What a Gem

Thoughts to Contemplate by Dr. Luann Robinson Hull


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Thrive

Maximize Your Happiness Potential

happy gear brain image

“…The desire for happiness is essential to man. It is the motivator of all our acts. The most venerable, clearly understood, enlightened, and reliable constant in the world is not only that we want to be happy, but that we want only to be so.”—Matthieu Ricard

There is an endless supply of resources on how to follow the yellow brick road to happiness. And in recent years, the scientific community has jumped on board fortifying us with impressive data providing empirical evidence to show that we as a species have been hardwired to operate from a foundation of happiness and well-being (Happily Ever After…Right Now, prologue xxx). All we have to do to create that possibility for ourselves is to to focus on training the area of our brain already blueprinted to strengthen our happiness potential. This region is called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). It governs thinking and emotion and also has been shown to support us in having more empathic responses, which evoke feelings of loving compassion, heightened social awareness, and increased sensitivity to the moment.

The ACC’s job is to utilize a specific neuron unique to humans. This neuron is stimulated to increase in supply when a positive or neutral response eclipses a negative reaction to an emotional trigger —even if it is just taking a breath or two. The stock continues to multiply with every nanosecond you choose not to fight (or flee). As these “happy,” calming neurons develop momentum they can eventually provide enough gusto to balance out the effect of the unruly cascade of neurochemicals designed for your survival, originating from a different region in your head. As this development is unfolding, your brain states are being altered by a process called neuroplasticity. Therefore, you can run your own programs rather than having your programs run you. It just takes some determination. And, your rising band of will power, will definitely support you in the process of this peace-making between the back (reptile) and the front (reason) of your head.

We are fundamentally primates with an endless supply of distractions and possible triggers. We will lose the keys, forget people’s names, and falsely perceive situations by making assumptions based on our emotional sensitivity, all of which is repeatedly re-enforced by any current triggers. Science now demonstrates that until we decide to clear the festering wounds of yesteryear by being available to resolve and balance whatever is out of whack right now, this dilemma will persist.

We are each likely a product of survival strategies, which hide out in our unconscious psyche. These habituated ways of coping most always originate from woundedness—something hurt us and we developed tactics to protect ourselves from future, similar pain. Conditioned beliefs, actually begin to form patterns of behavior that take root in our subconscious data-bank, where ninety-five percent of our actions, words, and deeds live (according to Bruce Lipton, Cellular Biologist). Until it is held in check, this subterranean belief system will repeatedly distort your reality through the lens of fear and insufficiency because it “thinks” it has to do this in order to keep you alive.

“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This outgrowing proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the person’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge”—Carl Gustov Jung.

And so how can we upgrade our operating system to a “broadened outlook” where seemingly “insoluble problems” and life dramas will “lose their urgency?” Abraham Maslow, famed humanistic psychologist, referred to this state of expanded consciousness, as “self-actualization” where we are operating on all cylinders, fortified by the stronger life urge that strengthens our most optimal potential (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization).

Of course, in order to fully support this “life urge” you have to be willing to keep unraveling the complicated system that responds to your upsets. Therefore, when you are triggered by a high intensity event, it is vital that you get some distance between you and what happened before your conscious mind is hijacked by the limbic system, “whose” agenda it is to repeatedly override your ability to reason. By strengthening your consciousness, you are countering your deeply entrenched conditioning to survive. You are programming your brain to recognize that the defensiveness, which your initial reaction will evoke, is likely going to cause the very harm you are trying to prevent. Here is an example:

You are at a traffic light turning left. You are late to an appointment. You have patiently awaited your turn. The moment has arrived. You make your move. Out of nowhere, a little red corvette cuts in front of you. You snap and yell obscenities at the driver, only to find just following the release of your expletive, that the one behind the wheel is your boss.

Admittedly, stopping to take a breath under such circumstances is not easy work, though clearly it would have been the better choice in this scenario. It is now being proven scientifically that your conscious choices will not only improve your interactions with others, but will also liberate your biology to such a degree that you can eventually emancipate yourself from suffering altogether.

What are the tools that will support you in the process of actuating the grandest version of yourself? You can start by taking a breath the next time you are triggered, and then another. If you do not already have a practice, consider beginning some type of formal meditation (mental focus). Here is a link to support you in getting started: http://zenhabits.net/meditation-for-beginners-20-practical-tips-for-quieting-the-mind/ . In addition, please find more information here on the effects of meditation regarding the anterior cingulate cortex.

http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2013/Anxious_Activate_Your_Anterior_Cingulate_Cortex_With_a_Little_Meditation.htm

Meanwhile, my esteemed colleague, Dr. Jean Watson, and I will be offering a full day workshop on in depth methods for changing your biological destiny (briefly discussed here) with specific practices. This promises to be a life changing event. Click here for more information and to register.

Hope to see you there!

Believing in you!

Luann


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It was a Soulful Weekend…

yoga

Thanks to all who participated in the Immersion weekend offered by Jess Jacobsen and me last weekend in Carbondale, Colorado. We did some inner exploration around our soul’s purpose and how to unlock our limitless potential, and it was exhilarating!  The mixture of lecture and practice turned out to be a winning combination that resonated with our lovely gathering of beautiful souls!

For those of you who couldn’t be there, we spent time together reviewing some of our “inner workings,” looking at why and how we get triggered, which hijacks or log-jams our peace and creative potential.  As neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux points out,

“human consciousness is the way it is because of the way our brains operate…emotions evolved not as conscious feelings, linguistically differentiated or otherwise, but as brain states and bodily responses….(and so)… Where is evolution taking our brain?”

Deutsch: Phrenologie

Deutsch: Phrenologie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As it stands now, we are not very effective at turning off our emotional states once they are triggered. The good news is that it has been proven that through the strengthening of cortical connections to certain areas of our brains, we can begin to condition ourselves to start to step back and take a breath away from our emotional states, reducing the amount of charge these emotions can cause.

That’s great, Luann. But… huh? How do we strengthen those connections in our brains?

We do this by practicing mental focus (another proven fact). There are a plethora of ways that we can engage in these practices, including meditation, yoga, conscious walking, and more.

If you are inclined, please take some time this week to explore how your days are unfolding. Are you taking some time for yourself…I mean just for you?  Do you have a regular time set aside to renew and recharge? Have you considered or are you engaged in a daily meditation practice? Are you exploring your life purpose…and taking some moments to reflect on what you want…how you can serve? Just checkin…

Let’s hold hands and stick together. Believing in you!

Love,

Luann


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Taking Back Our Emotional Well Being

Last week we continued our discussion on “the power of emotions over happiness” and shared insights from cutting edge scientists, who are merging science and spirituality. Today I’d like to discuss how our conditioning influences our emotions and provide a simple technique on how to begin to make permanent changes in patterns of behavior that cause challenge.

Among those participating in breakthrough studies on the brain (merging science and spirituality), is Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. “Dr. Davidson has unearthed some significant findings regarding how the emotion of happiness can be tracked in the brain. Davidson collaborated with His Holiness the Dalia Lama to study monks, who are experienced practitioners in meditation, having meditated ten thousand hours or more. These monks live in states of peace, compassion, gratitude, happiness, and well being…”(Excerpt from Happily Ever After…Right Now, pp.xxx, Prologue).

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.28.19 AM

Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes the Brain, mentioned in last week’s post, states that, (  “…Focused attention (meditation, focused breathing, yoga, etc.) begins to build new neuronal circuits (brain patterns)…repeating a task, such as meditation or prayer, changes the synaptic activity at the end of a neuron and will eventually change the structure of the cell (forming new patterns). Such changes affect the way information is relayed to other parts of the brain.—pp. 33, How God Changes the Brain. Recall what Joseph LeDoux’s finding suggested: The struggle between thought and emotion might be resolved by a “more harmonious integration of reason (cortex) and passion (fight/flight/amygdala), and focused attention (meditation) seems to be a supporting link.

Perhaps you meditate regularly. If so, we would welcome your ideas and suggestions of what has worked for you. If you have never meditated and are interested in getting started, I encourage you to begin to practice it (simple steps below) and take note of any subtle changes that might occur in your level of stress or anxiety.  If you do, please keep us posted!

 

Suggested meditation practice for beginners this week:

Time commitment: 5-7 minutes daily (preferably upon awakening, though this can be done anywhere—even in the subway on the way to work)

Exercise:  The Breath and Focused Attention

Sit in a comfortable position. Focus on the “in” breath and the “out” breath. You could repeat the words “in” and “out” as you notice your breathing. Try not to change your normal breathing pattern.Your mind will wander. Come back to the breath. Practice this technique for five to seven minutes and try not to judge how well you believe you are doing. Meditation practice has been shown to have a cumulative effect. Just the fact that you are sitting there, committed to doing this is progress!

Next week we will continue the series with more information and meditation practice ideas. The goal: To change the chemistry of our brain, change the patterns that have allowed our reptilian brain to rule our emotions (and allowed the “fight or flight” mechanism to dominate), and to finally reach a higher (or more expanded) level of consciousness.

We can do this!

Love,

Luann

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Be sure to share this post with someone you love.

REPLY TO THIS POSTOther readers would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please post a comment or leave a reply here.

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SUMMER READING SPECIAL

dsc03294.jpg

These posts may be a blessing to you, but they do not compare to receiving the message in context and in its entirety in the book!

You can find the book “Happily Ever After Right Now. Stop Searching! Start Celebrating!” hereAND for a few weeks only “Happily Ever After Right Now” will be available on Kindle at the very special, affordable price of $2.99. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get Kindle for Mac, or PC for FREE and pick up your copy for only $2.99!

ALREADY FINISHED READING MY BOOK? PLEASE WRITE A REVIEW FOR ME!

Already finished reading “Happily Ever After Right Now?” I’d like to ask a very special favor. If you found the book to be informative and helpful in your journey, would you be so kind as to post a review of the book? Here is a link to my Amazon page for you to do so:  http://www.amazon.com/Luann-Robinson-Hull/e/B00AQIQ3B6/, and here is the GoodReads page for the book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11522606-happily-ever-after-right-now.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

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Join Me on the Huffington Post!

I’m thrilled to be published on the Huffington Post! I would love for you to take a look at my author page, and if you’re inclined, it would be wonderful if you would click the Facebook “like” for my articles. Click here to go to my author page. Thanks so much!

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SUBSCRIBE TO THESE GEMS  via email by clicking HERE (you may unsubscribe at any time, and we never spam).

FOLLOW ME:

    FB Like        

Twitter     FB        Videos    Google +

Happily Ever After is now on Google Plus! Please add us!

Contact me by visiting my websites: Luann Robinson Hull and Happily Ever After Right Now

GRATITUDE:

I want to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Cindy and all of those on my wonderful “Happily” team who make these posts (as well as the emails and social media) possible, and make them come together in a beautiful way!  Without their dedication and help, I wouldn’t be here “blogging” or sharing information with you electronically!  I would still be writing on my yellow tablets!

Image Credit: http://www.lisajeydavis.com copyright (c) 2005


4 Comments

Balancing Your Emotions

Balancing_Yoga

Last week we talked about the “power of emotions over happiness,” and posed the question, “How can you interrupt the tendency for the “emotional hi-jacking phenomenon” to play out in your world?”

Here are some insights from Joseph LeDoux, Professor of Science in the Center for Neural Sciences at New York University. “…we are evolution in progress… As things now stand, the amygdala (which governs your fight or flight response to perceived or imagined fear  http://bigthink.com/videos/the-amygdala-in-5-minutes) has a greater influence on the cortex (reasoning centers of the brain) than the cortex has on the amygdala, allowing emotional arousal (fight or flight) to dominate and control thinking. Throughout the mammals, pathways from the amygdala to the cortex overshadow the pathways from the cortex to the amygdala. Although thoughts can easily trigger emotions (by activating the amygdala), we are not very effective at willfully turning off emotions (by deactivating the amygdala). Telling yourself that you should not be anxious or depressed does not help much.”

LeDoux goes on to say that, “The increased connectivity between the amygdala and the cortex involves fibers going from the cortex to the amygdala as well as from the amygdala to the cortex. If these nerve pathways strike a balance, it is possible that the struggle between thought and emotion may ultimately be resolved, not by the dominance of emotional centers by cortical cognitions, but by a more harmonious integration of reason and passion. With increased connectivity between the cortex and amygdala, cognition and emotion might begin to work together rather than separately.”—Joseph LeDoux, The Emotional Brain, pp.303)

And so how do we participate in creating such a “balance?” Andrew Newberg, Professor of Psychiatry and Director for the Center for Integrated Study of Spirituality and the Neurosciences at The University of Pennsylvania says, “…the anterior cingulate, which processes social awareness, intuition, and empathy, contains a unique neuron that only humans and a few primates have. These neurons have only been around for about fifteen million years whereas the amygdala has been happily generating neurons for 450 million years. Spiritual practices strengthen the anterior cingulate, and when this happens, activity in the amygdala slows down….When you intensely and consistently focus on your spiritual values and goals, you increase the blood flow to your frontal lobes and anterior cingulate, which causes the activity in emotional centers of the brain to decrease. Conscious attention is the key…”—Andrew Newberg, M.D. How God Changes the Brain, pp.17 and 20.

DRole of Amygdala

Let’s make a concerted effort this week to slow down what can be an overpowering effect of the emotions and the fight or flight mechanism of the brain.

How can we do that? Take a few moments each day to simply quiet your thoughts. Clear your head and breathe. Remind yourself that you are worth the time and attention it will take for you to refresh/reset your brain to support you in better coping with your busy world. Stay tuned for next week’s post with practices and techniques.

Believing in you!

Love,

Luann

————–

Be sure to share this post with someone you love.

REPLY TO THIS POSTOther readers would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please post a comment or leave a reply here.

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THIS FRIDAY EVENING

in the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen, Basalt, Snowmass, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Colorado):

Proof-Of-Heaven-Dr.-Eben-Alexander-Near-Death

I am pleased to co-sponsor this exciting evening!

Please join us for An evening with Dr. Eben Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven – A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife”

FRIDAY, August 9 at 7PM – Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, CO.

PurchaseTickets: http://www.davinikent.org (Featured Events)

See full Event Flyer here (http://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/554935_490403207712292_475076117_n.png).

————–

SUMMER READING SPECIAL

dsc03294.jpg

These posts may be a blessing to you, but they do not compare to receiving the message in context and in its entirety in the book!

You can find the book “Happily Ever After Right Now. Stop Searching! Start Celebrating!” here. AND for a few weeks only “Happily Ever After Right Now” will be available on Kindle at the very special, affordable price of $2.99. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get Kindle for Mac, or PC and pick up your copy for only $2.99!

————–

PLEASE WRITE A REVIEW

Already finished reading “Happily Ever After Right Now?” I’d like to ask a very special favor. If you found the book to be informative and helpful in your journey,would you be so kind as to post a review of the book? Here is a link to my Amazon page for you to do so:  http://www.amazon.com/Luann-Robinson-Hull/e/B00AQIQ3B6/, and here is the GoodReads page for the book:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11522606-happily-ever-after-right-now.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

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Join Me on the Huffington Post!

I’m thrilled to be published on the Huffington Post! I would love for you to take a look at my author page, and if you’re inclined, it would be wonderful if you would click the Facebook “like” for my articles. Click here to go to my author page. Thanks so much!

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SUBSCRIBE TO THESE GEMS  via email by clicking HERE (you may unsubscribe at any time, and we never spam).

FOLLOW ME:

    FB Like        

Twitter     FB        Videos    Google +

Happily Ever After is now on Google Plus! Please add us!

Contact me by visiting my websites: Luann Robinson Hull and Happily Ever After Right Now

GRATITUDE:

I want to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Cindy and all of those on my wonderful “Happily” team who make these posts (as well as the emails and social media) possible, and make them come together in a beautiful way!  Without their dedication and help, I wouldn’t be here “blogging” or sharing information with you electronically!  I would still be writing on my yellow tablets!

Image Credits: yoga image used by permission from the book “Ahhhhhh…Haaaaaa Moments with Ms. Cheevious”  diagram pulled from article here: http://www.positivehealth.com/article/cfs-me/me-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-causes-and-the-amygdala-retraining-recovery-programme