SGM July 2018 Weekly Message Two: “How To Boost Your Energy & Expand Your Mind”

SGM July 2018 Weekly Message Two: “How To Boost Your Energy & Expand Your Mind”

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Spiritual Growth Monthly. I’m Kevin Schoeninger. It’s great to have you with us here at SGM!

In the second week of each month, we review a specific book or tradition for the practices that it offers. The key to our personal transformation is to apply our insights by practicing them daily. Our reference for this month’s practice is the book, “Power Up Your Brain,” by David Perlmutter, M.D. and Alberto Villordo, Ph.D.

In our first Weekly Message, we discovered the astonishing power of belief. Your positive and negative beliefs can have dramatic, even life or death, consequences in your life. We learned that we have three brain regions that each offer different perspectives on life. Each brain region can lead to different beliefs about what is real and possible.

We also learned that, if we become locked into fear, our bodies go on high alert and our higher brain functions actually shut down to deal with the perceived emergency. This situation can become chronic if we have the habit of looking at life through the lens of fear. This severely limits our higher abilities and possibilities. Because of that, we want to learn to calm our fear response and bring our higher brain functions online. Ideally, we want to activate and integrate all three regions of our brain under the guidance of the neo-cortex, or new brain.

In this Week’s Message, we’ll look at a powerful and often overlooked ingredient in activating and integrating your higher abilities—building your energy. In order to have the mental clarity and focus to work with your fears, heal your body, manage your life, or grow your spiritual practice, you need energy. If you are tired, you’ll probably just try to get through the day. You’ll stay in fear-based survival mode. You won’t have anything left over for creating something new or for making positive shifts in your beliefs. Because of that, boosting your energy is job one.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a wonderful story from Perlmutter about recovering energy. This story was actually one of the seeds for his current holistic approach. After that story, we’ll briefly explore how energy is created in your body and what can diminish that process. We’ll discuss five simple dietary suggestions that can make a huge difference in your energy. Finally, we’ll practice a simple spiritual exercise that can lower your stress, lighten your thoughts, and give you an expanded sense of possibility.

Let’s begin with this story from Dr. Perlmutter.

Perlmutter tells of a woman in his clinic, Beth, who suffered from chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, a crippling and sometimes fatal auto-immune brain disorder. Symptoms of this disease include numbness, weakness, and pain in the extremities, unsteadiness, visual impairment, bladder difficulties, and extreme fatigue. Beth had been forced to get around using a walker at best and, more frequently, a wheelchair.

Perlmutter’s team put her on an array of nutritional supplements, specific fatty acids, and even nutrient injections to facilitate absorption. Unbeknownst to Perlmutter, she was also doing meditations in which she was able to tap into what she called “healing energy.”

One day while walking down the hall, Perlmutter and his staff were astounded to see Beth walking down the hallway without any assistance whatsoever. Perlmutter said to Beth “We are putting you on our miracle list.” (p. xvii, PUYB) He asked her to come into the examining room so that he could learn more about how she was doing.

Beth told Dr. Perlmutter that she had meditated for years, but until the last three months she hadn’t experienced the healing energy like she did now. Beth said, “Not only am I doing so much better as far as my MS is concerned, but I also feel really peaceful and positive about my life. I’ve been practicing some meditation techniques for years,” she explained, “but they never really clicked in until about three months ago.” (p. xvii, PUYB)

Beth’s case was one of the first in which Perlmutter began to put together the idea of combining nutritional therapy with meditation. As you might remember from last week’s story of cancer recovery, this is now a fundamental point of practice at Perlmutter’s clinic. He’s found that getting the right nutrients boosts energy and facilitates brain function so that meditation and affirmation practice just takes off.

Low energy and poor brain function often go hand in hand. To understand why this is, let’s briefly look at the physiology of energy production.

Within your cells are threadlike particles called “mitochondria” that are responsible for energy production. The mitochondria use carbohydrates as fuel to create energy, with the primary by-products being water and carbon dioxide. The energy created by the mitochondria is stored in your cells in a sort of chemical battery in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short. ATP is then utilized whenever there is an energy demand in your cells.

Additional by-products of energy production are free radicals. Though free radicals have a bad reputation, they actually perform an important role in the life and death of your cells. They regulate cell death, which is needed so that new cells can replace old cells. Your body rids itself of up to ten billion cells a day to make room for new healthier cells. Many of the old cells are cancer cells which your body is constantly on guard to clear from your system.

O.K. so how does this relate to energy?

If free radical production is too prominent, free radicals will begin to cause oxidative damage not only to cells that you need to be rid of, but also to healthy cells. This directly interferes with your health and energy production ability. Excess free radical damage can happen as a result of stress, pollution, and poor diet, among other things. Free radical damage is the prime factor in almost every degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, and so on. In less severe cases, you may simply suffer from declining brain function and low energy.

Scientists are now discovering that mitochondria not only regulate energy production, but also are responsible for intracellular communication, the regulation of cell death, and perhaps even communicating with the surrounding biosphere. Because of the importance of these functions and the intimate relationship of all of them with energy production, the enhancement of mitochondrial function is key for your health, well-being, and your ability to rise to higher levels of function.

Energy is key and nutrition plays a large role. Your body needs several nutrients for the mitochondria to do their jobs well. “Power Up Your Brain” has an extensive dietary regimen for those of you who would like to explore this more thoroughly. What I’d like to do in this Week’s Message is give you some general dietary guidelines based on their advice.

1. Stay well-hydrated. For most of us, this means about 64 ounces of water daily. I know I harp on this all the time, but with good reason. For details on why hydration is so important, you can check out my blog post on that by clicking below:

http://www.mindbodytrainingcommunity.com/?p=1200

2. Increase your consumption of anti-oxidants found in fresh, organic fruits and veggies. Mom was right: broccoli and blueberries are especially good! Anti-oxidants help to manage the proper balance and function of free radicals.

3. Increase your intake of essential fatty acids, especially DHA, to between 300mg-1000mg per day. This helps with brain and nervous system repair, as well as being good for your cardio-vascular health and ability to transport energy through your body.

4. Minimize your intake of starchy carbohydrates found in grains, especially wheat. In excess, these can elevate inflammation in your body. Excess inflammation is now implicated in almost all chronic diseases including cancer.

5. Lower your overall caloric intake to 2,000 calories/day for women and 2,500 calories/day for men. A calorie-restricted diet actually spurs your body to produce new brain cells, while excess caloric consumption compromises your digestion and bogs down your system.

You can find a wealth of information about these suggestions and a much more detailed dietary program in the book. The basic idea is to boost energy production and cellular repair functions while reducing inflammation and cellular damage. All of this will set the stage for you to reap the powerful benefits of spiritual practice.

One of the first benefits you receive from daily spiritual practice also relates to your energy equation—stress reduction. Let’s explore a simple exercise that will help you to reduce stress, lift the weight of heavy or negative thinking from your mind, and expand your perception of possibilities. As a spiritual practice, this will also increase your felt sense of connection with Life.

The exercise is common in many spiritual traditions. It’s called “Sky Gazing.” My experience of the sky is one of the major reasons that I moved to Colorado, which is “Big Sky” country—you can see for miles out here. I enjoy the freedom, clarity, guidance, and connection that I experience by looking up into the sky.

 

How to Practice Sky Gazing

You can practice this exercise by going outside and actually looking at the sky, which I recommend when and where that is possible for you. Or you can practice it in your mind’s eye, by lightly closing your eyes and imagining that you are looking at the sky. If you are doing this exercise outside, choose a place that has as clear and unobstructed a view of the sky as possible.

Either way, find yourself a comfortable seated position with your feet flat on the ground. Rest your hands palms down on your thighs. As an alternative, you can lie down on your back with your hands resting on your lower abdomen.

Direct your gaze to the sky—the actual sky or your imagined sky. Soften your focus so that you take in as much of the sky as possible. Allow it to fill your peripheral vision, so the sky takes up your entire visual space. Pay attention to anything that is moving across the sky, like clouds, kites, planes, or birds. Notice how they come and go across the vast sky behind them.

Imagine that the sky is like your mind and the clouds or other objects crossing the sky are like your thoughts and feelings. These things come and go, yet the sky remains still, spacious, and clear behind them.

Allow the feeling of the sky to fill your awareness. Let its open spaciousness clear your mind. Let its altitude and breadth elevate and expand your awareness. Allow anything that comes into your mind to dissolve into that open clear expanse.

Spend at least five minutes taking in the sky and letting the clouds and your thoughts float by.

Once you’ve absorbed the sky in your mind, take note of how you feel inside. You may feel more connected to Life or to God. You may feel that everything is alright. You may feel that you’re guided and cared for. You may just feel a bit more relaxed. Whatever you feel is fine. Taking this time to consciously expand your awareness is beneficial in itself.

Record the feeling of the open, clear, spacious sky in your mind and body, so you can return to that feeling whenever you need to.

Then take a moment to write down anything that is important for you to remember from that experience.

 

---End of Practice---

 

In next Week’s Message, we’ll talk about the stories we tell about ourselves and life and how these give us important clues to our beliefs. The following week, in our Meditation of the Month, we’ll explore a powerful process to rewrite our memories and beliefs so we can engage more fully and successfully in Life.

Until next time,

Energize your body and brain with good nutrition and open your mind to the sky,

Kevin

2 Replies to “SGM July 2018 Weekly Message Two: “How To Boost Your Energy & Expand Your Mind””

  1. Hi, Kevin

    I’m enjoying this month’s book. I love how the body and spirit and mind are all interrelated.

    As a college student, I studied the connection between the mind and the body. (This was over 30 years ago when there wasn’t a lot of research on that connection.) In particular, I studied the role of endorphins in well being. It’s fascinating to discover how our entire outlook on life can be related to brain chemistry. There is so much to learn.

    I appreciate your emphasis on meditation. The more I practice meditation, the more I am able to choose what thoughts dominate my conscious thinking. I have seen miracles by surrendering the God in prayer and meditation. And this week is a powerful reminder that taking care of our body is just as important to our peace as is meditation.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Anna

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