Current science has legitimized the power of thoughts, words, breath, meditation, and world-view to have direct and lasting effects on our performance, happiness, and well-being. As studies in neurobiology, behavioral genetics, and quantum theory begin to confirm what has long been known by practitioners of—sometimes ancient—wisdom, we may see a new acceptance of ideas embraced by those who were once chided as “touchy-feely” types. Below I’ll provide a “top 7” list of areas to consider and specific solutions that may make a difference in your life—but I would be doing you a disservice if I were to rank-order these solutions or tell you what works “best,” rather than provide you with a call-to-action to reflect on your life, explore these options, and find what resonates for you as initial steps.What are you doing lately to develop yourself, your habits, and your overall well-being? How are you integrating such practices at work and in your personal life? To what degree are you committed to leading the life you’ve always wanted?
Let me be clear: This is not about what some call the “self-help” movement or such potentially misleading films as The Secret. Thoughts create new openings for actions, and that step may have been lost on some. For that reason, one can deride many of the over-simplified, extreme, or blatantly scheming claims of similar material, and by so doing, overlook the core ideas that Aristotle would call Phronesis, or practical wisdom. We just need a guide to separate the charlatans from those who provide value to those of us who want to get things done in spite of increased stress due to the increased speed and complexity of our professional and much of our waking lives (e.g. entrepreneurs, job-seekers, or employees in general). How often have you experienced a fight or flight response in the last year? Alternatively, how often have you found yourself in optimal flow (see the work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi)? Be honest.
Has your workplace sent you to any workshops or seminars to calm the mind, raise the spirit/vitality, or unlock your potential? Beyond the classic productivity workshops such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Mission Control, or Franklin-Covey, have you participated in anything designed to either: A) train the mind to maintain focus during times of increasing amounts of informational load? or, B) raise our level of understanding that we create the world through our words and actions, and that what used to be a passé understanding of the power of what they called “positive thinking” is actually a reflection of how the world really works? That’s right. One need not agree with the more spiritual views of Integral Psychology (see Ken Wilber) to recognize that our thoughts and actions as we grew up believing in them from a basic Newtonian physics model are not quite what we experience in the world today. The world works differently than we thought it did!
While philosophical discussions of serendipity, coincidence, and the quantum nature of reality are far too ambitious for an introduction of this size, for future discussion we can reflect on and eventually share our most profound experiences with self-development and humanistic approaches toward well-being, as well as the correlation to the scientific articles we often see via the Internet or in books or journal articles.
Here are seven categories, each of which deserves in-depth future discussion:
- Healthy Body/Healthy Mind (eg. Cardiovascular exercise and its effects on the brain; the effect of sleep on brain function )
- The Science of Breath (eg. Coherent Breathing of Steve Elliot; Sudarshan Kriya breath technique of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
- Awareness Training (eg. The forum; therapeutic and emotional intelligence work; cognitive-behavioral techniques)
- Nutritional Optimization (a variety of movements that largely focus on the benefits of more greens and less animal products in one’s diet; herbal and other supplements often called “neutraceuticals”)
- Biofeedback and Meditation (eg. Computer-assisted EEG neurofeedback such as BrainPaint; meditative practices; auditory meditation such as from the Monroe Institute)
- And even the more common forms of gratitude and prayer, often via religious or spirituality practices
Science and ancient wisdom are merging on a set of ideas that may reach a tipping-point sometime soon, whereby many more people will understand that they have both high-tech and low-tech options with which to redirect their focus, optimize their performance, and train their body and mind to cultivate an energetic and creative well-being, including the potential for mitigating illness and disease. How would it look to create a path for yourself and your life that extends far beyond what you thought was possible? New possibilities appear when you’re “there” to meet them.
Public comments are encouraged. If you would like to privately share your experiences, please email me: mliskin-at-plusdelta-dot-net