Looking back on week 2 of 2021 my overwhelming impression was of how much I needed to set my intention – and stick to it – each and every day of last week. There were so many things, personal, professional and political in the environment that had the potential to distract me. I knew I would have to be very deliberate in setting my intentions for each day and monitor what I paid attention to if I was going to achieve everything that I had set out to do. Half way through the week, I also realized that I would need to “kick it up a gear” if I was going to get everything done to my own satisfaction! Closing out the week, having achieved much of what I set out to do, I owe a lot to two of my professors in particular, Dr. Stan Rodski and Dr. Andre Vermeulen.
I have always tried to lead by example and so, as I set the course for a busy week, I focused around three primary techniques:
- Using my daily meditation practice to manage any sense of pressure/stress
- Taking a mindful approach to the day – setting clear intentions for that day only
- Being conscious about the basic principles of brain flexibility to bring my “best brain” to the day
Some of you reading this blog may know that I’m currently 176 days into a 365 meditation journey using the Headspace App. I gravitated to this app after reading the Headspace book and I, personally, find Andy Puddicombe’s voice very soothing. I realized that 20 or so minutes I spend with Andy every morning were going to be essential.
Dr Stan Rodski writes in his book The Neuroscience of Mindfulness that your “intention is what you wish to achieve from an action” and that “in mindfulness, intention refers to what you are choosing to pay attention to”. I tried to keep to a principle of having just three essential things that I had to complete each day. Leveraging the mindful approach supported by the meditation practice, I overlaid the three things that I really needed to pay attention to on that day. In Dr. Stan’s book he explains in a really clear and easy way just how developing 3 Core Skills positively impacts our brain’s function:
- Setting our intention
- Cultivating awareness
- Regulating attention
Having set my intentions, what I had to do was to be mindful, be self-aware when I was letting my attention slip. In the moment that I found that happening, I was able to use a number of different techniques from my studies to press “reset”.
I already knew, at the beginning of the week, that I would need to bring my best me to the week – but as I mention above – on Wednesday I realized that I would really have to kick everything up a gear if I was going to end the week on a positive note. In the forefront of my mind I was picturing the dashboard from my Neuro-Agility profileTM [developed by Dr. Andre Vermeulen and the Neurolink team]. I was particularly focused on maximizing my potential by tracking across the following parameters:
- Brain Fitness: Was I doing everything that I could to ensure that I was optimizing my ability to process simultaneously across both hemispheres of the brain?
- Stress: Was I making use of all of the things I have learned to manage stress, i.e. limit or address an excessive adrenal/cortisol response to outside triggers?
- Sleep: Did I have everything in place to support the right amount of sleep and quality of sleep?
- Movement: A key part of promoting simultaneous processing across both brain hemispheres and the release of excess adrenaline and cortisol – during the working day this is my biggest challenge!
- Attitude: Was I staying positive, regardless of what I was facing. Learning in my latest course that my brain chemistry is positively impacted by a positive attitude, I restarted a positive affirmation learned when studying with Dr Stan [see P132 in his book!]
- Food: As this can also be a weak spot for me, I made sure that I was more thoughtful about planning meals that kept my brain with a steady supply of glucose – no huge peaks, followed by huge troughs – and I was much more conscious about staying hydrated as water is such an effective conductor of electricity
As Dr. Andre Vermeulen shares, maintaining brain fitness and agility is a life-long journey. Just like physical fitness, we have to keep working at the techniques available to us to ensure that we continue to benefit from them. Dr. Stan Rodski explains that anticipation and preparation for times when we are under stress to perform is key – it is possible to “turn on” the ability to perform – but only if the right foundations have been laid.
As I look back on what I feel was a surprisingly successful week, I am very grateful to everyone that I have studied with for the benefits of their knowledge, research and insights. I couldn’t have done it without you, thank you!