Words rewire our brains – for better or worse

“Just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions. You’ll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction.” ~ Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Waldman

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a harsh, angry word, you are well acquainted with the racing heart and rise in blood pressure due to the fight-or-flight stress response. On the opposite end of the spectrum, kind, loving and gentle words have a calming, spacious effect. Both scenario’s tend to be familiar ground in our day-to-day interactions. What we may not realize, however, is how words restructure the physical composition of our brains in an ongoing process. And it’s not just spoken words — the same is true for those that are in written form or thoughts of particular words. As it turns out, words hold incredible power — and can determine our level of happiness, health and success in both business and relationships.

Researchers have discovered the most dangerous word in the world

For anyone who has children, there’s a good chance you fall into the “NO” routine — meaning you habitually tell your child “NO” as if it were some kind of knee-jerk reaction. As parents, we seem to dole the word out like candy without a second thought, which is a big mistake according to the latest research in psychology.

“If I were to put you into a fMRI scanner—a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain—and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication,” write Newberg and Waldman, authors of Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy.

When you speak the word “NO” — it’s not just your brain that’s affected, the listener will also experience increased anxiety and irritability, which ultimately undermines cooperation and trust. In fact, any hostile language can cause problems for both the speaker and recipient. “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes,” note Newberg and Waldman. That’s right, a single word is powerful enough to impact the expression of genes that are responsible for physical and emotional stress. And complaining is just as bad. “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is…similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong,” psychologist Jeffrey Lohr wryly observes.

Besides curbing our complaints and avoiding negative words in thought and speech — and possibly rethinking the use of “NO” altogether — how can we further transform our reality for the better through the use of language?

The power of positive words

If negative words are a disaster for our mind, health and relationships, the opposite is also true of optimistic language. When we hold a positive word in our mind the frontal lobe is stimulated. This is the region of the brain responsible for higher mental processes like thinking, decision making and planning — it also includes specific language centers that are linked directly to the motor cortex that moves you into action. On top of that, the longer you focus on positive words, the more other areas of the brain are influenced. You begin to change the perception of yourself and others. And you build resiliency to life’s trials and tribulations.

As you begin to see yourself in a positive light, it will create a bias toward seeing the good in others. In contrast, negative words create a poor self-image which cultivates suspicion and doubt. “Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality,” said the authors.

Vajin Armstrong (SCMT) first in Davos

vajin-davos-1.platz.jpgYesterday, Vajin Armstrong (NZ) won the prestigious Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos with a time of 6:25:23 h, followed by Evgenii Glyva (UKR) with 6:41:17 h and Bernhard Eggenschiler (CH) with 6:44:11 h. 35 year old Vajin is a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (SCMT) and meditation was certainly the key factor to win this competition with a length of 76 k and a difference of altitude of 2560 m! Bravo Vajin!

PHOTOS: Swiss Alpine Marathon Davos / VIDEO: Hutashan Heer

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Guinness World Record: Balancing bike on chin

Guinness World Records’ most prolific record breaker Ashrita Furman, a student of Sri Chinmoy,  has achieved yet another title this month, after a successful attempt at the Longest duration balancing a bicycle on the chin. Ashrita carefully placed the saddle of his bike onto his chin and managed to keep it there without touching it with his hands for an incredible 2 min 1.45 sec. The attempt took place in Uherske Hradiste in the Czech Republic, in front of an audience of cheering children. The bike was an unmodified Super Course Raleigh and weighed 12.05 kg.

Muhammad Ali: Indomitable Hero Within and Without

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Yesterday, the Indian Panorama published the following article:

For decades Muhammad Ali and spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy established a close friendship based on their shared love of God and dedication to fitness and sports.

During their meeting on the morning of Ali’s title defense fight with Earnie Shavers, September 29th, 1977, they spent an hour together in shared silent prayer. A photo of the two men serenely meditating was placed side by side a photo of Ali powerfully vanquishing Shavers on the front page of The New York Times the following morning.

Sri Chinmoy, who led the twice-weekly peace meditation at the United Nations for 37 years, told the world’s most beloved athlete Ali, “You are changing the face and fate of mankind. Your very name encourages and inspires. As soon as people hear ‘Muhammad Ali,’ they are inspired. They get tremendous joy. They get such dynamism to be brave and face ignorance…Your heart of oneness with all humanity makes you the greatest.”

Ali replied to Sri Chinmoy, “My goal is to be like you one day—to be peaceful and out of this sport working for humanity and for God…I want to do something to bring people together, to work for God and to help people.”

This week members of the Sri Chinmoy Centers worldwide and friends are paying tribute to the memory of Muhammad Ali by performing three songs composed by their teacher about the immortal boxer. The songs were first performed during meetings of Sri Chinmoy with Muhammad Ali and are entitled Greater than the Greatest, Muhammad Ali – Champion Ali, and Indomitable Hero Supreme. They speak of the physical and spiritual greatness of one of the most universally loved figures of our age.

Many years later, on June 12th, 2003, Sri Chinmoy met again with Muhammad Ali and also his wife, Lonnie, at The Oneness-Family School in Washington, DC. There Sri Chinmoy honored both husband and wife by lifting them together overhead in his signature Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart program. The spiritual luminary said to the beloved boxer, Brother, you were the greatest. You are the greatest. You forever will remain the greatest!”

Delighted by the honor, Muhammad Ali embraced Sri Chinmoy and sweetly exclaimed, “Brother, you are a great man! Brother, you are a very strong man!”

Photo by Bhashwar

Sri Chinmoy 12+24 h Race 2016 in Basel

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At the 28th edition of the Sri Chinmoy 12+24 Hour Race Basel, thanks to the German Championships, we had a new record of participants: 127 runners at the 24 Hour- and 34 runners at the 12 Hour Race. A total of 14 different nations participated.

The 24 Hour Race: Dietmar Korntner from Austria (243.068k) and Maria Jansson (see picture above) from Sweden (242.686k) had an incredibly tight and exciting finale. Maria achieved a new world-best for this year, set a new Swedish record and the sixth best result ever run by a woman in a roadrace, only 4.39k less than the world record of Elisabeth Hawker (GBR). And this was performed in horrible weather conditions with 20 hours of rain, the worst weather we ever had at our race in Basel in the last 28 years. The German Championships were won by Stu Thoms with 237.164k and Antje Krause with 210.505. And the titel of the Swiss Champion went Simon Schmid with 202.576k and Ursula Herger with 188.40k.

The 12 Hour Race: This event started at midnigh with Sigrid Hoffmann (GER) showing a fantastic race. With 122.492k  she was not only the winner overall but she broke the 22 year old German record in the category W50. In the men’s category Marc Garcia from Switzerland won with 116.017k.

Photo by Kedar Misani

Peace Run Torch 2016 lit at UNESCO Paris

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On 1 April 2016, 14 runners from the Peace Run 2016 made a stop at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. UNESCO was a relay of their 24,000 km tour through 49 countries across Europe in their 2016 itinerary, for sharing a message of peace and mutual understanding among peoples. UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Nada Al-Nashif, received the Peace Run torch at UNESCO, during the European relay which was launched on 11 February 2016 by the President of the Council of Europe, Donald Tusk.

Founded in 1987, the Peace Run association was inspired by the poet, philosopher athlete and humanist Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), who believed in all individuals’ capacity to transform the world by making a step towards peace. Peace Run is a global relay run and a grassroots event engaging individuals around the world to express their aspirations for harmony between peoples, with the torch as its symbol, passed hand in hand across countries, cities and regions to illustrate this unity beyond borders and cultures, and to celebrate the human being in all his rich diversity. UNESCO places this event in the context of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022). The values and ideals embedded in sports are used to “promote respect for human rights and cultural diversity, (…) to fight against new forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance, extremism and radicalization, thus forging ties among peoples and nations.” Since its inception, the Peace Run has visited more than 140 countries around the world, in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America.

Source: www.unesco.org