brain

Meditation and Yoga Reshape Our Brains

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s brain scans show that yoga and meditation actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving  memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.

In the documentary, The Connection, Sara Lazar reports the following findings:

 We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:

1. The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.

2. The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.

3.  The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.

4. An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced. The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program. The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels.

Brain Facts & Mind Expanding Videos

The brain is still pretty much a mystery to us all – how it works, the power it has, the ability to actually change your brain are all topics that are studied by scientists worldwide.  The mind and brain are fascinating subjects and learning how they work is the subject of countless studies.  There are some great documentaries and videos on the brain and mind that can help you learn about some of the mysteries of the mind.  I have compiled a few here that are enlightening and interesting.  If you have ever wondered about the power or workings of the brain here are 25 interesting facts about the brain.

  1. 25% of the body’s cholesterol resides within the brain. Cholesterol is an integral part of every brain cell. Without adequate cholesterol, brain cells die.
  2. A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other.
  3. All brain cells are not alike. There are as many as 10,000 specific types of neurons in the brain.
  4. Although pain is processed in your brain, your brain has no pain receptors and feels no pain. This explains how brain surgery can be performed while the patient is awake with no pain or discomfort.
  5. Babies have big heads to hold rapidly growing brains. A 2-year-old’s brain is 80% of adult size.
  6. Brain information moves at an impressive 260 miles per hour. This is faster than Formula 1 race cars which top out at 240 mph.
  7. Having high total cholesterol is not bad for your brain. In fact it actually reduces your risk of dementia.
  8. Each neuron connects with, on average, 40,000 synapses.
  9. There are approximately 400 miles of blood vessels in the brain
  10. Memories are shockingly unreliable. Emotions, motivation, cues, context and frequency of use can all affect how accurately you remember something.
  1. Memory is more of an activity than a place. Any given memory is deconstructed and distributed in different parts of the brain. Then, for the memory to be recalled, it gets reconstructed from the individual fragments.
  2. More than 100,000 chemicals reactions take place in your brain every second.
  3. Multitasking makes you less productive. Your brain jumps between tasks resulting in decreases in attention span, learning, performance, and short-term memory.
  4. Neanderthal brains were 10% larger than our homo sapiens brains.
  5. No one knows for sure, but the latest estimate is that our brains contain roughly 86 billion brain cells.
  6. Only 5 minutes without oxygen can cause brain damage.
  7. Over 140 proteins in the brain are negatively impacted by exposure to electromagnetic frequencies — the kind emitted by your cell phone, electronics, and other electrical devices.
  8. The average brain has around 50,000 thoughts per day and 70% of them are believed to be negative.
  9. The brain in your head isn’t your only brain. There’s a “second brain” in your intestines that contains 100,000 neurons. Gut bacteria are responsible for making over 30 neurotransmitters including the “happy” molecule serotonin.
  10. The human brain is not solid. It’s soft and squishy similar to the consistency of soft tofu or soft gelatin. And it’s very fragile.
  11. The typical brain is about 2% of a body’s weight but uses 20% of its total energy and oxygen intake.
  12. There is no such thing as a left-brain or right-brain personality type. We are not left-brained or right-brained; we are “whole brained.”
  13. 95% of decisions take place in the subconscious mind.
  14. Your brain is 73% water. It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
  15. Your brain’s storage capacity is considered virtually unlimited. It doesn’t get “used up” like RAM in your computer.

The brain is truly amazing – just think about it. 🙂 I’ve assembled several brain expanding or mind blowing videos that you can see below. Enjoy!

Music Enhances Life and Love

Songs can touch your heart in many ways.  They can make you happy or sad.  They can energize you or calm you.  We all have special love songs that we share with those we love today and those we have loved.  Music talks to us, the lyrics and melody can express for us feelings that perhaps we cannot express as well ourselves. Listening to music can improve moods and verbal IQ, treat heart disease and stress, stimulate activity, thoughts and emotions, and aid in communication.  Music can evoke feelings of love, spirituality, happiness, sadness, tenderness, and joy.  It can provide solace in times of sorrow and company in times of solitude.  Sometimes it can even be orgasmic.

  1. Born to Dance – Music affects even infants as they move to the beat of the music and dancing releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your body as well as providing a valid form of exercise.
  2. Improve your Brain – Studies have shown that certain music stimulates the brain, for example, listening to Mozart and other classical composers improved the test averages of students taking college entrance exams. Musical training also enhances verbal skills and visual abilities.
  3. Be more Colourful – Music evokes colours in our minds – embrace the colour of music
  4. Feel the Music – Certain music has strong experiential effects on people that are emotionally open to new experiences, to the extent that it can actually make us laugh, cry, feel chills, breath more deeply or move in different ways.
  5. Sing out Loud – Singing is good for you, whether you do it in the shower or on a stage, whether you are tone-deaf or pitch-perfect. It is a valid release for emotions both negative and positive and can increase cognitive memory skills.  Singing with others increases interaction, satisfaction, and happiness in relationships bringing people closer together.
  6. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Upbeat music makes us happier, participating in the music, knowing the words, dancing, singing along, immersing ourselves in it, can give us the power to be happier.
  7. Don’t Stress Out – Listening to music can reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure!
  8. Sing the Blues – Sad music helps us deal with negative and positive emotions, it provides a mechanism for emotional release that provides some cognitive distance as well as helping resolve issues that we may not otherwise be able to voice.
  9. If You Just Smile – Facial expressions change when people are listening to music, your face projects the mood of the music you are listening to as do the faces of others. It can lift peoples’ moods and increase empathy and social awareness

LISTEN TO THE LOVE

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