I recently heard a wonderful interview with Dr. Michael Breus about sleep – in order to get better sleep, you need to know if it is your drivers/initiators of sleep (something called “adenosine” that is built up in your system to cause you to feel sleepy which then gets dissipated after you have slept) or if it is your circadian rhythm/biological clock that is giving you problems. He also advocates natural methods rather than necessarily a pill to fix the problem. Also despite conventional advocate of 8 hours a sleep and a bedtime by 10am, actually everyone needs different amount of sleep and has a different “right” time to go to bed.
As he is launching his new book, the Power of When, in September, he is sharing a quiz to identify what chronotype each person falls into. His book will go into details the best time to do anything – the time and how much for sleep as well – for each chronotype. Sounds interesting, and the quiz is fun to do.
To a piano player and a garden lover like myself, when I heard about the Flower Piano event (July 7-18) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at the Golden Gate Park, I was overjoyed and could not wait to be a part of it.
With the sponsorship of Sunset Piano, 12 pianos are tucked among flower-filled gardens, beautiful ponds, redwood trees, all free for the public to play. There are scheduled performances as well. The garden has become a public concert hall, and with the beautiful surroundings of over 8000 kinds of plants, it is hard to imagine a better way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon. It was amazing to hear all the talents coming out from the audiences to play their favourite music – classical, jazz, self-composed music, or just kids trying their hands on the piano. Some of the ambiance and acoustics were just surreal. Though I have seldom practiced my piano these days, I still managed to play in 6 of the 12 pianos today, performing Debussy and Yiruma’s works, basked in the audience’s appreciative claps, to which I was equally grateful and pleased.
These are some of the flower pianos I have played on today – no photos of mine but nevertheless still very fun and memorable.
And here is one of the pieces I played – the First Arabesque by Debussy. I have a feeling I will go back at the end of the week to play again and participate in a community sing-along, too.
Recently I have received invitations to exhibitions in museums, and one of which, despite my having lived over 20 years in San Francisco, I have never known its existence!
Here is a little tour:
Tian Tian is a comic character created by international artist Danny Yung originally from Hong Kong. In Chinese, the phrase “Tian Tian Xiang Shang”means working hard daily to achieve your goals. His Blank Boy Canvas collection is a cross cultural collaboration to create an individual approach of art on a blank canvas and was exhibited in the nostalgic Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in the San Francisco Chinatown (this was my new discovery) and many other metropolitan cities.
Another favourite San Francisco museum of mine is the Asian Art Museum located near the City Hall. Recently it has been exhibiting the beautiful lacquerware of historical Korea, a country that uses beautiful sea shells for many of their artworks.
The recently expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is another flagship museum here showcasing many American artists’ works; with their highly interactive self-guided tour, you can hear and see the artwork coming alive.
I have been hearing great nuggets from online talks from Hay House (free until May 26) to help one to de-stress, build up the immune system and positive thoughts, and increase oxytocins, the hormone of joy and love.
From John Norseman’s talk in Hay House:
The power of [ONE] positive thought negates 85,000 of negative thoughts…you can’t afford to think negatively…but when you can’t help but feeling a negative thought, just think of something beautiful and something very positive, and you can clear the whole thing; having negative thought not just lower your immune system but your physical strength in your body (concept was proven by the Kinesiologists.)
…There can be no healing without forgiveness…the first step: you forgive, the second step: you bless, the step 3: you thank him [the person who wronged you, for all the efforts you expend to overcome it]…and you receive the freedom.
…Love is like a precious flower, it needs to be nurtured and refreshed everyday, always putting the others first, never taking the other for granted…make the most of everyday, living life as if each day is our last.
Of all the pattern-interrupting techniques that I’ve shared throughout the world, the one with the most powerful effect in the shortest amount of time is perhaps the simplest one. It’s a game changer, and I call it “16 seconds to clarity.” Not only does it have a profound destressifying impact in the moment, but it can also be the foundation for greater clarity of thought, heightened creativity, deeper intuition, and making better choices. Let’s try it right now. It’s okay to keep reading as you go through this exercise with me.
Think of something that has irritated or bothered you in the past few days . . . a difficult conversation, a disappointment, an unmet expectation. Perhaps someone said they would do something and they didn’t, or they said they would meet you at a certain time and they were late, or they unexpectedly shared something about you with another person and it got back to you. (Don’t go too deep. This isn’t therapy.) But right now, feel free to envision that other person’s face . . . maybe replay the moment in your mind’s eye, even notice someplace in your body that feels connected to the irritation. Take a few moments to settle into that space.
Now take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nostrils, and as you do . . . slowly count to four, and observe the air as it moves into your nostrils and to the back of your throat. Watch your breath as it moves down your chest and deep into your lungs. Feel your belly expand.
Observe your belly being filled, and hold that breath in to the count of four. And just witness the breath in your belly as you silently count. One, two, three, four.
Now slowly, to the count of four, release your breath and watch it as it moves up into your chest, into your throat, into your sinuses, and out through your nostrils.
And when the last wisp of air is out of you, hold that breath out to the count of four. And observe it, watch it, witness it . . . as it dissipates into the air.
Now breathe normally, and let’s try it with your eyes closed. Remember: in four—hold four—out four—hold four. And make sure you follow your breath. Observing it along the way is key to the process. (I’ll wait right here . . . it’s only 16 seconds.)
I’m guessing you’re back right now, eyes open and breathing normally. Well, our whole experience was 32 seconds: 16 seconds with your eyes open and 16 seconds with your eyes closed. And in that half a minute while you were observing your breath (assuming you were playing along), you were totally present. You were not thinking about the past or any of its grievances or regrets, nor moving into the future with all its predictions and projections. You were not thinking about your irritation. You were totally in the present moment. Your mind is a little calmer; your heartbeat has slowed a bit. You’ve filled your body with heavily oxygenated blood and nourishing hormones, and in the process, you’ve released a little bit of stress.
In under a minute, you have taken a powerful step into destressifying. The formal terminology for what’s happening in 16 seconds is introducing a pattern interrupt. You actually just jammed the brakes on a potential surge of stress hormones and all the negative bodymind reactions you were starting to feel. You broke the flow of conditioned physical and emotional responses. Just the thought of this irritating situation or person triggered a memory of the stressful circumstances, and in 16 seconds you returned to the present moment. Then in the 17th second, you’re clearer—beyond the moment of emotion. You are a bit calmer . . . a bit lighter . . . a bit easier.
From Julie Daniluk:
The Role Of Serotonin
Serotonin creates a sense of peace, self-esteem, happiness and safety. Beyond concentration and relaxation, the more serotonin you have on board, the less pain you will experience. We boost serotonin levels naturally by embracing the practice of yoga or tai chi, prayer and meditation. Even going for a walk amoung the trees and sitting in the sunlight can boost serotonin naturally. Talking with a close friend or writing to love one can bolster the love hormone oxytocin and serotonin levels.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole gluten free grains, including wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth, teff and quinoa and root vegetables, squash and fresh fruits boost serotonin levels, creating a sense of calm, peace and confidence.
Herbs that help boost serotonin levels include burdock, dandelion and ginseng. Read more.