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Take charge of your brain

Learn to steer your thoughts in a way that will enhance your life, says Jitendra Nagpal

education Updated: Oct 07, 2009 17:42 IST
Jitendra Nagpal

Do you know that dolphins have about the same neuronal capacity as man? Yet they are intelligent, fun-loving and harmoniously living with their environment. This is because they use their complete brain, not just a part of it. Man is the only creature on earth that does not use its brain capacity to the fullest and is thus out of harmony with himself, with others and with nature.



Can we really use 100 per cent of our brains and improve the quality of our lives? Of course, we can.



To achieve this, we need to engage in mindful living. Mindfulness is an activity in which a person becomes intentionally aware of his or her thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It is not about just paying attention, rather it is making a conscious effort to be “in the moment” and to not ignore the environment.



Research shows that being mindful helps people cope better with stress. It is the newest and most productive way to feel better, live more passionately and feel more deeply. Today, our youth are obsessed with matter over mind, which leads to drug abuse, sexual health-related issues, exam anxiety, etc.



To live a holistic life, we need to be conscious of our thoughts and turn our brain towards more meaningful thinking.



When we feel distressed, angry or disappointed, what comes first – the thought or the feeling? Our thoughts guide our feelings. You think ‘I am fat’, and then you feel sad. You think, ‘He really loves me’, and then you feel happy.



If our thoughts cause us to criticise ourselves, feel angry with our family, or interfere with our studies, work etc, it may be time to recognise that our thoughts are just that, only thoughts. They are reflections, observations and opinions. We can control or alter them and thus control our state of mind.



Positive mind:


Replace negative thoughts with neutral, non-judgmental or positive thoughts. Compliment yourself and others on small accomplishments such as giving a good presentation or scoring well in a test, so as to spread positivity, which helps the mind work faster.



Diverse mind:

To develop flexibility in your life, do something different every day, e.g. involve yourself in a new game or sport, like roller-skating, bowling, or celebrate health-related days such as World Mental Health Day. Tedium is a death knell for your brain. For complete use of your brain, diverse stimulation is the key.



Clean mind:


A cluttered space is equal to a cluttered mind, so tidy up your desk and room. Organising the place you live and work in will help you reduce stress.



Relaxed mind:

When you wake up in the morning, focus on your breathing for a few moments and remind yourself to enjoy your day. Meditating just 10 minutes a week can improve mood and physical health.



Healthy mind:


Get enough sleep and eat fresh, healthy food. By nourishing the body, we nourish the soul as well.



We need to open our eyes to realise the power of our own brain and its functioning, which could lead us either to productive living or to destruction. So practise what our elders use to say about meaningful life: simple living and high thinking! And do celebrate World Mental Health Week (October 4-10), because the mind matters.



The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity & Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at

hthorizons@hindustantimes.com

, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’