Archive for December, 2008

Free Teleseminar!: Yoga and the Brain!

December 31, 2008

The Platform: The George Greenstein Institute rings in the New Year with a free teleseminar: Yoga and the Brain!

The Twitter: 2008 proved movement and meditation are great for improving the embodied brain!

The Big Idea: Take your yoga, martial art, meditation, wellness or neuroleadership practice to a new level by learning about the key prime mover: the brain!

If 2008 proved itself as the Year of the Brain, 2009 will surely follow with raising awareness of we can change our brains, our bodies and our minds!

To that end, The George Greenstein Institute is proud to offer the first of its 2009 teleseminars: “Yoga and the Brain,” taught by yours truly, Dr. G.

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Who should take this teleseminar? Anyone working with, or interested in, the neurological effects of restorative or high performance training including allied health workers, public policy makers, physicians and physician assistants, ADHD specialists, social entrepreneurs in health and wellness, and of course, all members of the somatic, yoga, meditation, athletic and martial arts community. (Global citizens please note: The teleseminar will be conducted in English.)

What will I learn: This teleseminar introduces the core neuroscience concepts central to any top quality training program that teaches yoga and movement meditation. Concepts include: neuroplasticity, immersive attention, somasensory integration and more.

What are the key benefits of this teleseminar?: You will leave the teleseminar energized and armed with a grand pattern of understanding how neurologically important your work is as a proponent of yoga movement and meditation. Seminar discussion is particularly valuable for anyone dedicated to improving the development and integration of brain, body and mind.

How do I join this free teleseminar? Simply write to 2docgee@gmail.com with the word “yes.” Follow up information will be sent to you at your given email address.

With all neurotransmitters sparking, I wish everyone a happy new calendar year. May 2009 be the year we all resolve to consciously rewire our brains! Gong Ji Kuai Le!

Dr. G., Founding Director, George Greenstein Institute, creating a sustainable future by coaching bodies, brains and minds!

mamindshare_dec-026Bio: M. A. Greenstein, Ph.D. is the “chief brainiac” of The George Greenstein Institute. An internationally respected author, keynote speaker and advocate for visual and somatic education, Dr. Greenstein has dedicated herself to advancing somatics and sciences and the field of neuroleadership by reframing the matrix of research and training to include neuroscience and fields of inquiry that address wholistic approaches to improving health, innovation and performance (Get HIP!) Dr. Greenstein will be teaching meditation at TED 2009, and moderating a panel on Social Entrepreneurship at the upcoming 2009 Creativity conference: Worlds in the Making!

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Great News!: Transcendental Meditation, ADHD and the Brain!

December 29, 2008

A quick Spacesuit Yoga Twitter!:  Transcendental Meditation shown to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children

A small, though important study was just published in the peer-review journal  Current Issues in Education > Volume 10, 2008 > Number 2, showing the positive correlation between T.M. practice, stress reduction and improvement in use of executive function in school children ages 11-14. Scientists limited the study to students with pre-existing diagnoses of ADHD made by a physician or psychologist.

The study was conducted as a team effort between members of a private research firm, researchers from the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management and faculty at University of Arizona.

The link to the study:  http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume10/number 2/

This is terrific news for the meditation, ADHD, educational and neuroscientific communities at large!

[For those who know little about T.M. as a meditative practice, it is considered by T.M. researchers to be a ‘technique of “effortless transcending”’ (Travis, et al., 2002).  Though I don’t debate the contributions T.M. makes to whole-brain health and happiness, I find statements like this negate the obvious neuroscience and cognitive question:  “Where does one place one’s attention?”  To that point, authors of the study distinguish the neuro-cognitive basis of T.M. as distinct from “concentration” practices like Zen breath meditation and from “contemplative” practices like Vipassana or Insight meditation. Clearly more research with rigorous interest in the rhetoric of description is needed to identify the neural network correlates to the many paths of meditation practice.]

I will continue to report on key studies of meditation research that impact how we in the global community, think about the relations of health to learning, memory, imagination and decision-making in children and adults!!

Synaptically yours!

Dr. G.

The George Greenstein Institute, dedicated to a sustainable  future by coaching bodies, brains and minds!

 

The New Brain Ecology: Connecting Brains, Bodies, and Minds!

December 29, 2008

The Platform: The New Brain Ecology:  Connect Body, Brain and Mind!

The Twitter: SpaceSuit Yoga.com is migrating to another blogisphere!

The Big Idea:  Create a trustworthy go-to space where cogent commentary and top quality coaching take brain, body and mind fitness to the next level!


The new year is almost upon us and with that, SpaceSuitYoga will soon be migrating to the newly renovated, bodiesinspace.com.

Bodiesinspace.com  is being designed to help you navigate the complex world of neuroscience, neuro-plasticity,  brain fitness and brain injury  interconnected with the health of the body and mind.   Look for our special reports by the Virtual Visionary Tobey Crockett illuminating  indigenous perspectives on aging along with SpaceSuit Yoga  and guest contributer columns on mediation practice and art for the brain.   Prepare to applaud the winners of the 1st Bodinesinspace award for brilliance in social entrepreneurship and design!  And check out our new coaching  and teleseminar programs specializing in collaborative partnering in managing  health,  creativity practices and best strategies for performance!

Finally, come 2009, you’ll be able to surf through text, image and podcasts on the new interactive zine site!

So somanauts and neuroleaders, suit up, prep your multi-sensory antennae and  get ready to map out

BETTER BRAINS

AGELESS BODIES

SPACIOUS MINDS

In the meantime, remember to “Plug In.”  Host a Brain Awareness Week on Facebook, on your site, at  your school, in your health center, place of worship or  office. 

 

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Wishing everyone a healthy new year, one marked by vision, imagination,  integrity and insight!

Dr. M. A. Greenstein a.k.a. Dr. G.

The George Greenstein Institute, creating a sustainable future by coaching bodies, brains and minds!

Happy Holidays from SpaceSuit Yoga!

December 25, 2008

For all of the somanaunts, neuronauts, neuroleaders and seekers of yogic meditation, an auspicious holiday message shared by the unsung poet laureate of the yoga community: YogaDawg, author of My Third Eye Itches:

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It happened in a Saturday morning yoga class. Exhausted from preparations for the holidays, the yogi was looking forward to a yoga session. During a particular pose, the yogi closed his eyes, felt a calm awareness and was surprised to find he was perfectly aligned. That had never happened before as he was a novice at yoga.

As he continued to hold the pose, the students around him smiled as they admired its perfect alignment. The teacher stopped teaching the class to study the pose and called other yogis into the studio to show it to them. As word spread, yogis from other studios gathered around to admire it also. All seemed to agree that they had never seen a pose done with such poise.

Those studying the pose became more flexible, felt happier; more alive. Wrinkles disappeared; digestion improved; aches and pains were relieved while glass jaws, rope burns, paper cuts, blackheads, spring fever, homesickness, halitosis, corns, bunions, warts, the heebie-jeebies, shyness, unexplained weeping, in-grown toenails and gunshot wounds were all mysteriously cured.

As word of the pose passed from yogi to yogi, it became the number one discussion on yoga blogs and websites. Photos of the pose were scanned, faxed, emailed, made into posters and appeared on billboards. It was featured on the six o’clock news. The pose made the cover of Yoga Journal and the magazine renamed itself, “The Pose”, shortly thereafter. Famous yoga stars started making yoga videos, writing yoga books and offering yoga workshops about the pose. The pose began to be referred to as “The Pose”.

Novelists incorporated The Pose into their books. A famous author penned a pivotal work titled “The Perfect Pose” which went on to become the best selling novel of all time. The novel was made into a movie; the movie was adapted to a one act play; the play was made into a musical which gave way to a major opera called “La Pose”. This made the Italians very happy. Consequently, ancient yoga texts were rewritten to include The Pose. Yoga scholars discussed it in new commentaries on said ancient texts and new scholarly works were written about it.

The Pose enabled people to sleep peacefully through the night (without snoring), charm cobras, leap buildings in a single bound, acquire untold wealth and speak fluent Sanskrit and Swahili. They also gained the ability to compose complex jazz melodies while walking in the park.

The Pose went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for physics, a Heisman Trophy, an Oscar for best supporting actress and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the President of the United States. A small pacific island nation changed its name to the Island of Pose, (Subsequently becoming the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth by offering workshops and conferences to teach The Pose to yogis around the world).

Endangered species began to reproduce rapidly, rescuing them from extinction. The lamb lay next to the lion and leprechauns were seen riding on unicorns. The sun always shined; the plants were always watered; the dog was always walked; the hole is the ozone was closed.
All creatures on the earth sang along to the Music of the Spheres; Gabriel blew his horn and the Sirens chanted hallelujah! Energy became unlimited and non-polluting; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse got off their horses to practice The Pose…and…

As the yogi opened his eyes and came out of the pose, he remarked to himself, “I sure wish I was better at this yoga stuff…”

http://www.yogadawg.com/

May the Breath Be With You!

Dr. G.

The George Greenstein Institute, coaching bodies, brains and minds!

Meditation, Exercise and Immersive Attention Change the Brain!

December 23, 2008

To all somanauts and neuronauts!

The Twitter for the hour:  2008  The Year of the Brain… Wow! What a Year!

We are now reaching the end of 2008 and the Year of the Brain has ushered in some stunning discoveries!

In recent days, the news over the web has taken on great evolutionary proportions:  Brains from the Iron Age have survived!:   “The oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2000 years to the Iron Age, has been unearthed during excavations on the site of the University of York’s campus expansion at Heslington East.”   

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I wonder what kind of meditation, exercise or powerbars these guys used to keep their brains alive? (more…)

Dr. G and Neuroleadership at Mindshare.la!

December 18, 2008

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I’ll be speaking on best practices in “neuroleadership” this evening at MindShare.la. — the last brain-bash for 2008!

http://www.mindshare.la/

I’ll be joining an esteemed list of thought leaders, diva futurists and merry pranksters!  All talks will be recorded and placed on the mindshare.la website as well as on my soon to launch GGI website!  Speaking tonite, Dec 18, 2008…

Douglas Campbell / Freshmaker, Mindshare

The Physics of Santa Claus

M. A. Greenstein / Chief Brainiac, BodiesInSpace.com

Best Practices in NeuroLeadership

Eric Gradman & Brent Bushnell / Digital Pranksters, Mindshare Labs

Creating the ArtFall Installation

Kjerstin ‘KJ’ Williams, Ph.D. / Jazz Singer & Robot Diva, Applied Minds

Swarm Intelligence: From Bugs to Robots

Errol Gerson / Consultant, Professor, Humanist

What 40 Years of Teaching Has Taught Me!

Tony di Zinno / Photographer & Producer

Photojournalism in Afghanistan

Adam Mefford / Co-Founder, Mindshare

Mindshare 2008 Wrap Up

Visual meditation is great for brain/mind training!

December 14, 2008

Welcome back to the discussion on visual meditation and mandalas!

Within major wisdom traditions of meditation, be they spiritual, religious or scientific brain and health training programs, there is typically the path of education or entrainment. Meditation or mental practice, after all, is not the default mode of a mature human central nervous system that is wired for turbo”different detecting” in space/time! Remember, difference detecting is that old survival mechanism that helps all mammals determine: Will that eat me or will I eat that? Is it safe to sleep here or is it not? And now in our modern jungle version where we communicate and travel at the speed of light, our human brains and central nervous systems race faster and faster to keep up with the deluge of information, images, and experiences we encounter day after day!

It makes sense that in response to or retreat from cultures drunk on speed, we would turn to “best practices” of earlier times, namely the ancient art and science of meditation, to help us slow down, to assist us in creating equilibrium in our bodies and in our lives. The good news is that at the dawn of the 21st century, meditation traditions practiced around the globe are finding their way into translation in order to prevent suffering and benefit all humankind. A grand project indeed!

So how does visual meditation figure into all of the hoopla about meditation as being great for creating inner peace. lowering stress and brain training?

Drawing upon both Buddhist and Hatha Yogic traditions, we find two key lessons to enable the learner: Turning Inward and Consciousness of Abstracting.

Turning inward allows us to find the most important radar signaling systems of the human body: Breathing and Paying Attention, both made possible by a “conscious” brain. [I’m using the term “conscious” in the here and now, scientific sense of brain activation.]

Paying attention enables us to “consciously abstract” or selectively focus upon a sign, an feeling, a sensation, a process of movement out of all that we might experience at any given moment.

Now, suggesting that someone turn inward seems to be completely counter intuitive to surviving in a culture that demands external focus for reading signs for survival! In gung ho American culture, think of the mockery we make of the quiet, reflective types — the teen who hides in in fantasy novels, the poet who sits and reflects on life, the college student who prefers to study Art, Sufi Dancing or Zen practice rather than ice hockey!

The irony of course is that in today’s sports training, “turning in” is one of the key training tools of Olympic training practice! (Think of Michael Phelp’s incredible ability to turn inward and “focus.”!!!). So turning inward, drawing one’s attention away from the noise of the outside world and turning it toward the space of one’s own inner life is a key step of Hatha Yoga, Zen, T.M. and Vipassana or Mindfulness traditions.

You might be saying at this point, “O.K., turn inward. And consciousness of what? How exactly do I use a visual image placed outside my own body?

Good question: Here’s the neuro-scoop and poop on using visual mandalas: (more…)

KODAK SNAPSHOT: JAPANESE SCIENTISTS RECONSTRUCT IMAGES FROM BRAIN ACTIVITY!

December 12, 2008

Talk about about visual meditation!

Check out Pink Tentacles’s synoposis of ground breaking work in the neuroscience of visual perception: Visual Image Reconstruction based on Brain Activity!!!!!

http://www.pinktentacle.com/2008/12/scientists-extract-images-directly-from-brain/

The original article can be found in NEURON Volume 60, Issue 5, Pages 731-940 (10 December 2008)

Title: “Visual Image Reconstruction from Human Brain Activity using a Combination of Multiscale Local Image Decoders”

Authors: Researchers from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories

Spacesuit Yoga is tweeting from Twitter.com!

December 12, 2008

Will soon be adding a blog on complex mandala meditation but in the meantime, you can always find short “tweets” from me, DRG at Twitter.com
And to get you started thinking about or meditating upon a inspiring and complex visual mandala, here’s close-up of one of Phillip George’s boards. (House and Gardens….. Surf’s UP!)

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Meditation, Mandalas and the Brain

December 9, 2008

Greetings readers, a follow up on questions concerning choosing a visual meditation practice:

First a few words about the practice itself:

With respect to stress reduction and the desire to create a sense of inner well being, visual meditations may be ideal for

a) Those who find deep appreciation and calm in viewing visual art; and

b) Those who find the visual complexity of a mandala, the perfect sensory road to travel on in the quest for time/space centering of one’s “self.”

Put in everyday (well sorta) terms, visual meditations call on rehearsed neural circuits that enable the human brain to “pattern recognize” in ways that stretch beyond ordinary looking and seeing. Pattern recognition, after all, is basic to the acts of looking and seeing.   As the great anthropologist and cognitive theorist Gregory Bateson pointed out, “pattern recognition” is that which binds mind to life. Or as AI theorist Ray Kurzweil maintains, pattern recognition constitutes the first sign of biological intelligence (something that can be shared with non-biological intelligence, presuming we program the “thing,”).  Following this line of thinking, rehearsed pattern recognition creates the neurochemical connections necessary for the production of  new “brain maps” —  neural networks that correlate with learning and memory retention.

Practice, in other words, creates greater synaptic connections in our brains that form and correlate with sense perceptions, images, ideas, feelings and intuitions. With respect to using visual meditation as a way to reduce stress, some evidence suggests the less complex visual image, the easier it is to perceive and focus attention upon.  Let’s take. for instance, the act of attending to a single image like this week’s Hubble Telescope shot of a globular cluster of stars in the Northern Sky!

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Northern Sky, Globular Cluster M13 captured by the Hubble Telescope

If you’re prone to nature mysticism (C.F. William James), then you might first sense the awesome beauty of the cosmic start system. If you’re given to the metaphysics of geometry, you might pause on the elegance symbology of a cosmic circle. But if you’re interested in using the image of a cosmic star system to train your attention toward calmness and stability, then I suggest bringing along with visual attention, your sensory awareness of ordinary breathing. As one learns from the ancient Buddhist practice of mandala gazing, its the repeated experiential pairing of “looking” and “breathing” that helps one move from image perception and analysis to image experience. Meditative looking, to put it neatly, is embodied.

Today, neuroscientists reporting on perception and cognition, tell us that visual meditation experiences, like all other visual experiences, are synthesized in the visual cortex, related to other areas of the brain, e.g. the somasensory cortex. By adding breathing to the mix, visuality is further grounded in the body of experience.

Or to put it another way,

Bringing the art of breathing to the art of meditative visual image gazing transforms the neuroscience, if you will, of the visual experience.

What then do we make of the complex patterns one finds in Buddhist mandalas or Islamic mosque imagery, such as we find anew on Phil George’s sublime surfboards?

To be continued in my next blog….

Synaptically yours,

Dr. G.



The New Meditation Mandala: Surfboards Gone Islamic

December 7, 2008

The Platform: BBC story: Surfboards Gone Islamic! Work by Phil George

The Twitter: Surf Sufis: InShallah! Ride the Wave to Bliss!

The Big Idea: From Pattern Recognition to Ritual Meditation: Surfing Wires New Neural Maps Using Islamic Art.

I’m excited to share the work of Phil George, my dear Australian compadre whose luscious surfboards have “mapped” the beauty of Islamic meditation imagery on icons of Australian culture. Talk about whole brain, pattern recognition and creating new neural networks by way of visual and moving images!

Check out the following BBC article and video:

BBC: ** Sydney art fuses surf with Islam **
An Australian artist creates a range of Islamic surfboards to create a greater understanding between East and West.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/7769028.stm >

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGTcMRsJpyI&eurl=http://www.unsw.edu.au/

pgeorgecasula081

Phil George, BORDERLANDS, 2008, Casuala Powerhouse Arts Centre

George’s boards capture in one gorgeous icon, the complex histories of art, culture and geo-politics, now the stuff of heated, ugly warfare! In the hands of the artist, ugliness is transformed into a thing of beauty, culture, a thing of dignity and ancient meditation practice …. morphed into a modern ritual of fluid wave motion.

Surf Sufis arise… and may the breath be with you!

Dr. G.

How to find the “right” meditation for improving health, well-being and performance!

December 4, 2008

Questions have recently come from readers regarding how to choose a path of meditation? “How do I know which kind is good for me?”

Well dear readers, choosing a meditation (a.k.a. brain fitness practice) is like picking shoes or a favorite climate: It’s a question of fit. And if you’re like moi, the process is going to be a choosy one! By this I mean it takes a careful “buyer’s” attitude to shopping for a method that appeals to your cultural upbringing and sensibility and especially to your neuro-cognitive, emotional, and physical type. Indophiles and Asianists aside, meditation often comes as a package these days, branded with cultural associations that range from ancient jargon to colorful visual motifs!

Still in today’s on and offline markets of meditation clinics, therapies and retreat centers, it’s not so easy for the novice to delineate between Mindfulness, T.M. or Zen, Yoga and Qi Gong. Turning to neuroscience offers some help: Neuroscientists studying human brains before and after specific meditation practices, discover that different methods actually call on different networks and regions within the human brain and… produce different results accordingly!

Brook, Second Grade, 2004 online image

Artist: Brook, Second Grade, 2004 online image

For example, Richard Davidson and John Kabat Zinn, key researchers in the neuroscience of Mindfulness meditation, published fascinating evidence in 2003, noting measurable and interdependent results in changing both brain waves as well as immune antibodies! (See cited reference below). Theirs is one of many studies that point to the interconnectivity between how we spend our time and where we take our minds!

Translation?: Lower your stress with meditation you accomplish three things: 1) you jumpstart the signaling of positive affect in your brain; 2. You raise your levels of resistance to flu as well! (Think of the money you could save on expensive pharma and drug store cold medicine!) And by the consistent practice, you activate the neuroplastic capacity of the brain to grow itself.

In my life long research and personal study of meditative practices, I find it helpful to ask 3 questions and notice 3 structural types of meditation to order to determine a relevant meditation brand type.

(more…)

A TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM TBI

December 3, 2008

GOOD EVENING ALL,

Tonight, a meditative tribute to all those who suffer from TBI, sent to me directly from a reader: I’ve left in her use of color for emphasis. And for my comadres who detect the patriarchal focus: Have heart; Kipling was writing in the 19th century.

IF

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools
:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it it,

And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

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For up to date information on how to heal and prevent Traumatic Brain Injury, go to http://www.brainline.org

Synaptically yours,


Dr. G.

Meditation: There May Be No Better Time Than Now.

December 1, 2008

For those who have been following the Mumbai Siege and the news on the New York Wal-Mart mob murder, I suspect you are as stunned and horrified by the tragedy and madness of late. These are (sigh)… challenging times.

Yet in today’s edition of The New York TimesWeek in Review, we read the following: ‘No matter how stressful the conditions, some of us are just genetically inclined towards calm…. or else we learn to manage the neuroticism.’ I’m not sure claims of suffering from high level cortical stress count in a case of neuroticism. Sure, in Jewish and Italian jokes this side of the Pacific, the motif of the suffering mother lends itself to Freudian and Hollywood overtones. But we’re in the age of a paradigm shift, where cultural stereotypes give way to real time strategies that manage the sweaty, messy corporeality of stress: Crying, Screaming, acting out — the drama of human emotion makes it damn near impossible for some of us to calm ourselves down.

One might think this is all a chicken or egg question, but as contemporary neuroscience makes clear, stress–-be it PTSD, sudden shock or chronic stress endured by those in untenable situations–shuts down thinking. Period. The effects can be neurologically devastating: In the U.S., University of California, Irvine researchers have shown that short term stress like long term chronic stress, reduces cellular connections in the hippocampus, the brain region identified with operations of learning and memory. At a time when stress levels are soaring through roofs of homes sliding into default mortgages, we really do need to find a collective way to calm down.

In weighing the options, meditation seems to make a difference, both in reducing stress and in creating some powerful neurological grown patterns. Notable research conducted at mindfulness medical clinics set up at UCLA and at Harvard signifies a movement toward using meditation to mediate stress and poor health. Harvard researcher Sarah Lazar has already shown that Mindfulness Meditation is correlated with a growth of cortical tissue in the frontal cortex and insula (the area said to integrate emotionally relevant, sense perceptions.)

insula_amygdala_brain

QuBitTechnologies, 2007

I invite readers to peruse this blogsite for how-to’s in stress-reducing, meditative breathing practice, or write in for suggestions of practices that bear relevance to your current situation and learning style.

May the breath be with you.

Dr. G.