Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Self Control? Part 3.1

This is supposed to be Self Control? Part 3, but as I was writing it, it became a rather enormous post.  So, I've decided to break it up into a "Part 3.1" and "Part 3.2"  To make it a little easier on everyone to get through.  :)  Enjoy.

Last time we discussed how simply going to a Tai Chi class and participating can help improve self control by building a habit of self control, but we also mentioned that this might not be enough to give someone a real discipline boost.  If that is all there is to improving self control through Tai Chi, then what makes Tai Chi any different from any other form of exercise?  Habitual self control (or self control that is produced by doing something so much it just becomes a habit) can be attained in almost any exercise program, diet program, financial planning program, etc.....the trick is sticking with it long enough for it to become a habit instead of a failed attempt.  So what is the missing piece?  Does Tai Chi have that missing piece?

Well, lets take a little look at the brain and get some ideas about how a meditative art like Tai Chi affects the brain.  Perhaps this will help us better understand how an art like Tai Chi can help improve self control when many other exercise programs may not.  Some of you may already know that how your brain works has a lot to do with how you handle day to day life, and whether your decisions are something to be proud of, but few people realize that their brains can be trained in a way that will increase their ability to function more effectively in decision making and life choices.  To learn more about how our brain works let's look at some information From Dr. Daniel Amen on the subject.

Dr. Daniel Amen  is a physician, child and adult psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist who studies how the brain works and how it affects human behavior.  He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and below are some statements he has made about how our brains affect our choice making abilities.

"Did you know that will power is a function of the prefrontal cortex?   Your ability to stick with a diet, save for retirement and remain faithful in your marriage is the result of a brain that works right.   Hurting this part of the brain can wreak havoc in your life, while helping it can help your weight, your finances and even your relationships."  -Dr. Daniel Amen

"Meditation is a wonderful tool to calm your mind and boost your brain at the same time.  Meditation actually fooled us.  Initially, we thought it would calm brain activity.  What we found was that many different forms of meditation actually dramatically increase blood flow to the brain.
Last year we published a scientific study showing how a very simple 12-minute meditation boosted blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the same area of the brain that helps you make good decisions."
-Dr. Daniel Amen

As you can see from Dr. Amen's statements there is a direct correlation between how well your prefrontal cortex works and whether or not you can make good decisions and stick with them.  The part that is really exciting is that meditation can actually help improve the part of your mind that will give you greater self control and the ability to make good choices...

Check back soon for the second part of this post.  :)

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