Mind-Energy.net is proud to announce the launch of its third Psi Experiment. In this experiment, several measures were taken to make the results of this experiment more credible, after the experiment design issues of the first two were taken into account.
In this experiment you’ll be shown with a photograph of a random playing card on a table and you’ll need to answer which color is the card’s suit – red or black. You can see it as a simple game.
Each time you play this game, the computer reshuffles the cards and you’re presented with another photograph of another card. So, you can play as long as you want. After each 20 trials, you’ll be immediately able to see the statistics of your trials.
So, don’t wait and go to Third Psi Experiment.
I am a big supporter of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). An important part of the TCM is the concept of the energy meridians and acupoints. These acupoints are active points that have effect on the body or the mind, when stimulated. The usual form of stimulation in the Traditional Chinese Medicine is inserting very thin needles into the points and leaving them there for about 20 minutes. This is called acupuncture and it can be very helpful in many conditions where modern medicine still struggles.
A simpler form of acupoint stimulation, which can be practices without studying TCM, virtually by anyone is acupressure. In acupressure, the same acupoints are stimulated using pressure instead of needle insertion, which makes it more accessible to general population. There are guides for when to stimulate in specific conditions. One of the best guides I’ve seen is available on the site of Stanford Stanford University School of Medicine, called PointFinder. For example the points for treating anxiety are shown below (captured from the above site):
You should stimulate those points by pressing on them for a about a minute on each side of the body. More conditions can be selected from the site and another set of points will be shown.
Thought substitution is a simple technique to understand but might be difficult to master. I first learned them from reading a Brian Tracy’s book, who is a known motivational speaker and writer. It is based on the fact that a human mind can only hold one thought at a time. Thus, if you have negative thoughts in your mind that continuously stress you, it is possible through conscious effort substitute it with another thought, i.e. think of something else instead.
As you do not think of the problem, you reduce your level of stress. Of course, pervasive negative thoughts will try to return to your mind. You should take notice of them and immediately return to your substitute thought.
Examples of this technique can be seen in Relaxation Technique #1 – Breathing to relax and calm down – where the concentration on the air flow through the nostrils should substitute the previous thought you’ve had. Of course, you can just substitute your negative thought by thinking about your loved ones or reliving joyful memories from your past.
So, the next time you have troubling thoughts, take notice of them. Recall the fact that you can substitute your thoughts with better ones and start thinking positive ones.
If you think that your life is full of stress and you find it hard to cope with it, you might need to take more action with larger dedication on your part. One of the things that can help with reducing the stress from your life in the long run and teach you how to relax is meditation. Meditation is a practice of the mind where you train yourself to control your thoughts, willpower and emotions.
Some meditation are still – you meditate while sitting, closing your eyes and clearing your mind of distractive thought. Usually, you’d try to concentrate on something specific and hold that thought in your mind. Incorporating visual imagery into the meditation practice is also quite common. Technique #3 – Calming Visualization – is an example of such meditation technique.
Meditation requires dedication and setting time aside for its practice. Its positive effects are both short and long term effective. You will feel better, more relaxed, after a meditation session and in the long run you will behave in a more relaxed manner overall.
Scientific studies have shown meditation to be positive as well. For examples, see:
Benefits of meditation
Meditation and neuroscience research
Meditation leads to happiness research shows
Yoga and meditation help sleep better
Transcendental Meditation helps the heart
Another form of mediation involves movement. Tai Chi, Qigong and yoga can be seen as forms of meditation involving movement. In these practices, the concentration of the mind on the movement and inner body feelings provides the relief from everyday thoughts, thus enabling meditative benefits. Even long running can be seen as a form of meditation.
Invest the time to learn meditation and the yield will be your piece of mind.
Continuing the subject of the previous Relaxation Technique 5: Inducing alpha and theta levels using audio programs, it is also possible to learn and enter the alpha state of mind by yourself, without the aid of special audio recordings. Of course, it requires some learning but has the benefit of allowing you better control over your brain. Jose Silva1 has dedicated his life to develop a technique to better utilize the human potential. His work is based on knowledge to enter and stay in the alpha state of mind. There are several ways to induce alpha state. Here’s one that works well for me:
- Sit comfortably or lie down, closing your eyes. Perform a number of deep breaths.
- Visualize the number 3 and say to yourself “Three” 3 times.
- Visualize the number 2 and say to yourself “Two” 3 times.
- Visualize the number 1 and say to yourself “One” 3 times.
- Visualize the number 10 and say “I’m relaxing”
- Visualize the number 9 and say “I’m calming down”
- Visualize the number 8 and say “I’m relaxing more and more”
- Visualize the number 7 and say “I’m calming down more and more”
- Visualize the number 6 and say “My consciousness is clear and tranquil”
- Visualize the number 5 and say “My whole body is relaxed”
- Visualize the number 4 and say “I’m so relaxed so that I can’t feel the weight of my body”
- Visualize the number 3 and say “I’m totally calm”
- Visualize the number 2 and say “I’m totally relaxed”
- Visualize the number 1 and say “I’m totally calm and totally relaxed. I’m at alpha.”
When you get to this point, you’ll be at alpha and should feel very relaxed. Note, that if you perform this while lying in bed and a bit tired, you can fall asleep even before your reach the end of this exercise. If you have trouble falling asleep, this is a good exercise to do every time you lie down and intend to sleep.
1 Jose Silva
I’m glad to announce that after a lot of work with the results of the first Psi Experiment, I’ve now posted the results at results of the first psi experiment. Despite some bad experiment design decisions there are still some interesting things to learn about demographics, psychological biases and which methods work better.
This is also an opportunity to remind you to take part in the second psi experiment if you have not already done so. Tell your friends to participate as well.
Discuss the results in the comments.
The human brain operates at different states of consciousness and attention. The different levels differentiate by the frequency of the brain waves, as can be seen on EEG (Electroencephalography1). These are called using letter of the greek alphabet. The general agreement regarding the brainwave patterns is as follows:
- Beta – 14Hz and higher. Alert, active state of mind. Associated with thinking and being awake.
- Alpha – 8 to 14Hz. Relaxed state of mind. Associated with daydreaming, general relaxation.
- Theta – 4 to 8Hz. Deeper relaxed state. Light stages of sleep. Hypnosis. Meditation.
- Delta – below 4Hz. Deep sleep. No conscious awareness.
The alpha state was discovered to be a very healthy state of mind as it is associated with relaxed brain activity. It is also used a platform for advanced mind control techniques such as meditation, Jose Silva Method, and similar.
It is possible to induce alpha brainwave activity using special audio recordings, utilizing binaural beats2 effect to directly affect the brain and bring it to work at the desired frequency. One such recording that gives good relaxation results is Immrama Institute’s Insight CD. It provides the benefits of binaural beats to reduce stress layered over the sound of falling rain, which by itself has a tranquilizing effect.
There are many other recordings available that utilize similar technology but some are said to be better than the other.
2 Binaural beats
This technique is somewhat more advanced. It was acquired from Exploring The World Of Lucid Dreaming1, by Stephen Laberge and Howard Rheingold. ( Figure was adopted by Exercise without movement by Swami Rama [Himalyan Institute2, Honesdale, PA.], click on it for larger version). Although developed for inducing lucid dreaming, this is a still a good relaxation technique. This technique is not for quick, on-the-go relaxation but a systematic exercise that should be done lying down.
- Learn the location and order of the points in the body. It is not that difficult since there’s a pattern to it.
- Focus your attention on one point at a time and think its number. Begin at your forehead, focus your attention between your eyebrows and think of the number one. Keep your attention fixed at point one for several seconds until you feel that your awareness of the location is clear and distinct. Think of yourself being located at this point. Before moving on to the next point, you should feel a sense of warmth and heaviness at this spot.
- Move through each point in sequence. In the same manner, successively focus your attention on each of the first thirty-one points. Proceed slowly, and imagine you self being located at each point as you reach it. Feel the sense of warmth and heaviness before moving on. Do not allow your mind to wander. At first you may find this difficult to do: you will find that at times you suddenly will forget that you are doing the exercise and start daydreaming or thinking about something else. If you lose your place, return to the beginning or the last numbered point you attended to, and continue. Practice with thirty-one points until you can attend to them all in sequence without daydreaming or losing track.
- Extend your practice to include all sixty-one points.
Visualization is a powerful mind tool. Research showed that the subconscious mind can’t differentiate between real events and visualized ones. Because of that visualized imagery can have a profound effect on the mind.
- Sit comfortably or lie down. Close your eyes and do a number of slow breaths. Allow yourself to be undisturbed by turning off communication devices near you.
- Imagine being in a quiet, calming place of your choosing. It could be on a quiet beach, in the woods, sailing on a boat or any other place that generally makes you feel relaxed.
- Hold that image and imagine experiencing the bliss of the moment, all the positive feelings that come being at that place.
- The more realistic your imagination is, the more positive you will have.
- When you feel comfortable and more relaxed, slowly get out of the visualized world and return to the real one.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a known relaxation technique. It was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson around 19391. The argument is that since muscular tension accompanies anxiety, relaxing muscular tension will reduce it. While performing the exercise, don’t tense the muscle too much and don’t tense muscles that are not at the specific group mention at each step. The muscles should be more relaxed after releasing tension than before it was applied to that group. Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down. Do a number of slow breaths. Then move in the following progression2:
- Hands. The fists are tensed; relaxed. The fingers are extended; relaxed.
- Biceps and triceps. The biceps are tensed (make a muscle – but shake your hands to make sure not tensing them into a fist); relaxed (drop your arm to the chair). The triceps are tensed (try to bend your arms the wrong way); relaxed (drop them).
- Shoulders. Pull them back (careful with this one); relax them. Push the shoulders forward (hunch); relax.
- Neck (lateral). With the shoulders straight and relaxed, the head is turned slowly to the right, as far as you can; relax. Turn to the left; relax.
- Neck (forward). Dig your chin into your chest; relax. (bringing the head back is not recommended – you could break your neck).
- Mouth. The mouth is opened as far as possible; relaxed. The lips are brought together or pursed as tightly as possible; relaxed.
- Tongue (extended and retracted). With mouth open, extend the tongue as far as possible; relax (let it sit in the bottom of your mouth). Bring it back in your throat as far as possible; relax.
- Tongue (roof and floor). Dig your tongue into the roof of your mouth; relax. Dig it into the bottom of your mouth; relax.
- Eyes. Open them as wide as possible (furrow your brow); relax. Close your eyes tightly (squint); relax. Make sure you completely relax the eyes, forehead, and nose after each of the tensings.
- Breathing. Take as deep a breath as possible – and then take a little more; let it out and breathe normally for 15 seconds. Let all the breath in your lungs out – and then a little more; inhale and breathe normally for 15 seconds.
- Back. With shoulders resting on the back of the chair, push your body forward so that your back is arched; relax. Be very careful with this one, or don’t do it at all.
- Butt. Tense the butt tightly and raise pelvis slightly off chair; relax. Dig buttocks into chair; relax.
- Thighs. Extend legs and raise them about 6in. off the floor or the foot rest but don’t tense the stomach’ relax. Dig your feet (heels) into the floor or foot rest; relax.
- Stomach. Pull in the stomach as far as possible; relax completely. Push out the stomach or tense it as if you were preparing for a punch in the gut; relax.
- Calves and feet. Point the toes (without raising the legs); relax. Point the feet up as far as possible (beware of cramps – if you get them or feel them coming on, shake them loose); relax.
- Toes. With legs relaxed, dig your toes into the floor; relax. Bend the toes up as far as possible; relax.
1 Jacobson, E. (1938). Progressive relaxation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2 Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation