Brain Fitness

Brain Fitness Daddy

I am 69, and a divorced father,  my son 18, and my daughter is 12,  I am a retired  business man, and I am noticing some of the changes that happen at my age to my body and my brain.

I make my living listening and talking, as a domestic violence educator, and when I struggle to find a word, to explain a concept, I worry that my clients will not receive a discernment that I think is important.

However, my life for the last 37 and 1/2 years has been about discovering solutions for myself, and I have managed to survive an illness that contributed significantly to the deaths of several members of my immediate family.

So I have begun the search process for tools that will help me manage the changes due to aging.

Actually, I do not want the maturity that comes with this stage of my life to go away, I am much less prone to wasting emotional energy on perceived slights, ect. (Much less melodrama).

However, I still want to rough house with my son, and my daughter, and there are some activities that my Very Significant Other and I enjoy that demand a certain level of physical strength. My daughter loves to ride her bicycle with me around the block we live on, and I want to enjoy that with her.

I want to contribute to the development of their language skills, their rational skills, the belief systems about the basic nature of life, their problem solving skills, and I want my wife to feel fulfilled in her relationship with me.

All of those things add up to brain fitness, emotional fitness, cognitive fitness, spiritual fitness, physical fitness, and none of those things happen naturally for me, given my sedentary, office bound life.

I need to make them part of my life regularly.

I need to bring prayer and meditation into my life routinely, and I like to do that when I do my physical workout, at least four days per week, at the YMCA, and in my yard on the weekends, where I can stop for just a second or two to bring an appreciation for the natural beauty around me into my brain. I like to hold that thought until I feel my heart open up, and 'gratitude is the attitude". (The fall is always my favorite time of the year, bringing back memories of my Minnesota childhood).

I consider those moments to be prayers, and I practice moments like those regularly, just because I can, and those moments change the hormonal bath I have, from stress hormones, to DHEA, the anti-aging hormone, which is a side effect that I really like.

So I am practicing thinking and meditative and breathing skills routinely over the course of the day, and managing the impact of stress hormones on my body in those brief bursts of gratitude.

I use a tool called HeartMath to help process. HeartMath is a PC biofeedback tool which has trained me to manage the time between my heart beats and keep them consistent. It took me perhaps six practices to have significant success with the program, and it has been six years at least since I have had to hook up to the computer to practice again, because the neurons in my heart (Your heart has a brain? Yes.)have learned to respond to a cue thought, and change my physiology from stessful to relaxed, so I can use my HeartMath cue thought to relax, stay energized, or the natural beauty occuring outside me to cue the hormonal change from stress to DHEA.

My brain will do that for me. All I need to do is give it the image or smell or feel or sound or even taste that it needs, and a memory of those is just as good as the real thing (remember how dark chocolate or your favorite smoothie tastes right now), and it will change me in a healthier hormonal direction.

Then of course, I have to hold that thought, or that breathing pattern for a bit, and condition my body to stay relaxed.

Not asleep, or drugged, but moving quickly from a state of focused externally awareness to relaxed external focus. The quick change is what is the key to Peak Performance.

So working out and managing my thoughts and changing the inside of my body are habits to be cultivated in the brain fitness, physical fitness, emotional fitness, spiritual fitness, and cognitive fitness realms?

Yes, I believe so.

I read a book by Michael Hutchison in the mid-1990's called "Megabrain" which talked about a number of tools being developed in the brain fitness field which really piqued my interest. Those tools included other biofeedback tools like EEG biofeedback, Open Focus, binaural beat technology, Hemi-Sync from the Monroe Institute, and lucid dreaming, among others. I included EEG (or brainwave)biofeedback in my practice with Jeremy Croyle and we had some very interesting and good results working with addicts.

I tried a number of those tools and enjoyed them all.

Technological Developments

All of the tools I have used have been designed to help me continue on my own path of personal and spiritual growth, and now technology has provided me with more tools, brain fitness tools, to be exact, which will enhance my experience.

However, I have been rather involved in my business and family and the new tools snuck up on me.

Again, it was a book that opened my eyes, "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge alerted me to developments in this field, mostly frequently credited to Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. who is the developer of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program. However, he is not the only scientist who has developed an application that exercises neural circuits. There are a number of them, some you can purchase online and others that you purchase online and have sent to you.

Four Brain Fitness Programs-My Experiences.

I have tried out four of the commercially available programs, Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, Lumosity, the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, and Advanced Technologies Brain Builder.

They work. My short term or working memory is better, and I repeat things to myself much more frequently in order to remember them.

Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro trains fluid intelligence and the research on which it is based is stunning, to my reading anyway. There appears to be no top limit to your score. Practice more, get better more.

One of the evaluations of Mind Sparke involved an IQ test, and the scores after Mind Sparke were much better.

I love the music and auditory tests in BrainBuilder and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program.

Each of the tools allows you to monitor your growth and/or progress, and each gives you a sense of where you need extra effort.

So now I am exercising my brain along with my cognitions and my body, and my fluid intelligence is increasing, my working memory is better, and my business is growing.

The family is healthy too.

Heartmath for your brain fitness? The heart and the brain impact each other continuously. There is a Heartmath link in the right side bar.

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When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.

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