letter to The Independent #5

Daily Routine to Take Charge of your Emotions

Now we add a daily routine to guide us through the simple steps that stimulate our brain to create new and positive neural pathways that support the brain structure related to our desired state of mind.

This daily routine uses two HeartMath Institute skills.  We discussed Heart Focused Breathing in my letter to the editor in the August 24, 2016 issue of The Independent.  Today I am adding the second skill, Quick Coherence®.

Start with Heart Focused Breathing and shift to Quick Coherence®.

Turn your attention to your chest area and imagine that you are breathing in and out of your heart.  Breathe a little slower and a little deeper.  After a minute or so of focusing on your breathing and the movement of your chest and abdomen, recall a time from your past when you were grateful for someone or something that happened in your life.  It can be as simple as how you feel when your pet greets you.  We want the event to have strong emotion.

Re-experience the feelings of that event again.  Feel what you felt, See what you saw.  Hear what you heard.  Allow yourself to feel the intensity of those feelings again NOW.  Sustain those feelings.  When your thoughts wander, bring your attention back to your breath and your chest area and return to re-experiencing the positive emotions you were focused on before.  Stay with this as long as life allows, but for at least 20 seconds.

That is it.  You now know the two mindfulness skills needed to practice the following daily routine.

Set an alarm to go off at least 8 times a day.  Check your emotional state in that moment.  Am I frustrated?  Am I focused on negative thoughts?  Am I having a “moment” of joy and bliss? Am I bored, or unengaged?

If you are feeling positive then install that emotion using Quick Coherence®.  If you are in a negative mind state, use Quick Coherence® to shift your focus to the positive event you selected to use with this technique.

Shifting to a positive mind state allows our physiology to stem the flow of cortisol and replace it with DHEA the “vitality” hormone which restores balance to our mind body system.  By repeating this exercise over and over throughout the day we are training our physiology to support a positive mind state and to create neural pathways to maintain that positive mind state.

Accepting responsibility for how we feel is key to this practice.  No one can MAKE us feel anything.  How we perceive events determines how we feel about them.  If someone is rude to you, you have many possible choices of how to respond.  You can choose to feel bad, good, neutral, or someplace in between.  NOW you know that it is up to YOU.

Whenever “triggered” by something or someone we shift our focus to our breathing and the movement of our chest and abdomen.  After a few breaths we use our “gratitude event” to re-start the growth of neural pathways that support that positive mind state.  We diminish the negative and choose to ignore the “trigger” and reinforce a positive state of mind.

This practice, if followed daily, will create what the HeartMath Institute calls a “choice point”, an inner pause that allows us to be in charge of our emotions and to prevent our physiology from hijacking our emotional responses.  In time you will change from a “reactive” emotional life to a “rational choice” emotional life.

Take advantage of what you have learned about your physiology and stress.  Make this daily routine part of your life from now on.  When you stop being mindful in the moment and lose control of your mind state, your physiology will take over and establish the negative state it believes keeps you safe. (Remember the negative bias?)

Let the “why is this happening to me” go.  Accept what is.  Live your life in the moment.  Now is the only time you have any power.  What you choose NOW is what you get.  It is YOUR choice.

I have created an eight week program which is designed to establish brain structure to support a positive mind state.  If you send me an email stating that you commit to following the program for eight weeks and to write a review of your experience, I will reply with a pdf of the program attached.

Copyright © 2016 John Staples

Letter to The Independent #4

Mindfulness Skills:  Improve the Quality of Your Life – Begin Using Them Now

I would like to review the core material we have covered in the last three letters to the editor:

  1. Stress is a key factor in our health and well-being.
  2. Stress restricts blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain which diminishes our ability to think clearly and to feel connected to others.
  3. Stress causes us to use only one third of our lung capacity which deprives every cell in our bodies of the optimum amount of oxygen.
  4. The Stress Response has become chronic in modern society.
  5. Chronic stress often leads to depression which is why depression is epidemic in modern times.
  6. Untreated depression is the primary risk factor for thoughts of suicide and hopelessness.
  7. Mindfulness techniques have been validated by modern science as effective in managing the stress response.
  8. Mindfulness skills allow us to choose the mind state we wish to maintain and thanks to neuroplasticity create the brain structure to support that mind state.
  9. The more we incorporate mindfulness in our daily activities the more powerful and lasting the change in our brain structure that we desire becomes.

They don’t teach this in school.  We are not compelled to feel anxious, depressed, joyful, loved, or ANYTHING unless we choose it.  No one explained that we can choose how to feel in THIS moment.  As long as we stay in the PRESENT then we can choose from one moment to the next to focus on the positive.  It is when we are regretting the past or are anxious about the future that we are vulnerable to go to negative and/or depressive thoughts, and lose sight of our choice to be positive in the moment.

If you have read each of my three previous letters to the editor, you now have the knowledge you need to use the skills I will teach you to take charge of your physiology and choose how you feel from moment to moment living in the mind state that you prefer.

The mindfulness skills that I will share with you in this and other letters were researched and developed by the HeartMath Institute.  The HeartMath Institute was started in 1991 by Doc Childre and Howard Martin.  Their goal was to research stress management (mindfulness) techniques and create science backed, evidence based, peer reviewed studies that demonstrate exactly how and why these skills create a shift in our physiology and allow us to be in charge of our emotions on a moment by moment basis.  As I have mentioned before these skills are used by Navy Seals and other segments of the population that are required to act at their highest and best under extreme conditions.

The first mindfulness technique we will learn is Heart-Focused Breathing.

We focus our attention on the chest area and breathe a little deeper and a little slower.  We imagine that the air is flowing in and out of our heart.  When distracted we just return our focus to the chest area and the movement of the air in and out of our heart.  The goal is to discover our own natural rhythm that is relaxed, unforced and comfortable.

The research behind this process tells us that when we use this skill one of the things that happens is the back of the stomach massages the vagus nerve bundle.  The result of this massaging is that the amount of blood in the pre-frontal cortex returns to normal and we establish a “neutral” state.  When this technique is used throughout the day it will reduce the level of cortisol in the blood stream and allow us to choose how to feel in the moment.

This skill is used anytime we feel our stress level rising, or to prepare prior to a known stressor, or to regain control of our physiology after experiencing a stressful event.

In my next letter I will share another HeartMath Institute skill that assists us in establishing and maintaining the mind state we wish to experience, or how we feel in the moment.  It takes advantage of neuroplasticity and reinforces the neural pathways that support the mind state we wish to maintain.  We will start with gratitude, the most powerful emotion.

I will also make available an eight week program that teaches our physiology a “new normal” and brings us ever closer to being in charge of our emotions and quiets the “critical voice”.

Copyright © 2016 John Staples

Letter to The Independent #3

Mindfulness Skills Pave the Way to Living Stress Free

 In the last decade scientific research has expanded our knowledge of stress and the flight or fight response.  It has validated the use of simple techniques that allow us to diminish the power of the stress response to control how we respond to every day events.  This creates the opportunity to choose how we feel from moment to moment.

These techniques or skills are based on science backed, evidence based, peer reviewed studies that explain how and why these techniques work based on hard science.

These skills fall into the category of mindfulness practices.  Mindfulness has been used for thousands of years as an introduction to the practice of meditation.  Western medicine began to embrace these techniques in the middle of the 20th century and over time their use has been widely accepted as effective in managing the stress response.  The effectiveness is proven in the extensive research devoted to explaining the science behind these methods.

Mindfulness is defined as:  the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the moment, non-judgmentally to whatever is paramount in our experience of life as it is happening right now.  This includes our thoughts, feelings, body sensations or anything related to what we are experiencing in the moment.

This practice of paying attention in the moment allows us to realize that we have almost nothing but judgment going on in our head.  We are all familiar with that critical “inner voice” that finds fault with just about everything we do.  That voice is tied to our physiology and its constant effort to keep us safe from any and all harm.  As our modern life style has eliminated virtually all life-threatening physical events from our daily living our physiology has expanded its influence to include our psychological state.  Is that rude person a threat to us?  Our physiology in the form of the stress response believes it to be so, and that it needs to protect us from such non-physical imagined threats in the same way it has protected us from physical harm for thousands of years.  This is an aspect of the chronic runaway stress response that I covered in my last letter to the editor.

Deep breathing, or taking a longer and deeper abdominal breath is the single most powerful daily practice for promoting our health and well-being.  When stressed we take short, fast breaths to prepare for danger.  Chronic stress keeps the brain and vital organs starved for oxygen because when stressed we only use the upper third of our lungs.  Breathing better is the easiest stress relieving exercise we can do.  It sends more oxygen to every cell in our body which helps us to create and maintain a state of mental and physical calm.

I recommend that you Google the HeartMath Institute’s “Heart-Focused Breathing” so you can use that technique on a daily basis to take charge of your emotions and to help neutralize the effects of the fight or flight response.

In our next article we will elaborate on the use of mindfulness techniques to choose how we feel moment to moment in order to reduce the intensity of the stress response on our physiology and use mindfulness to calm our critical inner voice.

Copyright © 2016 John Staples

Letter to The Independent #2

Our “Plastic” Brain Supports the Feelings We Choose. 

For centuries we believed that the brain was hard wired.  That we were born with a brain limited by the genetic makeup of our relatives.  It was assumed that the brain at some early point in life, was a “done deal.”

In the last few decades research has revealed that the brain is not hard wired.  Not only that, the brain is constantly recreating itself up until the day we die – literally building new structure – based on the mind state that we maintain on a moment by moment basis.

If we are in a positive mind state, our brain builds neural pathways to support that mind state.  Conversely, when we are in a negative mind state, our brain builds neural pathways to support that negative state of mind.

By staying in a negative mind state we are encouraging our brain to support that mind state.

This is what the brain does.  It is constantly creating new neural pathways to support the state of mind we are experiencing right NOW.  If we are depressed it will support that mind state and create new pathways, or support existing neural pathways that encourage the negative mind state we have chosen.

This phenomenon is known as neural-plasticity.  Understanding neural-plasticity reveals the importance of having strategies to take advantage of the brains ability to support whatever mind state we choose to be in.

The word “choose” is critical.  It implies that we can choose our state of mind in “the moment.”

In fact, life ONLY happens in the moment.  The past is gone, and the future has not arrived.  The only power we have is RIGHT NOW, in this particular moment.  Everything we do happens in “this” moment.  No matter how much we agonize over what happened in the past we cannot change it.  AND our only possible chance of effecting the future is to take action NOW.

Chronic runaway stress that I spoke of in my last letter to the editor, keeps us in the negative mind state of regretting the past and feeling anxiety for what we fear the future will bring.  When stressed, we have lost our ability to operate in the moment.

Understanding the progression from stress to chronic runaway stress to depression gives us the insight and motivation to learn and use skills that allow us to create a new normal for our physiology and to understand how to choose how we feel from moment to moment.

In the next letter, we will examine the practice of mindfulness, including a simple mindfulness skill that helps us to be mindful in the moment and live stress free.  Mindfulness skills allow us to take charge of our physiology and choose how to feel from moment to moment.  These skills are used by Navy Seals to operate at their highest and best under the most challenging conditions.

Copyright © 2016 John Staples

 

Letter to The Independent #1

 

Modern science tells us that stress is the single most important factor in our health and well-being.  The stress response was evolved by our physiology into a negative bias so we could survive the harsh conditions that we experienced in pre-history.  To this day the negative bias still operates as if we were living in the wild and overreacts to most events as if they were life threatening.

Our physiology sees the rude clerk as a threat and perhaps even a life threat.  Its response to the clerk’s behavior is well outside of a rational and reasonable reaction to the actual threat represented by the clerk.  Our stress response, “fight or flight”, floods the blood stream with cortisol (the stress hormone) which raises our heart rate and blood pressure, slows or stops digestion, depresses the immune system, and dumps sugar and steroids into our blood.  We are being ramped up to be the best possible escape mechanism in order to avoid any danger.

Unfortunately, the stress response does something that literally makes us stupid and unable to operate at our highest and best.  The stress response drains blood away from the pre-frontal cortex (the area of the brain behind your forehead) and makes it available to our large skeletal muscles so we can run fast and escape a life threat.

The prefrontal cortex is the center of our highest brain functions. It is the core of strategic thought and cognitive reasoning, AND it is our spiritual center.  Less blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex prevents us from thinking clearly and causes us to feel disconnected and isolated from others.

Our physiology’s negative bias that favors triggering the stress response in order to “keep us safe” holds us in a constant state of stress.  Psychologists refer to this constant state as the “chronic runaway stress response.”  We stay stressed as our “normal” state of mind.

When the stress hormone cortisol is constantly present in our blood, it destroys brain cells in the area of the brain that neutralizes the overreaction of the stress response.  It is a vicious cycle that supports the chronic stress that fosters depression.

Because chronic stress is now so prevalent in modern society, depression is epidemic.

Understanding that untreated depression is the primary source of suicidal thinking is key to the motivation to address the challenge of chronic runaway stress.  We need a way to avoid depression and the associated suicidal thoughts. We need a way to manage our stress and prevent the chronic runaway stress response from being our norm, causing us to suffer from depression.

In the next article we will examine more about stress and our physiology and explore newly discovered characteristics of the brain that can help us prevent chronic stress from damaging our health and well-being.

Copyright © 2016 John Staples

The Critical Voice 4

I encourage you to reread the previous 3 blogs on the critical voice and then come back to this post #4.

Our goal is to use the HeartMath skill Quick Coherence to help us reduce the impact of the negative input from the “inner voice”.   By using the QC technique 6 or more times a day we are stimulating new neural pathways associated with our emotional connection with the inner voice and changing our response to that voice we love to hate.  Use your cell phone alarm or any trigger to remind you to check on your inner voice and give it some loving positive feedback by using  the HeartMath skill to raise your resilience and increase coherence in your mind / body systems.

HeartMath defines resilience as: The capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge or adversity. Or, the amount of energy you can store in your “inner” battery.

Coherence is an optimal state of functioning. Coherence is key to building resilience capacity. Renewing emotions create coherence while negative emotions deplete resilience capacity.

HeartMath techniques are designed specifically to use the science of our physiology to increase resilience and coherence.

I recommend to clients that they consider the concept of “opening their heart” to the inner voice, or anything or any situation which triggers “resistance” to or “avoidance” of the experience.   One of my clients discovered that by allowing his younger daughter to express in great detail and intensity her frustration with her job rather than trying to convince her she can “find a better feeling”; she quickly left the subject once she felt he was open to her expressing her emotions rather than trying to “change” or “avoid” them.

Opening your heart is just that simple.  We witness the feelings of our critical voice or other’s negative feelings without judgement and let those feelings into our heart rather than pushing back and resisting them.

When I say “open your heart”, I associate it with Heart Focused Breathing and Quick Coherence. and the importance of finding a positive emotional experience to revisit and associate with any event or experience that you choose to be in charge of your emotions.

The idea is to always choose to be in charge of your emotions.

Please consider setting a goal to check on your “inner voice” at least six times a day to initiate the shift you desire to create a supportive inner voice rather than the critical voice that is “normal” for most people.

Witness that voice without criticism, condemnation or judgment.   As your brain changes itself to support your request for new structure to allow the inner voice rather than resist it, you will notice a reduction in impact from the content of that voice.

As you progress in this process, it will soon be time to train you inner voice to be the cheerleader in your life instead of your dark passenger always finding the worst in every situation.  However, our first goal is to commit to the use of the HeartMath skills on a regular basis throughout the day to increase our resilience and coherence so we have the energy to cope with any and all emotional challenges.

Please let me know if you have any questions or experiences to share.

Stress Relief Survey

Hello!

I am writing a book on eliminating stress for professional woman over the age of 40.  Before I get too deep into the content, a survey of the target market is in order.   I’m including the link to a survey (it’s VERY short), and anyone who participates will have access to a private link where she can download a write-up on a powerful stress-elimination technique.

After you take the survey,  I would GREATLY appreciate it if you’d share the below link with your friends and associates either on Facebook, Twitter or via email.  The survey is completely anonymous and the privacy of all participants is protected.   At this stage, the survey feedback is extremely important, so I really do appreciate your assistance!   To make things easy, if you are willing to post or send this to your friends,  just copy and paste this entire email.  You might add a note at the top to explain it is from a friend and not from you.

Here’s the link:      https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9R9R869

Many thanks!

Return to the Garden (Chronicles of Eleanor Book 1) by Norie Huddle

A few minutes after I finished EASTERLAND by Patrick Henry Prentice (see previous Blog),  I found a Skype message from another long lost friend who had surfaced due to my daughter’s insisting I get more Facebook friends.

Norie Huddle has written the first in a series of novels involving “Eleanor” on her quest to inspire our civilization to embrace and accelerate the awakening and spiritual transformation that more and more of us feel happening now.

A few years ago, following my own calling to expand my contribution to global awakening, I was trained as a Oneness Blessing or “Deeksha” Giver.  This training is part of a movement that began in India.  It is dedicated to the transfer of universal energy for the healing, activation and awkening of individuals to expand their consciousness and experience the state of oneness, or the connection with all.  The belief is that at some point we will reach a critical mass of awakening which will hasten the global enlightenment  that Norie and I, and so many others anticipate.

Norie has an easy to read flowing style and expresses her passion for encouraging the shift that is within and without all of us with sincerity and clarity.   The story inspires us to nurture the opening of all men to their highest self and to stay the path with enthusiasm to sustain the positive in each of us as we live our lives moment to moment.

I am now anticipating  Chronicles of Eleanor Book 2!

Easterland by Patrick Henry Prentice

I just finished a book written by a dear friend of mine from high school. He knew he was a writer even then 55 years ago.  Easterland by Patrick Henry Prentice. Over the years our paths have crossed and recrossed, but for the past fifteen or more years we have had little contact. 

Yesterday my younger daughter suggested I should have more Facebook friends and she would show me how to do that. As everything happens for a reason, Patrick was one of the people who popped up in someone else’s Friends list and I invited him to be my friend. He responded a few minutes after I sent the request and we had an interchange of “lets get together”.

However, when I went to his Facebook page there was the cover of his novel staring at me. I was drawn to grab it on my Kindle and began reading yesterday afternoon while in a sea of projects that needed to be completed NOW. Apparently not! It was as if I was reading what I would now base a novel on if I were so moved. After all these years we have arrived at the same metaphysical space, embracing the connection between everything and everyone. He has woven a tale in words with such vivid cinematic images that it feels like it is already on the screen.

Jesus keeps coming back into my life as if a golden thread in the tapestry of my experience. First in a religious context, which I ultimately turned away from, and finally as my spiritual guide, the icon for love in my life. Always challenging me to find my purpose and to embrace the connection with all.

Would you like to explore an insightful view into the duality of Christ in the metaphysical as opposed to the religious which is consistent with Quantum Physics and the evidence based “hard” science regarding spirit……Get to Amazon now!

Thanks, Patrick! How about the prequel

The Critical Voice 3

Let’s consider the challenge of shifting the relationship with the critical voice. There is a certain amount of accumulated physiological resistance which we need to address. For most of us the interaction with the “voice” is a negative and frustrating one. It rants and we cringe.

We can use a simple HeartMath technique (the most basic) to draw our attention away from the voice and to the heart. It is called “Heart Focused Breathing.” Whenever you hear the “voice” let that be a trigger to turn your attention to the heart area and imagine you are breathing in and out of your heart. As you notice the voice is getting less prominent imagine that your breath is like a wave flowing onto a beach, rolling in and out from the shore. Focus on the sound of your breath and the ebb and flow into and out of your heart.

Now we add another HM technique, Quick Coherence. QC is the practice of re-experiencing the positive emotion associated with a person or event in our lives that inspires a powerful positive emotional response. One of the memories I use is the time my 7 year old daughter presented me with a Father’s Day card she had made for me. Without effort I can feel the love and gratitude I hold for her.
Our intention is to embrace those feelings again and again as it serves us in our challenge to reduce and eliminate the charge associated with the “voice”.

Hold that positive emotion for at least 20 seconds. The goal is to support the formation of new neural pathways to help us go to the positive whenever the “voice” is heard in our conscious mind. We are creating a new positive neural pathway to associate with the voice and we are allowing the old worn down path to atrophy by avoiding it.
There is much more we can do regarding our relationship with the “voice”, but let’s begin with this simple practice.

Please share your experience with me as you explore the possibility of creating a new relationship with the “voice”