Mental Fitness Fatima Lazim HW420 Kaplan University
What is the mind? The mind has been defined as the human element that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives and judges. The CrossFusion understanding of the mind is a synergism of emotion, character, knowledge and instinct. Being mentally fit is the consistent balance of the four we call “the mind”. (“What is Mental Fitness Exactly?,” 2010)
Introduction In the following slides, sit, relax, and learn about: Mental fitness and what does it mean Early studies about mental fitness The importance of mental fitness on our physical health Spiritual benefits of mental fitness accompanied by studies that demonstrated the healing qualities of mental and spiritual focus. Last, two exercises that help improve our mental fitness
What is mental fitness? It is the power to train our mind. “We know that the mind is trainable and that robust health can result from the systematic training of our mind through planned, systematic inner development.” (Dacher, 2006, p. 21) Just like training our body, we can commit to train our mind; the more we train the more we become fit until we reach the point of Olympic fitness.
Early studies Famous studies paved the way for mental fitness; they are: Study #1: 1970s Elmer and Alyce Green’s study (Proving the relation between the mind and the body) They studied biofeedback machinery by using mental imagery. They found out that a mental image, thought, or awareness itself can be translated into a physical experience. (Dacher, 2006, p. 17) At the time of the study, it was still though that the brain is connected to the body via hard-wiring (autonomic nervous system control blood pressure and pulse & central nervous system that move our muscles if we choose to).
Early Studies cont. Study #2: 1970s and beyond of Professor Candace Pert (Finding the missing link on how the mind communicate with the body) She discovered a communication mobile system between the brain and the other body organs like the immune system, the kidneys, the glands, and pretty much every cell in the body. she discovered the missing link throughout a natural proteins called the “neuropeptides” which circulate the body carrying messages back and forth to the brain, thus, is the third mind/body communication system. (Dacher, 2006, pp. 17-18)
Early Studies cont. Later Dr. Pert had another important discovery in which she found out that thought, feelings, and visual images could produce specific neuropeptides leading to physiological changes reflecting on our mental state. (Dacher, 2006, pp. 17-18) Pert’s studies concluded that if we can control, dissipate, and transform the negative emotions that occupy our mind, we could then reverse their deleterious effect on the body. “The mind is the body, the body is the mind.” is what professor Pert realized.(Dacher, 2006, pp. 17-18)
Early Studies cont. Study #3: Dr. Richard Davidson’s study (The benefit of the mind/body connection) He studies electrical brain activities, variation in brain blood flow and metabolic activity. He proved that, there are areas of the brain that become activated by negative and positive emotions. He concluded his results by comparing two groups, one that recalled good emotions and the other not, also one that was shown happy images and the other not.
Early Studies cont. His study showed the right prefrontal cortex is activated with negative emotions and the left prefrontal cortex is activated with the positive emotions. He also discovered that people are born with a baseline disposition, some see the half full glass and others see the emptiness of it. He also tested the effect of stress management on a group of people that he followed on and the results was, less anxiety levels, brain activity, and better immune response to the flu vaccine. (Dacher, 2006, pp. 20-21)
Physical and spiritual BENEFITS OF MENTAL FITNESS Our body follows our mind; therefore balanced mind is important to our physical health. Dr. Richard Davidson reported in his study’s results that courses in stress reduction and relaxation techniques will decrease anxiety level, brain activity, and better the immune response to the flu vaccination. (Dacher, 2006, p. 21) Training our brain for compassion will result in the activation of our motor cortex improving or responses and reflexes. (Dacher, 2006, p. 22)
Physical and spiritual benefits cont. We are capable of self-regulating our blood pressure, pulse, skin temperature, glandular secretions, and even our immune system through mind/body training. (Dacher, 2006, p. 42) In 1970, Elmer and Alyce Green discovered that imagery training of the mind can control our autonomic nervous system through biofeedback machinery. (Dacher, 2006, p. 17) Relaxation techniques ease the body allowing more blood to flow to the muscles and vital organs.
Physical and spiritual benefits cont. Olympians of mental fitness have high levels of activation of the left prefrontal cortex; this side correlates with positive emotions, which are way beyond those of the ordinary individuals. (Dacher, 2006, p. 21) Furthermore, our mind’s power can transcend from us to others as a healing force that penetrate the body, mind, and spirit. (Dacher, 2006, p. 23)
Researches demonstrating the healing qualities of mental and spiritual focus. There are few studies of spiritual nature which affect the mental state; I will explain the following: The study of love and the immune system The study of forgiveness by Fredrick Luskin The study of prayer by Randolph Byrd
The study of love The study examined the effect of watching a documentary film about Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta and its effect on the salivary immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) The immune marker (S-IgA) rose in concentration as a result to compassionate reaction to the documentary. The high S-IgA concentration stayed elevated an hour after watching the movie. The same elevation occur to participants who recalled times of loving and being loved. The conclusion of the study is that dwelling on love will strengthen this part of the immune system. (Schlitz, Amorok, & Micozzi, 2005, p. 329)
The study of forgiveness by Fredrick Luskin Fredrick Luskin as a director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project found that forgiveness has both emotional and physical benefits. He did a randomized controlled study recruiting students at Stanford University. The intervention group received 50-minutes sessions of how to forgive. The treated group showed reduction in hurt, state, and trait anger and significant increase in forgiveness, hope, self-efficiency and spiritual connection. Follow up assessment showed that the participants maintained the results 10 weeks after the intervention. (Schlitz, Amorok, & Micozzi, 2005, p. 336)
The study of prayer by Randolph Byrd One of the famous prayer studies was the Randolph Byrd prayer study. In 1988 Dr.Byrd a cardiologist did a study on 393 patients in his UC unit in which a group of them were prayed for and the other left as control. The doctors, the patients and those who prayer did not know who was the control and who was not. The result was astonishing, those who were prayed for had less death rate (although that is insignificant for this study), less endotracheal intubation and ventilator support, fewer drugs were used, especially diuretics and antibiotic, lower incidence of pulmonary edema, and they required cardiopulmonary resuscitation less often.
The study of prayer by Randolph ByrdCont. The importance of this study lies in the pioneering of the experiment as a land mark in studying prayer and healing. ”He(Byrd) established a principle: that distant, intercessory prayer can be studied like a drug in humans in a controlled fashion in a sophisticated medical environment” (Schlitz, 2005, p. 319).
How to improve our mental fitness We need faith to re-channel our energy from seeking outside healing to inside healing. Rechanneling needs training. Some of the mind’s exercises include, but not limited to, preparation 1: loving-kindness and visualization: meeting Asclepius
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? “Resting comfortably in your natural state of peace and ease, bring to mind an individual, someone close to you, who you hold with great love and tenderness. Allow these loving feelings to expand within your heart as if a faucet of loving-kindness were being fully turned on. Take a few moments to fully experience these feelings. With these feeling filling your heart, begin to turn them toward yourself. Start with your body and its sensations, pleasant and unpleasant. Give each of them your love, your kindness, and sense of ease, spaciousness, and care. You want to loosen any grasping or attachment to your sensations. Just let them be. Take a few moments to be at peace with your body and its sensations.
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? Cont. Next, shift to the thoughts, feelings, and images that move in and out of your awareness, those that are unpleasant and disturbing, as well as those that are pleasing and welcome. Give all of them equal care, love, and kindness, treating them as close friends that inhabit your life on a daily basis. Loosen any grasping or attachment to these mental movements. Give them a large field to play in. Then, turn your inner mind, specifically to the stillness, peace, and gentleness that is your natural home. Give this deeper aspect of your mind-your soul and spirit-all the loving-kindness that is your heart. Welcome it into your life.
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? Cont. Finally, fully embrace yourself for this unique and precious expression of life that you are. Loving yourself is a prelude to extending this love out to others. Take a few moments to complete this part of the exercise. Next, visualize a loved one who is suffering. When you take your next breath, which we will call the “in-breath” from now on, take in your loved one’s suffering. Allow the dark cloud of suffering to ride the in-breath into your body and then let it completely dissolve in your heart. Do not feel concerned about being over-whelmed by this suffering; its nature is such that it will dissolve if you merely breathe it into your heart. Then, when you breath out, which we will call the “out-breath”, breathe out health, happiness, and wholeness to the same loved one. Take in the suffering of your loved one on the in-breath, and on the out-breath send out health and joy.
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? Cont. Continue this for several minutes. Consider how you can be of specific assistance to this loved one. What can you offer to relieve his or her suffering, temporarily and over the long term? Is it something material you can offer? Is it deep listening, understanding, a new perspective, emotional support? Or perhaps you can suggest a long-term strategy that will assist this loved one in identifying and eliminating the source of distress. On the out-breath, offer what you sense will be most helpful. Next, expand your focus to include a circle of strangers beyond your immediate loved ones. Breathe in their suffering and allow it to dissolve in your heart.
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? Cont. With the out-breath, send out the peace and wellness that is growing within you. Continue this for several minutes. Next, embrace all living things, including those whom you consider enemies. Imagine this whole field of individuals is in front of you as you continue this practice of taking and giving. Continue in this manner for the remainder of your practice session. Experience the changes that take place in your mind and heart. Remember this is an inner practice whose primary goal is to create a heartfelt loving-kindness that diminishes your self-centeredness and quiets your mind.
How to do preparation 1: loving-kindness? Cont. When the 15-minute practice time has passed, remain for a moment in the natural peace and ease of you mind and body, reflecting on the practice. If you wish, jot some notes in your journal. When you are ready, slowly and peacefully return to your regular activities. Continue this exercise twice daily for the first week and at regular intervals in the future. “(Dacher, 2006, pp. 68-69)
How to do A visualization: meeting Asclepius? “Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and visualize the image of a very wise, loving man or woman. Choose an individual, alive or passed on, whom you respect and honor and with whom you feel a special sense of connection. If identifying or choosing such a person is difficult, then simply create one. Stabilize this image in front of you and notice all the details about the person. Sit in communication with this wise person and feel his/her presence. Reflect on his/her qualities and characteristics, his/her peace, wisdom, compassion, love and joy. The image of this individual should now become your focal point.
How to do A visualization: meeting Asclepius? Cont. Stay with the image and allow the experience to deepen. When the image has stabilized in your mind, allow a strong beam of white light to form at the crown of his/her head. Next, allow the dense white light emanating from the mind of this wise person to enter into your mind. Allow this energy to bathe and purify your thoughts, feelings, and images. Slowly transform your mind into the mind of this person. Take all the time you need for this transformation to fully evolve. Next, allow another beam of light to form and emanate from the throat of this wise person. Allow this energy to bathe and purify your speech.
How to do A visualization: meeting Asclepius? Cont. Take on the qualities of loving, wise, and sensitive speech so that yours becomes the speech of this wise person. Again, take your time as this transformation and purification takes place. Then, let a final beam of light emerge from the heart of this wise person. Allow it to enter your heart. Let it bathe and purify your heart with kindness, love, and compassion, transforming it into the heart of this wise person. Take your time allowing this transformation to take place. Experience your mind, voice, and heart as you take on the qualities of the wise one. Become this person.
How to do A visualization: meeting Asclepius? Cont. Next, allow the entire image of this wise person to dissolve into a bright white light. Allow this light to enter your body at your forehead and slowly permeate your entire being, from your cells to your organs, so that you fully become this wise person. What does this feel like? What will it be like to have the wisdom and support of the wise inner healer assist you in your integral journey? For the next few moments, experience what it’s like to be such a person, to be able to accept yourself as a wise and loving healer in body, mind, and speech.
How to do A visualization: meeting Asclepius? Cont. Hasn’t this possibility -this self- always been with you? Why is it easier to see this wise and pure aspect of yourself externally in another person rather than recognizing it as your essence? Who is this wise and caring person you first imaged outside yourself? Where has he or she been? Isn’t it time to welcome him/her home? Isn’t it time to know Asclepius as none other than the natural and wise essence of your heart and mind? Remain a few moments in this natural state and noble essence. When you feel complete, slowly return to the time and place of the room, remembering that your ever-present inner healer will support and guide you toward integral health.” (Dacher, 2006, pp. 56-58)
Wrap-up Summery Our health depend on three parameters; body, mind, and spirit. Training our mind can heal our body and spirit. Therefore, we should be mentally fit in order to be healthy, happy and whole. The importance of mental fitness was proved by pioneering studies that paved the way for the integral health studies; studies like 1970s Elmer and Alyce Green’s study, Professor Candace Pert’s study, and Dr. Richard Davidson’s study.
Wrap-up Summery cont. The physical benefits of mental fitness include improving the immune system, improving the circulation, lowering blood pressure, lowering pulse rate, pain management, lowering muscle tension, and lowering anxiety and depression. The spiritual benefits of mental fitness took place in different studies like the study of love and increasing the S-IgA proved that love can better the immune system, Fredrick Luskin’s forgiveness study that lowered hurt and anger and improved self-efficiency and spiritual connection, last was the Randolph Byrd prayer study that concluded prayer could improve the outcome of urgent care unit’s patients in the cardiology department.
Wrap-up Summery cont. We are all able to accomplish mental fitness with some faith and commitment. Two examples of mental exercises are the loving-kindness and meeting Asclepius. The mind and the body are inseparable making our mental life the driving force of our character and for our body’s physiology. Do not expect to master those exercises immediately, just like physical fitness repentance will grant you results.
References Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 21). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 22). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 23). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 42). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 17). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (p. 20-21). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (pp. 17-18). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (pp. 56-58). Dacher, E. S. (2006). Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing (pp. 68-69).
References cont. Schlitz, M., Amorok, T., & Micozzi, M. S. (2005). Consciousness & healing: Integral approaches to mind-body medicine (p. 329). Schlitz, M., Amorok, T., & Micozzi, M. S. (2005). Consciousness & healing: Integral approaches to mind-body medicine (p. 336). Schlitz, M., Amorok, T., & Micozzi, M. S. (2005). Consciousness & healing: Integral approaches to mind-body medicine (p. 317-319). What is Mental Fitness Exactly? (2010). Retrieved from http://crossfusionfitness.com/what-is-crossfusion/human-performance/what-is-mental-fitness-exactly/ All images are taken from: http://images.google.com