3 Unexpected Benefits of Staying Active with Family and Friends this Summer

Two best friends share a summertime hug on the beach.
Image courtesy of Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Summertime is here!

After what feels like decades of winter, warm weather and sunshine are back. Yay!

All of us could use a vitamin D boost and a lot more fun. Besides, this is the season most of us craved when we were kids. It meant school was over for a while and we were free to ride bikes, meet up with our friends at the park, and get out all that pent-up energy.

But you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the benefits of socializing this summer. Adults need time to let loose too and in this week’s blog, I’m sharing three benefits of doing just that!

The next time you’re invited to a swim party, BBQ, or beach volleyball game, you’ll be benefitting your mind and body in ways you may not expect.

Your next adventure is waiting, so let’s get started!

Unexpected Benefit #1 — You’re strengthening and growing your brain.

When you do something new or novel — like accepting an invite to that beach volleyball game — you’re growing your brain. Literally.

Right now, your brain is a huge storage locker of everything you’ve done, felt, and experienced. New interests, activities, and experiences are the catalyst for new neural connections to form and eventually, grow into complex neural networks the more you use them.

When you think in new ways, your frontal lobe gets engaged and a whole new world of possibilities opens up. Suddenly, you receive an answer to a problem or get a brilliant idea for that project at work. Letting go of old thinking (even for a few hours) paves the way for your imagination to thrive because you’re giving attention to something new.

Dr. Joe Dispenza, a brain expert and meditation teacher, emphasizes the benefits of doing different or new activities to increase your brain’s grey matter. When you perform a new action, you’re literally making your brain mass increase. Woah.

Socializing also grows your brain, informs new perspectives, and deepens connection.

In the late 1990s, scientists discovered “mirror neurons” in monkeys, which also exist in humans. Mirror neurons fire when you perform an action or observe someone performing an action. A quick example would be a contagious smile from a stranger which automatically puts a smile on your face.

When you get active with friends and family this summer, notice how intrinsically linked your behaviors become with theirs. Connection breeds trust, resilience, and a sense of self-worth. Humans are tribal — we need connection to thrive.

And bonus! When you feel safe and secure, your brain and heart become coherent, which means you produce high-quality hormones, secrete immune-building chemicals, and raise your vibration to attract new circumstances. It’s a win-win!

p.s. If self-consciousness is keeping you from enjoying activities with family and friends this summer, watch this video from my friend and positivity inducer MJ Shaar for some simple, actionable tips! Don’t let self-consciousness steal your joy or keep you from connection.

Unexpected Benefit #2 — You’re reconnecting with your inner child.

I’ve got news for you — you’re a child at heart.

None of us really “grow up,” we simply slather on an adult wetsuit and hope for the best. If you scratch the surface of a “well-adjusted adult,” you’ll likely find a child-like spirit who is craving love, curiosity, and acceptance.

For a lot of us, childhood was interrupted too early. The pressure to “find yourself” and “choose a profession” kills our creative spirit and quite frankly, puts us in stress cycles when our brains and bodies are still developing.

This summer, reach deep down and let that kid loose! It’s nearly impossible to be serious when you’re hanging out with your favorite people! Laugh! Play! Do a prank on someone! (The thought of this is making me giggle already!).

Personally, I cannot keep it together when I’m with my two best friends. If I’m having a bad day, they know how to get my inner child smiling again.

Here’s a fun experiment: the next time you’re at a social gathering, take note of everyone’s inner child. Observe when people look playful, relaxed, and curious. Re-frame your experience from your inner child’s point of view. I bet you’ll learn a lot about yourself and what you truly want.

Unexpected Benefit #3 — You’re raising your vibration.

Don’t be fooled by your physical body — you are energy and you’re vibrating at a certain frequency.

Think of laughing with your bestie by the pool, or playing a fun game of tag with your kids. The better you feel, the higher you vibrate.

I’m gonna repeat that because it’s important: THE BETTER YOU FEEL, THE HIGHER YOU VIBRATE.

And the higher you vibrate, the more your physical circumstances will shift for the better.

Everything in this universe is energy, light, frequency, and vibration. Energy “talks” to itself and like attracts like.

Connecting with family and friends this summer (hopefully) means laughter, lightness, and love. All these states of being vibrate higher than sadness, anger, or fear. When you vibrate higher (or at a faster frequency), you attract different circumstances into your reality.

Your brain is an electromagnetic field of information. In fact, your pineal gland has crystals in it that get activated by higher frequencies of energy. These crystals form a charge in your brain, which communicates with the vast quantum field of information. This field responds to your frequency by matching it — meaning, you start attracting different opportunities, ideas, and ways of thinking.

The quantum field always says, “Yes.” It loves you that much. It denies you nothing.

Knowing this, you’ll want to keep your thoughts and frequency in tip-top shape!

As you get active this summer, remember to send out the vibration you want to receive back. This goes for your relationships, too! Remember that old phrase, “Treat people as you’d like to be treated?” The same goes for the universe. Send out what you’d like to receive back. It’s truly that simple.

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10 Visceral Questions for Self-Reflection

Image courtesy of RosZie on Pixabay

Asking questions engages your frontal lobe.

When you ask a question, the frontal lobe scans your brain for relevant information to give you answers.

Asking powerful and pointed questions is a catalyst for change and aligned actions because it gets your brain focused on something different.

For the most part, your brain falls back on past events out of habit. This is because thinking in new ways takes an incredible amount of physiological energy — energy your brain needs to run your body’s basic functions.

But, there’s a flip side to this: the brain also loves novelty. It craves new experiences as much as it’s obsessed with keeping you safe.

So, when you want to gain new wisdom to make changes in your life, it all starts with asking the right questions.

Self-reflection can be scary because we know how to lie to ourselves better than anyone. We’ve got our number — we know all our vulnerabilities.

Self-reflection is less scary with you have some visceral questions to consider, especially around areas of your life you’re particularly passionate about.

Below, I share 10 visceral questions for self-reflection to get your frontal lobe focused on new ideas and perspectives.

1. What does wealth feel like to me?

2. What does making peace with my past feel like?

3. What does self-worth feel like to me?

4. What do I want to do that I’m not letting myself do?

5. What am I making myself do that I don’t want to be doing?

6. Who am I envious of and why? Do I desire what they have?

7. What parts of myself are screaming to be expressed but feel suffocated?

8. What does contentment feel like to me?

9. What does love feel like to me?

10. What does success feel like to me?

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4 Unique Ways to Return to The Present Moment

Collection of colored clocks.
Image courtesy of geralt on Pixabay

The present moment is your point of power.

If you start paying attention, you’ll notice how much your brain wants to drag you back to the past or scare the crap out of you with future-tripping scenarios.

Processing information takes an incredible amount of physiological energy. This is why the brain likes to fall back on habits — to preserve energy. Your cyclical thinking is part of this energy-conserving mechanism because creating new neural connections require lots of energy.

Dr, Joe Dispenza, a brain expert and neuroplasticity teacher, explains:

Your brain is a complete record of your past & your mind is the product of your consciousness. By responding with the same brain hardware that matches what you remember, you’re creating a level of mind that is identical to the past.

Dr. Joe dispenza, twitter post

Think back to yesterday. How many times did you reference the past in your mind? How many times have you done it today?

Here’s why you want to train your brain to stay present: it’s the only way to change your neurology and start attracting and paying attention to what you truly desire.

This is not only personal — it’s collective.

Have you ever noticed how our culture is past-obsessed? Holidays are a great example of this: re-celebrating/remembering (painful) past events so we can “honor” them.

“Honoring” painful past events does one thing: it keeps us stuck in stress cycles and strengthens beliefs and neurology that do not serve us now.

So, what can you do to create the neurology you want? You must get present with what’s happening right now so you can think thoughts that create new neural connections (and eventually, complicated neural networks) you want.

Below, I share four unique ways to return to the present moment and take control of your brain and consciousness. Remember: you’re in charge! You get to decide what you think about and how you feel.

Try one of these unique ways to return to the present moment!

1. Smell something pleasant.

The gateway back to the present moment is through the body.

Most of us live from the neck up all day. Awareness of the body returns if we feel intense pain or pleasure, but for the most part, we’re “up in the clouds.”

Coming back to the body’s senses will help ground your energy and return to what’s happening right here, right now.

Smelling something pleasant is a quick way to come back “home” to yourself.

Smells activate your limbic system, which controls memory and emotion. When you smell something yummy, you’re triggering an emotional response that is felt in the body.

Positive emotions improve your mood, enhance your immune response, and teach the body to remain in “rest & digest” mode. When you’re in “rest & digest” mode, your brain and heart experience what’s known as coherence, which means they’re working together harmoniously (yay!).

2. Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you.

This one sounds (no pun intended!) easy, but you’ll be shocked at how quickly your brain gets distracted and wants to assign meaning.

Sit in a comfy position and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths in the nose and out the mouth to tell the brain you’re safe. Release and allow — don’t try to make anything happen.

Set a timer for five minutes and do nothing but listen.

Within a few seconds, your brain will likely get distracted unless you do this exercise regularly. This is because your brain is a record of the past and it’s constantly searching for what’s familiar so it can keep you alive.

Pull your attention back to the assignment.

As you listen longer, you’ll be delighted at all the sounds you miss because of mind chatter. The hum of air conditioners and refrigerators, the singing of a distant bird, the rumble of traffic, or complete silence. Whatever sounds you encounter, experience them fully without assigning meaning.

As you train your brain to stay focused on this task, you improve your concentration and resilience while reducing your stress level.

And here’s a bonus: you may become inspired or enlightened by the sounds you hear, encouraging you to come back to this practice. You may even solve a personal or professional problem by simply noticing.

The following two suggestions come from a practice called The Viewpoints, which originated from dance and is used by actors and performing artists to connect with the physical environment. Playing the “Facts and Intuits” game is a powerful tool to connect with yourself and your current environment.

3. Walk around your space and list facts about yourself and your environment.

As I mentioned above, the fastest way to connect with the present moment is through the body.

Start walking around your space — this can be your home, yard, public park, parking lot, or any place you feel comfortable and connected. You can also do this on your morning or evening walks with your pets and make it a practice for yourself.

Connect with the ground as you walk and become aware of your feet.

Now, start naming facts about yourself and the environment. Do this for at least two minutes.

Some examples are:

My walls are painted white.

I have a working oven (versus a ‘big’ oven, which is subjective—we’ll get to that).

I’m wearing a skirt.

My shoes are a size 8.

I have strawberry blond hair.

The dog is sitting on my bed.

There are leftovers in my fridge.

Naming facts forces your brain to focus on one task. This is good because your brain is like an excited toddler — always looking for the next threat or adventure. Any time you give your brain a task, you teach it resilience and mastery.

4. Walk around your space and name intuits about yourself and your environment.

After you’ve listed facts, keep walking the space and take some deep breaths to clear the energy and let that task go. Walk around a few times in neutral mode.

Next, start naming intuits about yourself and the environment. Intuits are feelings and opinions about things. Do this for three minutes, which I’ll explain below.

Some examples are:

I hate these white walls.

I have the best oven in the world.

This skirt is too big for me, and I need a new one.

My shoes make me feel sexy.

I love my strawberry blond hair.

I would do anything for my dog.

The leftovers are so delicious!

Here’s why you want to name intuits for three minutes: as you start with more surface intuits (“I love my strawberry blond hair”), you’ll eventually find yourself getting more honest, raw, and real with yourself.

You may suddenly blurt out these kinds of deep truths:

I don’t feel appreciated at my job, and I want to quit.

I’m terrified my partner is cheating on me.

I want to start my own business, but I’m afraid of what others will think of me.

I’m not fulfilled, and I want to be fulfilled.

I want a divorce/I want a relationship/I want to get married.

My responsibilities make me feel imprisoned.

I want more affection from my parents.

The thought of switching careers makes me feel excited.

I want to take a dance class but I’m afraid I’m too old.

Allow yourself to keep digging deeper. This not only keeps you present, but it also forces you to be authentic with yourself.

Personally, I’ve seen many people have huge breakthroughs while naming facts and intuits because the subconscious mind has an opportunity to be heard.

When you stop repeating known memories, stories, and beliefs about yourself, more authentic information starts to shine forth. This is why it’s important to be in the body while doing these exercises. The body doesn’t lie.

When you’re fully in your body, your cellular memory speaks to you. This is all the information you’ve locked away in your cells that’s just dying to be heard.

Getting present is a mirror you can’t turn away from because it’s where your deepest truth lives. Your intuition lives in the present moment. Your best self lives in the present moment. The answer to everything you desire lives in the present moment.

Get present and the rest will take care of itself.

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