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     Brain Draining or Brain Training?

The Integram: 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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Brain Training
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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?

All 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. 

1. 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 efficiently.

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 adrenaline.

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 neurogenesis.

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 well.

5. 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.

To Summarize
Extended periods of stress harm 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.

It comes 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 web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


Special Offer! -

156 years ago a composer was born 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 Special Offer.

Don't be scared, Halloween is fun! I'm cutting the fee in half for Dynamic Discovery Sessions all month when you include the secret word in your email. The secret word this month is the name of one of Debussy's more haunting pieces: "Syrinx." Just put that in the Subject Line of your email, along with your contact info so we can schedule.

“Working with Ian saved my company thousands upon thousands of dollars in my time and through better decision-making. His coaching has been invaluable to me." - S.S., - Consultant and Author

Each session is normally $250.00, but will be only $125.00 with your secret word, and will be worth much more to you in life-changing ways.  Good luck! Click to Schedule.


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication - the podcast series

Melissa Risdon's Raving Fan Radio Show:
Ian Blei on the
Integram (TM) -understanding ourselves, each other, and our relationships

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



Welcome to the Integram, where consciousness meets intentional design.   Enjoy!



The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results



Kind Ambition

Click HERE





Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul



Kind Ambition
Fan Page
now on



Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  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.





Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media




“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment




" 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."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine




“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

     -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”




" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III , Senior Partner/Channel Marketing Manager - Skype





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