an Integral Enneagram of Consciousness; a model of consciousness, including
all aspects, for designing practical
paths of personal development and evolution.
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in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Freedom - A
Thanks again to all who joined Ian Blei and Peter Rubin
for our combination picnic and
Transformational Workshop last month at Golden Gate Park. Would
love to hear from participants and those who missed out and want another
opportunity. Let's pick a time for another one!
Best Tool Ever
“Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” We’ve
got the power to make that a great starting point. We can sharpen
knives. Peak performance starts in the brain, and the brain can be
sharpened like a knife. Neuroplasticity opens the door to our capacity
for change. Harnessing this, and using it to sharpen and hone our brain
is the key to making everything else we do more effective.
Do you ever get frustrated by how easily you get distracted or taken
“off track” by someone saying or doing something, then losing valuable
time and productivity? Do you ever wish you could manage your
reactivity and emotions better? Ever wish you could retain information
more easily? Ever wish you could catch yourself before you said
something you wish you didn’t?
of this and more is within your grasp; nestled in that complex set of
organs called a brain. Focus, Problem-Solving, and Willpower aren’t just
ways of being or labels for who you are. They’re mechanisms and systems
within the brain, subject to Neuroplasticity. We can train ourselves to
procrastinate and detach, or train ourselves to habitually jump in and
engage. We just have to want it enough to do the training.
Pump Up Your Mental Muscles
Although the brain obviously isn’t made of the
same tissues as muscles, it does function in similar ways, and we can
use that. We build our muscles by using them repeatedly to do something
beyond our current capability. Lifting something heavy repeatedly over
time for example, calls on your muscles to respond to the task at hand.
Over time and repetition, the muscle fibers get thicker and better able
to use energy. New blood vessels and muscle-fiber cell structures adapt
to the work required of them.
This process is very similar in your brain. When you push it past it’s
“comfort zone,” your brain adapts as well. Functional Magnetic Resonance
Imaging (fMRIs) of the brain shows increased vascular growth, size,
density, and structural changes following increased neural
connectivity. In other words, you can do exercises that make your brain
stronger, more flexible, agile, and even increase stamina. Anything you
want to do in life will be more achievable. Although what each of us
wants to do will indicate specific exercises, here are five general ones
all of us can use to pump up those mental muscles.
Hippocampus Stretch: Learning is behind most behavior, and the
hippocampus is key to learning, so we want to support its health. Lack
of use causes attrition. Learn something new every day–
especially something that’s a “stretch.” This works on your brain like a
“load.” The newness or novelty triggers neural circuitry that increases
brain activity. Your brain is always on the lookout for what could be
dangerous, so the unknown gets special attention as the brain gets more
engaged. The increased activity stimulates neurogenesis, (neuron
growth.) New neural structures develop and neurons fire faster and more
2. Amygdala Calming: Working against newness is our
amygdala. Our amygdala is so “on guard” for what could be dangerous,
that it often over-reacts, and shoots out danger signals and threat
chemicals even when it’s just the phone or a bill. This hyper-reactivity
is harmful to health, relationships, and the brain. Recognize
reaction as quickly as possible, and interrupt it with a little
analytical conversation with yourself. That shifts attention away from
danger, and toward understanding. Then we need to burn off the
3. Get Moving: Aerobic exercise is great for the brain. Along
with burning off some of that adrenaline, it increases secretion of
Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (B.D.N.F.) which increases
4. Resistance Training: Weight Training also increases B.D.N.F.
and when focusing on proper form and technique, engages learning centers
as well. Studies show increased neurogenesis and improved cognitive
function, including decision-making, resolving conflicts, and
focus. Many people notice an increase in their emotional “strength” as
Mindfulness Stretch: Breath Meditation works on many aspects of the
brain, including boosting all of the previous activities. It engages all
the systems of the brain, in effect using all the “muscles” needed to
build willpower, focus, and emotional regulation. When doing breath
meditation, we pay attention to what’s going on in our body, and
continuously bring that focus back every time our mind wanders. Each
time we bring it back it’s like a “rep” in weight training.
Stress harms the
brain. Neurogenesis decreases. Chronic stress actually shrinks the
brain, as resources are continuously directed elsewhere. Whatever we do
or think continuously becomes wired in as habits. The brain learns the
patterns regardless of whether they serve us or harm us, so it behooves
us to pay attention to what we’re reinforcing. That’s Mindfulness.
Really paying attention; not spacing out, detaching, or multi-tasking
genuinely optimizes brain function. Brain function is the core of
everything you do. Regardless of your objectives, you’re more able to
achieve them with a more fit, agile brain. You can think more clearly,
learn more easily, develop greater focus, and manage reactive emotions.
down to a choice. Do you want to have a life that’s okay, or do you want
to live each day to its fullest? Do you want to approach problems with
more flexibility and clarity? Do you want more vibrant relationships?
Do you want more willpower and emotional control? If so, it’s time to
start sharpening that knife
Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible?
Come visit the
or better yet,
contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
- Ian J. Blei
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composer was born this month, 152 years ago, who looked at things a
"whole" new way. His unusual chords, based on the whole-tone scale, laid
the groundwork for a new style of music called Impressionism.
Shifting your perspectives shifts your Impressions, and how you interact
with life. So to celebrate the "plasticity" with which we can
interpret life, I want to make you a
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Institute for Integral Enneagram
Without Losing Your Soul
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driver’s seat of your
Circumstances will always be
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charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.
is written for you,
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right now. It is a collection of
insights and actions designed to help
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The chapters hold to a formula of
first giving you a new way to look at
things, then offering you tangible
Action Steps to try them out, and
finally some things to notice when you do.
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We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The
good news is: they can be overcome. The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."
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scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to
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