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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Science and Good Intentions

I suddenly realized that my unemployed lulls are a great time to read the “I’m-gonna-read-that-someday” pile. Here are a couple of interesting facts from two sources in that pile:

1. In How God Changes Your Brain, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D., says that regular simple exercises can physically change your brain, allowing you to concentrate better, be more relaxed and peaceful, and improve your memory. The key elements are doing your exercise with desire and focus, regulating your body control (for instance breathing or doing finger or eye movements), and practice. And most important is “expectation” — your belief that you can and will accomplish your goals in your exercise.

Here are the steps:
• Maintain a state of relaxed awareness
• Regulate your breathing
• Do a simple or complex movement with any part of your body
• Speak, sing, chant, or silently repeat a sound or phrase that has personal meaning
• Do this for at least 12 minutes each day, with a clear goal

2. In the Autumn 2008 issue of Light of Consciousness, there’s a piece by Bo Lozoff, director of the Human Kindness Foundation. He suggests a practice so simple that, in my opinion, it would be ridiculous not to do it. Every morning as soon as you wake up — the very instant you know you’re not sleeping — say a prayer or statement of intention, i.e., “I will be kind today.” Commit to doing this (the statement can change) for the rest of your life.

3. Now put the two together: Gradually incorporate Newberg’s suggested movement and body control, and extend the practice for 12 minutes when you first wake:
Nirvana …or at least a calmer brain or a nicer approach to life.
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