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Man sitting at his work desk about to make a note in his notepad

Enhancing Learning and Memory

People sometimes confuse memory and learning with each other, as they are closely connected. But they are two very distinct occurrences; learning is defined as the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill, while memory is the act of retaining and recalling impressions, facts, etc.

Memory is necessary for everything we learn, as it allows us to retrieve information from knowledge we’ve acquired. Learning relies on memory, as it creates the basis for acquiring more knowledge.

Today information is much more readily available than in the past. The internet has given us the ability to access information about nearly any subject of interest. Technological advances require us to constantly learn new things, and to acquire and perform new skills. How can we focus, learn and retain this information, and retrieve it from memory?

There’s a great deal of research on how nutrition, keeping stress levels low, getting enough sleep, physical exercise and exercising our brains affects learning and memory. For example, research presented at the Radiology Society of North America indicated that caffeine has a measurable effect on short-term memory. A study reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology claims caffeine may help children concentrate and improve their memory and motor skills.

A recent study with mice at Ohio State University (reported July 18 in ScienceDaily—https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071735.htm), claims long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain, as well as learning and memory problems.

The human brain has a remarkable ability to adapt and change. With the proper stimulation, our brains can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.

The brain’s ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness its natural power to develop new neural connections that can increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your capacity to learn new information, and improve your memory.

An article in Scientific American Mind (excerpted from Emily Anthes’ book Instant Egghead Guide: The Mind) offers some wonderful suggestions on ways to boost brainpower. Among those already mentioned, (exercise, diet/nutrition, and caffeine), she recommends three others that have shown benefit: playing video games, music (either listening or learning), and meditation.

The usefulness of Hemi-Sync® in the learning environment has been demonstrated through various studies (some research papers can be read here.) There are a number of Hemi-Sync® products to assist with focus and concentration, as well as retaining and recalling information. Aside from the benefit of using more of your brain potential, the use of binaural beats creates new neural pathways, which in turn helps to enhance memory and attention.

© 2011 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Man, sunset and sea. Psychotherapy concept. Multiple exposure.

What is Creativity?

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.Edward de Bono, creative thinking expert

We are all born with our own unique, natural ability to create. But in the process of growing up and adapting to society’s conventions, more and more of our creative potential succumbs to the power of social conditioning; the acceptance and conformity to customary ways of thinking, and ultimately to established patterns of perceiving and interacting with the world.

Experts speculate that up to 75% of our inherent creativity is lost in childhood, and by full adulthood, we express less than 2% of the creativity we are born with.

Children may define creativity as “doing something fun,” equating it with free and enjoyable activities like drawing or playing music. Adults may find it easier to define the absence of creativity: unhappy, unoriginal, boring, routine, blind, outdated, etc.

“At the simplest level, creativity means bringing into being something which was not there before,” says Edward de Bono, world-renowned expert on creative thinking. “The new thing must have value, and it must include the concepts of unexpectedness and change.”

It’s widely accepted that the left side of our brain is responsible for processing information logically, while the right side takes a more holistic view of information and is known as the more creative half of the brain. Considering that we become less creative as we age, we could conclude that the left side of our brain is more active than the right, and that activities designed to stimulate right-brain activity could help promote creativity.

But a recent study indicates that creativity relies on activity throughout all the sections of the brain.

In the study, six professional jazz pianists were brainmapped, once while playing a scale or a memorized composition exactly as written, and again when they were free to randomly improvise.

Researchers observed that the brain regions that were quiet during improvisation are involved in consciously monitoring, evaluating, and correcting behaviors, while the regions that were active are associated with self-expression.

But creativity isn’t just about self-expression; it was noted that the brain’s sensory regions were more active during improvisation.

“One important thing we can conclude from this study is that there is no single creative area of the brain—no focal activation of a single area,” says researcher Allen Braun, MD, in a news release. “You see a strong and consistent pattern of activity throughout the brain that enables creativity.”

So creativity is not exclusively a right-brain activity, nor it is merely about painting a new masterpiece or writing a bestseller. Creativity is essential to our quality of life, as it allows us to express ourselves more fully, view ourselves and others more objectively, solve problems more innovatively, and live our lives with more passion, spontaneity, and joy.

We encourage you to tap into your creative self. If you need a little help, check out our titles for fostering creativity.

© 2011 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Sources:
www.thinkquest.org
www.plosone.org
www.webmd.com

Blue open gift box with magical light

The Spirit of Gift-Giving

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

~ Maya Angelou

There are many ways that we can express friendship, compassion, appreciation and love to those we care about. Gift-giving can be an important way to demonstrate our feelings for another: despite commercialism, consumerism and financial considerations, a simple gift from one to another, given in an open-hearted spirit, can nurture relationships and improve our overall quality of life.

Ancient civilizations engaged in gift-giving of their own devising; offerings of handmade items or natural treasures were given to tribal leaders to show loyalty, and perhaps gain favor. In modern times leaders around the world demonstrate their countries’ goodwill by offering unique items of their respective cultures to each other. While these types of exchanges may occur centuries apart, they are the same in that they serve to form and strengthen allegiances and foster good will.

On a personal level, researchers maintain that gift-giving can be important to one’s social existence. Some psychologists maintain that the act of gift-giving—or rather, the contemplating and choosing of a gift—prompts us to consider what we know of a recipient, and how well we know them, to decide what they may like to receive. And during this process, perhaps without conscious thought, we are evaluating the recipient’s role in our life. In this way we are reviewing our personal circle of human interaction, and considering the value of each individual in our lives, even as we may be unaware of it.

The old saying “It’s better to give than to receive” may be true in more ways than one. A recent study from Harvard University (revelife.com) concluded that when you give a gift your brain releases dopamine, a natural “feel-good” substance associated with pleasure and feelings of happiness.

Monroe Products is launching its annual holiday sale, offering substantial savings on Hemi-Sync® products. With more than 200 titles to choose from, we encourage you to consider the priceless benefits of Hemi-Sync® as a gift-giving opportunity, for yourself and those you value in your life.

© 2011 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Beautiful woman meditating in winter park

Help with Resolutions and Interesting Predictions for 2012

Each new year heralds some predictable human behaviors, most notably the ever-popular New Year’s Resolution. There’s something about turning to a fresh new calendar that inspires many of us to vow to improve ourselves in some area of our lives. Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, financial or otherwise, it nearly always requires some behavior modification.

A new year also gets its share of predictions; from analysts, psychics, climatologist, and other experts in all fields. With the increasing interest in ancient Mayan prophecies, 2012 has more than its share of predictions; some mundane, some bizarre, and some, no doubt, that are likely to come to pass. Here’s a short sampling of the more futuristic predictions:*

Space hotel on schedule to open in 2012

A company intending to develop the first hotel in space claims it will accept its first paying guests in 2012, despite skepticism over the investment and time frame for the multi-billion dollar project. Barcelona-based Galactic Suite Space Resort officials report that it will cost 3 million euro ($4.4 million) for a three-night stay, which will include an eight-week training course on a tropical island. “During their stay, guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and travel around the world every 80 minutes. They would wear Velcro suits so they can crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman …” reuter.com (site accessed Nov 09)

Robotic suit in final production

The Power Assist Suit (PAS), 15 years in development, will see real world application in 2012, after going into production this year. It’ll cost $11,000. “If the farmer bends over to grasp a radish, his back will be firmly supported,” student Gohei Yamamoto said during a demonstration of the suit. “A brief vocal instruction will instantly straighten the rods along his legs, giving him the power he needs to pull the vegetable without effort.” dvice.com (site accessed April 2010)

Talking cars to be on the road by 2012

“Cars that talk to each other and respond to danger much faster than humans could be on the road as soon as 2012. A team from the University of South Australia has used Dedicated Short Range Communications technology to develop a system that broadcasts information to other cars using a combination of GPS and WiFi …”

newlaunches.com (site accessed Feb 2009)

Plants on the Moon by 2012

“Groundbreaking advancements in the realm of space engineering may soon see the moon sown with the first gardens to grow on the lunar surface. As part of the Google Lunar X Prize, Paragon Space Development Corporation has recently teamed with Odyssey Moon to develop a pressurized mini greenhouse to deploy on the surface of the moon, grow a plant from seed, and hopefully see it flower and seed itself …” inhabitat.com (site accessed April 2009)

Happy New Year!

*www.2012predictions.net

© 2011 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

 

relaxation-bg-min

The Staycation Phenomenon

The staycation: “Wish you were here – Oh! You are!”

—The Independent

The phenomenon of the staycation originated during the past several years, when gas prices soared, the economy soured, and people started searching for alternative ways to take a much-needed break from routine. Rather than shoulder the expense of travelling around the globe, or even across the state, people began planning to spend their vacations at home. This became such a widespread practice that the term “staycation” was coined, eventually making its way into Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as part of the 2009 revision.

Staycation is one of more than 100 words—including locavore (one who eats only locally-grown food), green-collar (one who works to improve the environment), and webisode (a TV show that can be seen on a website)—that were included in the revision. Dictionary officials have explained that while these words may not be new, they have become so rooted in common language they warrant official inclusion.

Staycations are not limited to the United States; they are a phenomenon abroad as well, prompting this clever headline in Britain’s The Independent newspaper: “Staycation UK: Wish you were here – Oh! You are!”

What people do on their staycations ranges from visiting local attractions, to hosting cookouts and family gatherings, to doing, well, nothing. On the down side, one contributor to the online urbandictionary.com irreverently defined it as “a chance to sit around and look at all the reasons you wanted to get away for a week in the first place.”

But most people are doing more than just nothing, and many are finding it a rewarding and certainly more relaxing way to spend their free time. They’re catching up on hobbies, whiling away the hours with friends and family, enjoying a more relaxed pace, getting extra sleep, and catching up on the latest bestselling books and movies they’ve been too busy to enjoy.

Monroe Products wishes those of you who choose a staycation to have a wonderful time. We offer some bestsellers of our own, with real-life applications including meditation, relaxation, learning, behavior modification, enhanced wellness and spiritual growth. Check out the bestsellers on our website, enjoy a special 20% off on those titles, and get ready to take the journey of your choice in the comfort of your own home.

© 2010 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.
Man sitting at his work desk about to make a note in his notepad

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

Chinese proverb


A recent conversation with several back-to-the-classroom teachers netted the comment: “What we’re really teaching,” one teacher said, “is how to teach yourself. That’s what you need to be successful in life…to have the ability to learn what you need to learn, when you need to learn it.”

As summer draws to a close, younger students are heading back to school…hopefully to learn how to learn. Those no longer in established learning institutions are left to learn on their own.

Learning is defined as “the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill,” or “knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study.” Malcolm Knowles (1913-1997), pioneer in adult education and sometimes referred to as the “father of adult education,” wrote several well-respected treatises to address the fact that many people closed their books, and sometimes their minds, halfway through life. He spent his entire career promoting the methods and benefits of adult education, expounding on the concept of “andragogy,” adult learning, as distinctly different from “pedagogy,” or child learning.

In developing his expertise on andragogy, Knowles identified six critical areas that need to be present for successful adult learning outcomes: 1) need to know, 2) foundation, 3) self-concept, 4) readiness, 5) orientation, and 6) motivation. While these concepts can be applied to learning at any age, it is the first –need to know–that becomes more applicable as learners age.

Continuing education has a myriad of benefits, other than the obvious prospect of a more lucrative career. There is also enhanced self-esteem that comes from reaching for new horizons and tackling tough challenges, as well as the joys of accomplishment.

Whether you are interested in helping a child improve learning capabilities, or looking to broaden your personal horizons, Hemi-Sync® can help.

© 2010 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Heart Stone

Living from the Heart

“Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”  — Carl Jung

All spiritual teachers, philosophers and religions assertthat one of the most important aspects of being human is to live “from the heart.” But how many of us are actually putting that into practice on a daily basis?

We may read a passage that tells us what to do; we may think about it and even say to ourselves, “I’m going to work on that.” Sometimes we might even close our eyes and truly sense what it feels like to be in our hearts. But often we are pulled out of this as soon as something that disagrees with us presents itself. How, then, do we remain in that place?

For many of us it takes a lot of work and diligence, as we live in a society that promotes winning at all costs, passing judgment on others, zero tolerance, and playing the victim. What exactly is living from your heart?

Living completely from your head is not living wholly. Resonating with Bob Monroe’s belief that “we are more than our physical bodies,” Drunvalo Melchizedek says in his book Living in the Heart, “You are more than a human being, much more. For within your heart is a place, a sacred place where the world can literally be remade through conscious co-creation.” By connecting the heart and mind, one can bring forth a way of living where thought is directed by the essence of the heart—or rather always coming from a place of love.

It’s easy for us to love those who love us—our partners, children, parents, friends, pets—yet so difficult to extend so much as a loving thought to those we don’t know well, those who are different, or who have harmed us or others.  Living from the heart enables us to see all beings as part of our universal family. In the Karaniya Metta Sutta(the Buddha’s “Hymn of Universal Love”) one verse says “Just as a mother would risk her life to protect her child, so should one cultivate a limitless heart of compassion for all beings.”

There are many examples throughout history of people who have embodied these qualities, such as the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Amma, and others. Thinking of these great figures might give us inspiration, but how many times have we said or thought, “Well, I just can’t do that. I’m only human. These people were born with a destiny to live this way.” Unfortunately, this is such a common thought process that we don’t stop to realize that these people made a conscious choice to fully live from their heart in each and every moment.

There are many wonderful people who have put together workshops, retreats, books and products that help us to learn to live in this manner. In the world we live in today it’s essential that we move into this place of living from the heart. However, be prepared for an extensive lesson. Once we begin, we realize how long we have not been operating in this mode, and many of us have to work through all of the past hurts and programming that keep us from our hearts—from that very special place of unconditional love. As we begin to open our hearts to ourselves and the people, places and things that have hurt us in the past, we can begin to stay open—not only to ourselves but to all humanity.

© 2010 Monroe Products.  All rights reserved.

Senior older man practicing yoga and listening to his favourite relaxation music

The Future of Intentional Sound and Music

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.

You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

 This spring Monroe Products® was asked to participate in an inaugural symposium with the expanding Sound and Music Alliance. SAMA was formed to support and promote the use of intentional sound and music throughout all aspects of life, and to develop professional ethics and codes of conduct in what is truly a diverse field. Because of this diversity, SAMA’s fundamental goal for the event was to organize the players of sounds, vibration, and music.

Held April 16-18 at the beautiful Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut, the SAMA Symposium was a positive step in organizing a harmonious body of professionals who understand the therapeutic power of sound and music. The list of attendees ranged from medical doctors and engineers to musicians and storytellers, all of whom were profoundly engaged in establishing a presence and creating standards for their endeavors.

During the days of the symposium, groups were created to discuss the aspirations of the alliance, and the methods that could be used to manifest those aspirations. From neuroscience to shamanistic ritual, all were in agreement regarding a unified field of study and support. Activities at night were profound as well, as on Friday night SAMA presented its first Luminary Award to Paul Winter, the multi-Grammy award winner, who played for hours in the chapel at Wisdom House. The spiritual leader Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo received a Luminary Award Saturday evening, and captivated the audience with her drumming, chants, and ancient wisdom regarding the nature of sound.

By the end of the weekend the SAMA board of directors had completed a synthesis of the work performed by the groups and individuals: groundwork for creating a forward-thinking plan. Because of the propriety, intention, and mutual respect of this plan, Monroe Products has joined SAMA as a charter member to assist and participate in its endeavors, and encourages those who are interested to visit the SAMA website, www.soundandmusicalliance.org.

The SAMA board states “The purposeful use of music and sound aid in the medical, spiritual, emotional, mental, clinical, cultural and environmental realms to support or bring about change in body, mind, emotion, or spirit. Used culturally, clinically, educationally, in agriculture and in health and wellness, the delivery reflects a wide variety of techniques and frameworks, and shares a common goal of supporting or facilitating a wide range of needs for all life forms. Over the past 25 years there has been a growing body of research into the powerful impact of sound, music, frequency and vibration. In the last 15 years, since the advent of the MRI, neuroscientists have discovered that music lights up many parts of the brain and provides a key to understanding brain function in general.”

© 2010 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Woman Sleeping

Sleeping While the Sun Shines

Although many of us are still dealing with freezing temperatures, record snowstorms, low gloomy skies and pitch black nights, the days are actually getting longer and we are steadily moving toward spring. Our journey toward the sun is giving us a net gain of more than one minute of daylight each 24 hours, as we slowly, gradually and gently begin moving into more light each day. As nature intended.

But around the turn of the last century, a couple of eager beavers – a New Zealand entomologist named George Vernon Hudson, and William Willett, an English builder and outsdoorsman – independently conceived and promoted an idea to move the clocks an hour forward or backward…to artificially and prematurely manipulate the balance of light and dark.

Daylight-saving time began during World War I in some countries to conserve energy. The idea began in Germany and Britain and was used off and on by the United States into the 1960s, when Congress standardized the start and end dates for states that participated.

After more than 80 years in practice in the U.S. and abroad, Daylight Saving Time (DST) has become an integral part of the annual march of the seasons. Not surprisingly, the artificial tinkering of the gradual return and withdrawal of natural light can take a toll on the human body.

There’s a startling litany of negative effects DST can have, from Seasonal Affective Disorder to depression, suicide to heart disease — all from the artificial and seemingly minor disruption of natural biologic rhythms. Even on the less serious side, most people report that DST affects their sleeping patterns, resulting in drowsiness, headaches, night restlessness, additional stress and even resulting in chronic sleep deprivation. Although the time change can affect anyone, researchers believe it has a greater impact on night owls than people who like mornings.

A doctor at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston stated DST “is really hard on children” predicting that school kids may lose some of the 9 – 11 hours of sleep needed daily.

Disruptions in sleep can have unpleasant consequences, negatively impacting mood, productivity, creativity, and overall quality of life. Awareness of the possibility of DST issues is the first step to stemming any sleep problems that may arise from the change. To avoid becoming sleep-stressed this year, specialists have made the following recommendations:

  • Be aware of any sleep changes, however minor they may seem at the time. Overcome them as soon as possible, either with additional sleep, using sleep enhancement products, or making changes to your sleep schedule as needed.
  • Become well-rested before the return to DST, scheduled for March 13 this year for most of the US.
  • Get up an hour earlier and go to bed an hour earlier in advance of the time change.
  • Take a nap on Sunday (March 13) if you need it, but not within a few hours of your regular bedtime.
  • Exercise, such as a brisk walk or run can help you adjust to the advanced clocks by stimulating serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

Monroe Products offers a full line of audio CDs, using the extraordinary Hemi-Sync®technology, to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, as well as catch a fully-restorative nap in 30 minutes. We also offer two different sized pillows with built-in stereo speakers to make your listening experience more comfortable.

 

©2010 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.

Meditation Helps Us Tune-out; Tune-in

“The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.”

—Milarepa, Tibetan meditation master and poet, 1052-1135

The practice of meditation has changed little since the days of Milarepa, a celebrated yogi who earned his legendary status through a series of colorful, and often sinister, episodes high in the ancient mountains of Tibet. While we still meditate in much the same way, we now have scientific evidence of how meditation can positively impact our lives.

Milarepa had his share of troubles. His descent into infamy begins when, after the death of his father, his aunt and uncle seized all of his father’s belongings. Encouraged by his mother, Milarepa applies himself to learn sorcery. Becoming proficient, he avenges the thievery by manifesting a giant hailstorm to destroy his enemies, but he also succeeds in killing a number of innocent people. His community uprises against him, so he manifests another hailstorm and destroys the crops. At this point he rather sensibly hides away in a cave for many years. But later in his notably long life he repents, and embarks on a soul-searching journey that culminates in his becoming a legendary figure in Tibetan culture, renowned over the centuries for his poetry, songs, and complete mastery of the art of meditation.

While most of us don’t have the sort of troubles Milarepa had, his ancient advice applies to anyone at any age: the affairs of the world will go on forever. Meditation continues to be one of the most effective ways of tuning out the affairs of the world, quieting the ever-chattering mind, fostering a sense of peace and serenity, and, we now know, give our health a good boost at the same time.

· Lowers oxygen consumption.

· Decreases respiratory and heart rates.

· Good for people with high blood pressure as it brings the blood pressure to normal.

· Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.

· Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.

· Builds self-confidence.

· It increases serotonin production which influences mood and behavior. Lower levels of serotonin are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia and headaches.

· Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis, etc.

· Helps in post-operative healing.

· Enhances the immune system. Research has revealed that meditation increases activity of ‘natural killer cells’, which will kill bacteria and cancer cells.

· Reduces the activity of viruses and emotional distress.

Meditation is simply a focused effort of quieting the mind. Regular practice can promote a sense of calm and control; accomplished meditators tend to feel far more relaxed and happy. Their ability to concentrate will be greater; they don’t become as stressed about things, and they feel more peaceful and relaxed about everything. One of the greatest benefits of meditation is learning to go with the flow, and things that used to cause irritation before simply become insignificant.

There are four simple strategies for the meditation process:

· A quiet place to meditate,

· A comfortable or poised posture,

· An object for attention-awareness to dwell upon,

· A passive attitude.

Monroe Products Hemi-Sync® audio CDs can greatly enhance the meditation process by combining alpha or theta signals with soothing music or guided imagery. There are dozens of meditation titles to choose from. We wish you great success in your meditation practice!

© 2010 Monroe Products. All rights reserved.