Check out my new site at http://www.bodiesinspace.com!
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!!
The George Greenstein Institute, dedicated to a sustainable future by coaching bodies, brains and minds!
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
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.
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!
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.”
I wonder what kind of meditation, exercise or powerbars these guys used to keep their brains alive? (more…)
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!
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.
The Platform: The Society for Neuroscience: 8 Core Concepts
The Twitter: Hey! Do you know the core concepts of neuroscience?
The Big Idea: Teach 8 core concepts of neuroscience and watch for the tranformation of science and culture at large!
As previously noted on this blog, The Society for Neuroscience has a noble vision: Identify 8 core neuroscience concepts, teach those concepts (and related principles) to children and teens and imagine a future redefined by a new and inspired league of young brain scientists. “Life should be so good,” as my grandmother use to say.
For neuroscience to compete with the pop wizardry of computer tech, it will take more than mere naming of concepts. I’ll be on the look out for some nifty interactive gizmos and gadgets, the toys and games that drive the concepts home and park them directly in front of the theater of the young mind. Inventors, designers, artists take note!
Since Core Concepts 1, 2, and 3 have been previously noted or inferred in this blog, (for review see below*), I’d like to comment directly on Core Concepts 4, 5, and 6.
Core Concepts 4, 5, and 6 are particularly interesting for those with general interest in brain matters and brain fitness and for those of us who teach or work in creative fields:
4. Life experiences change the nervous system.
5. Life arises as the brain reasons, plans and solves problems.
6. The brain makes it possible to communicate knowledge through language.
O.K., is it me or do other readers detect the over arching “ratio-empirical” bias to these general concepts? Granted they’ve been conceived by scientists for those studying science. But we’re talking about the whole brain and central nervous system, the brain and spine that keeps our heart and liver pumping, that loves, invents games, pretends, dreams, dances, tells stories in pictures, shares feelings with flowers or with something more gross like dumping garbage in your older brother or boyfriend’s bed! I think what we have here is a conflation of brain and mind, especially, the Enlightenment paradigm for the rational, speaking and writing mind.
Core Concept 5 is a case in point: “Intelligence arise as the brain reasons, plans….” Wait! When did the brain suddenly show itself to be adapted only to analytical practices of difference-detecting leading to logic and planning? What happened to the idea of “multiple intelligence” put forward by Harvard prof. Howard Gardner? What about soma-sensory intelligence? Auditory signals? Visual Icons?Granted, one needs to read further to discover that Concept 5 includes human perception in the process of arising intelligence, e.g.: “senses, emotions, instincts and remembered experience” are counted as being relevant for information processing. Even consciousness gets its due: “Consciousness depends on the normal activity of the brain.” Fair enough, especially if one is learning about traumatic brain injury and coma.
Yet for those who read deeply into neuroscience literature and into other cultural models of consciousness, remember Gerald Edelman’s argument for the limits of philosophic debate on consciousness. Seems SfN has transgressed the limits and put the question back on the table.
Concept 4 (Life changes the NS): This concept is easier to digest if only due to the increasing press on neuroplasticity. Here we are taught to recognize the interactivity of nature/nurture, to awaken to the role our own lives play in developing nerve cells, to recognize how we affect the health of cells by way of stress and trauma and how we can generate neural growth through our own efforts. A curious notation: “Neuronal death is a natural part of development and aging.” For the anti-aging activists like Aubrey de Grey, this will surely be contested.
And Concept 6? (Communicating knowlege through language) ….What can I say?
Speaking on behalf of the somanauts, artists and designers I’ve taught for over 15 years, I have to wonder where scientists have been during during the culture and cyber wars of the last century? Were they not told of the departmental battles that dared to push “knowledge” and “language” into the larger domains of cultural “meaning” and “sign systems?” Are they simply unaware of pertinent research conducted in fields that stretch from info technology to cultural anthropology?
Allow me then to urge science and all other educators who plan to use the core concepts and who wish to avoid the built in biases, to write to SfN requesting clarification: http:// http://www.sfn.org
Better yet, form study groups and invite a semiotician, a designer, a choreographer, a cultural ethnographer or an intellectual historian — any one who can offer an expanded view of actual brain/mind function in the world!
Finally, I welcome your thoughts and comments and will gladly refer you to texts and topics that unpack these thorny issues. And Look for my comments in days to come on Core Concepts 7 & 8
I remain synaptically yours,
Dr. G. sending breath your way
* Core Concepts 1, 2, 3 (see blogs Nov 17 and 18)
1. The Brain is the body’s most complex organ.
2. Neurons communicate using electrical and chemical signals.
3. Genetically determined circuits are the foundation of the nervous system.
The Twitter: Nurture your Nature!
The Big Idea: Neuro-Plasticity is critical to neurogenesis (But when and how?)
Allow me to start with a question: How many of you really believe that “exercise” can change your brain? How many of you have already adapted yourselves to a non-fast food diet of low fat, low sugar, low volume eating lifestyle? And how many of you take a nap to replenish memory of all those nifty concepts and technical skills you learned in the early a.m.?
Well if you were a fly on the wall in any of the Neuroscience 2008 sessions (rather than submitted to a lab of brain probe research!), you would detect a consistent pattern in neuroscience research: Nature and Nurture are inextricably linked — so much so as to push us to think why did we ever think otherwise? Or to put it another way, news from the brain labs reinforces what we’ve learned from cardiac research and training grounds, namely: Lifestyle can make or break one’s future in obtaining a clear mind and good and healthy longevity!
Having the opportunity to meet and listen to neuroscientists who are paving the way to our understanding of both the normal and diseased brain and body has pointed up to some insights worth sharing:
1. Scaling the practice of Brain Mapping: When it comes to neuroscience as a research area of biotechnology, the bio here means both neuroanatomical, neurochemical and neurogenetic levels of inquiry and analysis. For the lay reader, this means brain research is scaled and mapped from the macro to the micro levels of network analysis.
2. Neuro-Plasticity, like comedy is all about timing! Different levels of circuit analysis open doors to understanding the phenomenon of neuro-plasticity — best periods, best practices, and the conditions when “too much plasticity” appears implicated as in cases of schizophrenia. Given the trendiness that has brought neuro-plasticity into critical mass awareness, scientists at this conference were quite clear if not humble in making claims for the play-doh capacity of the brain. Today’s press conference on the developing brain drove home this message in this way:
Animal studies, such as the songbird studies run by Dr. Allison Doupe (see previous blog), point to a critical period for neuro-plasticity to express itself in learning and memory.
Dr. Takao Hench* reinforces Doupe’s perspective, noting if the critical period is disturbed in embryonic development, then plasticity is interrupted. Hench studies proteins in embryonic head development, finding their importance in developing visual function and spinal chord development.
No doubt, the evidence for embryonic and childhood neuro-plasticity opens new doors to asking how and when new neuronal landscapes are formed in later periods of life. The aging brain question on the table? Does the brain recapitulate earlier strategies for neuroplasticity in the adult stage and to what degree? (All you meditators out there: Think cultivating beginner’s mind.)
3. Nurture your Nature: With the advent of genetics, neuroscience has leaped into a new age of epigenetic studies: This may be one of the areas that speaks directly to how we as non-scientists can make sense of brain science in terms of our own daily lives. To give you a quick brief, think of the old nature/nurture argument, seemingly put to rest by the genome mapping project and the insights scientists have had regarding the role “environment” plays in shaping the genetic expression.
At Neuroscience 2008, several scientists were on hand to discuss their epigenetic research highlighting the effects of lifestyle and cultural habit on the brain as seen at the level of genetic expression. Let’s be clear here, the expression is not seen at the level of change in DNA structure but in the level of “gene expression.” For you genomic neophytes out there, I came to understand this by way of a great explanation offered by Dr. Quincy LaPlant who noted his use of microray analysis to distinguish between DNA sequence and sequence organization.
The long and short of this: The implications of lifestyle cannot be under-estimated: Stress, early childhood abuse and neglect, high-fat diets all manifest as modifers the brain at the level of genetic organization, the level of brain function, and the level of human experience!!!!!
Epigenetics — keep your eye on that term!
Until then, conference tip for brain fitness: “We remember to sleep so that we can sleep to remember!” (William Fishbein)
*Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard University
The Platform: NEUROSCIENCE 2008, Convention Center, Washington D.C.
The Twitter: How many neuroscientists does it take to put in a light bulb?
The Big Idea: The future of neuroscience lays in the hands of youth.
Intense? Immersive? An Indeterminate Neural Network? Making it through a crowd of over 30,000 people, and a four day roster that includes symposia, mini symposia, keynote lectures, satellite events and over a 1000 poster and slides sessions, does, as one AI scientist once remarked, separate the human from the robot.
And it is that extraordinary navigational capacity of human intelligence and specifically, the human brain, along with a whole host of questions about the brain that has drawn neuroscientists young and old to the rainy U.S. capital, to share their research, update their brains and discuss the future of advocating brain awareness at NEUROSCIENCE 2008!
With neuroscience becoming the seductive frontier of 21st century biological, medical and cognitive science study, as well as the field of promising and lucrative applied biotechnologies, NEUROSCIENCE 2008 is the brain child of the Society for Neuroscience, a dedicated group of scientists that has grown in membership and in sensibility regarding the role they play in developing allied research, public policy and K-12 education where the brain is concerned.
For the lay public, the hard science description of pain-staking empirical studies is enough to send the unitiated back to talking about Leggos, Pac-Man and 7th grade science fair. Yet as inimitable choreographer Mark Morris was apt to point out to the audience during the opening Keynote discussion, “the problem of talking about what’s going on in the brain, is not mine but yours!”
It was rather confirming for yours truly, to find the president of SFN, who researches rhythm, choosing the once bad boy post modern choreographer to open the annual meeting. The brain is, after all, in a body, and from the sessions I attended today, it seems more and more scientists are reading to point to roles experiment and experience play in shaping neural growth and visa versa. And yet, the questions put to Morris suggest that scientists might want to do more dancing or as Morris reminded them, “more skipping,” if they want to study the choreographic corellates in the somasensory cortex. Morris, a performing artist known for his love and sensitivity to the musicality of dancing, and now for his work with Parkinson’s disease, drove home the message of using somatic intelligence: ‘It’s not something that abstact, like thinking, “now this left foot, on this second beat.” It’s more like: “Here… Now.”‘
I must admit, the rudimentary science questions put to Morris pointed up to the old C.P. Snow two culture divide, pitting science and art against each other like political foes. I for one, was rather shocked by the retro p.o.v. pervading much of the scientific thinking, signaling a real gap in the education of scientists regarding the “research” conducted by somanauts like performing artists and athletes. Then again, Morris, the uber cosmopolitan, had no better understanding of the science of brain/mind/body connectivity. Sigh.
The afternoon Presidential lecture given by Dr. Allison Doupe offered a different picture of art and science. Doupe gave an exquisite talk on the pattern recognition capacities of songbirds, and posed the question: ‘What can we can we learn about neural basis of “vocal” practices as distinct from performances? How does the nervous system mediate behavior?’
A terrific speaker, poised and passionate, Doupe’s research pointed to several neural circuits that appear to operate in directing the process of learning a new pattern of sound, practicing the new pattern, and performing it to accomplish a “salient” goal, in the case of songbirds, a male finch courting a female.
My favorite Doupe image? The one that showed how courting performance showed little randomness in pattern generation! The take home message? Forget the creativity bud. If ya want the girl, just sing the damn song!
Leaving some of us to ponder the implications of romantic innovation, Doupe’s lecture did reinforce one of the key ideas and metaphors, surfacing in the language of neuroscientists presenting at this conference: the role of pattern recognition and neural mapping in development and learning.
I’m off to Neuroscience 2008 where I will spend 4 days with ear and brain to the ground, wall and any other surface that is vibrating with news from the international neuroscience research field! Thirty thousand scientists, neuronauts and neuroleaders are expected — that’s right, nearly 30,000 brains that have devoted hours of “attention density” to the frontier of neuroscience and neuroscience education. Talk about wattage!!!!
Due to an “embargo” placed on writing before the official press conferences, I will start posting formal review starting Sept 18.
However, do look for my tweeters now and then.
Speaking of attention density, other news: SpaceSuit Yoga Advocates the MindBody Project:
With Obama speaking directly to our broken health care system, BrainMindBody health advocacy groups are organizing to create an ‘Educate Obama‘ campaign.
Please Join me and others to inform our visionary President Elect and his transition team on the remarkable research in NeuroSomatic Health Practices, namely, the empirical research and education projects in brain/mind/body integration that point to the interrelation of
increasing stress and rising health costs.
decreasing stress and lowering of health costs.
Below are two links for joining the effort of a media campaign to awaken our new American leaders to the benefits of preventative medicine: This from a letter sent by http://www.worldtaichiday.org/
To Obama and Team:
The Obama Transition Team Site’s Contact Page is: http://change.gov/page/s/contact
A sample intro:
WHY IS STRESS AN INCREASING PROBLEM?
Bill Joy, the Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems estimates that the speed of change is doubling exponentially every 18 months, and the speed of change will only increase in coming months, years, and decades. Change is stressful, even good change.
The change we have faced is daunting, but nothing compared to the next generation’s challenges of managing the stress of accelerating change.
It is in our interest to provide stress management achieving mind/body tools to adults, but particularly to the new generation(s), because their accumulating unmanaged stress of today, will translate into trillions of dollars of health costs in years to come.
To Incoming Medical and Education Officials:
Go to the web page below and print out 3 copies of the form letter. Send a postal mail to the incoming Secretary of Health, the Secretary of Education, and the incoming Surgeon General, to arrive on their desk when they take office on January 20th.
http://www.worldtaichiday.org and follow the links to MEDICAL RESEARCH and EDUCATION PROJECTS!
As always, may the breath be with you!
The Platform: The State of U.S. Affairs, 2008
The Twitter: Shock, Fear and Dread in the U.S. (and abroad)
The Big Idea: There are no hopeless situations; only those who grow hopeless about them (George Greenstein, M.D., 1920-2005)
I’ve been receiving emails (and have sent a few myself) regarding the “shock” and “dread” from which people are reeling in light of the bail out crisis and media popularization of the Palin effect. So please allow me today to use this blog to address the neuroscience of “fear” and offer ways to change the neural setting in our brain to recognize the signals of creative problem-solving and hope.
There is no mistake that Barack Obama uses the term Hope, and more precisely, “the audacity of hope” in his attempt to reconnect American citizens to the core principles that shape a vibrant democracy, a politically and economically solvent society.
Obama’s cunning rhetorical move highlights the path of resistance to the Bush/Cheney SHOCK DOCTRINE that has waylaid many voices of contest and innovation, especially over the last eight years. What is the Shock Doctrine? Here I am drawing your attention to Naomi Klein’s THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: THE RISE OF DISASTER CAPITALISM, a thick, powerful study of the methods of shock used by students of Milton Friedman (e.g. Dick Cheney) to exploit the psychological and economic circumstances of crises and disasters.
My point is not to unpack Klein’s argument but to indicate a human and cultural pattern of response that we learn from reading Klein: When disaster strikes, shock takes over all body responses — breathing contracts, sweating begins, rational thinking becomes confused… for many, reason exits quickly out the door! An old and trust-worthy mammalian pattern has just set in: FEAR! For those who wish to take advantage, fear offers ideal conditions for exploitation. (Consider the logic: Fear responds to help.)
Turning to neuroscientists, we learn more about the neural conditions that create and perpetuate fear: Writing for Newsweek (Sept 15, 08) Dr. Michael Craig Miller, explains:
“Two deep brain structures called the amygdalae manage the important task of learning and remembering what you should be afraid of.”
The amygdalae, it appears, function like good mental health turbo-networkers, rapidly collecting info that mobilizes the brain/body forces: heart rate, blood pressure, the capacity to reason. The two little clusters of neural networking also interface and connect with networks generating MEMORY.
“The fear system is extraordinarily efficient. It is so efficient that you don’t need to consciously register what is happening for the brain to kick off a response. If a car swerves into your lane of traffic, you will feel the fear before you understand it. Signals travel between the amygdala and your crisis system before the visual part of your brain has a chance to “see.” Organisms with slower responses probably did not get the opportunity to pass their genetic material along.”
Now the important paragraph that points to the generating pattern of collective shock and hysteria:
“Fear is contagious because the amygdala helps people not only recognize fear in the faces of others, but also to automatically scan for it. People or animals with damage to the amygdala lose these skills. Not only is the world more dangerous for them, the texture of life is ironed out; the world seems less compelling to them because their “excitement” anatomy is impaired.” (my emphasis)
Miller’s clarifying essay is just one of many to come down the pike, pointing out the DRAMATIC neuro consequences of being shocked by economic fallout and horrified of the short and long range possibilities of McCain/Palin in office.
So let’s connect the dots and do our simple brain math:
Frying in our own rage and gripped by the mighty handles of fear, our culture, our bodies, our speech, our minds entrain our brains into the rituals of fear: Fight or Flight.
Yet we are not mere mammals. Thanks to our highly evolved brain and thus the scientists, monks, somatic therapists who use their refined aptitude and skills to understand the brain/mind/body connection, we have learned a very important neural lesson that has large historical ramifications:
Fear is a response in the brain/body/mind. Change the brain and we change our body, our mind! Change our mind, our body and we change our brain!
To that end, and in service of offering a slice of whole-brain, somatic sanity to those hungering for a more judicious and delicious cultural pie, the following SpaceSuit Yoga tips for transforming Fear into Calm, Dread into Hope:
1) Practice a BIG IDEA: There are no hopeless situations, only those who grow hopeless about them.
2) Changing our brain begins with changing our breath.
Breath, after all, is the beginning and end of all human life.
To address a pattern of fear that has paralyzed one’s embodied brain and mind, go back to a daily practice of conscious, contemplative breathing. This blogsite offers tips on how to engage a simple practice of easy restorative breathing practices. (See the parent GGI website for links to other helpful meditation sites.
3) Breathing supports Initiation (Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen): To start any activity in your day, remember to notice what breathing actually feels like, what parts of the body are moved or involved in the process of breathing. Sturdy Breath enables A Sturdy Mind.
4) Mental Practice. With a calm and sturdy body/brain/mind, use your powers of Mental Practice to imagine a liberated landscape, a liberated body, an open space of movement and possibility. Picture hope, picture success.
For the “how to’s” and the “go to’s” for stress reduction, breathing meditation and mental practice, please leave a comment or contact me by way of the GGI contact link.
May the Breath Be with you through this trying times!
P.S. Check out the following sites that address or infer the neuro effects on the 2008 election:
2) google Newsweek and and search for Michael Craig Miller’s Newsweek essay noted above, entitled Sad Brain, Happy Brain) or go to http://samharris.org and search for the Miller piece.
The Platform: Anti-Aging Programs for the Brain
The Twitter: Pssst: Fluid Movement Rocks! (Indeed!)
The Big Idea: Movement changes the our brain and the brain changes our movement!
In this year of the brain, the term “neuro” has now entered the lexicon of leadership training, conflict resolution training, literacy training, the aesthetic education of musicians, visual artists and designers and as I have mentioned in this blog, the performance training of Olympic athletes. No longer curtailed to the hinterlands of scientific research or the once culturally detached province of brain-injury, the message of “neuro”, especially, “neuro-plasticity” is making its way through all dimensions of global urban life.
As I have noted on this site, the news of neuro-plasticity brings with it messages galore of how to update and change our brains. A casual survey of brain fitness programs reveals a trend: Exercise and Nutrition change the body and the embodied brain!
Now in the case of anti-aging advice, the brain/exercise connection is particularly dominant: Notice the examples that are given: aerobic exercise (for endurance and blood flow) and weight training (for balance and muscle strength).
But let’s put the neuro-mirror on the wall and connect the dots: What neuro-kinesthetic image of movement is being fed to the anti-aging public? A bouncing, muscle building body — one that ignores the change in joint fluids and over all sensory awareness of moving in space. One that ignores the neurally encoded body map and cognitive possibilities of expanding one’s range of movement!
bodiesinspace.com along with other sites dedicated to brain health and wellness have noted the need to debunk the myths of the unchanging brain. If exercise is going to be put forward as one of the ways to increase healthy brain tissue, I would encourage a rethinking of anti-aging and other brain fitness programs: Speak to the advantages of using fluid movement to increase joint and neuro-muscular tonicity and balance.
What is fluid movement? Think Tai Chi, Picture Belly Dancing, Imagine yourself on your “board” or floating on your back rocked by the waves of the ocean.
Fluid movement emphasizes curvilinear, serpentine or floating patterns in space.
Fluid movements “juice up” (i.e., lubricate) the joints — neck, spine, elbow, wrists, hip, knees and ankles.
Fluid movements stimulate the right brain, emphasizing spatial awareness.
Fluid movements make contact with the oldest, “pre-spinal” remnants of our bipedal evolution.
Fluid Movement, in other words, invites the brain to learn and recognize another aesthetic pattern of movement…. another pattern that allows us to adapt to and enjoy the world.
SpaceSuit Yoga Tip 1: Take a moment to observe things that move in a fluid manner. Now imagine yourself moving in the same way.
SpaceSuit Yoga Tip 2: Noted Somatic Pioneers of Fluid Movement: Emilie Conrad, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Gabrielle Roth
SpaceSuit Yoga Tip 3: Check out the National Institute of Health, Alternative Medicine Research site for verifiable studies on the physiological effects of Tai Chi
http://health.nih.gov/topic/AlternativeMedicine (enter Tai Chi into the search area and click on the PDF)
So Connect the Dots: Fluid Bodies, Fluid Brains!
From the rolling shores of the great Pacific — May the Breath Be With You!
The Platform: www.physorg.com
The Twitter: Neural Stimulation rocks the Brain!
The Big Idea: Brain Stimulation Therapy pinpoints and stimulates change in areas of the brain damaged by disease and injury.
Remember the brain stim scenes in FRANKENSTEIN and in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST?
Well brain-frying may soon become a thing of the past with the progressive improvements made in neural-stimulation. A case in point: Breaking news from physorg.com reveals the ways in which “deep” neural stimulation is advancing the field of treating neurological disorders that have stumped the research community for years: Parkinsons, Alzheimers, TBI, and Chronic Depression. With increased knowledge of knowing where and how to pinpoint areas of our “neural landscape,” the possibilities of treatment are opened up considerably.
Here’s the link to the article:http://www.physorg.com/news140412075.html
As a child who watched her grandmother waste away from early 20th century “shock” treatments for what was then called “manic-depression,” the future of neural stimulation will no doubt change family lives as well as movie scripts!
Here’s to the good efforts of scientific research!
May the Breath and Brain be with You!
The Platform: The Culture of Stress
The Twitter: Stress travels throught the body!
The Big IDEA: Stress the Mind, you stress the brain. Stress the Brain you stress your vital organs!!!!
Remember the body song we use to sing as kids?: “The thigh bone is connected to the knee bone and the knee bone is connected to the shin bone….” Well kids often know best and today, we have learned from traditional Western, Chinese, and Indian Auryvedic medicine that like life, the body is a complex system of interdependent systems. Stress in one is bound to affect the others.
A lesson I learned well in the acupuncturist’s office as I lay on the table needled so my “shin” would calm down. A visit to my brilliant Chinese Medical Doc, always reminds me of the effects of mental stress and anguish on on our kidneys and adrenals, on the connective tissue that wraps every fiber of our neuro-muscular being. And now, centuries later, research from contemporary neuro-science enriches the Chinese picture of human anatomy and illness. The brain — which connects through the central nervous system — to all other systems in the body, takes the hit from stress– what in this blog has been previously noted as the condition of “Neural Wreckage.”
In other words, new travels fast! The mounting tension from handling work, family, economic strife, the shift in global warming and the endless political battles of our day all adds up to one tight, drained, exhausted body/mind!!!!!!! I’ve spoken before of “technological time outs.” Now as we face the change of seasons and tough world issues, please ask yourself: How can I find a way, now and then, to “unplug from the culture of stress?
This blog will continue to offer ways to think about and avoid increasing Neural Wreckage along with other SpaceSuit Yoga detox tips.
May the Breath Be With You,
On the question of mental practice, meditation and athletic training: I noted yesterday that the great Olympic star Michael Phelps was seen as a child who lacked the necessary focus to 3rd grade academic tasks. With that in mind, much made of the fact that Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD and it was the practice of lane swimming that helped him “channel” his all over the map energy.
I won’t debate the cultural psychology or politics of the ADHD diagnosis, but its safe to say that in listening to Phelps speak about his own training methods, we hear the mantra “focus, focus, focus.” Dedicated goal setting, avoiding negative mental chatter, and being with the very moment of his action (a.k.a. the ole Ram Dass mantra “Be Here Now”) — this is the stuff of Olympic athletic mental training.
We also learn that Phelps has the gift of maintaining a relaxed state before a meet and there’s talk that he produces less lactic acid build up in his muscles that most athletes. No doubt, there are many online (yours truly included) who are curious to comb through the details of Phelps Olympic genius.
And what can we learn from this athletic genius? Mental training of Olympic athletes has long been of interested to sports trainers, kinesiologists and sport psychologists but more to the point: Phelps’s own minimalist theory (“Set a goal. Focus only on that goal”) insinuates the brain technology involved in peak body performance. Sports psychologist Steve Ungerleider offers a somanautic perspective culled from years of researching Olympic athlete training::
From his 1996/2005 book MENTAL TRAINING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE:
Breath, Meditation and Forming Mental Snapshots are two of the four mental practice traits shared amongst Olympic athletes. (The other two being building confidence by means of positive self-talk and learning to use relaxation to cool down and revvv up!) Yep, taking time to find the natural rhythm of ordinary breathing and picturing the goal — using your imagination to see the goal accomplished — even visualizing all of the steps in getting to the goal — the power of creating a mental “snapshot” cannot be under-estimated by anyone engaged in sport or movement training.
Here then are glorious mind/brain/body fruits for digesting: Those fascinated by the challenge of peak performance, be you swimmer, biker, dancer, designer, entrepreneur, corporate leader or yogic journey woman/man of health, fitness and well-being, the kernel of Olympic truth seems to lie in the story told by those who have imagined and accomplished their goals:
SpaceSuit Yoga/Olympic Mantra:
Make a goal.
Focus on the Goal.
Breath into the orchestrated unity of Mind/Body/Brain.
Visualize the Goal.
Feel into the Goal.
Be the Goal.
The vast frontier of mental practice is before us — with neuroscience unlocking the neuronal mysteries of the brain/body mapping, and showing the neural networking engaged by meditation, guided imagery and right brain talents like mental practice visualization — students, parents, teachers, coaches, thought leaders and all those seeking the 21 century path of enlightenment are bound to reap the benefits!
May the Breath Be With You!
The Platform: Mindshare.la
The Tweeter: EVO DEVO
The Application: Spinal Cord Mapping
BIG IDEA 1: Innovation and Sustainability are necessary competing and collaborative values of evolutionary anatomy.
Big IDEA 2: The spine supports our bipedal transit through space and houses our peripheral nervous system, enabling or deterring the liveliness of vital organs and the systems that regulate them.
Big Somanautic IDEA: The spine is interdependent and intimately networked with the brain/mind/body.
In the year of the brain, social networking brings neuro to the fore of tweeters, blogs and raves! A case in point. Mindshare.la organized by visionary entrepreneurs Doug Campbell, Justin Pichetrungsi and Adam Mefford, is a 21st century forum of “enlightened debauchery” taking place monthly at the L. A.’s Brewery complex. The event staged on the 4th floor loft of an old brewery building, draws to it a cadre of cutting edge designers, techies and scientists from the networked brain trust of So. Cal. universities and art schools.
On Thursday, July 17, the Brewery loft was buzzing with futurist ideas and stunning design moments in self expression: Seamstress Erin wafting through room in her orange parachute evening dress, Sarah Dunbar Rhodes Design’s new line of gold and Swarovski crystal jewelry as multi-faceted and sparkling as the conversations in the room. As for inspired tech-logic, last night’s presentation included a rapid-fire talk on Evo-Devo by futurist John Smart. While the changing morphology of the spine was not the point of Smart’s rhetorical pitch on cultural acceleration, his comments on Evo-Devo gave me pause as to the effects of evolution and development on the peripheral nervous system.
To this point: A recent posting from the Seattle Times announced a new spinal cord atlas is in the works. The Allen Institute for Brain Science at the University of British Columbia is releasing the first of its data on spinal cord mapping. Spinal cartography enables neuro-biologists to study in greater depth, the cellular territory of neural tissue in the peripheral nervous system.
“It will enable us to look inside each group of cells in the spinal cord and know what it is that makes them special and different from the cells around them,” said [Jane] Roskams, of UBC’s Brain Research Centre. “I don’t think there will be a lab in the world working on spinal-cord injuries that does not access this as soon as it goes online.”
Pushed front and center into neuro-celebrity, the spinal cord deserves the GGI and SpaceSuit Yoga’s attention given its place in the unfolding Evo-Devo story of brain science. From the standpoint of evolution, the spine carries the morphological coding of its unique genetic, neurological and anatomical history. From the standpoint of actual development in one lifetime, the spine grows and must be maintained in order to fortify bipedalism and safely house the peripheral nervous system – the system of signals and reflexes codes that turn on and off the vitality of our VITAL ORGANS. . Think of spinal Evo-Devo in terms of orthopedic and kinesthetic effects: the ergonomic adjustments that had to come from moving on all fours to walking upright!
For you somanauts out there, mapping the spinal cord holds tremendous promise in the fields of regenerative and restorative medicine and the broad spectrum of healing arts. Imagine what the spinal map will do the treatment of spinal cord injury, as well as for the fields that work hands on with spinal liberation and adjustment, e.g. Chiropractic, Cranial Sacral, Feldenkris, and the many Yogas and Martial Arts. A somatically enlightened Evo-Devo lab on spinal anatomy would, in other words, urge us to reckon with both evolutionary innovation of human anatomy and sustainable maintenance of normative spinal development throughout a lifetime. SpaceSuit Yoga Suggestions: Spinal breathing, Spinal rolls, gentle back bends – any and all juicy wave like, undulating movement that lubricates the spinal and related joints with cerebral-spinal and synovial fluid!
Rock and Roll,
Good Morning all, the glow of TED still emanates from every neural spark, cell and pore — this post begins with a deep exhale and a memory image, one that I hope will stir conversation amongst those who were at TED and those who watch and listen from afar:
TED models the future of whole-brain learning and doing, and with the addition of music and breathing practice, TED included whole-body learning and doing as well! How brilliant to mediate lectures on particle physics and global warming with hemispheric “time-outs” e.g., the wacky and wonderful Sxip Shirey interludes that at one point, reminded us of our primate origins (which the Kid’s Collective ribbed in classic SNL style! And placing Nellie McKay in the same session as the esteemed Al Gore, showed us activism draws on multiple sources of intelligence and manifests in many forms!!!
For those of us in education — what ever milieu — the medium is the message!
Designer Genes — you’ve heard the term and no doubt encountered the myths and ignorance that abound in the general public. Worth a read to clear up your own thoughts? Any recent books by Matt Ridley, well respected science editor. (There are others, please write for a suggestion). As well, check out the Edge edition on Ridley’s perspectives on genetic science:
Or check out the recent online edition of EDGE, which includes statements by star architects and theorist of our genetic futures
21 May 2007
Hey there Somanauts!
Where ever you are in the biotech discussion, may I suggest you tune into the recent keynote speech given by inventor and forecaster Ray Kurzweil at the Killer APP Expo in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Author of THE AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES, Kurzweil is a “pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition, health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, technological singularity and futurism.” The Killer App speech outlines the future of biotechnology, from remote 3-d representations of “self” to predictive genetics for the Baby Boom. I leave it to your imagination and curiosity to figure out how somatic education fits into the biotech picture.
One can access the speech by going to Kurzweil’s website and click on
or type into the url space the following link:
4 May 2007
Inner Space, Outer Space, Hyperspace, Cyber Space…. Which meme has captured our current kinesthetic imagination? Or to put it another way, what relevance does the image of the floating spaceman in Outer Space have for those of us falling out bed, into our cars or onto a surfboard as the sun rises? What vivid import does the idea of the human body wafting towards Earth’s moon’s surface have for our bodies recreated daily as avatars maneuvering around virtual space?
Nearly a month ago, I had the chance to attend the 23th National Aerospace Symposium held at the swanky Broadmoor Hotel tucked into foothills of the Rockies in Colorado Springs. Finding my way through the sea of big bodies negotiating big deals that will redefine space travel and missile defense in this century, I had a chance meeting with the consummately gracious educator, Gerald Miller, the director of the EVA. EVA –- Extra Vehicular Activities — is a special research unit within United Space Alliance that prepares astronauts for the surprising, multi-sensory, perceptual experiences they will encounter when they step into “outer space.” Given the non-gridded, spatial orientation presumed by somatic practitioners of trapeze antics or restorative movement practices like Continuum or SpaceSuit Yoga, I proceeded to pose to Mr. Miller, a series of comparative questions I’ve had regarding teaching astronauts how to reorganize sensing patterns to accommodate moving in zero gravity fields of space. I soon learned that even in zero gravity, a 350 pound spacesuit, on top of body weight, is a helluva lot of mass to maneuver while figuring out in gridless space, which way is up, down, left and right. For the surfers reading this blog, astronauts, like boardies, must develop their “Spidey senses” and the chance for the novice astronaut, like the novice surfer, to “wash out” in not uncommon. (The life-threatening implications of washing out in outer space carry comparative import).
The metaphor of aerospace travel, growing out of nautical science, points to our desire to “star sail:” To travel into the sparkling depths of the universe, far from terra ferma, is a long held human dream. The closest many of us will come to obtaining that dream, at least in the immediate future, will be to learn to engage the somanautic potential that is innate to the human body as it exists gravitationally on Planet Earth.* SpaceSuit Yoga is one of those movement practices that is dedicated to encouraging the somanautic potential. (Somanutics, taught by Gil Hedley, is a dissection training practice dedicated to a similar end.)
In weeks to come, I hope to interview Gerald Miller about the comparative kinesthetics of astronautics and somanautics, and place that interview in the space of this blog. Will keep you posted!
*The chance to simulate moving in outer space was recently tested by the reknown Stephen Hawking.
(See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6594821.stm) For those interested in Zero Gravity Space Tunnel opportunities, tunnel experiences will be offered at the upcoming conference on transhumanism in Chicago. (Click on http://transvision2007.com)
What is SpaceSuit Yoga? Dr. M. A. Greenstein, founder, explains:
In a vast sea of yoga for the everywo/man, I launched SPACESUIT YOGA in a city famous for unfettered artistic imagination, self-absorbed excess and a well-charted mystical history – no other than the myth-making City of the Angels (L. A.). With a group of smart, sophisticated artists who desired to learn about inhabiting their body/minds and about the generosity embedded in their hearts, I embarked upon a path of teaching contemplative movement inspired by an extraordinary synthetic, West Coast education in somatic and contemplative movement: Masters studies in Movement Therapy, doctoral research on the pioneering somatic work of Emilie Conrad Da’oud and Barbara Dilley, Buddhist meditation training in Zen, Vajrayana and Theravadan traditions, BMC Yoga studies with Donna Farhi , and Tantric approaches to Hatha Yoga (that’s Kundalini and Anusura lineages for you yoga novices!). With years of being Rolfed and needled for assorted dancer’s aches and pains, and my good fortune to study a cybernetic or a systems approach to the internal dynamics of “the moving body,” I was convinced that the teaching of yoga had to include up to date research gathered in the areas of human physiology, evolutionary neuroscience and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Call me lucky, but my students, who were researchers and teachers in their own right, joined me in exploring yogic practice marinated in progressive ideas. And what’s more progressive than to rethink the aesthetics of yoga in terms of space exploration and biotech? The picture was clear in my mind: we were investigating the floating, fluid body that gravitates to the pull of Planet Earth.
The result? For a child who grew up on Ray Bradbury’s MARTIAN CHRONICLES, Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE and John Glenn’s flight to the moon, the synergistic method took on futuristic proportions. As an Art Center College of Design instructor in conversation with cyborg artist Stelarc and with cutting-edge scientists from JPL and Cal Tech, the biotech possibilities of extending life beyond our body boundaries challenged me to fully think yoga anew. More a lab for restorative movement practice than a prescription for idealized athletics, SPACESUIT YOGA grew into an approach or an attitude, if you will, that emphasized the time-tested wisdom of initiating low-impact, contemplative breath and micro-movement experience in order to address real time, bio-med issues; e.g., heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary and autoimmune disorders as well as the age related issues of menopause, weakened joints and stress-induced lifestyles.
SpaceSuit Yoga, in other words, honors the healing and meditative arts of the past as well as respects the stunning research conducted in the fields of somatics, neuro-aesthetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biotechnology. It is a regenerative yoga portal into the neuroplastic possibilities of training our brains, our bodies, our minds to live with a penchant for eco-adaptability, self-respect and wonder.
Now relocated to Boulder (and catapulted into cyberspace), the vision for SPACESUIT YOGA has grown from a living room teaching practice into one of the courses offered in a forum for progressive, wholebrain/whole body /whole mind education: The George Greenstein Institute for the Advancement of Somatic Arts and Science (See ABOUT on my website).
May the Breath Be With You!
M. A. Greenstein, Ph.D., R.Y.T.
Founder and Director, The George Greenstein Institute for the Advancement of Somatic Arts and Sciences
Adjunct Assoc. Prof., Art Center College of Design
303 440 8813; firstname.lastname@example.org