Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Science Behind a Kind Heart

A few weeks ago I shared a post entitled, The Neuroscience of Kindness. It can be summed up by the following paragraph that appeared in the post:

Essentially, by practicing mindfulness, compassion, and kindness, we change the chemistry in our brains. The brain is, apparently, a social organ and positive interpersonal exchanges cause more firing of neurons in our brains, and the release of neurotransmitters which puts us into a receptive state and this allows us to engage with others and to be receptive.

In other words, there is scientific evidence to suggest that by using dakbands, practicing kindness, you can positively change yourself, and others. Really, I'm not making this up. Today, I discovered yet more scientific evidence, and this time it involves the heart. As some of you may be aware, I have had crash course on heart health this past year, and whether it's true or not, consider myself somewhat of an lay expert; so I was excited to read anything heart related.

Ode magazine presented a fairly in-depth article about the science behind HeartMath, "A change of heart, changes everything." Without giving you a Heartmath lesson, let me just share just a few of the salient points:

Research suggests that our emotions our faster and more powerful than our thoughts, and as a result the heart may be more important to our overall health, including cognitive function, than our brains. (I could have told you that)

When we think of cherished memories, love, compassion, friendship we can improve the rhythm of our hearts - change the rhythm from 'incoherent' to 'coherent'. (Yup, suspected that)

The electromagnetic field of the heart, can be measured up to three metres away from the body. (I cannot tell you how many electrocardiograms I've had in the past year, and I didn't know this)

Studies have demonstrated that if someone has a coherent heart rhythm they can positively affect the heart rhythm of those physically close to them. (WOW - I think I knew this subconsciously)

Let me sum this up .....

If I am wearing a dakband, consciously thinking about kindness, and looking for an opportunity to give my dakband to someone in appreciation for an act of kindness I witnessed them commit, then I am creating a coherent heart rhythm for myself. Improving my physical and emotional health. At the same time, I am sharing that coherent heart rhythm with all those around me. A whole new meaning of synchronicity.

Sharing kindness changes the world because it changes our hearts. (I knew that)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Commencement Kindness

It’s that time of year. Commencement ceremonies are taking place around the world. Young men and women find themselves at the end, of arguably, the most invigorating time of their lives. Invigorating in the sense that rarely, outside of the four years (plus or minus) of university/college, do the intellectual and social intersect to provide such a consistent, enduring, sense of power, enthusiasm, and attainable vision. Coming to the end of that time is filled with what my five-year-old would call, mixed-emotions. As the dean at my son’s recent, commencement ceremony noted, these mixed-emotions apply equally to parents, as well as, the graduates themselves. I was grateful that he acknowledged me. He wisely quoted Erma Bombeck, “Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed.”

Although my beautiful son, whom I’m sure just yesterday, was crawling up on my lap with a well-loved book, leaping off the couch proudly wrapped in his superman cape, and relentlessly practicing kick-flips on the driveway, was beaming; I spent most of day unsuccessfully choking back tears. Unemployment is an emotional shock.

As such, I was intrigued when I discovered the wonderful (and new favourite) website called, brainpickings. They recently featured, “Words to live by: 5 Timeless Commencement Addresses.” I won’t torture you with my interpretation or synopsis of all five speakers, suffice to say, they are worth a listen. But I will provide you with just a couple treasures that inspired me.

J.K. Rowlings (Harry Potter fame) addressed Harvard graduates in 2008. Her address rekindled my secret longing to have been born British – how else to have such a natural sense of humour, wit, and timing? Jealousy aside, let me leave you with this, “We do not need magic to transform our world, we carry all the power we need inside us already: we have the power to imagine better.”

Then, from Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), “It’s harder to be kind, than clever………Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.”

So I would say, in my Commencement address, “ Each of you has the power to profoundly change the world each and every day. You do not have to aspire to greatness, you simply chose to be kind. Imagine that world, then make the choice to create it.”

My son Kohen, and my unemployed self.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5 year old Kindness

On May 1st we moved my daughter, Brennyn, into her very own apartment (that she is sharing with 3 friends), in downtown Toronto. Last year was her first year of University, and although she loved her experience in residence, this is the next Big Step.
Last week my 5 year old, Garrett, and I, were going to the Go station to pick up Brennyn for an impromptu visit. This is our conversation on the way......

Garrett: "Why is Brennyn coming home to visit?"

Mommy: "She is probably hungry."

Garrett: "Don't they have food in Toronto?"

Mommy: "Yes, but you need money to buy food, and Brennyn doesn't have any money."

Garrett: "Don't they have banks in Toronto?"

Mommy: "Yes they do, but you need to have money IN the bank, before you can take it OUT of the bank."


Garrett: "Well, Brennyn can borrow some of my money in my Treasure Chest, as long as she pays me back."