Mind Power Issue #16
Issue #16 – Monday, June 20th, 2016
Do you have unhealthy habits you want to get rid of? Or healthy habits you want to develop? Do you struggle with getting started, or following through, with your goals? If so…
…this issue is going to really hit the spot.
The Lazy Person’s Way to Break Bad Habits…
by Bill Harris
Here’s the deal. There’s a battle going on inside a part of the brain responsible for habitual action and goal-based action (the orbitofrontal cortex, to be precise, but I didn’t want to make your eyes glaze over.)
When the orbitofrontal cortex is in active mode, you’ll easily set and achieve goals. When it’s under-active, you’ll be in habitual mode.
Scientists learned how to artificially adjust orbitofrontal cortex activity in mice. When activity increased, goal-based action increased. When activity decreased…
…habitual action took over.
Both habitual action and goal-based action have their role.
Consider these common activities: driving to work, or washing your hands. You don’t have to think about them to make them happen–you do them automatically.
This is your brain’s “autopilot”. (If you’ve ever habitually turned toward home when you actually meant to go somewhere else, you’ve experienced autopilot mode.)
Habitual action can be extremely useful.
Routines allow us to accomplish simple tasks without thinking about them, for instance brushing your teeth. When a new element is introduced – brushing your teeth when you’ve had dental surgery – habitual action won’t work.
We need to switch to goal-based action.
This switching from one mode to the other isn’t always that easy, though. We want to use the best method in every situation.
Sometimes a habit involves a thought, idea, desire, or outcome. Examples include anything from biting your nails or compulsively checking Facebook to addictions and disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive or addictive behavior is caused, in part, by the brain’s inability to switch from habitual to goal-based actions.
The brain’s gear-shifter is the anterior cingulate.
When the anterior cingulate works well you’re more cooperative, you have cognitive flexibility, you see options, and you go with the flow.
When the anterior cingulate is stuck, you get stuck. You have trouble transitioning from one option or way of thinking to another.
There’s one more part of the brain we need to look at: the caudate, a part of the limbic system. The caudate is responsible for the emotional tone you attribute to whatever is happening.
When the caudate is overactive, you tend to catastrophize what is happening. You see danger…
…even if there is none.
The caudate makes it difficult to avoid thinking about what you’re stuck on (this is why “just don’t think about it” is bad advice).
After all, if there’s danger, you’d better be stuck on it. Unfortunately, the caudate is capable of seeing danger where there is none.
Obsessive-compulsives have overactive anterior cingulates and overactive caudates, and under-active prefrontal cortexes.
If you’ve been trying to break bad habits without success, these parts of your brain may be to blame.
Balancing your brain won’t make your bad habits disappear overnight, but it will make it easier for your anterior cingulate to shift from a habitual to a goal-based mode.
It will also make it easier to break bad habits and form new, good habits.
So, how do we optimize brain function? Good question…
- 5-HTP: 5-HTP increases serotonin levels. Low serotonin is associated with obsessive-compulsive behavior, depression, and anxiety.
- St. John’s wort: also increases serotonin in the brain.
- GABA: GABA calms activity in the limbic system.
- L-theanine: This is another calming supplement. It reportedly increases alpha waves in the brain.
- Glycine: Glycine calms brain activity in several areas, including the anterior cingulate and the caudate.
- Inositol: Inositol is another serotonin booster.
Other methods for optimizing brain function:
- Exercise: Research shows that short 1-4 minute bursts followed by a rest period, repeated several times, are more effective than longer periods of less intense exercise.
- Breathing: Slow breathing calms the limbic system.
- Nutrition: Diets that are high in protein, low in carbs, and high in “good fat” (coconut oil, avocados, butter, omega 3s, extra virgin olive oil) help keep the limbic system calm.
- Sleep: 7-8 hours of sleep a night helps keep the limbic system calm.
- Meditation: Countless studies show that meditation calms the limbic system AND enhances the prefrontal cortex.
The problem with meditation is that few people actually are willing to do it! Meditation is hard to learn, and it takes a long time to see significant results.
Thankfully, it’s now possible to create the same brain changes as traditional methods, in a fraction of the time, using a technological approach. Centerpointe’s Holosync technology does exactly that.
Using combinations of pure sine wave audio tones delivered to the brain through stereo headphones, Holosync…
…creates the brainwave patterns of an experienced 30-year meditator.
Holosync is THE easier way to meditate (all you do is listen – no learning curve).
To experience the brain-changing power of Holosync for yourself, take our 5-Day Holosync Challenge.
The 5-Day Challenge is fun, it’s free, it takes just a few minutes a day, and you’ll also be able to connect (and compare notes) with others who are also evaluating Holosync.
Let me ask you something (be honest):
Do you have hidden issues that still drive your behavior…
…no matter how many self-help books you read, or retreats you attend?
Of course you do. We all do.
Some people call these hidden aspects “shadows”, and (as I said)…
…we all have them.
I want to tell you about an elegant and groundbreaking solution – an approach called Full Spectrum Mindfulness…
…developed by my good friend and bestselling author Ken Wilber.
Shadows are often related to a number of key “drivers” in our lives, including:
Ken has created a stunningly powerful approach to healing these shadows, and I strongly suggest that you learn about it and use it.
Here’s a quick and easy way to improve your memory and lower your stress and cortisol levels.
(Chronic release of the stress hormone cortisol can damage hippocampus neurons, leading to impairment of learning and memory.)
A study conducted a Loma Linda University in California found that laughter increased learning ability, improved recall, and decreased cortisol levels (and, many other studies have had similar findings).
Take a few minutes to watch a funny video or enjoy a good joke. Incorperate humor into your life. I find it particularly effective to laugh at myself whenever I do something stupid.
~ Ken Wilber
“Centerpointe has enhanced my ‘ordinary’ meditations. I see daily changes in myself—insights, weight loss, improved sense of belonging in the world, more tolerance of overwhelm. I am still very much a beginner and much of my process includes pain and vulnerability—yet it all seems in a good cause—my own increased wholeness and increased capacity to take in the wholeness of the world.
Thank you so much for discovering this tool and for sharing it with us. You have truly offered a great service. Take care.”
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By sharing your story you may help someone take the first step toward changing his or her life with Holosync.