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    Self-Optimization

    How to Stay On Top of Your Game During the Global Lockdown

    How to Stay On Top of Your Game During the Global Lockdown

    Every year, right after Christmas, we all experience an event that we share commonly with every other person on earth. We celebrate the new year. It is a rarity in life to experience something which is shared by the entire world. Ushering in the new year is a truly global experience.  

    Ushering in the New Year is a global experience.

    Pandemics are global. They don’t discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, language, ideological preference, or national borders. They take lives, upend commerce, and cast their shadow of mayhem over everything and everyone indiscriminately. 

    Covid-19 has conquered humanity in a way that none of history’s great conquering generals could. This microscopic substance, only three ten-thousandths of an inch wide, has brought the world’s routine to a screeching halt.  

    Covid-19 is now a fact of life. It is part of the world’s given. Until we can produce medicines to fight it, and vaccines to protect against becoming infected by it, we will have to continue to live with it. We must accept the reality that the way we live our lives in the future will be different. Our routines must change.  

    But what about us? What about our own personal habits and routines? What about our commitments to growth and development? What about our desire to remain active and productive?  

    Every challenge we face in life is an opportunity in disguise. Challenges offer us the chance to test and strengthen, both personal and professional commitments. Nothing in nature is as adaptable as we humans. We can stay true to our values and goals, regardless of the changes and modifications necessary to fight the spread of the virus.

    Adapting to Change

    Humans are social animals. We love to connect with other people; friends, family, and co-workers. We also love to be a part of a big crowd; an audience member of an artistic performance or sporting event.  

    Humans are social animals and love to be part of a big crowd.

    This desire to socialize will probably be impacted more than any other aspect of our essential nature. Social distancing is necessary at this time. It will be necessary for a while. Social distancing helps to slow down the spread of the virus, helps keep people healthy and alive, and buys us time so that effective medicines can ultimately be developed.  

    Staying Productive

    If you’re not a worker in an essential industry, you’re most likely at home. Even at home, you can continue to be productive.

    Discuss the situation with your employer or manager and see if you can identify work-related tasks that can be completed from home. Maybe your employer has some ideas for projects which have been sitting on the ‘back burner’. Nearly every company has worthwhile projects that get preempted by work that requires immediate attention. Now might be the perfect time and opportunity to tackle one of those projects.    

    If it isn’t feasible for you to do professional work from your home, you can still remain productive. If you take some time to think about it, you can easily come up with a list of important projects that you’ve been putting off (because you didn’t have enough time).

    Now, you have the time. If you can’t come up with any ideas, and you’re married, your spouse will definitely provide you with some ideas. It’s especially important now to stay active, to have some work to absorb your attention and your energy.  

    Your New Routine

    Okay, you’re stuck at home. So, let’s craft an at-home routine that keeps you on top of your game. Here are some thoughts for that new routine. 

    Sunlight

    Get outside in the sun and enjoy our native star. And while you’re at it, soak in your daily dose of vitamin D. Your immune system will thank you.

    Get out in the sunlight and soak in your daily dose of vitamin D.

    Exercise

    It is extremely important to do physical exercise during this lockdown. If you normally devote ten hours a week to exercise, now you should be devoting twelve or fifteen hours. Exercise supports every aspect of our being; mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  

    Cardio exercise is any exercise performed over a sustained period of time that elevates your heart and breathing rate. Since Covid-19 attacks the lungs, it is especially important to work your heart and lungs. Maintaining a healthy heart and lungs during this coronavirus pandemic is essential. Examples of cardio exercise include aerobic activities like dancing, biking, swimming, walking, and running. It could even include working out in the garden or around the house.

    Cardio exercise can improve brain function, like cognitive skills and memory. Your elevated heart rate causes an increase of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which causes the production of hormones that support the growth of new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory [1]. Cardio exercise also improves mood, reduces depression, anxiety, and stress by increasing the hormones dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins [2].  

    Cardio exercise also supports heart health. There is a large body of scientific evidence that shows that it helps regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also helps reduce inflammation.  Inflammation triggers the production of white blood cells, which in turn contributes to the build-up of plaque in our arteries [3].   

    Regular exercise affords many benefits. It will help you:

    • Live longer - according to a report, published by the Dept. of Health and Human Services, regular exercise reduced causes of mortality by up to 30% for men and women [4] 
    • With weight loss or help prevent weight gain [5] 
    • Develop healthy muscle and bone tissue [6] 
    • Increase your physical energy and fight off fatigue [7] 
    • Lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, like type II diabetes and high blood pressure [8] 
    • Relax and sleep better [9] 
    • Control chronic pain, including joint and muscle [10] 
    • Improve your sex life [11] 

    Do Your Push-Ups

    Strength training is also important to protect your heart and lungs. A 2019 Harvard Medical School study demonstrated that the more push-ups a person can do, the less likely they are to develop cardiovascular disease [12]

    The more pushups a person can do, the less likely it is that they’ll develop cardiovascular disease.

    If you can do at least ten, your risk is lower. If you can do forty, your chances of developing heart disease are very low. 

    Push-ups, and similar upper body exercises like bench pressing, work the muscles in the chest, and increase blood flow to the heart and lungs simultaneously. So, do your push-ups. If you have trouble doing military-style push-ups on the ground, modify the exercise by supporting your lower body weight on your knees, or do them against a table or chair.

    Diet

    If you’re experiencing stress and depression right now, you’re not alone. During times of stress, there is a temptation to eat…eat too much that is. And not just to eat too much, but to eat the wrong things. This is not the time to be experimenting with every type of cookie you can find on the store shelves. This is a time to stick to your dietary disciplines. This is a time for protecting your body from this virus by maintaining a high nutritional level. We’re at home and we have total control over what we eat. Take advantage of this with healthy dietary choices.

    Supplementation

    The immune system is on the front lines right now. It is an army of organs, tissues, and cells and this army may be called upon to fight this virus. Armies run on their bellies, and like any army, the immune system needs to be fed. Some excellent choices for dietary supplementation are:

    • Vitamins D, C, and B6
    • Zinc
    • Green Tea Extract (EGCG)
    • Liposomal Glutathione
    • Quercetin
    • Cistanche

    Meditation

    There are many styles and techniques for meditation. Find one that appeals to you and devote some time each day to its practice. If you don’t already have a meditation technique that you like, here are two methods you can try.

    1. Third Eye Focus – Many teachers of meditation, both past, and present, have taught their students to concentrate and focus their attention on the ‘third eye’. The so-called third eye is a center of energy in our foreheads, between and slightly behind our two eyebrows. It is also the location of our pineal gland. Focusing on this energy center helps both mind and body to relax and refresh. Sit for twenty minutes or so in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus within. While practicing this way, try to see within. With your eyes closed, focus all of your attention on seeing. Focus your inner gaze in the middle of the field in front of you with pin-pointed concentration, but in a way that does not put any tension on the eyes or forehead.
    Many teachers of meditation have taught their students to focus their attention on their third eye.

     

    1. Affirmations – Affirmations are positive thoughts or statements that we can use as a ‘mantra’ to help attract some beneficial reaction. Dr. John Diamond is a U.S. psychiatrist that has integrated Western psychology with Traditional Chinese Medicine. The principal objective behind TCM is to ensure the optimal flow of life energy within the body’s subtle meridian system. We have twelve meridians. Dr. Diamond has developed a series of affirmations that address the emotional characteristics associated with each meridian. The affirmations for the heart and lungs are:

    Heart – “I am full of love, I have faith, courage, trust, and gratitude.”

    Lung – “I am humble, I am tolerant, I am modest.”

    During this pandemic, these two affirmations can go a long way in improving the flow of life energy to the heart and lungs. They can be repeated with the tongue of thought, over and over again throughout the day. They can also be repeated out loud while standing in front of a mirror.

    The heart affirmation is the most important of Dr. Diamond’s affirmations because it addresses the four essential qualities of love; faith, courage, trust, and gratitude. 

    Journaling

    If you enjoy writing, and you keep a journal, this is a great time to record your thoughts, observations, and feelings. We are experiencing an unprecedented world event, and you will one day want to read these entries and contemplate how you experienced it and what you learned from your experience.  

    Beware of Creeping Bad Habits

    Researchers have concluded that it takes about sixty days, on average, to form a new habit. The lockdown is going to last just about sixty days, depending on where we are and how the stay-at-home order is lifted in our area. You must be extra vigilant with your daily routine and make sure you don’t develop any unwanted habits during this lockdown. Here are some things to watch out for.

    1. Set your alarm and get out of bed at the same time you normally would when you go to work.
    2. Make your bed.
    3. Each morning, go through your typical routine of bathing and eating.
    4. Get dressed. Nix the PJ’s. You don’t need to put on a suit and tie, but at least go with casual Friday.
    5. Have your day planned out like it was any other day. If you’re doing work for your employer, focus on it and get it done. If you’ve got a personal or family project to attend to, focus on that and complete it.
    6. If you have children, recognize what a wonderful opportunity this time is to mentor them and give them your love and attention.

    We’ll Get Through This

    We need to continue to remind ourselves that this is temporary. We’ll get beyond this. Hopefully, this global exercise of cooperation and mutual support between peoples and nations will somehow make this world a better place than it was before the pandemic. In that same vein, hopefully, we will also become stronger and wiser from the experience. We can become better workers, friends, lovers, and parents. The choice is ours.


    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24379659
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23630504
    3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0633-x
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/#B17
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9049471
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28029078
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18277063
    8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/
    9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25596964/
    10. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0633-x
    11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S073510971938369X?via%3Dihub
    12. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2724778?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jamanetworkopen.2018.8341

    COVID-19: Quarantine Tips & What We Have Learned

    COVID-19: Quarantine Tips & What We Have Learned

    Many of the victims of COVID-19 who have recovered from their illnesses report lingering, ongoing health-related consequences from the experience. Chris Cuomo, news analyst for CNN, reported that he has experienced brain fog, depression, and scarred lungs since his recovery. Medical professionals have concurred that they too are hearing of these same ‘after-effects’. 

    Physicians have discovered lung scarring in patients who have recovered from Covid-19.

    The after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic/lockdown/distancing phenomena are also going to have a lasting effect on how societies function, going forward. Buried within our psyches will be the indelible realization that the people out there in the world who we want to love and connect with, socialize with, do business with; could also make us sick…potentially gravely sick. Even after we have developed vaccines and treatment regimens for this virus, people will be subconsciously uneasy about the next one.

    These concerns are well-founded. The 1918 flu pandemic, before it had exhausted its three-year run, had claimed the lives of roughly 2.5% of all of the people on earth at that time. They had no medicine to fight it and no understanding of how to prevent its spread through distancing and contact tracing. The drastic measures which are being taken now to quell the spread of COVID-19 are well-founded and necessary.

    Making The Most Out Of This Quarantine

    But to what degree will COVID-19 change us as individuals? Hopefully, if it does change us at all, it will change us for the better. How can we make the most out of this quarantine? Here are some thoughts:

    • Change as little as possible regarding your daily routine
    • Get up at the same time you normally would 
    • Plan out each day like you would any other day
    • Adapt your morning routine and your evening routine to your environment and circumstances
    • Keep in contact with friends and family members with texts, calls, and facetime calls
    • Exercise – adapt your routine to your situation but continue your exercise program
    • Meditate and reflect on the unity that everyone in the world is experiencing through this common experience
    • Embrace the uncertainties we all face and find joy in change
    • Maintain all your good habits and think about how to cultivate new ones 
    • Guard against succumbing to bad habits, such as excessive eating and drinking
    • Try to limit smoking anything right now – protect your lungs
    • Keep yourself busy with productive pursuits 

    Supplements & Dietary Recommendations

    While we wait for the medical establishment to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment protocols, we should prepare for this potential fight by strengthening our body’s immune response capability. Along with healthy dietary choices, exercise, meditation, and other well-being measures, we can supplement our diets with immune-boosting substances, including:

    • Liposomal Glutathione is a natural substance contained in all human cells that defends against free radicals and supports a healthy immune system [1] 
    • Quercetin is a flavonoid that supports immune function and inflammatory response [2] 
    • EGCG, or Green Tea extract, is a potent anti-oxidant, shown to stimulate immune response [3] 
    • Cistanche provides immune support by stimulating the development of naïve T cells and natural killer (NK) cell activity [4] 
    • Vitamin D is an important immune support vitamin, and most people in the U.S. are Vitamin D deficient, especially in this period of ‘stay-at-home’ [5] 
    • Vitamin B6 is useful in supporting some immune system biochemical reactions
    • Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to impaired immunity, and supplementation with high doses of Vitamin C has been shown to enhance the proliferation of B and T cells and helps prevent and treat respiratory infections [6] 
    • Zinc has been shown to be essential to immune system function [7] 
    • A 2003 published research study [8] suggests that echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus may all have immune-boosting abilities 

    How Did We Get Here and What Have We Learned?

    On December 31, 2019, the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China reported to the World Health organization that they had a mysterious cluster of forty-one cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in Wuhan. They also reported that there appeared to be a relationship between the cases and the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was closed down the following day.  

    Chinese wet markets are feared to be potential sources for viral contamination.

    A week later, on January 7, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Health reported that they had identified a new, or novel coronavirus. Four days later, on January 11, China reported its first death from the COVID-19 virus.  

    But where did this novel coronavirus actually originate from and how did it begin to spread within the human population? Through genetic sequencing, scientists have now identified the virus as originating from bats. But the live animal market in Wuhan was basically a combination open-air butcher shop and seafood market. They did not trade in bats.

    Zoonotic Infections – From Bats to Humans

    COVID-19 is a ‘zoonotic’ disease, meaning that it is a virus or pathogenic organism that jumps from a lower species of life to humans. COVID-19 did jump from animals to humans, but probably not directly. Zoonotic viruses can jump first to an intermediary animal, like a bird or mammal, and then once mingled with that animal’s DNA, it can effectively jump to, and infect humans.  In the case of the SARS outbreak in 2003, scientists believe that the original virus jumped from bats to civet cats to humans.

    Zoonotic viruses have been researched by disease specialists for decades. The Coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS, and the H1N1 flu were all zoonotic viruses. Researchers have also traced the origin of the HIV virus to animals. The eating of monkey meat in Western Africa has traditionally been considered a delicacy by certain cultures. Researchers now know that the HIV virus jumped to humans from monkeys, most likely when a butcher cut his own hand with his knife and comingled his blood with the monkey’s contaminated blood. 

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House spokesperson on infectious diseases, believes that the Huanan Seafood Market was the source of the original infection and that all similar markets in China and elsewhere should be shuttered. He stated, “It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down.” The Chinese government announced on February 25th that they had banned the trade and consumption of wild animals. 

    But was the Huanan Market really the source of the virus contamination? Some journalists and research experts aren’t so sure. They believe that the connection to the market had to do more with the crowded, close-quarters that shoppers experience there, with people pushed up against each other, waiting for a merchant to complete their orders. Based on what we now know about Corvid-19 and social distancing, the Huanan market provided the ideal environment for the virus to spread from human to human.

    The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan is in the same neighborhood with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, where scientists have been studying coronaviruses.

    Human Error – Another Possible Source?

    So, if it didn’t originate in the market, where did it originate? The medical journal, ‘The Lancet’, reported in January that the original human infection of COVID-19 had nothing to do with the Huanan market. As it so happens, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a local Wuhan facility situated about one and a half blocks from the market. This facility, in conjunction with the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology, has been conducting tests and publishing papers on their work with coronaviruses. They have reported on their efforts going around China, collecting coronaviruses for research, in the hopes of preventing future illnesses. Did one of their samples leak, or was there some kind of accident in the handling of the virus samples?

    Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist, and biosafety expert told the Washington Post that the first human infection could have occurred as a natural accident involving a laboratory worker. The virus could have passed directly to a human in the lab, or potentially through another animal. He noted that the coronaviruses were studied in Wuhan at a biosafety level of two, which provides only minimal protection. Scientists and health care workers who handle coronavirus samples now in the U.S. work at a biosafety level of four, the highest. Dr. Ebright also reviewed some of the Wuhan research reports and stated that they included accounts of researchers in caves collecting samples without wearing proper safety gear. One account described a researcher being rained upon with bat urine. 

    In February 2020, ResearchGate published a short article written by Botao and Lei Xiao from Guangzhou’s South China University of Technology. Botao was quoted in the article saying, “In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high-risk laboratories.” The article was mysteriously withdrawn shortly after publication.

    Some journalists and politicos will use the question of corvid-19’s origins as an opportunity to play the blame game. However, tracing its origins from bat to human offers the U.S., China, and the rest of the world an opportunity to learn from this pandemic, and use that knowledge to prevent future pandemics. 

    Gauging the Risks

    We’ve been down this road before with SARS and MERS. Each of these two previous coronaviruses ran their course with minimal human suffering and loss of life. 

    The SARS virus was particularly lethal, causing death in nearly fifteen percent of those who became infected. But the SARS virus was contained quickly. When someone got infected, symptoms were severe and they realized they were sick right away. Health officials isolated them and used contract tracing to identify people who had come into contact with infected persons and then tested them. Globally there were only 8000 cases with 774 deaths, none of which were in the U.S. By contrast, COVID-19 appears to cause death in about two percent (or more) of those infected. Another factor with SARS was that the virus itself was not robust enough to endure within the human population.

    The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic eventually infected over 60 million people in the U.S., causing over 12,000 deaths, or .02% of those infected. COVID-19 is about one hundred times more deadly than H1N1, and is just as contagious, if not more so. It also thrives in humans. It is a hearty virus that can remain viable, out in the open, for days. It is for these reasons that Corvid-19 is so dangerous and so deadly.

    We weren’t prepared, psychologically or logistically, for COVID-19. Many people who become infected with it have no symptoms and don’t even realize that they’re infected. It is easily passed onto other people in microscopic water droplets of saliva which emit from our mouths and noses when we breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze. Even the tiniest amount entering our bodies through our mouths, noses, or eyes can infect us. It can also be transmitted through sweat or any other body fluid. We can contrast that with the HIV virus, for example, which can only be transmitted from one person to another by way of internal bodily fluids; blood and/or reproductive fluids. 

    What Have We Learned?

    Every day of this pandemic we learn something new. Some of what we learn are scientific, some are economic, and some is political. Socially, we’re also learning some things about ourselves and each other as we deal with the realities of distancing and isolation. Here are some of the things we’ve learned.

    1. No country on earth, with the possible exception of China and South Korea, was prepared for responding to this pandemic. 
    2. Zoonotic viruses can be highly contagious, perhaps even more contagious than the seasonal flu. 
    3. Zoonotic viruses can be highly robust, remaining viable on surfaces for many days.
    4. Zoonotic viruses can be extremely dangerous, killing as many as 2% or more of those infected. 
    5. The only defense we have against COVID-19, and possible future pandemics for which we have no vaccine, is social distancing and a nearly total shut-down of social and economic activity.
    6. Global trade is a wonderful thing for countries and businesses, but it comes with risks. In the U.S., we are not able to ramp up production on certain vital pieces of medical equipment, like ventilators, because some of the key components in those machines are manufactured in foreign countries. Those foreign suppliers are now unable to supply these parts because of their own pandemic-related realities.
    7. Countries and free societies, like the U.S. and European nations, are more susceptible to pandemics because it is more difficult for their governments to dictate extreme health safety measures to their citizens. 
    8. COVID-19 has no effect on some people it infects while killing others. We know that people with underlying chronic health conditions are more vulnerable. But why some apparently healthy individuals are more susceptible to the virus than others, is a medical mystery. 

    COVID-19 Social and Personal Costs

    The economy is in a maelstrom. But in time, the economy will recover. 

    Our personal relationships have been impacted. In time, we’ll rekindle those connections.

    While we balance on the blade’s edge of this pandemic, we need to continue to be true to ourselves and true to our personal and professional convictions. During this time of isolation, we must be careful not to allow frayed emotions to influence our diets and our wellness routine. Change as little as possible.

    With technology being what it is, we can communicate with others easily and often. Reach out during this crisis to the people you care most about. We’re all experiencing this together and this period of time can actually be an opportunity for bonding and mending fences. 

      Stay Safe, Stay Healthy

      Between now and the time a vaccine is developed and ready for market, stay safe. Follow the experts’ advice. Keep your social distancing. Spend more time at home. Build up your immune response capability. Don’t let your well-being routine be impacted. Stay healthy, stay safe, and remain focused on the positives. If you don’t see them at first, look closer. Every crisis is an opportunity for learning and personal growth.

      References:

      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28853742
      2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27187333
      3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31814545
      4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31295429
      5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23857223
      6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
      7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29186856
      8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888

      Guide to Improving Memory Retention & Recall: Science-Backed Tactics & Supplements

      Guide to Improving Memory Retention & Recall: Science-Backed Tactics & Supplements

      With the copious amounts of stress that we put ourselves through on a daily basis, it is no wonder that our brain can lag at times.

      Our jobs are becoming increasingly more demanding. Personal interactions have taken a backseat to those on social media. Many people are working several jobs just to survive.

      Besides this added stress that is characteristic of the digital era, there are other reasons you might be looking for a guide on how to improve memory recall. Aging-related memory deterioration is natural. The onset of a neurodegenerative disease could be another.

      Before we plunge in, let us look at how memories are formed:

      Memory Formation and What it Entails

      All memories begin with perception. Your nerve cells take the torch from your muscles from there. A synapse is where two nerve cells join and pass each other messages in the form of electrical pulses.

      For the synaptic transfer to occur, your brain must release neurotransmitters. Those chemicals carry the message across to the neighboring cells. Since there are 100 trillion synapses, your brain cells can form as many links and talk to each other. That’s how memories are encoded.

      New experiences lead to newer memories and more connections to be formed within your brain. Thus, everything you do makes your brain organize and reorganize itself in response.

      If you want to get better at something, you should look to reinforcing the memory through repetitive action. Your brain will soon find it easier to repeat the firing of synapses in a particular sequence.

      The result is that you improve at that task. You can also help out your brain by being attentive during that task, so you may recall more details later on.

      From Short to Long-Term Memory Formation

      Each memory begins its lifecycle as perception. Then it is stored for the short term. If it is important, your brain gradually transfers it into long-term memory.

      The more you revisit a memory, the more likely it will for it to end up in long-term memory – and thus, retained. You can recall the memories your brain retains.

      In short, a memory is: Perceived -> Memory encoding -> Retained -> Recalled

      For easy reading, this article is divided into two big chunks. The first one focuses on several mind-sharpening and memory-aiding natural ingredients. In that section, you’ll find a discussion on how these substances can help and what their sources are. The next part centers on various strategies – besides dietary choices -- that you may employ to keep your brain young and active.

      The B’s and C’s of Improving Memory Retention

      Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic Acid)

      With this vitamin are associated a multitude of benefits. In our bodies, vitamin B5 acts as the coenzyme A (CoA). According to a report in Vitamins and Hormones[1], CoA is involved in numerous chemical reactions. It is also an important part of the process that turns carbs into glucose. This converted product increases your resilience and makes you feel less tired when under stress. 

      The University of Maryland Medical Center counsels that like the other B vitamins, B5 is also essential for a healthy nervous system. All the Bs are water-soluble, so our bodies cannot store them. Moreover, your brain cannot synthesize B5 by itself. Therefore, your diet needs to contain an adequate amount of this nutrient. 

      Luckily, it is a part of many delicious foods. So, when you munch on the following, you will be getting healthy doses of vitamin B5:

      • Avocado
      • Spinach
      • Banana
      • Sunflower seeds
      • Meats (all varieties)

      Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

      If we are talking vitamins, we cannot deny the role of B9. It can boost your brain’s cognitive powers. Students looking for viable ways about how to memorize and ace their tests may find this interesting. In the study[2] on 166 people with different types of dementia, researchers saw that the patients’ folate levels were down. The pattern was similar for people who had any of the three types of dementia – mixed, vascular, and Alzheimer’s.

      Moreover, in a review, it became clear that falling folic acid levels are linked with cognitive impairment. The risk of mild cognitive impairment becomes higher with dwindling levels of folic acid. 

      Finally, a ScienceDirect article shows that high doses of folic acid may improve memory test scores. The participants in the experiment were 50-75 years old but healthy. Their scores after the dose were similar to individuals 5.5 years younger than them! Folic acid also increased their cognitive speed scores to match those of people 1.9 years younger than the participants.

      So, if you are looking for foods to chomp on that can fulfill your recommended amount of folic acid requirements, try:

      • Leafy green vegetables, such as iceberg, lettuce, and spinach
      • Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and orange
      • Pasta
      • Beans
      • Cereals
      • Bread
      • Rice

      Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)

      Another answer to the query, how to improve memory, comes in the form of another B vitamin, i.e., B12. Research indicates that due to a deficiency of this vitamin, we could experience memory loss. This effect is more severe in older adults. 

      But what brain-enriching secrets is this nutrient hiding? For one, it can prevent brain atrophy. When our neurons start to die due to age or dementia, the brain can atrophy. Vitamin B12 can improve matters. In one study[3], we see a decrease in mental decline in people who had early-stage dementia. Researchers were using supplements of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid. In another[4], the result of falling vitamin B12 levels was poor memory performance. Therefore, even if your body isn’t deficient in B12, regular doses may boost your memory.

      What foods contain vitamin B12? It is a part of many animal-based foods, including meat, fish, poultry, seafood, pork, dairy, and eggs! However, if you make clams and liver a part of your diet, you can get 60 and 100 times more vitamin B12 than you’d get from beef or eggs. 

      Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

      Enough about the Bs, let us look at the role vitamin C plays in memory-protection as we age. When considering how to improve memory recall, pay attention to this nutrient. Two of the leading causes that put us at an increased risk[5] for dementia are oxidative stress and an inflammation near the brain, nerves, or spine. Vitamin C is one of nature’s solutions to both those maladies since it is a strong antioxidant.

      When its levels are dangerously low, we find it harder to think[6] and recall[7]. studies[8] on people with dementia, their blood profile also showed plummeting levels[9] of vitamin C! Both via food or through supplements, vitamin C intake protects us from the effects of aging on thinking and memory[10]

      To keep this vitamin in your life and diet, try citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, green peppers, white potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.

      Other Neuroprotective and Memory-Improving Nootropics

      Lion's Mane

      A mushroom that has neuroprotective qualities[11], the Lion’s mane also improves memory.

      Uridine

      Besides being an important part of the RNA in our bodies, Uridine stimulates neurogenesis – an integral[12] process that improves cognitive function and memory.

      Bacopa monnieri

      Bacopa monnieri[13] is well-known in Ancient Indian medicine or Ayurveda. It promotes learning and has function in memory improvement.

      Alpha-GPC

      A bioavailable cholinergic[14], Alpha-GPC prevents cognitive decline, which is one of the main reasons we can develop disorders like Alzheimer’s. The compound also improves neuron communication.

      Pine Bark Extract

      This nootropic compound[15] directs more blood flow to the brain. Thus, it has a hand in improving your working memory. 

      Huperzine-A

      Since Huperzine-A stops the decomposition of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, it affects cognitive and memory-retentive functions in a positive manner.

      Bioperine®

      Black pepper-extracted piperine[16] can be found in Bioperine. It should be taken with other nootropic compounds, since it facilitates their absorption. 

      DHA

      DHA[17], an omega-3 fatty acid, helps new brain cells grow and results in improved memory.

      Still wondering how to improve memory retention through supplements? Our nootropic supplement, metaMEMORY — part of the metaBRAIN box — is full of all these memory-enhancing nutrients and more. 

      Tips on How to Memorize 

      We cannot succeed without focusing on the memorization of important details. Whether you’re a student struggling to remember important dates in history or an employee in charge of a project, you cannot afford to forget significant stuff. 

      Below you’ll find some tips to assist you in doing exactly that:

      Write Summaries for Better Understanding

      Whenever you are studying or reading any material that you will need to memorize, start by summarizing each paragraph as you go. Don’t worry about the language or grammar. Just focus on writing it in a way that you find understandable. Doing so can help you retain the information you record! 

      Form Associations with Things you Know

      A great strategy regarding how to memorize stuff has to do with forming a mental connection. Usually, relating something new to what you already know can help you remember it later. It is also why using mnemonics[18] can bring improvement to recall.

      Say No to Multitasking

      While it may surprise you, it is nevertheless true. Multitasking defeats the purpose of practicing any of the other tips on how to memorize. Yes, in our technology-driven world, it is difficult to find a true moment of single-purpose action. We are always doing several things at once. Texting while eating, for example, is how most of us would define dinnertime!

      Even so, this study clarifies that instead of making us more efficient, multitasking is undermining our ability to do something well. It takes our mental gears some time to shift from one task to another. We waste that time when we keep switching between multiple tasks.

      Grow your Own Memory Tree

      A successful suggestion for you if you are looking for ways on how to memorize stuff is to put them on your memory tree. For example, when faced with a huge number of facts, relate them by visually placing them on your memory tree. 

      To make this happen, begin with the thickest and biggest branches. As they are formed, label them in a way that is personally meaningful to you. Then organize leaves on them in the order that seems right – again, to you! Then move on to slender or smaller branches. This is similar to chunking information to make it easier to recall.

      Tips on How to Improve Memory

      Improving how your brain stores memories or forms them can also be helpful. Here are some tricks in that area too:

      Train the Brain

      If you want to determine how to improve memory, start training your brain! In essence, it is very similar to going to a gym to build muscles. A trial in PLoS One[19] showed that people doing only 15 minutes of brain training activities throughout the week exhibited improved brain function. That included their working memory, problem solving skills, and short term memory. 

      A great way to get into a mental workout is by visiting the website Lumosity. Do the activities, solve the puzzles, etc., there to train the brain.

      Say Om! for Another How to Improve Memory Trick 

      We refer to meditation here because it can help improve your working memory. That’s the one you use every day. Research on participants who had no experience in mindfulness meditation shows that it only took them eight weeks to start benefiting from it. Meditation can also improve standardized test scores[20] in just two weeks!

      Exercise could Help Jog your Memory

      Regular exercise has so many benefits. Two great ones are improvement in memory recall and spatial memory[21]. Don’t like hitting the weights? That’s okay. Just go for a quick walk and see how it ignites your brain functions.

      Tips on How to Improve Memory Recall 

      Imagine life and how great it would be if you could recall every detail from an article that you read two days ago. No dice? How about the one you read just yesterday? Not that either? Okay, let us aim for an article that you read several hours ago. Were you able to succeed this time? Great, but we have even better news in this regard. You can improve your memory recall. It will just take practicing some of the valuable tricks mentioned below: 

      Take Learning Very Personally

      How to improve memory recall becomes quite doable if you can tailor how you learn to how you like learning the most. Most of us favor one of the three learning styles:

      1. Visual
      2. Auditory
      3. Kinesthetic

      If this is the first, you’re hearing of these styles, it is okay. Just focus on subjects that you are really good at -- or test well for. Then consider the way you study for them or approach them. You’ll likely realize that your learning style for these subjects doesn’t match the one for others. The learning style that works for you should be the one you affect for everything else too. 

      Now, visual learning is all about pictures, infographics, and diagrams. Listening to the audio version of information to learn it refers to the auditory way. Kinesthetic is linked with interaction with information in some form, way, or shape. So, pick the style you prefer and stick with it!

      Be a Foreigner in your own Home

      When considering ways on how to improve memory recall, think about becoming bilingual. Do that because, for one, it is good for the brain. That’s because you continually ask your brain to recall information and translate it into another language. 

      Secondly, when you learn another language, you make your brain exercise whenever you talk with people. Conversation stimulates the production of healthy chemicals, such as cortisol[22]

      How to Improve Memory Retention 

      Finally, while it is great to improve the way you recall or memorize things, it is equally essential to work on how to improve memory retention. After all, how your brain stores information will influence how well it can recall it later. The following suggestions come highly recommended:

      Keep Chewing

      Because it helps you build stronger memories! When facing new information, stick a piece of gum in your maw and chew. This study portrays how this action lent more accuracy to the completion of memory recall tasks and increased reaction times in participants. 

      Another one postulates that due to a higher heart rate, the brains of the participants who chewed gum received more oxygen. Thus, they did better on memory recall tests than others!

      Be Interested Rather than Interesting

      Or both. But only the former will be helpful in how to improve memory retention. That’s because we don’t forget what interests us. Think about the cutest individual you’ve met. Do you remember their name? Why? Because this trick works!

      Therefore, being intrinsically interested in what you're learning will assist your brain in retaining that information. Don’t find the Krebs’s cycle remotely exciting? Well mate, you’d better find ways on how to make it so to ace your Biology exam. 

      So, were you looking for how to improve memory? Did you find any tips that you can use?

       

      References

      [1] Tahiliani AG, Beinlich CJ. Pantothenic acid in health and disease. Vitam Horm. 1991;46:165-228. Review. PubMed PMID: 1746161.

      [2] Reynolds, E H. “Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 324,7352 (2002): 1512-5. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7352.1512

      [3] Oulhaj, Abderrahim et al. “Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status Enhances the Prevention of Cognitive Decline by B Vitamins in Mild Cognitive Impairment.” Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD vol. 50,2 (2016): 547-57. doi:10.3233/JAD-150777

      [4] Köbe T, Witte AV, Schnelle A, Grittner U, Tesky VA, Pantel J, Schuchardt JP, Hahn A, Bohlken J, Rujescu D, Flöel A. Vitamin B-12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;103(4):1045-54. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.116970. Epub 2016 Feb 24. PubMed PMID: 26912492.

      [5] Bennett S, Grant MM, Aldred S. Oxidative stress in vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease: a common pathology. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(2):245-57. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2009-1041. Review. PubMed PMID: 19221412.

      [6] Goodwin JS, Goodwin JM, Garry PJ. Association between nutritional status and cognitive functioning in a healthy elderly population. JAMA. 1983 Jun 3;249(21):2917-21. PubMed PMID: 6842805.

      [7] Gale CR, Martyn CN, Cooper C. Cognitive impairment and mortality in a cohort of elderly people. BMJ. 1996 Mar 9;312(7031):608-11. PubMed PMID: 8595334; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2350374.

      [8] von Arnim CA, Herbolsheimer F, Nikolaus T, Peter R, Biesalski HK, Ludolph AC, Riepe M, Nagel G; ActiFE Ulm Study Group. Dietary antioxidants and dementia in a population-based case-control study among older people in South Germany. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(4):717-24. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120634. PubMed PMID: 22710913.

      [9] Charlton KE, Rabinowitz TL, Geffen LN, Dhansay MA. Lowered plasma vitamin C, but not vitamin E, concentrations in dementia patients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(2):99-107. PubMed PMID: 14978605.

      [10] Paleologos M, Cumming RG, Lazarus R. Cohort study of vitamin C intake and cognitive impairment. Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Jul 1;148(1):45-50. PubMed PMID: 9663403.

      [11] Sabaratnam V, Kah-Hui W, Naidu M, Rosie David P. Neuronal health - can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help? J Tradit Complement Med. 2013 Jan;3(1):62-8. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.106549. Review. PubMed PMID: 24716157; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3924982.

      [12] Dobolyi A, Juhász G, Kovács Z, Kardos J. Uridine function in the central nervous system. Curr Top Med Chem. 2011;11(8):1058-67. Review. PubMed PMID: 21401495.

      [13] Kumar H, More SV, Han SD, Choi JY, Choi DK. Promising therapeutics with natural bioactive compounds for improving learning and memory--a review of randomized trials. Molecules. 2012 Sep 3;17(9):10503-39. doi: 10.3390/molecules170910503. Review. PubMed PMID: 22945029; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6268692.

      [14] Parker, A.G., Byars, A., Purpura, M. et al. The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, P41 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P41

      [15] Verlaet, Annelies A J et al. “Effect of Pycnogenol® on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.” Trials vol. 18,1 145. 28 Mar. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13063-017-1879-6

      [16] Wattanathorn J, Chonpathompikunlert P, Muchimapura S, Priprem A, Tankamnerdthai O. Piperine, the potential functional food for mood and cognitive disorders. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Sep;46(9):3106-10. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.06.014. Epub 2008 Jun 29. PubMed PMID: 18639606.

      [17] Lauritzen L, Brambilla P, Mazzocchi A, Harsløf LB, Ciappolino V, Agostoni C. DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 4;8(1). pii: E6. doi: 10.3390/nu8010006. Review. PubMed PMID: 26742060; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4728620.

      [18] Glynn, Shawn; et al. (2003). Mnemonic Methods. The Science Teacher. pp. 52–55

      [19] Hardy, Joseph L et al. “Enhancing Cognitive Abilities with Comprehensive Training: A Large, Online, Randomized, Active-Controlled Trial.” PloS one vol. 10,9 e0134467. 2 Sep. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134467

      [20] Mrazek MD, Franklin MS, Phillips DT, Baird B, Schooler JW. Mindfulness training improves working memory capacity and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering. Psychol Sci. 2013 May;24(5):776-81. doi: 10.1177/0956797612459659. Epub 2013 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 23538911.

      [21] Hillman CH, Erickson KI, Kramer AF. Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jan;9(1):58-65. Review. PubMed PMID: 18094706.

      [22] Fancourt, Daisy et al. “Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers.” Ecancermedicalscience vol. 10 631. 5 Apr. 2016, doi:10.3332/ecancer.2016.631

       

       

      Achieving Flow State: A State of Peak Performance & Happiness

      Achieving Flow State: A State of Peak Performance & Happiness

      What is Flow?

      The state of flow takes place when a person’s attention is so immersed in a given activity, that his sense of self-awareness is lost for some time, replaced by a union of consciousness between the subject and the activity itself. 

      This absorption into the activity is so complete, that everything else which is going on around the person, is completely blocked out. The person’s attention has withdrawn, or ‘disengaged’ from the outside world and all thoughts which are unrelated to the activity.

      The entire person, both body and mind, are fully invested in the activity. Achieving this state of flow enhances the performance of the activity, while creating a sense of genuine satisfaction and happiness. 

      A ten-year study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute research organization, a division of the McKinsey & Co. management consulting firm, showed that executives found themselves 500% more effective when in a state of flow.

      The experience of flow is actually fairly common and is something which every person has experienced, although some people seem to achieve it easier. After experiencing flow, some have used the popular expression, “I was in the zone”. Older hipsters might remember the expression, “I was in the groove”. 

      Unraveling The Mystery of Flow

      A popular 1990 book entitled, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”, by Hungarian-American psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is gaining a resurgence of interest amongst active people who are looking to enhance their levels of performance and life satisfaction. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, and Hungarian surnames, a phonetic clue to his first and last name is: “me-high, cheek-sent-me-high”.  

      Csikszentmihalyi is considered to be a co-founder of a branch of psychology known as positive psychology, which explores the phenomenon of human happiness and its causes. His journey to positive psychology began while, as a young man in Switzerland, he attended a lecture by the famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. 

      He was so impressed by what he learned that he began studying all of Jung’s published works. This ultimately led him to emigrate to the United States where he took up the study of psychology at the University of Chicago. Today, he is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University.

      In his book, Csikszentmihalyi has identified eight characteristics of flow:

      1. Complete concentration on the task;
      2. Goals and anticipated reward are clear;
      3. Disorientation with the sense of time;
      4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
      5. Performing the activity seems effortless;
      6. There is a balance between the activity’s challenge and a person’s abilities;
      7. The action itself and the person’s awareness are merged;
      8. There is a feeling of control over the activity.

      How to Get Into the Flow State

      Naturally, those who have studied Csikszentmihalyi’s work have become interested in the flow experience, particularly how to enter flow state.

      Being in flow state requires a high level of concentration and focused attention. But there are other factors which help determine whether or not a flow state experience is feasible. 

      The activity in which a person is engaged must be a familiar activity. Getting into flow necessitates moving the intellect out of the way. 

      When we engage in a new, or relatively unfamiliar activity, our left-brain hemisphere and our intellect are both engaged, because we have to ‘think’ our way through the activity. We are not yet adept enough in it to do it spontaneously and effortlessly. 

      So, along with the activity being one in which we are already somewhat proficient, there are other factors which can help.

      1. There is a specific goal or outcome from the activity that we strive to achieve.
      2. It is an activity that we enjoy or are passionate about.
      3. The activity offers a challenge, but a realistic challenge.
      4. The activity offers an opportunity for us to expand our skill level.

      flow state chart

      Balancing Challenge and Skill Level

      There is an important balance which must be struck between challenge and skill level. If the challenge is too far beyond one’s level of skills, he becomes anxious and stressed. His mind becomes diverted and he can’t relax and let go. Conversely, when his level of skill exceeds the extent of the challenge, he becomes bored and distracted.

      The optimal relationship between challenge and skill lies somewhere in the middle, where there is sufficient challenge to attract one’s focus, but not so much that the level of challenge creates a distraction.

      Activities That Can Lead to Flow

      There are many types of activities we can engage in which can offer opportunities to achieve flow. Some of the more obvious examples involve athletic, physical, and recreational activities.

      Surfing

      A surfer, for example, who has surfed for many years and who has achieved a level of proficiency in his surfing, can easily experience the flow state.

      There is nothing there but him and the ocean. His physical movements, which are needed to balance and position himself on the board as he adjusts to the movement of the water, are all spontaneous, reactionary, and intuitive. His ‘muscle memory’ takes over, and he goes on autopilot.

      Each wave is unique so each wave offers him a new challenge. This is one reason why surfers love to surf, because it is an easy way to achieve flow.

      Surfing leads to happiness because it lends itself to experiencing flow.

      Art & Music

      Arts, like music, also provide opportunities to achieve flow.

      An improvisational musician, one who plays spontaneously by ear, has already mastered the technical skills of the instrument. When he plays, he goes into the same autopilot that the surfer does.

      His intuitive skills take over and he gets lost in his performance. All that exists for him in this state is his instrument and the sounds.

      Even an orchestral performer, who plays off of a written musical score, can experience flow, as long as he already knows the music by heart, and he is challenged by it in some way.

      Video Games

      Mundane activities, like playing video games, also offer opportunities to experience the flow state. A player, who is skilled at the game, gets lost in the activity.

      His muscle memory takes over. His vision and his corresponding, responsive hand movements all happen automatically. He is fully absorbed in the game, and nothing outside of the game itself exists for him, while playing. The big pay-off for video game enthusiasts is flow.

      Nootropics and Flow

      One question regarding flow which has arisen is; “to what extent can our foods and food supplementation enhance our ability to enter the flow state?”

      Nootropics are a class of natural and synthetic substances that are used to enhance cognitive function, especially the ability to concentrate and focus. They are also used to boost memory, creativity, intelligence, and motivation.

      Caffeine, Rhodiola rosea, Ginkgo biloba, and Bacopa monnieri are four of the many nootropic compounds that have been shown to improve concentration levels and cotnigive function. 

      We formulated one of our flagship nootropics, metaFOCUS around helping individuals get into flow state. It has been shown to increase mental clarity, improve our speed and ability to process information, and to augment our ability to enter the flow state.

      The product has been especially designed to assist someone engaged in any strenuous or highly-concentrated activity. This includes athletics, physical recreation, bodybuilding, physical labor, artistic activities like music and dance, studying, and intellectual work.

      The metaFOCUS Formulation

      B-Vitamins – A growing body of research supports the relationship between B-Vitamin supplementation and cognitive enhancement. metaFOCUS contains B5, B6, B9, and B12.

      Acetyl-L-Carnitine – L-Carnitine is an important amino acid, produced in the kidney and liver, important in heart and brain function. It acts as an anti-oxidant within the brain. Research has linked l-Carnitine to enhanced mental focus and cognitive function.

      Artichoke extract – Artichoke contains a phytochemical, ‘cynarin’, that possesses a variety of pharmacological features including free-radical scavenging and antioxidant activity. It is believed that cynarin acts as a potential chemo-preventive against genotoxic agents in the brain.

      DL-Phenylalanine – L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in a variety of foods. It acts as a neurotransmitter and is a precursor to some vital biological molecules including tyrosine and epinephrine (adrenaline).

      Alpha-Lipoic Acid – Alpha-Lipoic Acid is an organic molecule found in human cells, and is involved in transforming nutrients into energy. Supplementation with Alpha-Lipoic Acid has been shown to boost physical energy and mental focus. It has also been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

      Cognizin®Cognizin® has been shown to support healthy, functioning neurons, even helping to repair damaged neurons. One research study supports the ‘neuroprotective’ activity of Cognizin®:

      The role of Cognizin® in cognitive impairment

      “Cognizin® appears to be a promising agent to improve cognitive impairment, especially of vascular origin. In fact, it appears as a supplement with the ability to promote "safe" neuroprotection, capable of enhancing endogenous protection.”

      Phosphatidylserine – Phosphatidylserine is a type of fat compound called a phospholipid, which can be found in your brain. Numerous research studies have linked phosphatidylserine to brain health and cognitive enhancement. One study concluded;

      “Phosphatidylserine…safely slows, halts, or reverses biochemical alterations and structural deterioration in nerve cells. It supports human cognitive functions, including the formation of short-term memory, the consolidation of long-term memory, the ability to create new memories, the ability to retrieve memories, the ability to learn and recall information, the ability to focus attention and concentrate, the ability to reason and solve problems, language skills, and the ability to communicate. It also supports locomotor functions, especially rapid reactions and reflexes.”

      Ginkgo biloba extract – It has long been known that Ginkgo biloba has brain-boosting qualities. One research study demonstrated its efficacy in treating young people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The study concluded: "Ginkgo biloba is an effective complementary treatment for ADHD. [SOURCE]

      Coleus Forskohlii extract - A study conducted by the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that Coleus forskohlii significantly enhanced weight loss. It has also been shown to increase strength and work intensity.

      A molecule within Forskolin, known as cAMP, has been shown to regulate alertness and productivity, as do L-phenylalanine and Acetyl-l-Carnitine. 

      So, can a nootropic supplement, like metaFOCUS, help us get into the flow state? It definitely can.

      The supplement was formulated to aid in concentration and focus, both of which are essential components of flow. metaFOCUS can enhance day-to-day activities, such as, work, recreation, study, and athletics. 

      Flow and Classical Yoga: West meets East

      There isn’t anything new about flow, even though a contemporary scholar, Csikszentmihalyi, has expounded on the subject. What is new is how the recognition of flow is being presented to people now, in the twenty-first century, by a modern psychologist.

      Csikszentmihalyi has simply observed a natural human experience of consciousness which already existed. He also articulated his observations in a smart and very practical way through his book. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi recognized that when a person is in the state of flow, his performance is enhanced and the experience tends to produce happiness.

      If an individual could somehow live his entire life like this, in a perpetual state of flow, he would become a highly productive individual, and he would have achieved that cherished, and somewhat elusive human objective; happiness.

      A Brief History of Yoga

      Ancient Indian sages understood flow in the context of yoga and their spiritual endeavors. Yoga, when used in this context, refers to ‘Classical Yoga’, also known as ‘Ashtang Yoga’.

      Today, here in America in the twenty-first century, when we hear the word ‘yoga’, we think of a room full of (mostly) females with little rolled-up mats and tight pants. When considering flow in relation to Classical Yoga, we would have to agree with Solomon, that there is “nothing new under the sun”. 

      Modern, Western yoga bears little resemblance to Classical Yoga. Classical yoga is actually more akin to what we today would call meditation. The goal of the practice of yoga is to achieve Samadhi; to merge the lower self with the Higher self, or God. 

      Classical yoga is expounded upon in the Yoga Sutras, one of six components to the Vedas, perhaps humanity’s oldest collection of philosophical literature.  

      The Yoga Sutras were written around 600 BCE by a great yogic master named Patanjali. It provides a framework of eight components, or ‘branches’, upon which a multitude of styles and applications of yoga can be, and have been, established. 

      Four of these eight components of Classical Yoga are in play when we experience flow. 

      1. Pratyahara
      2. Dharana
      3. Dhyana
      4. Samadhi

      Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the Senses

      Pratyahara is the process of withdrawing the attention from outside, and diverting it inwardly, to experience the cosmic realms. 

      In flow, the attention is withdrawn from thoughts and actions which are not involved in the subject activity.

      Dharana: Concentration of the Mind

      Dharana is the concentrated focus of the attention. 

      In yoga, there are many possible targets for the attention, depending on the style of meditation that the person is practicing. In flow, the attention is focused and fully absorbed in the activity itself.

      Dhyana: Contemplative Concentration

      Dhyana is the ensuing experience of the concentrated attention, moving forward in time.

      In yoga, it is contemplation or meditation. In flow, this relates to the performance of the activity, once fully absorbed concentration is achieved.

      Samadhi: Higher State of Consciousness

      Samadhi is the complete loss of self, a timeless state where the contemplator is merged with the contemplated. It is a state where the witness (awareness), that which is being witnessed, and the process of witnessing (awareness) are unified as one.

      Flow is a type of samadhi. It is a distant cousin, but it is related. The principal difference is that true Samadhi can only be experienced in a relaxed, motionless state. Flow is a state akin to Samadhi, but it is experienced in an awakened state of action and movement.

      Concentration - The Key to Flow State

      The principal element in both flow and yoga is the attention itself. The attention is the most significant, and most powerful component of our consciousness.

      It is the essence of our life energy. It is who and what we are. When we concentrate ourselves in our attention, everything is possible. Everything is better, enhanced.

      The headquarters of the attention is in the forehead, between and slightly behind our eyebrows. Yogis call this point the sixth chakra, or ‘ajna’ chakra (or third eye). It shares the same physical space with the pineal gland within the brain. 

      Indian sages claim that the attention is the outward expression of the human soul. It is the essence of life and of consciousness. They also claim that the attention has a quality, which is bliss. 

      In flow, we are in a state of concentrated attention, and this is why we experience happiness, because the essential nature of attention itself is bliss.

      14 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your Workflow

      14 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your Workflow

      At the end of your day, do you feel like you could have gotten more done? Maybe you could have completed more tasks if you cut out distractions or implemented efficiency tactics.

      After a long day’s work, you should feel satisfied; a sense of accomplishment and completion. These feelings can become the norm through a few productivity tools and hacks.

      Most of us are well-trained and skilled in our job duties and tasks, so we normally don’t bother to explore ways to improve our productivity, although some of the things we do could be done better.

      You can use these productivity tools to enhance your ability to get more done throughout the day.

      Focus on One Task at a Time

      This is sometimes known as the Pomodoro System or Pomodoro Technique. It consists of breaking down your tasks into 25-minute intervals and taking short breaks in between tasks. In this way, you concentrate on one task. You abandon the idea of multitasking. You are focused on the singular task at hand and completely in the zone.

      You also have a sense of urgency when you’re on the clock and you forget trying to fine-tune your work. Stress levels are also reduced because you focus on one task at a time instead of trying to get everything done at once.

      Mobile Apps for Increasing Productivity

      There are a variety of apps on the market that can increase your productivity, whether for handling your emails, notes, financials, reading, etc., and many are free to download. For example, there are apps for grocery shopping, writing, notes, banking, and other mundane tasks.

      You can really take advantage of technology to increase productivity whether you’re in the office or somewhere else.

      Here is a list of some free apps to explore, which can increase your productivity:

      • ‘Todoist’ - a great to-do list manager
      • ‘Keeper’ - a password manager
      • ‘Shoeboxed’ - for expense tracking
      • ‘Evernote’ – Evernote is essentially a second brain. You can record ALL of your notes on Evernote, whether it’s a thought you’ve been pondering, or notes on a book you’ve been reading, or perhaps for one you’re thinking about writing.

      The “Two-Minute” Do-It-Now Rule

      There are many tasks that pop-up during your day and they eventually begin to stack up.

      Before you decide whether or not to complete a task, ask yourself, “Can it be completed in two minutes?” If it can be completed in two minutes or less, do it now! If the task will take longer than two minutes, add it to your to-do list but make sure to prioritize it appropriately.

      Write Down Your Most Important Tasks

      Eliminate ambiguity in your workday. Ambiguity can be a productivity killer and a time waster. It has become increasingly important, in an age of perpetual distraction, to prioritize the most important tasks. Take some time in the morning to decide which tasks are the most important ones to your overall vision and address those first.

      This practice will help you overcome procrastination and take things off your mind while taking action on a more consistent basis.

      Create a Schedule to Check Emails

      It’s easy to get sidetracked checking your emails dozens of times a day, especially if you have multiple email addresses. Turn off your email notifications because if you log-in to your email, you’ll end up not only responding to one email but many emails and then you’ll begin organizing them. Instead, choose only a few, specific times each day.

      I recommend checking your email once in the morning, again before lunch, and another toward the end of your workday.

      Eliminate Website Distractions

      There are many websites on the internet that are so, so interesting, but very distracting.

      These sites can ruin your productivity. Block those sites on your work computer to increase your productivity level. You can find an effective website blocker if you simply “google it.”

      Practice Saying “No”

      For many people, it is difficult to say “no” to requests from certain people. Some people want to use or manipulate others. You must practice saying “no” sometimes. Otherwise, these people will kill your productivity.

      You can simply let people know that “you’re too busy now and that you’ll let them know if you can get to it later,” as an example.

      Listen to Music

      You can increase your focus, concentration, and productivity level by listening to certain types of music. It takes some experimentation to figure out what music works best for you since people react differently to different types of music.

      There are apps available that provide music that has been scientifically proven to increase productivity. One such example is Brain.fm.

      Use a Password Manager

      It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to remember our passwords for the various sites we peruse.

      Download a password manager program like LastPass which will remember but encrypt your passwords to keep them safe. This way you can simply log-in without entering your password each time.

      Yoga or Meditate Each Morning

      Meditation is about concentrating or focusing on one thing and blocking out all distractions.

      Studies have shown that both meditation and yoga can decrease stress, enhance creativity, increase focus, and improve memory.

      You can begin by meditating or doing yoga for a few minutes each morning. As your practice becomes more routine, you can lengthen the duration of each practice.

      Natural Sunlight, Indoors and Outdoors

      Open your blinds first thing in the morning to get started with some healthy natural light.

      Natural light will improve your mood and your outlook throughout the day. You’ll find yourself being more productive while performing everyday tasks. Sunshine has been shown to facilitate better sleep and an overall better quality of life.

      If you live in an area with limited sunlight, remember to take a vitamin-D supplement. Studies show that only about 10 minutes of direct sunlight are needed for your daily dose.

      Read What Inspires You

      A great way to begin your productive day is to read something, or write something about a subject that you are keenly interested in or passionate about.

      You should choose something that you’re curious about and something which can possibly give you talking points with others throughout the day. Inspirational passages can give us the strength we need each and every morning to get through even the most difficult of times and encourage us to push forward when challenges arise.

      But don’t spend the entire day reading or writing. Invest 15-20 minutes and move on to the next task.

      Other Productivity Tools and Hacks

      • Don’t forget to put your laptop away for a few hours a day, if possible.
      • Take time to rest your body and mind.
      • Track your time and tasks with an app.
      • Intentionally plan your day in the morning.
      • Wake up a little earlier to get the most out of your morning between 6-9am.
      • Alter your environment a bit.

      There are many ways to increase productivity. Mold your productivity-enhancing activities according to what works with your body, mind, and schedule. Utilize the above productivity tools and hacks on a regular basis and you’ll see your productivity skyrocket.

      Feed Your Brain With Nootropics

      One of the most powerful and efficient tools for maintaining a high level of productivity is with a nootropic supplement like metaBRAIN.

      metaBRAIN is a three-supplement box designed for peak mental performance. The three supplements are centered around focus, memory, and drive, formulated with a total of 31 powerhouse nootropic ingredients.

      We created metaBRAIN® for the high-achiever like you looking to perform and feel their best each day. Whether you're an entrepreneur, college student, athlete, or professional gamer—metaBRAIN® can be the edge to dominate your competition, excel in your field, and take your life to the next level.