Author: Dr Angel Adams

Where Did the Day Go?

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep”. This is what Shakespeare wrote in his play, The Tempest. This poetic image conjures up the image of people who go through each day of their lives in a sleep state, oblivious to the sometimes subtle, sometimes glorious aspects of their world. On rare occasions, they awaken acutely to their awareness of living. In these moments they might discover that they experience real life like queens and kings, gods and goddesses, because they woke up and remembered who they are and what they came here for. This article is the first of a three part series on ways to pay attention to your world through three different lenses.

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The Real Things to be Desired

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . and so begins Dickens’ great Tale of Two Cities. He was writing in the nineteenth century about the eighteenth century, but it seems he could have been writing about the twenty first century. It’s a fabulous time of year, the sights are spectacular, the aromas surround us, people are wearing fuzzy hats and furry boots and children are riding brilliantly coloured sledges and toboggans in the snow. In the run up to Christmas the toy stores, grocery stores, and department stores are counting on making half their profits for the whole year. The world of electronics is off the board with gadgets of every kind, toys for every child’s whim and tools that capture our grown-up imagination. It’s become normal, it’s sensational, but it’s out of control. People are struggling financially to make ends meet, and we are still running around trying to have the same kind of holiday season we think everyone expects us to have. The UK newspapers write about the “Big Chill” and how middle class families are among millions of Britons who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, and the elderly ride on buses all day to stay in the warm. What is wrong with this picture? How can we be mindful of the true suffering of others?

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Never Hurry Through the World

With the arriving of the winter weather this week, I was ever so conscious that the delicious deciduous trees will soon become barren. Just last month when walking through Richmond Park, I saw the green leaves of the Sugar Maples transforming into vivid orange coloured foliage and the Field Maple leaves giving way to subtle yellow. This tree is said to be associated with the heart and love and can bring contentment to those who are burdened by responsibility.

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The Benefits of Facing our Fears with Compassion

Shine the light of compassion on all that frightens you to find healing and freedom.
-Tara Brach

Copyright 2010 George Buchanan

In our article last week we discussed how neuroscience has shown us that we are actually rigged to experience anxiety and rapidly remember negative experiences as one way that has helped the human species to survive. The good news here is called neuroplasticity, which is our brain’s ability to change its response to our experiences and alters its structure. Therefore, when fear comes to us like menacing black crows or ravens looming above, we have the ability to not only stand and face them, but to befriend them with loving kindness. We can bring our attention and awareness to our fear and treat it tenderly and gently without judgement, without running away or letting it threaten us. Thich Nhat Hanh states that “loving kindness” is “mindfulness”. What he means is that when anxiety or fears are present, we can also to invite mindfulness to be present as well. He likens it to a mother soothing her frightened baby as long as it takes until the crying subsides. This simple process is transformative. Read more

Flying pelican

How to Train Your Brain to Take the Edge Off Anxiety

This is the time of year when the holidays bring more consumerism and people tend to become more stressed. Yet no matter what the season, we all worry over health issues, family problems, job or school related demands, children with special needs, our mistakes, not getting approval from others, or the fact that there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done, to name a few. Sometimes we know how to ease our worries by better self-care, more quality time with family, or slowing down and getting our priorities straight. It is refreshing to wake up after a good night’s rest and feel ready for a new day. It helps to have taken care of business the day or night before, so we know fairly well what to expect from the day in front of us. But what about the days where you can’t control what is ahead of you?

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How to Improve Memory and Relish its Importance in Daily Life

by Dr Angel Adams and Dr Patricia Papciak

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.
(Hamlet Act IV, Scene V)

Rosemary herb plant

From the encyclopaedia we learn that memory is the brain’s ability to store, retain and recall information. It was originally a topic that was studied by philosophers, but in the 20th century psychologists studied memory, and it fell into the field of cognitive psychology or cognitive neuroscience. Memory can be looked at from many angles, but it is the combination of short and long-term memory that we are interested in when we are looking at our own learning progress or hoping for our children’s success. Read more

Moderation is the Name of the Game: Balancing the World of Technology with the World of Nature

by Dr Angel Adams and Dr Patricia Papciak

I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.

– Bill Gates.

Last week we had a power outage that plunged our whole neighbourhood into darkness for the entire night. As we had no electricity or gas, we could only use the light of flickering of candles to help us manoeuvre our way around in the pitch dark. The positive side of this minor disaster was that there was no TV, no R&B or rap music, no popping sounds from the Facebook chat, no computers or computer games. There was only the sound of the wind blowing through the trees outside and the opportunity to see a crescent moon silently rising in an indigo-coloured sky not veiled by the city lights. It made me acutely aware of how intrusive our world of technology can be. Read more

Prepare Your Mind for the Life You Imagine

by Dr Angel Adams and Dr Patricia Papciak

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

-Henry David Thoreau-

Last Spring I was delighted to watch two robins in my garden, a mother and father, who were busily planning and preparing for the birth of their offspring. They were building an elaborate nest in my garden shed in the back of one of my old cardboard storage boxes. I felt honoured that they chose my shed as their venue for starting a new family. Planning and preparing are actually two very important cognitive functions that make up a group of what we call executive functions (EF). These advanced mental tasks include strategising, organising, setting goals, and paying attention to the important details that will help us achieve those goals. This is what gets us down to business even when we’d rather just hang out and tweet in the garden or on-line for that matter. Mr and Mrs Robin were busy working at achieving their goal. Read more

When a Child is Born a Grandparent is Born Too

by Dr Angel Adams and Dr Patricia Papciak

Newborn baby © Dawn Wickhorst Chachula

A new baby is like the beginning of all things—wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.

-Eda J LeShan

Recently I became a grandmother and was surprised as my friends complimented me on my beaming smile and aura of radiance. At first I was dumbfounded by this new state of being; having never really relished the thought of becoming a grandmother. It used to conjure up images of being old, and the premise that old age is not valued or respected in our western society. This appears to be true especially for women who try to hide their age, are ashamed of their wrinkles and loathe the thought of being called ‘Granny’. I sought out others who have had this identity of grandparent bestowed upon them and there was a common theme that filled our conversations… Read more