Friday, April 15, 2011


What is Neurobics and why do we do it?
We do Aerobic exercises to optimize our circulatory and respiratory systems. We do Neurobic exercises to optimize our nervous system. The term Neurobics was coined by Lawrence C. Katz, who was a Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University. He used the term to mean certain exercises specifically to develop the thinking skills. But here I am using it as an umbrella term to cover all kinds of exercises that enhance all the various brain functions. Almost all the religious/wisdom traditions in the world have promoted these exercises in various ways and under various names.
The nervous system is a part of the body and it is supported by all the other systems in the body; therefore, it is essential to keep the whole body healthy by healthy diet, physical exercises, and enough sleep. But neurobic exercises are specifically for the nervous system. Our nervous system consists of our brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The motor nerves carry information from our brain to our muscles. The sensory nerves carry information to the brain from our senses. The brain has specific areas that control our senses, our movements, and the various parts and functions of our body. The brain has two hemispheres: left and right. Nervous system has two major parts: voluntary and involuntary/autonomic. We have control over the voluntary part, but not on the involuntary part.

If the nervous system is like hardware, our mind is like software. Our mind performs various activities such as thinking, feeling, and willing. In order to perform these activities, the mind must have the ability to be aware, remember information, and focus attention. We speak about the conscious and unconscious mind, the former of which is in our control, but not the latter. Our mind consists of our self, willpower, attention, perception, awareness, thinking skills, and feelings.

Neurobics helps us to:
  1. Gain control over the motor nerves
  2. Gain control over the sensory nerves
  3. Gain control over the autonomic nervous system
  4. Coordinate the two hemispheres of the brain
  5. Gain the ability to keep the attention steady
  6. Improve memory power
  7. Expand awareness
  8. Enhance positive feelings
  9. Improve thinking skills
  10. Improve willpower
How should we do neurobic exercises?

A few examples of neurobic exercises are given below.

1. Stretch and relax our muscles
Usually our nervous system stays connected to our muscles to react to an emergency situation. When we relax all the muscles in our body, we withdraw our mental energy from the motor nerves and let our mind free. We have to sit somewhere calm and quiet making our subconscious mind believe that we are fully safe. Then we may relax our muscles one group at a time, and finally all the muscles at once. This exercise helps us to gain control over our muscles, our motor nerves, and our autonomic nervous system.

2. Breathe alternatively through the nostrils
When you breathe through one nostril, you may also feel that side of the brain. This exercise can help coordinate the two hemispheres of the brain.

3. Focus attention
We can improve our ability to focus our attention by consciously keeping the attention on something—a sight, a sound, a feeling, or an activity. A simple way might be to pay attention to our breathing. If the mind wanders to thoughts, just be aware of it, and slowly the mind gets cleared of all thoughts, and stays steady.

4. Focus attention on senses
By focusing on each of our five senses in turn, we can expand our awareness. Watch an object in front of you. Then close your eyes, and try to see it in your mind as clearly as you can. Open your eyes and look at the object again, and then close your eyes and try to see the object in mind more clearly. Now pay attention to the sounds you hear; try to hear all the minute sounds that fall on your ears. Now consciously taste with your tongue inside your mouth. Now consciously smell with your nose. Finally pay attention to the biggest sense organ – your skin. You may feel your body part by part beginning from the feet, and later you may feel the whole body at once. Finally, you may also try to withdraw your attention from all the senses and enjoy the feeling of awareness.

5. Sharpen memory
Consciously force your mind to remember things from the past. You may try to remember the events that happened to you from the time you woke up that day.

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