The Art of Living at Our Best | Making the Brain/Body Connection-From the Inside Out

Getting Connected – The art of living at our best

by Cathrine Levan

Imagine living life always functioning and performing your best without effort or force. How about being able to remember your family's every changing schedules and appointments with ease? This may seem unlikely, considering the increasing demands on work and family life. With more and more research being done on the brain, living life without information overload can be coming closer to reality. I believe that we can all be operating at our best by applying current brain research to our daily lives, thus maximizing our brain/body communication and giving us peak functioning under stress.

Recent news stories have tantalized us with research, pointing to how relaxing can save our fife, reducing heart attack risks by as much as 74%. Researchers also point to how increased activity can ensure healthier again, easier learning and better memory. There seems to be an abundance of research, but not enough information on how to apply it to our daily lives. Translating this research into practical everyday terms is what makes Sharon Promislow's work so fascinating. "The neuroscientist's job is to discover the physiological secrets of how the brain and body actually operate," says Promislow. "My work is to translate these discoveries into everyday language and make the benefits available to the general public." She has done just that with her soon to be released book called Making the Brain/Body Connection–a playful guide to releasing mental, physical and emotional blocks to success.

I spoke to Sharon about what stops us from being successful in both our personal and professional lives. "Blocks to our success are caused by interference between brain/body communication or what I call "stuck circuit locks. It is important to learn how to recognized where these 'circuit locks' are occurring and use the correct tools to remove the cause of the interference. This enables you to release the blocks that sabotage you from performing your absolute best."

Making the Brain/Body Connection is a culmination of what Sharon has been teaching and training companies in the corporate sector to do. "Anyone can use these simple techniques. That's the beauty of it," Sharon adds. "With all the new discoveries on how the brain learns best, I felt it was time for the general public to start getting the benefit of the research and find out how these discoveries can be applied to daily life!" Along with the simple but powerful techniques that she teaches, Sharon reveals a 10 step process for change. "I provide a framework upon which you can build, starting with the techniques from the book. You then add to it whatever knowledge and techniques you already have. This book provides the context with which to view your current skills, to see if they honor the physiology of your brain/body system. You don't have to throw away what you have already learned. The most important thing is to know when to use the techniques you know, to help you achieve your peak state. I love to show people how our basic physiology is impacted by practices like classic meditation and yoga. Its amazing to the scientists, but some long held metaphysical practices can be firmly backed up by our new understanding of how the brain works. Not surprisingly, ancient wisdom is being proved effective by contemporary science. Making the Brian/Body Connection explains why!

What makes this work exciting is that by re-educating the brain/body's response to stress, you are able to achieve breakthrough shifts in your learning, performance and attitude. You achieve what appears to be instant change. It's not instant though, it only seems so from the outside. In actual fact, by re-educating your "stuck circuits" you are undoing a complex neurological response and re-educating your brain and body, thus creating new pathways for future, healthier responses.

Current research suggest that memory does not just live in the brain: it lives in every cell of the body. Events in themselves are neutral. However, as we experience events we filter them first through our mental perceptions, then we color them with our own personal meaning and emotion as a part of the identifying and sorting process. They then become a part of who we are and how we react to any given situation.

Most of us just accept the way our mind and body function, chalking up lapses in memory and performance to the aging process. What if these lapses are not just caused by aging? What if "stuck circuits" are accumulating as we experience more of life, blocking communication between the mind and the body. Imagine how sharp we could be if we dismantle all the dysfunctional "stuck circuit locks" we have. Could phobias, addictions and some learning disabilities actually disappear? Promislow suggest that defusing these locks can not only improve memory and learning but can be used to change behavioral problems and affect habit change.

"We can use targeted body movement to help enhance the transportation, balance and manufacturing of informational substances (neurotransmitters etc.) in the body," Sharon explains. "Slow cross lateral movement stimulates the manufacture of dopamine in the frontal lobe of the brain, affecting our ability to see patterns and learn faster. It also affects dopamine levels in the limbic area controlling our emotion and in the basal ganglion, affecting intentional movement. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters for which millions of children, diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, take Ritalin to balance." If we are able to use natural techniques to balance the dopamine levels in the brain, perhaps teaching targeted body movements could help get some children off Ritalin.

We have over 3 trillion brain cells, some of which are not receiving clear communication from the body. Everything we do that improves the communication between the brain and the body has some effect on our ability to learn and perform. I find it fascinating that the same techniques that help support the learning challenged child to focus and read can also be used to help us all learn and perform better. Perhaps re-educating our "stuck circuits" is what we all need to help us function at our best while continuing to live our stressful lives.

The Art of Living at Our Best | Making the Brain/Body Connection-From the Inside Out

 Making the Brain/Body Connection-From the Inside Out

by Sharon Promislow

What is blocking us from realizing our full potential in our personal and professional lives? Success, whether it is in the area of personal relationships, family life, work or sports careers, can sometimes seem elusive. Many people believe the road to success is mind over matter. They are missing the other side of the holistic equation- the power of matter over mind. Simple posture and targeted body activities can significantly impact our mental and emotional states.

.Interestingly, the body acts as an external mirror to our internal state. We can intuitively tell how colleagues are feeling by the positioning of their bodies, the look in their eyes, their gestures and facial expressions. By the same token, by deliberately assuming the body posture of a particular state, we can shift our emotional state.

Try this experiment: stand up; slouch your body in a depressed stance, drooping despondently toward the floor. Let your face and voice almost weep, as you say in a depressed tone "I've never been so happy in all my life! I feel like dancing!" It feels ridiculous, doesn't it? Almost impossible to say without smiling.

Now stand up tall. Put up your arms in a classic victory "YES!" posture. Smile and say with enthusiasm "I am so depressed, life is not worth living!" Once again, the words are absurd when spoken in this posture.

Next, assume your positive victory posture and cheer: "Life is great! YES!" Feel the invigoration and the rightness of combining positive thought with positive body stance, movement and energetic sound.

Research shows that body posture alters brain temperature, which in turn alters speed of chemical body reaction, emotion and outlook. A sample experiment (referred to in "The Brain Pack" by Ron Van der Meer and Al Dudink), shows that subjects rate cartoons as "funnier" when they are forced to smile by holding a pen between their teeth. Why does this happen? Current research suggests that memory doesn't only live in the brain: it lives in every cell of the body. When we experience an event, we filter it through our own mental perceptions, then color it with our own meaning and emotion as part of our innate reaction.

From that moment on, each time we fire off any part of that circuit - use the same muscle sequence, look in the same eye direction, experience a similar event or feel the same emotion - we fire off the entire sequence of reactions--even if the initial triggering event has long since been forgotten. Over time, similar experiences deepen the myelination of these established neural pathways, positive and negative.

Specialized Kinesiologists look at how muscles, movement and posture can affect and also reflect change in mental, physical and emotional functioning. A state by definition is a mind/body moment, fusing one's physiology with emotional and mental factors. If we change one component of the state, no matter how little, the whole state by necessity transforms, allowing new possibilities of behavior.

How simple is it? Restoring balance to our emotional and mental being can be as simple as assuming a positive physical posture and stance. The old adage - stand up straight and put a smile on your face - has credence: body chemistry and mental attitude is impacted. New positive habits can replace old "stuck" body patterns and reactions. How do we recognize a stuck state? In the physical body it manifests as pain, in the emotions as distress, anger or other negative non-serving feelings. In the mental realm it can be lack of focus, concentration, confusion or ineffectiveness. How does one free the stuck state? Simple body movements, drawn from specialized kinesiology, can help balance our brain/body's electromagnetic, emotional, physical and sensory systems. Several suggestions, drawn from "Making the Brain Body Connection" (Promislow, 1998), include:

  1. Drink water: Hydration is essential for effective electromagnetic messaging in the body.

  2. As you think through a problem, put a hand over your forehead to keep warmth and energy in your frontal cortex, circumventing the back brained survival stress response.

  3. Don't wait till you're sore and cranky: take a mini stretch break every 20 minutes. A few seconds of stretching helps your body restore chemical balance, encourages flow of cerebral spinal fluid, refreshes your senses and proprioception, and relieves the body's natural tendency to contract the back muscles.

  4. Do some "cross crawl" (like a walking motion) to stimulate communication between left and right brain hemispheres whenever you start to lose focus. And while you're at it, put a smile on your face.

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