With the world becoming seemingly more and more chaotic, I needed something to slow me down. As many of you know, I practice mindfulness and meditation regularly and wanted my DIY this week to reflect something that will help my mindfulness journey, a Mala. A Mala is a necklace of beads that you can use to count mantras or breaths during meditation. They come in four different lengths 18, 27, 54, or 108. I figure I need all the mantras possible so I went with a 108 bead Mala.
So, I headed down to The Bead Shop in Laguna to find the perfect beads for my meditation needs. Ha that rhymed! Also, I totally recommend that you go to an actual bead shop, don’t just order online. There’s something so mindful about touching everything and getting a feel for what you’re buying. Anyway, I bought 108 counting beads made of Earth Jasper also known as the “Supreme Nurturer” it reminds us to help one another and brings tranquility into our lives. Then I grabbed 3 marker beads made from Agate which is a protective stone. Your marker beads should be a different size so you will know when you’ve passed a particular number of beads. Then I bought one large Agate guru bead. The guru bead is the large bead at the apex of the Mala where the tassel hangs. I also added a pretty little tassel and Ohm symbol.
The spacing can get a little confusing, to keep everything simple I placed a large marker bead every 27 counting beads and the guru at the bottom. It all came together to form 4 sections of 27 beads.
Happy meditating my friends!
Sometimes a girl just wants something pretty and sometimes there’s more to the art of making something beautiful. In honor of May being Mental Health Month I want to talk about how crafting can help your mental state. You’re probably thinking “what!?!” “How does crafting help me mentally?” Well, engaging in an activity that you enjoy and find yourself lost in helps you reach a state of alpha brain activity called, Flow. This researcher named Mihaly Csikszentminalyi-try saying that 3 times fast-found that we experience less depression and more joy when we engage in activities that require focus and attention. This does wonders for brain neuroconnectivity which can have an impact on our general outlook on life. So, Dr Ally is writing you a script for one craft this week. Let’s get to it!
What will you need?
A piece of marble (mine was a little thick and heavy, I’d recommend something a little lighter).
2 drawer pulls
Clear round bumpers
Metallic spray paint (mine was rose gold)
Spray your drawer pulls. I used about 3 layers of paint.
Stick your round bumpers to the underside of your marble. These will keep your tray from sitting directly on a surface.
Measure how far you want your handles to go from the edge. Can you believe I’ve been using a centimeter ruler all these years and wasn’t even paying attention. Yes metric!!!
Add a drop of glue. This stuff is serious and goes a long way. You may also ways a mask, the fumes are pretty intense.
Wipe away any excess.
And there’s your stunning marble tray! Happy crafting!!!
Our minds are so powerful. They can propel us to far away lands, heal us, or make us sick. This is why it’s so important to learn to focus our attention toward things that bring renewal. If you ever sit in on a group of neuropsychologist talking-why would you-then you would probably hear the phrase “what fires together, wires together.” Simply stated, the more us humans think a thought the easier and easier it becomes to think it again. This can work for us, like when we want to change an old unwanted pattern, but it can also work against us, like when we get use to tearing ourselves down. We can get so attached to particular thoughts that we even begin to think them without knowing we are thinking them.
If you find yourself in the loop of unwanted negative thoughts you may want to go try an
old therapist trick, the thought log. It’s all about increasing your awareness. When you notice yourself having a negative emotion or unwanted thought, get curious and investigate what happened right before having that thought or feeling-write it down…just the facts. Identify what thought came after that then how that thought made you feel. This will lead you to a place where you can begin to pick your negative thoughts apart and replace them with more realistic ones. Ask yourself questions like “would I say this to a close friend?”, “Is this thought based in fact or am I just really use to thinking it?”, or “Am I excluding information and just focusing on the negative stuff?” After some practice this process becomes pretty routine and you’ll notice yourself think much more balanced thoughts.
I hope this was helpful for someone.
Happy New Year C&C readers! December was an eventful month for your dear Cupcakes. I lost friends to eternal rest, completed steps toward a future desired, and found a special someone to breath my breaths with. All in all, an emotional roller coaster. Without going into detail, I’ve been pretty physically, mentally, and spiritually overwhelmed. To remain sane I had to keep one word in mind “balance.” I found balance in mentally stimulating conversation, laughter, meditation, and knowledge. Find what helps give you balance in this new year hone in on it and practice it as often as possible.
I found myself meditating in my office just a moment ago. Yes, officially meditating. Sitting lotus position with my hand on my knees and all, and I was struck with a thought, “accept where you are, but acknowledge where you want to be.” This is truly the dialectical of life. We are here to accept the present moment but remain in constant motion toward our future goals. My pseudo-Deepak moment is over, you may now return to your lives.
I’ve been trying to write something thoughtful about physical health all day. But as random citations and quotes frantically flew through my brain I decided to just keep it simple. Here we go! Health is homeostasis and homeostasis is a complicated way of saying balance. Find balance of mind, of body, of spirit, and in social interactions.
I seek equilibrium daily with a 5 am yoga session ohmmm, meditation/prayer, a veggie and fruit filled diet, and a constant barrage of besties and friends. Let me know what balances you this week.
I try to begin every day gathering new information. Today’s lesson was one in neuroscience, one of my favorite topics. I learned about the default mode network as I read through a very insightful article from abc NEWS. As a grad student I scour through literature on many subjects and have quite a breadth of general knowledge on most things biological. However, I had never heard of the default mode network which triggered a desire to learn more.
Let’s begin our lesson with a basic intro into how or brains work. There is a common idea that actions or behaviors reside in one location of the brain. This is untrue, the brain is an interconnected network where actions, behaviors, and decisions are generalized to many areas of the brain. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way the default network is a network of active areas in the brain responsible for imagination and daydreaming. How interesting is that, who hasn’t wondered what daydreaming was?
The areas involved are the medial temporal lobe (responsible for memory), medial prefrontal cortex (decision making), the posterior cingulate cortex (integration), the precuneus (episodic memory), and the lateral and inferior parietal cortex (spatial ability). So all of these areas work together when your mind wonders in class or as you’re listening to your significant other drone on…blah, blah, blah!
Many neurological disorders are impacted by the default network including; Autism, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and PTSD. So daydreaming may be a nice escape from boring situations but it has a down side like anxiety and dissociation. Dr. Judson Brewer and his team at the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic completed a study on the default network. They found that mindfulness and meditation can help us gain control over our daydreaming thus offering us control when our minds take us somewhere we don’t want to go.
So next time you find your mind wandering recall that it’s just your temporal lobe and precuneus pulling up memories and communicating with your prefrontal cortex, your lateral and inferior parietal cortex are keeping your orientation in space, and all of this is being integrated by your cingulate cortex.