Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

While you’re currently engaged in deciphering the likely liquid-crystal display in front of you, your body (as always) is actively breathing. Your body does this in order to keep you, itself, alive. You breathe in and you breathe out.  What exactly is happening? How do we get energy from the breath?

Every day the average human breathes* anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. There are 525600 minutes (see theater math) in a year and the average human lives somewhere around 62.7 years. So on average that could be anywhere from 395,461,440 to 659,102,400 theater breaths in an entire lifetime. In primitive terms: You breathe an awful lot.

With all of that in-and-ex halation it is easy to take for granted how the system works. When you breathe, oxygen is transferred from outside to inside the body.

“What exactly defines inside and outside?” Is a question that will lead to many a philosophical debate regarding the boundaries of a human. That debate is for another day.

The oxygen is taken through the blood stream to muscles in the body where it is then traded for waste. The waste is deposited in various bodily systems and taken care of from that point on.

Warning: Upcoming Logical Stretch (ULS):
So supposing that you have half of a billion breaths in your life, each time you breathe you have a chance to study and/or refine your breathing. In doing so you just might find out a bit more about yourself.

To return to the Realm of Slightly Less Loose Logic (RSLLL), you really must be careful when examining the way that your involuntary body functions. If you push too hard for knowledge it may end up hurting you.  So take your time and really get a feel for yourself.

Paying attention to your breathing is a proven method in relieving stress. Science and religion alike pay special attention to understanding the way in which we breathe. Breath Prayer is a Christian prayer focus. When you start to drift away from your original intention you actively shift focus back onto the breath (Hmmm… seems like meditation is a fundamental practice).

Science too, believes in the powers of breathing. Breathing to reduce stress is a concept not all that different than Breath Prayer. Stress, in this case, can be viewed as a distraction from your original plan or “prayer.”

When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body.

So in order to train your body out of stress all anybody needs to do is deepen and elongate their breathing. There are many ways to do this seemingly difficult task of breath training. Pranayama, aka yogic breathing, is a good place to start.

…just do what you gotta do…

to be happy.

If you’re interested in learning a whole lot more about yogic techniques A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya is a very thorough book on the topic. It gives in depth explanations of this technique and many others.

 

Sources:

http://www.normalbreathing.com/index-rate.php

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hlw/whathappens.html

http://www.prohealthsys.com/resources/physical/vital_signs_table.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_crystal_display

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breathing_to_reduce_stress

http://www.soulshepherding.org/2012/07/breath-prayers/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_monitor

http://onsager.bd.psu.edu/halmi/chem3airs05.pdf Experiment that you can try…

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/pranayama/

Quotes taken from Wondergressive admin: Phil

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Seven Minute Workout Can Get You to Lose Weight

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Power Posing Can Change Your World

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Dalai Lama, “Religion is no longer adequate”

Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to do a Headstand!

Stand on your head everyday. Stand on your head right when you wake up. Stand on your head right before you fall asleep. Salamba Sirsasana (supported headstand) is a yoga pose that provides many benefits. All of these benefits can be achieved by standing on your head- this article may induce a sense of Déjà vu

As I was saying; The benefits of Salamba Sirsasana are as numerous as the amount of upside down strange looks that your roommates will give you while you’re in the pose. Those strange looks will often be followed by compliments such as “Well, I’ve never seen that before” and of course there’s always silent curiosity.

According to Dr Rob Kiltz (yes, that’s his real name), Sirsasana will:

  • Stimulate pituitary and pineal glands, which aid growth and the production of sex hormones

    bks sirsasana

    BKS Iyengar in Sirsasana

  • Strengthen the spine, neck, shoulders, and arms
  • Tones the legs and abdominals
  • Relieves a buildup of fluid in the legs and feet
  • Allows a healthy, pure blood flow to brain cells
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Aids in the treatment of headaches, anxiety, asthma, sinusitis, hay fever, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and symptoms of menopause
  • Increases mental awareness and clarity
  • Calms and soothes the mind
  • May reverse the effects of lethargy, sleep loss, and memory loss
  • Stimulates and strengthens the lungs, facilitating healthy breathing
  • Improves posture and digestion
  • Aids in the relief of tonsillitis, persistent coughing, common cold, bad breath, and palpitations
  • Helps overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs by reversing the pull of gravity

You use a lot of energy in this pose. And no, I’m not talking about psuedo mystical style Qi (Which, I admit I am definitely curious to know more about). I’m talking about the energy you’ve aquired from the food that you’ve eaten.

It takes quite a bit of strength, skill, focus, and work to balance on your head. You’re thoughts have to be constantly focused on maintaining the exact positioning of your body whilst upside down. Legs straight from the hip, knees straight, elbows underneath the shoulders, forearms sharing the weight. Most importantly, you must not get distracted by your thoughts.

A good way to keep focused is by paying attention to the way that you breath.

Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out.

 

As you get better at maintaining the pose you’ll be able to balance for 10 minutes or longer. I like to practice Salamba Sirsasana early in the morning- right after I wake up- and right before I go to bed at night. I would definitely try it out against the wall. For all you beats out there, Jack Kerouac was known to start his day with headstands. From Kerouac’s Big Sur;

‘One fast move or I’m gone’ so I jump up, do my headstand first to pump blood back into the hairy brain, take a shower in the hall, new T-shirt and socks and underwear, pack vigorously, hoist the rucksack and run out throwing the key on the desk and hit the cold street…I’ve got to escape or die…

In Short: You should do a head stand!

 

If you’re interested in learning a whole lot more about yogic techniques A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya is a very thorough book on the topic.

Sources:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/breathmed.html
http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/03/21/the-health-benefits-of-salamba-sirsasana-supported-headstand-pose/
http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/dejavu.html
http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/481
http://www.w-mystictraveller.com/what-is-qi.html

 Like Wondergressive’s gressiveness?

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Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

Science Says “Smart People Are Idiots”

Right off the bat, congratulations on being in the top eighty percentile. We can read, and that puts us well ahead of the seven hundred million adults that can’t (I know the pictures are pretty, but focus. Focus!). Let’s bump us up a few more pegs for knowing what a percentile is as well. You’re smart; you know it; and I’m so so sorry… turns out this is bad news. Smart people are idiots.

Don’t panic!!! You’re obviously one of the exceptions. For God’s sake, quit panicking. Quick mental test:

In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

You said 24, right? Good, that means you’re smart. Unfortunately, the right answer was 47. I’m afraid you may be suffering from a condition called smart-idiot-itis, an affliction on the rise amongst intellectuals. See, because you’re smart, your brain immediately heard “half” and “48” and karate-chopped out a quick 24. Oops, this mental shortcut is called dysrationalia. Dysrationalia afflicts 100% of people who, when asked the question “how much dirt is in a hole 6 ft. by 3 ft. by 9 ft?” answer anything but zero, zero dirt (There’s no dirt in a hole, silly). Dysrationalia is the leading cause of smart-idiot-itis.

Don’t take my word for it. According to a long string of individuals with PhD’s, MBA’s, and various other impressive acronyms, “smart people are stupid.” The idea they present about our educational system can be summed up nicely in this quote by one of the said intellectuals (Michael Sherman):

Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.

Essentially, smart people are used to being smart people, so they assume they’re right, because usually they are, even when they aren’t, right that is. Wow, that’d make more sense if I was one of those smart people, but if I were, it’d be wrong apparently. Thank you, brain.

It seems to boil down to something called the bias blind spot. Everyone is biased, and everyone who is biased believes they are not. This is why it’s so obvious when someone else is doing something stupid, but our own dumb actions confound us. Since we’re stuck in our own heads, when we put our briefcase in the dishwasher last week, or tied our shoes and completely forgot we’re not wearing pants yet, we don’t see ourselves as the bumbling morons we all are from time to time. It’s because of the cloud of justifications and excuses always swirling around our heads.

Sorry to say it, but being aware of this makes no difference, apparently. Currently, medical science has no cure for smart-idiot-itis, short of a lobotomy. As research into this horrible affliction progresses, should a cure be found, how could we ever trust these brainy buffoons anyway?

For more information on this disease, see Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” If you think you may have smart-idiot-itis, seek medical attention immediately, and cross fingers that your doctor didn’t nail his hand to his refrigerator for no apparent reason.

 

Sources:

Literacy Rate (worldbank.org)

Why Smart People are Stupid (The New Yorker)

Rational and Irrational Thoughts (Scientific American) 

Dysrationalia: Defects in Real-World Intelligence (Talent Develop Resources)

Why People Believe Weird Things (Michael Shermer)

We Struggle With Objectivity: The Bias Blind Spot (Psychology Today)

Cognitive Sophistication Does Not Attenuate the Bias Blind Spot (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Photographic Memory (Phase 2: Holy Shit)

A few weeks ago, we posted a potentially paradigm altering question: Can the human mind be trained into photographic recollection? (This is a follow up, so maybe check out the link before reading on) Two sentences are more than enough build up. The results are in folks, and…

The short answer is “yes”.

The slightly longer answer is “FUCK YEAH!!!! WHEW!!!! (6 back-flips)”

For the last month, I’ve been religiously following this protocol, and it has worked. I have a photographic memory. No joke. After the power-lust erection and adrenaline jitters subsided, after a few hours of daydreaming plots to use this new ability for super-villainy, after a day of gazing at perfect recollections of stolen glances at cleavage, I feel I’ve calmed down enough to share with you eager readers the wonderful news… and you can totally have this too.

It’s incredibly easy. Do it. That’s really all you need to know. Do it now… but for the more curious, like I know you are, just a few things:

What’s happening in the brain that makes this work?

Well, there are 2 theories of how color vision works. Trichromatic theory says, essentially, that there are 3 types of cones (receptors) in the eye that sense specific pairs of colors; the occipital lobe then translates this information into what we call vision.

More interestingly, though, and what we’ll be looking at in detail, is the opponent-process theory of colored vision. With the opponent-process theory, whenever it suddenly shifts to dark, a perfect photo-negative image of whatever was just in the visual field gets transposed onto the retina. That’s the mechanism at work for the well-known illusion on the right (stare for ten seconds, then look away and blink fast) (or maybe it’s God talking to you. I don’t know). That negative image is what we utilize for super memory…

As long as the eyes are open, these negative images are constantly being processed and filtered by the brain. See, way too much is happening at once, though. Your eyes take in trillions and trillions of bits of visual information every instant, and almost none of it matters. So the occipital lobe, hard-worker that he is, weeds out what it doesn’t think is necessary. While you “see” everything around you, you only actually perceive an infinitesimal amount, the things that pertain to your safety/survival or what you’re focusing on in the moment. For example:

So, how does the occipital lobe know what’s important? Easy, you tell it. You do this all the time and don’t even think about it. A new parent will notice the “Diapers: Half Price” sign that the rest of us glazed over like it had neon lights, just like Alex Jones fans tend to see the chemtrails and “all-seeing eyes,” as though reality had been hit by a highlighter. Watch: right now, take a quick moment, without moving your eyes; notice all the things around you that are the color black…

Easy, of course, but did you notice that while you were doing that, everything else just sort of faded away? You could still see it, but it just wasn’t in focus, sort of. This is the process we hack…

The mind is plastic, flexible to our will, and if we know how it operates, we can train it to do just about anything. To develop a photographic memory; we need only develop a simple habit, so, real quick, let’s understand how habits work. It’s 30 days. That simple. If we do something every day, after 30 days, it no longer takes effort. The mind is retrained and the process is automatic (remember this for anything you want to do, because it’s universal, not just for memory training).

So with the dark-room process, we read words etched into our retinas, right. These negative images are always there and, usually, disregarded as irrelevant. What we’re doing is stepping into this process and saying, “Hey, don’t throw that out just yet. Let me take a look at that.” (You control your brain; your brain doesn’t control you, and never let anyone tell you otherwise), so the brain says “Oh, ok. Here it is. I didn’t realize you wanted that.” Your brain, however, is in the habit of tossing these negatives, so every day for a month we step in and say, “let me see that for a second.” after 30 days, the brain gets the point and will automatically save these images for you to look at whenever you want. Welcome to the club; you now have a photographically perfect memory.

Additional tips (in retrospect)

1.) Don’t read a book. The absolute best thing to attempt to read is not a book. What works much better is black background with bright and blocky white lettering. Far far easier to try to read.

2.) Wink. Part of the frustration you’ll come across with attempting to read your hindsight is overexposure. If you flash the lights before the image is totally dissolved, there is this overlap effect, like double exposed film (I’m not too ancient for remembering what film is, am I?). The solution: wink. Do it with one eye at a time; it has no effect on the process and allows one eye to recover as the other works. Doing this, my overall exercise got to as little as 3 minutes.

3.) Ask. Who knows how many little gimmicks and tricks I figured out? Feel free to write me at qwizx@wondergressive.com. I’ll get back to you as quick as my busy life will let me, and if there’re enough of the same questions, later, I’ll add an FAQ to the bottom here.

Finally, and most importantly, did I mention “fuck yeah” and “cleavage?”

 

 

Sources:

Experiments in Photographic Memory (Phase 1: Guinea Pig) (wondergressive.com)

What is the Trichromatic Theory of Color Vision (about.com)

What is the Opponent-Process Theory of Color Vision (about.com)

Awareness Test – Basketball Passes (youtube.com)

Why Habits Aren’t Always Formed in 21 Days (lifehacker.com)