Keeping up with Brain Health

Your brain is a crazy boss of an organ. It weighs roughly 3 pounds; consists of a slight 2% of your weight, requires 20% of the body’s energy, and looks like a ball of cooked oatmeal. Together, the brain and the spinal cord interconnect and direct a bewildering amount of information.

Whether we view the brain as a switchboard for sensory input, an intricate computer system, or an utter miracle, it is undeniably one of the most amazing things science can begin to try and understand.

Brain health and mental health are intricately connected but they are not the same. The brain is a physical organ through which the mind works. The physical body is easy to observe, we can list its functions and location but we find it difficult to do the same for the mind. Without understanding the nature of the mind, it becomes challenging to approach. It eludes us, observation is our only tool.

By keeping the physical brain nourished, we are able to better understand the mind and who we really are; a magnificent machine full of vigor, vitality, love, consciousness and pure awareness.

To maintain optimal health, a daily routine is essential. Routine opens the door for profound changes in the body and mind by establishing balance to the brain and nervous system.

Here are some guidelines to look to incorporate in your routine. What resonates with you? Choose something, one thing.  Start slow and watch as your body-mind-spirit unfold into a blissful state of being.  

  1. Balance brain patterns through meditation.

    Through examination of brain wave activity in EEG’s, we observe brain waves that are irregularly too high or too low suggest problems with the cerebral cortical functions. During meditation, gamma brain waves which are associated with high levels of cognitive functioning, peak concentration and feelings of bliss are most active.  
  2. Practice Pranayama.

    Alternate nostril breathing works on the frontal lobe; it balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, improves capillary circulation and gives an alert and attentive mind. By stimulating the left brain we activate masculine energies and by stimulating the right brain we activate feminine energies. By creating balance between the male and female, the sun and moon, the light and dark, the action and inaction we find ourselves at peace with the duality of existence. It is here where clarity resides.  
  3. Herb and Spice support:

    1. Triphala – a clogged colon leads to a clogged mind. Triphala is a gentle colon cleanser that will keep your system regular. When constipated, the mind becomes dull and lethargic, with diarrhea is stress, irritability, and anxiety can take over. Triphala can strike balance in the GI tract leaving you with perfect digestion.

    2. Ginger – the small intestine contains more than a hundred million nerve cells giving the GI tract its nickname as “the second brain”.  Our digestion responds to thoughts and emotions. If the brain senses stress, for example, it can signal to the gut immune cells to release chemicals leading to inflammation. Ginger help to regulate and stimulate your digestive strength. Healthy digestion and metabolism also maintain clear internal bodily channels that facilitate toxic free pathways for the nervous system to send nerve impulses.  

    3. Brahmi- used to reduce memory loss, improve understanding, regulate mood swings, and reduce overall stress and tension. 1/2 tsp of Brahmi oil in the nose improves concentration and attention span. 

    4. Ashwaghanda- supports the body’s ability to cope with stress. Ashwaghanda has been shown to support healthy brain cell activity in the face of free radicals. It is well known for its restorative, revitalizing, and strengthening properties. It helps build a stronger immune system, decreases cholesterol and balances blood sugar while providing relief from anxiety and depressio

  4. Nasya

    The nose is the door to the brain. Nasya or nose drops bring intelligence and nourish Prana, life force. Putting 3 to 5 drops of oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve mental clarity.
    1. For kapha: use calamus root oil

    2. Pitta: use Brahmi ghee, sunflower or coconut oil.

    3. Vata: use sesame oil or ghee

  5. Eat to promote mental fitness.

    Food can be classified into three categories; sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Sattvic food nourishes the mind, promotes intelligence and balance, rajasic food nourishes the ego, creates energy and causes imbalance and tamasic food creates dullness, substance and inertia.  
    1. Tamasicovereating - meat, onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, mushrooms, alcohol, eggplants, leftovers, fried food, canned food, frozen food

    2. Rajasic eating too quickly- coffee, caffeinated teas, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, spicy foods, salty foods

    3. Sattvic eating peacefully- vegetables, fruits, legumes, ghee, honey, nuts, whole grains, beans, rice, herbal tea

  6. Head massage

    Massage the scalp with oil before sleep. Just as the body benefits from massage, so does the brain. Massaging the scalp with Brahmi coconut oil before bed to promote intelligence,memory, cognition, alertness and encourage restfulness and deep relaxation allowing for tissue repair during sleep.
  7. Antioxidant Support

    The billions of cells in your brain require oxygen. The brain uses a large proportion of the body’s supply of oxygen. This makes us susceptible to oxidative damage from free-radicals that thrive on pollution, stress and chemicals. Overtime, this has a damaging effect on brain cells. Limit your exposure to pollutants and chemicals and load up on antioxidants like blueberries, cherries, raspberries, walnuts and prunes.

The mind is what the brain does. Balance between mind, body and consciousness unfolds inner happiness.

Happiness is not dependent on one single thing; happiness is pure beauty, pure love. The mind is not merely a function of the brain; the body itself is a crystallization of mental patterns. Breakdowns in physical bodily functioning have root in disturbed mental processes or improper sensual perception. That is to say that as we learn to balance the mind, the body will follow. When we are able to perpetuate physical changes, our mind sees its power and the process of self-realization begins. Ultimately, this is goal of brain health.

 

References

Bachmann, K. (2016, May/June). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and the Adult ADHD Brain: A Neuropsychotherapeutic Perspective. NCBI PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27445873

Frawley, D. (1997). Ayurveda and the mind: The healing of consciousness. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Lad, V. (2012). Textbook of Ayurveda. Albuquerque, NM: Ayurvedic Press.