The Art of Balanced Living
The Art of Balanced Living (ABL)
This is where I will put articles and other thoughts about living a balanced life.
From recipes to health tips, life hacks and my own spin on the Art of Balanced Living.
These famous words by Henry David Thoreau are finally taking on significance across a wide arc of society. Millennials are among the early adopters of this movement toward simplicity, having been forced into the position as a result of student debt, rising costs of housing and a growing list of challenges along with the increasing heart-felt desire to live life. I couldn’t be happier to see such a significant healing trend emerging.
Toward that end, I recently interviewed Dr. Zeus Yiamouyiannis, author of Transforming Economy. I knew within a couple of chapters that I would collaborate with him and his work in the future. His Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education is only the starting point to his understanding of the need to, and the means to, shift broken systems into something that works for us, rather than us working for the system. That interview will be coming out down the road on Gaia, but I will begin featuring some of his vast array of blogs on transforming community/economy, education and spirituality. He also has a couple of new books in the works for us to look forward to.
Meanwhile, the article below, by Holly Ashby, lays out a desirable case for simplifying our lives. The end goal is to have the energy and time to contemplate higher, more interesting and more creative themes in life, which we cannot do when we are exhausted from trying to make the monthly nut.
This article touched my heart as the heart knows better than the head the implications of deep generosity. In the case of of man named Brice, it saved his life, more so, it saved his reason for living.
The subject of dental health and its relation to the rest of the body’s health is skyrocketing. As we have discovered that you can’t unlink, thought, emotions, health and overall quality of life, so we cannot disconnect out mouth from our body. Here is a site that looks at the connection between the teeth, organs and emotions. Useful and educational…gives us something to reflect on with those challenging health issues. You might also enjoy my interview with Alison Adams shot in England. Its in the Gaia archives.
As practical follow up on the Blues article I wrote a few days ago, here is a “how to” on increasing levels of dopamine, which is in short supply when experiencing low energy or depression.
I’ve had an epiphany regarding holiday indulgence! The following is a rational argument for doing holiday lunch rather than holiday dinners. It has to do with intermittent fasting and brain function, and that means not eating large meals at night, no less gorging at holiday parties.
I personally notice that the less I eat (especially carbs), the more energy and clarity I have. When I have too heavy a meal in the evening, a bad night follows. This video was the first explanation I have found for this challenge – the less food you eat (or more extreme exercise) the higher the production of ketones, which suppresses irregular brain behavior, interrupted sleep and even seizures. This was a major insight and clarified the value of small dinners eaten no later than 6:00, which gives the body a chance to fast 12-15 hours before its next meal.
I have been going to Dr. Richard Belli since 1989 to sleuth any hidden conditions that the medical industry cannot detect. Dr. Belli has repeatedly found subtle conditions underlying the symptoms showing themselves, generally correcting them within a week. Back pain may be a stuck pattern in the autonomic nervous system signaling the nerves, which may be the result of a deficiency of certain B-vitamins. Go to a traditional physician and you’re given pain meds and the condition persists for weeks, even months, as the underlying condition is never addressed. For this reason I am a huge fan of Kinesiology, which is why I am posting this article for newbies to the craft:
After interviewing Dr. Jack Kruse, it was impressed on me how important it is to leave any electronics out of the bedroom and avoid using them right before bedtime. They cast off a type of blue light that signals the brain to wake up as it mirrors daylight. Since the body conducts most of its repair work while we’re sleeping, I thought it a good idea to post this article on quick tips to better sleep. Meanwhile, you may want to check out my interview with Dr. Jack Kruse on Gaia.com:
If we want to treat depression, we can learn a lot from community rituals involving dance and drumming.
Chances are that you, or someone you know, has experienced being depressed. It is estimated that on average, 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some stage in their lives, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. The symptoms can range from minor to very severe.
Feeling the love, support and compassion of an entire community can be a very effective way to address depression. There’s a lot to be learned by treating depression with tribal wisdom from traditional cultures, rather then the strictly ‘individual’ way of western medicine.
Andrew Solomon had suffered from depression for many years. In his attempts to better understand this illness, his journey has taken him across the globe, interviewing many people who share his affliction.
His research took him as far as West Africa where he participated in a Senegalese Ndeup ritual, a tribal ritual for depression, and concluded that it was probably better than many forms of group therapy that he attended in the US. He describes the Ndeup as an astonishing experience, even though he didn’t believe in the animist principles behind it. Moreover, he was incredibly touched and exhilarated that all of those people had been gathered together, cheering for him.
The dancing element of the Ndeup ritual
African Rituals that are effective in treating Depression
Many years later Solomon discussed his experience with a Rwandan man, still unable to entirely describe which essential elements of the ritual so significantly lifted his spirits. The Rwandan man explained that they have similar rituals in East Africa and, in comparing these rituals with standard western psychotherapy, makes it clear why the African rituals are effective in lowering depression:
“You know, we had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came here right after the genocide. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sunshine… which is, after all, where you begin to feel better. There was no drumming or music to get your blood flowing again – when you’re depressed and low you need to have your blood flowing. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to lift you up and bring you back to joy.
Turn It Up: How the Right Amount of Ambient Noise Increases Creativity
By David Burkus
Finding the right space to do creative work can be difficult. Inside the office, there are constant interruptions, last-minute meetings, and an often unbearable amount of noise. On the other hand, locking yourself away in quiet isolation can sometimes be just as counterproductive (not to mention boring). For most creatives there is a “Goldilocks” zone of just the right amount of noise, but not too much.
Background noise creates a distraction, but balance is key. A moderate level of background noise creates just enough distraction to break people out of their patterns of thinking and nudge them to let their imagination wander, while still keeping them from losing their focus on the project all together. This distracted focus helps enhance your creativity. The study’s authors explain that “getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.”
But what if you aren’t free to roam to coffee shops and hotel lobbies in search of distracted focus? What if you need to re-create the coffee shop environment inside your cubicle or office? Luckily there are several virtual options available:
Coffitivity — Inspired by the research, Justin Kaulzer created a free online app that plays a continuous loop of coffee shop noise. The program includes noises from conversations, as well as the sounds of brewing and serving coffee. It even includes a function to mimic headphones in a coffee shop by letting you adjust the volume levels of your computer’s music player and the coffee shop sounds separately.
Ambient Mixer — A white noise machine on steroids, Ambient Mixer features a host of traditional loops heard on white noise machines and iPhone apps. However, it takes those a step further and allows you to combine sounds, adjust noise levels, mix your background noise tracks, and share your creations with others.
99U Music Mixes — If you’re too used to your iTunes tracks or Pandora stations to let them be background noise, try these playlists: Each one is curated around a different theme for easy selection based on where you are and what you need to get done.
Focus@Will — Based on the idea that background music should be interesting, but not too interesting, Focus@Will plays ambient music in phases sequenced to follow your natural attention span. The app includes a timer so you can set scheduled blocks of time to work.
Brian Eno’s Music for Airports [Spotify] [iTunes] — Released in 1978, this album is still considered one of the best ambient music recordings ever. Originally conceived of during a long layover in a European airport as a way to tolerate that level of boredom, Eno’s recording was actually played inside New York’s LaGuardia Airport for a brief time. Thankfully, it made the jump to mp3 and can now be used everywhere, even inside a coffee shop.
Raining.fm — Keep it simple with the original ambient noise: rain. Raining.fm does just what it says on the tin and even allows you to increase the amount of thunder.
Regardless of what method you choose, the trick is to make sure you’re exposed to only a moderate level of background noise. Let your mind wander, but not too far, and take advantage of the creative boost of distracted focus.
How about you?
What are your favorite sites and apps to provide you with just the right amount of background noise?
About David Burkus
David Burkus is assistant professor of management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, where he teaches courses on creativity, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. He is the author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas.
Some of you may remember a radio show I did with Marty Boroson on my radio show on CMN, on the One-Moment Meditation.
Marty says it only takes a moment to learn how to recharge your life in little moments at any time during the day, because once learned you can do it anywhere, no matter what is going on around you. On the train, on the bus, in a coffee shop, waiting in line at the DMV even, makes the day seem more manageable and less stressful.
And what’s more there are no side effects – other than more energy, a better outlook and a acceptance of all that is.
Learn to meditate in a moment with this hugely popular animated video, based on Martin Boroson’s book, One-Moment Meditation. Reduce stress, improve focus and find peace … right now.
Close your eyes for a minute. And think of it like cosmic traction!