In a series of studies, they found that cardiorespiratory endurance--how fit our heart, lungs, blood, and muscles are--has a positive effect on our brain function, and that better cardiorespiratory fitness is related to better outcomes in people with neurodegenerative disorders. They have also shown that 6 months of exercise training changes the brain and stimulates growth and better activation of the frontal and temporal lobes, along with the hippocampus. Add some cardio to your weekly plan and stick with it. Your brain will thank you! Three to five sessions a week (walking, jogging, swimming, biking, paddling, or spinning) that last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes will keep every organ in your body working better, not just in moments when you need to focus and perform, but for the rest of your life as well. The use of cold therapy has a very long history. Hippocrates, the father of the field of medicine, is said to have prescribed cold baths for his patients to alleviate 'lassitude ' (physical and mental fatigue). The effects of cold exposure have been of growing interest for researchers and practitioners, although there is still a lot of debate and work needed to really tease out what is going on physiologically when we come into contact with cold air or cold water. We do know that several effects occur when we expose ourselves to cold. The very first thing that happens, especially when we come into contact with cold water, is a rapid cardiorespiratory response to the cooling of the skin that triggers a gasping response and inhalation of 1 to 2 litres of air. In the fall and winter, the nature of our movements changes, as our more indoor and concentrated efforts, performed among close family and friends, entail more intimacy and vulnerability. Think of working with a personal coach, or training with a gym buddy. Our movement patterns should thus obey the oscillatory logic we've seen throughout this article. Fall's and spring's movement should be moderate in both intensity and duration, but only as transition points between the more polarized movement extremes of summer and winter. The pivot from summer to fall--and from winter to spring--represents a moderation of both intensity and duration, where winter itself sees more of a reduction in total activity by duration and time, and an introduction to short, hard, interval-based or sprint-based training that isn't present at all in the summertime. Let's say you wanted to take up a competitive sport like running, and to oscillate your training seasonally. In the spring, you might begin by engaging in low-intensity, moderate-duration preparation. You're just getting started. This would represent your aerobic period early in the training season and should be full of low-intensity runs, or something referred to in the lingo as 'base building. ' As you get more fit, you can lengthen your training sessions.

When this happens we are actually 'in' love, love is flowing through us, we are the agent of love, and since the world is a sea of fear, we become a point of relief. The effect of our darshan is profound and usually instantaneous, quite visible, if only for a moment. What are some of the requirements of giving darshan? First, we need to feel love for ourselves and to shower mercy and kindness on ourselves. As we have seen this is a pre-requisite for manifesting true compassion for others. The biggest difficulty in giving darshan, the most common obstacle, is our ready judgment. Since this judgment so often stems from self-judgment, we have to deal with self-judgment using mercy. Second, if we are unfamiliar with the power of our eyes, we will need to practice awareness in this area and begin to experience how our eyes work as messengers of truth and a source of personal insight. We can practice the action of learning from our own eyes as described above. Like all action, the darshan is a culmination of other work we have done. Each axon is surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, which acts like an electrical insulator, greatly speeding up signal transmission. It's the myelin that makes the white matter white. Myelin is added to axons continuously through the first forty years of life, peaking in volume around age fifty, but continuing to form at a slower pace to the end of life. The practical upshot of this ongoing construction is better coordination between the brain's many modules, more effective integration of the brain's hemispheres, and more efficient signal transmission throughout the brain, all of which support the more flexible and nuanced thinking characterized by postformal thought and wisdom in the second half of life. A number of studies support this point, showing that many of our intellectual and cognitive abilities peak not in young adulthood but in midlife or beyond. Psychologists Sherry Willis and K. Warner Schaie, of the Seattle Longitudinal Study, have followed a group of men and women since 1956. They find that subjects at midlife score higher on almost every measure of cognitive functioning than they did when they were twenty-five--verbal and numerical ability, reasoning, and verbal memory all improve. In my article about creativity in later life, The Creative Age, I drew a distinction between 'big C' creativity--those great and enduring works of art or invention--and 'little C' creativity, which are small, often spontaneous acts of novelty in everyday life--ordering a pizza for delivery in order to hitch a ride to a dinner date, for example, as my in-laws did in article 1. I think the same concept applies to wisdom.

I've had to push myself not to default to a path of least resistance my entire life. Just because I can pass this test without having to try as hard, will I get as much out of this class without studying? Even if my boss would be happy with me giving a 70 percent effort, might I feel a greater sense of satisfaction and grow more by leaning in with all I have? Though I could get away with letting the kids sit on technology all weekend while Rachel's out of town, what would it look like to push into being an exceptional dad who is actively present rather than being satisfied with us just surviving her time away? As a person who's had far too much practice over the years doing the bare minimum to get by, I can tell you it's no way to live. Not using your full potential, putting in complete effort, working hard to see the fruit of your labor? That's a recipe for unfulfillment of the highest order. That's treading water day after day. Tread water long enough and you're bound to go under. I had the surreal benefit of sitting in a room with Steve Jobs one time before he passed away. Don't tell them where you're taking them but drive out to the countryside, or to the edge of the town where you live, find a nice spot (remember blankets and a flask of hot tea) and spend an evening looking at the stars together. Chat about the stars, laugh, huddle up for warmth. Feel alive. Remember what it is to wonder again One of the best ways to connect with nature on a regular basis is to take up gardening. Rather like having a dog makes you get out of the house and go for a walk, if you start working in your own garden or outside space, you are invested in the project and more likely to maintain it. This is why gardening is such a simple yet powerful way to get your daily dose of life-giving Mother Nature! My granny taught me how to grow vegetables when I was a lad, and it was such a gift. Getting out in the garden and getting our hands in the soil represents a lot about how humans used to live, and we can learn a lot from this. Life was not necessarily better in the past, but it was simpler.

If your face is below the surface of the water when this happens, then of course drowning is very likely. If you manage to actually immerse yourself in the cold water, the next physiological response is a reduction in tissue temperature, which subsequently affects blood flow, cell swelling, and metabolism as well as how fast your nerves can communicate with each other. This is what athletes who sit in cold tubs after training or games are trying to achieve. Muscle temperature decreases when the body is immersed in 10oC water that is at least 30 millimetres deep for at least 10 minutes. Systemically, cold therapy not only causes our core temperature to reduce, but induces cardiovascular and endocrine changes as well. Placing the body in cold water up to the waist or in some cases to the chest or neck is now known in the scientific literature as cold-water immersion (CWI). CWI is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system, increase the blood level of beta-endorphins, and increase the release of noradrenaline in the synapses of the neurons of the brain. Beta-endorphins are known to produce feelings of euphoria, regulate the reward systems in the brain, and help to diminish activity in areas of the brain related to stress--the same effects produced by running and meditation. Basically, cold water might be able to give you the sensation of a 'runner's high ' without the running! While taking an ice bath might not seem like a practice you want to adopt, a cold shower might be a powerful option for you. As you approached the date of your event, be it a ten-kilometer run, half marathon, or ultra-marathon, summer's long training would gradually yield to fall, and you would reduce your overall exercise duration. At this juncture, you would increase your overall intensity, training closer to your aerobic thresholds, or doing some sprint work and 'sharpening' activities. But you would also want to scale back or eliminate your long, base-building runs in turn. This transition from summer to fall wouldn't be stark, nor look significantly different. It would simply involve a tapering off general activity, and a ramping up of intensity. Picture a sine wave, not a right angle. Unfortunately, whether we're preparing for a race or simply going about our days, we don't tend to maintain a foundation of basic daily movement, accompanied by slight seasonal oscillations. Most of us are slaves to our environments, which naturally lead us to move very little. While my writing here is a nudge (if not a vigorous shove) in the direction of a high degree of 'healthy deviancy' from the status quo (to use the term coined by my dear friend Pilar Gerasimo), we can only opt out of our environment so much without becoming misfits or outcasts or risk losing the jobs we depend on. If you work away from home for ten or twelve hours every day, you probably won't break out the vacuum cleaner each night just to elevate your heart rate.

It is a result and manifestation of our inner being work, the positive changes we have made, and the important revelations we have experienced. The more we have freed ourselves from our own self judgment and fear, the easier it will be to achieve the state necessary for giving the darshan. The mechanics of giving darshan are simple. All we do is look at a person with complete love and acceptance of them. This can be anyone; someone making change for us for instance, or someone in line at the store; someone we are passing on the sidewalk. We remember that darshan is looking at someone with the eyes fully connected with the heart. Our eyes must be totally free of judgment, a reflection of our opened heart. Because the eyes have so much power, judgment in a look is easily sensed. There are 'big W' types of wisdom, such as the democratic and humanist ideas imbedded in the U. S. Constitution, and 'little W' types of wisdom--the deft solution to a playground tussle or sage advice about relationships offered to an upset teenage girl. The story of Helen Herndon, a participant in one of my studies, provides an illustration of this 'little W' type of wisdom that arose from her maturing developmental intelligence. At sixty-seven, Helen found herself alone in a large house, her two children married and living hundreds of miles away, her husband dead after a battle with leukemia. For more than a year she existed in the twilight world of bereavement, unfocused and lethargic. The responsibilities of maintaining the house without her husband's help overwhelmed her, but she lacked the self-confidence to find a solution. The youngest of five children, she had grown up being taken care of. 'I seemed to just assume that if something was important, I couldn't do it by myself,' she told me. But as the months passed, Helen--almost in spite of herself--grew increasingly impatient with her own passivity and inertia.