Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Four Qualities Of Mystic Cool

Our Brain At Its Absolute Best

When neuroscientists tested brain activity in Tibetan monks, they found inner peace had significantly expanded the usual networks that generate higher order brain function. These networks were larger and more fully integrated than brain scans show on the average person, with increased blood flow to the region.

As a result, brain function in these monks had reached levels never before reported in the scientific literature. The readings on Gamma Wave activity, signaling higher mental activity, was off the chart. The highly developed neural circuitry generated a flow of intelligence that was emotionally peaceful, positive, and fearlessly self-confident, all of which made the monks immune to stress. Even more astounding was the finding that when the monks were not actively practicing mindfulness meditation, they continued to sustain these optimal brain states.

It's In Every One Of Us
The conclusion of science: Inner peace builds a powerful brain. When the scientists drilled into the basic approach to inner peace that these monks practiced they found it consisted of four essential qualities that any of us can develop. Better still, science found that a little practice goes a long way in building brain structure.

These four qualities not only produce a great monk; they produce peak performers. The dynamically peaceful attitude the monks mastered is the zone athletes work toward. It's the calm under siege that drill-sergeants ingrain in soldiers. It is the stream of creativity that entrepreneurs call the top of your game.

I call this dynamically peaceful attitude "Mystic Cool," which is the name of the book I wrote on the subject. In the book I provide a simple set of tools for integrating each of the four qualities into daily life to sustain this powerful attitude. The reward is a powerful brain generating a joyful intelligence that can excel at work and at life.

1. The first quality of Mystic Cool focuses our attention. We are quietly engaged, fully present. We drop the incessant thinking that produces a pointless preoccupation with the past or endless worries about the future. We practice being present, right here, right now, engaging whatever is before us with an open, alert mind.

2. The second quality sets our stance in life. We are peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. We are not afraid or threatened by the outside. Thus, we can face a challenge confidently and feel our way to the best possible response to the situation.

3. The third quality creates our sense of connection. Our hearts are open and empathic, with the intention of creating an atmosphere of interpersonal resonance. We consciously connect with our own internal center, with the people we happen to be with, and to that which we conceive of as greater than ourselves. We practice listening better, judging less, and forgiving more.

4. The fourth quality of Mystic Cool engenders a wider perspective. It is an enduring sense of the whole that transcends the fragments. We see the proverbial forest and the trees as we hold to the big picture.

These four qualities, when evoked consistently, transform a disconnected, stress-provoking way of living into a richer, more integrated way of being. In the process, this simple approach to mindfulness builds higher brain structure so we can reach higher ground, in whatever we pursue. Mercifully, it could not be simpler. It is no further than a basic shift in attitude.

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