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An Interview With The First Person To Play Golf On Mars… Sort Of

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Jocelyn Dunn is the first person to play golf on Mars.

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Ok, not really on Mars, but pretty darn close. Sort of. Dunn is part of a six-person crew of faux Martian astronauts living in a facility on the Big Island of Hawaii. HI-SEAS – the Hawaii Space Exploration and Analog Simulation — is a NASA-funded effort to study the psychological effects of long-duration space travel. The idea is to put astronauts together in a simulated Martian habitat for various periods of time and study what transpires.

HI-SEAS’ physical facility is a dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa, one of the two mega-volcanoes that make up a large part of the Big Island of Hawaii. The current crop of astronauts is the third to spend a lengthy time in the habitat. The third mission’s astronauts are spending eight months inside the facility living as though they were actually living on Mars, with time-delayed communications and limited access to the Internet, etc. They’re about six months into their journey and disaster has yet to strike. What’s more – they still like each other!

Figure 1. The HI-SEAS facility.

HI-SEAS

But back to golf. Here’s Jocelyn’s swing in her space suit on the slopes of Mars/Mauna Loa:

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Figure 2. Dunn’s impressive golf swing. 

Dunn golfing

I read in the New York Times about the new crew that entered the HI-SEAS dome back in October and noticed that one of the crew (Dunn) had many things in common with a character in a novel I’m writing that takes place on the Big Island. Seeing the chance for a cool plot development in my novel, and having always been interested in space travel and Martian colonization, I reached out to Jocelyn Dunn via email. To my pleasant surprise she responded and we’ve had an interesting dialogue about her experiences.

Interview With Jocelyn Dunn

I asked her the obvious questions: why did you decide to spend eight months cooped up in a fake Martian habitat? “Well, mainly because I feel passionate about this type of research and it unites all my academic interests: aerospace, biomedical, and data science.  But also because I was attracted to the idea of signing off from worldly distractions and focusing on personal and intellectual growth.”

tambookHow is your time structured each day? “We do not really have rules about how to spend our time, we just have milestones and expectations for certain tasks, then the rest is up to us.  The goal is to have an autonomous crew.”

What is your command structure? “In terms of command structure, we do have a commander, Martha [Lenio].  She’s not a micro-manager, but she is a decisive leader. Then we have the mission support which has two ties. First is for the simple questions and help, like ‘please send me the manual for the radio, a weather report, etc.,’ and then second tier are NASA researchers and mission directors. They respond to more important problems that have unclear answers.”

Is there a policy about dating in the habitat? “There is no policy about dating. We had conversations before we moved in about how we all felt about romance developing among the crew. The consensus was that we did not mind as long as the romance remained as private as possible and did not interfere with mission goals.”

What is your power source and would it be the same on Mars? “Primarily, the HI-SEAS habitat runs on solar energy. We also have hydrogen as backup and a gas generator. Yes, solar and hydrogen would be the primary power sources on Mars. Without an atmosphere, the solar arrays built for Mars would be able to utilize more wavelengths of light than those built for usage on Earth. Hydrogen will also be a vital part of the energy system on on Mars as hydrogen can be produced through electrolysis of water or other methods. This would be especially useful in high sunlight scenarios when the batteries have been fully-charged and there is excess power being generated that can then be used to produce hydrogen.”

Establishing “Human Redundancy”

At the risk of cheapening the value of Martian colonization, I analogize establishing colonies on Mars, from a practical perspective, to having multiple credit cards or having multiple backups of important documents on your computer and in the “cloud.” It’s all about redundancy. Having all of humanity’s eggs in the Earth basket we call home leaves us pretty vulnerable to various possible disasters. If we value a role for humanity in the unfolding of the universe in future eons it would be good to have some additional homes in case Earth runs into serious problems.

I would certainly miss Earth if I were to embark on a ship for a life on Mars or some other part of our solar system, but Mars is spectacular in its own way. I’ve read and re-read Kim Stanley Robinson’s amazing series of novels about Martian colonization: Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars. He paints vivid portraits of the Martian landscape, including features like the Pavonis Mons crater that is a five-kilometer sheer circular wall. Robinson also paints a convincing picture of what he calls the “areophany,” the unfolding transformation of Mars into a habitable planet that takes place in his series of books, that has a real spiritual component for many of the Martian colonists creating entirely new lives on a new planet.

While colonizing Mars remains a fictional endeavor for now, there are a number of companies and countries working hard to make it reality in just a decade or two. Mars One is an interesting effort to send a one-way mission to Mars within the next decade, similar to the mission described in Robinson’s books. Elon Musk and his SpaceX company are taken more seriously in their efforts to eventually carry humans to Mars. Musk plans to announce the details of the planned Mars mission later this year, though no date has been set yet for when the mission might take place. Early speculation suggests sometime between 2025 and 2030.

NASA is working on space vehicles that could in theory take astronauts to Mars, but there are no U.S. plans to actually do this until sometime in the 2030s, if then. So for now Martian colonization seems likely to be mostly a private sector endeavor and that may well be a good thing, because private companies can move more quickly and innovate better than national space agencies.

I asked Jocelyn whether she would volunteer for a one-way trip to Mars. “If participating in a one-way trip to Mars with current technologies, it seems likely that my life would end in a year or so after running out of supplies, so, no I would not. There is still much research and development required before a mission to Mars will be viable. I’m skeptical that my generation will begin colonizing Mars, but I am hopeful that my generation will begin exploring Mars with round trips to and from Mars!”

I’m reading a new novel about Mars, The Martian, by Andy Weir, and it paints believable scenarios for all sorts of potential disasters for the first Martian explorers. So Jocelyn’s concerns are pretty well-founded!

Is Our Desire For Space Exploration Spiritual In Nature?

Robinson’s books do an excellent job of weaving a spiritual theme into Martian colonization, with his exploration through various characters of the areophany, the re-making of Mars. I asked Dunn whether there was a spiritual component to her volunteering for HI-SEAS and being interested in Mars:

Yes, some say that the desire to explore is innate to humanity. We must keep exploring so that humanity can expand beyond Earth and have a continued presence in the universe. On a higher-level, this question reminds me of debate in the space community about whether we should keep searching for life elsewhere or if we should aim to spread Earthly life throughout the universe. So instead of sending rovers to explore for evidence of life, should we start sending rovers to distribute microbial life, etc.? It’s not the same for everyone, but for me, exploration nourishes my spirit and encourages positive-thinking while testing endurance and determination.

Inside a spacesuit, there’s a solace that I’ll try to describe. Even though radio comms are chattering in my earpiece, there’s a separation from everything – the people, the terrain, and even reality. In order to protect against a harsh environment spacesuits purposely exclude the outside world from the senses. But this separation also opens up space for the imagination, for self-reflection, and leaves room for an individual’s spirit to thrive – similar to how it feels to sing in the shower or dance while no one is watching! However, in requiring maximal physical and mental toughness to meet the objectives of exploration, rather than feeling like a personal retreat for a reflective soul, the confinement of a spacesuit could be likened to entrapment with an anxious mind, for some, the epitome of claustrophobia.

It’s an exciting time as Jocelyn and her fellow pioneers work to multiply our single spaceship (Earth) into one or more additional spaceships (Mars and other planets/moons). Dunn and her colleagues keep interesting blogs here. I’ll be following Dunn and her colleagues as they continue their adventures. Maybe one day I’ll get to golf on Mars too, or even play low-gravity tennis.

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Consciousness

New Study of Mind-Matter Interaction Via Double Slit Experiment Yields “Remarkable” Results

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new analysis of the double slit experiment shows, according to the author, "remarkable" results when it comes to analyzing the mind-matter interaction problem.

  • Reflect On:

    Why has most of this science been studied by the Department of Defense? Why are real life, documented and recorded examples never used in these studies? Why is the statistical significance of parapsychology never mentioned?

Does mind influence matter? The answer is an unquestionable yes, this fact is firmly established in scientific literature, and the only thing up for debate is just how much of an effect our minds can have on matter.

In what’s known as the double slit experiment, tiny bits of matter (photons, electrons, or any atomic-sized object) are shot toward a screen that has two slits in it. On the other side of the screen, a video camera records where each photon lands. When scientists close one slit, the camera will show us an expected pattern. But when both slits are opened, an interference pattern emerges — they begin to act like waves. This means that each photon individually goes through both slits at the same time and interferes with itself, but it also goes through one slit, and it goes through the other. Furthermore, it goes through neither of them. The single piece of matter becomes a “wave” of potentials, expressing itself in the form of multiple possibilities, and this is why we get the interference pattern.

How can a single piece of matter exist and express itself in multiple states, without any physical properties, until it is “measured” or “observed”? Furthermore, how does it choose which path, out of multiple possibilities, to take?

Then, when an “observer” decides to measure and look at which slit the piece of matter goes through, the “wave” collapses, and then things really get interesting.

The connection between human consciousness, or factors associated with human consciousness such as intention, thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the physical realm is fascinating. This is precisely why nearly all of the founding fathers of quantum physics were so preoccupied with learning more about consciousness and “non-material” science in general. For instance, the theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, Max Planck, regarded “consciousness as fundamental” and matter as a “derivative from consciousness.” Eugene Wigner, another famous theoretical physicist and mathematician, also emphasized how “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays by Dean Radin, PhD explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality. The paper showed that meditators were able to collapse quantum systems at a distance through intention alone. The meditators were the “observer” in this case.

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In fact, as Radin points out in his lecture, a “5 sigma” result was able to give CERN the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle (which turned out not to be Higgs after all). In this study, they also received a 5 sigma result when testing meditators against non-meditators in collapsing the quantum wave function. This means that mental activity, the human mind, attention, and intention, which are a few labels under the umbrella of consciousness, compelled physical matter to act in a certain way.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position… We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.”

Fascinating, isn’t it?

The New Study

I recently came across a post on Radin’s Facebook page regarding a new study just published in PLOS ONE titled Independent re-analysis of alleged mind-matter interaction in double-slit experimental data.

His Facebook post reads,

Just published. “… this paper is the third independent statistical analysis … showing significant differences in fringe visibility between concentration and relaxation epochs of human subjects….”. The author made several assumptions that differed from ours, which resulted in reduced statistical power. That in turn led to a more conservative conclusion. Even so, anomalies were clearly found in these data that defy ordinary explanations.

In that study, they provided a “two year long experimental dataset in which authors of Radin, et al., 2016 claim to find evidence of mind-matter interaction is independently re-analyzed. In this experiment, participants are asked to periodically shift their attention towards or away from a double-slit optical apparatus. Shifts in fringe visibility of the interference pattern are monitored and tested against the common sense null hypothesis that such shifts should not correlate with the participant’s attention state.”

They concluded that:

The thorough analysis pursued in this paper gives a much broader and full picture of the data than the ones previously published in [1] and [19]. On the one hand, we find undeniable anomalies in the human data with shifts of the fringe visibility in the direction expected by human intention. The fact that fringe visibility decreases when human intention tries to make it decrease, and increases when human intention tries to make it increase is remarkable.

That being said, the authors concluded that they still cannot give a definitive conclusion on mind-matter interaction. However, publications like this are still a huge step forward.

They also mention a very important point: The stigma behind these findings and how it encroaches on belief systems have perhaps not allowed a more rigorous scientific investigation into these subjects.

Given the controversial aspect of this research, attempts to reproduce such an experiment should be done by groups of experts from different fields of research including quantum mechanics, neuroscience and statistics, both skeptics and believers, collaborating to design the most rigorous protocol. Personal beliefs, may they be strongly in favour or against the mind-matter interaction hypothesis, have to be put aside, to collectively pursue a clear and objective investigation of this particular interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.

Here’s another great quote alluding to the same thing:

There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing. —Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

What The Authors Failed To Recognize

Never in these studies do they mention real world examples. Cases of mind influencing matter have been reported throughout history and across many cultures, more specifically in regards to ‘supernormal’ abilities such as telepathy, psychokinesis, and other phenomena that lie within the realms of parapsychology. This is evident in ancient literature, from the Vedic texts and the yoga sutras to Jesus, Moses, Milarepa, Mohammed, and more.

In 1987, researchers at the Institute of Space-Medico Engineering, as mentioned in the CIA document earlier in the article, publicized a fraction of their work in the form of a film showcasing their work and what they had accomplished.

The film showed a medicine pill moving through an irreversibly sealed glass vial, which occurred in three frames of a 400 frame per second film. (source)

Another release (about Zhang) from the CIA (Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers) states:

A wooden cabinet 120 by 180 by 60 centimeters was used as a sealed container. Sheets of papers and boards with one  of a kind markings were used as the target objects and placed inside the cabinet on the upper shelf. Without damaging the cabinet or opening the door, the person with ESP was able to remove the target objets and also was able to put them back inside. This demonstrates that even when using especially large container it is possible to completely break through spacial barriers, however, the success rate was much lower and was exceptionally difficult. (Source)(source)

The CIA document linked above provides more examples.

According to Eric Davis, Ph.D, FBIS, from a declassified US Air Force document obtained via the Federation of American Scientists, Shuhuang reported that ‘gifted children’ were responsible for the teleportation of small, physical objects from one place to another. (source)

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock.  You can read that here.

There are many fascinating examples within the lore of parapsychology.

Many of these results are just as strong, if not stronger, than a lot of the results that come from hard sciences like physics and mechanical engineering. As far back as 1999, the head of the statistics department at UC Irvine, Jessica Utts, published a paper showing that results dealing with parapsychology and mind-body connection are a lot stronger than the results used to approve some of our medications!

The Takeaway

The idea that mind influences matter is not new. From a hardcore scientific perspective, the results may be questionable, but we have to transcend science as its current parameters have become some sort of religion, failing to take into account many factors. A lot of science today has been dominated and taken over by the corporate world. The politicization of science is a real thing, and new science has confirmed the metaphysical world and is breaking down current and old paradigms. Everything from the mind-body connection to quantum physics and parapsychology are showing us how much more we have to learn about ourselves and what we are capable of.

Thing about the implications this could have for our planet? Imagine if billions of people all over the world found peace within themselves, what type of world would we create?

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Alternative News

Research Reveals Plants Can Think, Choose & Remember

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com where it was originally published. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Does all form of life poses some type of 'consciousness' regardless of its biological structure? If so, what does this mean?

Modern science is only beginning to catch up to the wisdom of the ancients: plants possess sentience and a rudimentary form of intelligence. 

Plants are far more intelligent and capable than we given them credit. In fact, provocative research from 2010 published in Plant Signaling & Behavior proposes that since they cannot escape environmental stresses in the manner of animals, they have developed a “sophisticated, highly responsive and dynamic physiology,” which includes information processes such as “biological quantum computing” and “cellular light memory” which could be described as forms of plant intelligence. Titled, “Secret life of plants: from memory to intelligence,” the study highlights one particular “super power” of plants indicative of their success as intelligent beings:

“There are living trees that germinated long before Jesus Christ was born. What sort of life wisdom evolved in plants to make it possible to survive and propagate for so long a time in the same place they germinated?”

According to the researchers, “plants actually work as a biological quantum computing device that is capable to process quantum information encrypted in light intensity and in its energy.” This information processing includes a mechanism for processing memorized information. For example:

“plants can store and use information from the spectral composition of light for several days or more to anticipate changes that might appear in the near future in the environment, for example, for anticipation of pathogen attack.”

According to the study, “plants can actually think and remember.”

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Moreover, plant not only possess a mechanism for information gathering and processing, but appear to exercise agency or “choice” vis-à-vis different scenarios:

“different group of chloroplasts and cells in the same leaf under identical constant and stable light, temperature and relative humidity condition have different opinion “what to do” in such conditions and tests different scenarios of possible future development.”

The study also offers an explanation for why plants absorb more light energy than is needed for photosynthesis alone:

“Another possible answer to the above question is a light training of young naïve leaves. Let’s imagine when young leaf or flower is emerging out of a plant, it would be nice for that leaf or flower to know about the conditions in which it is going to emerge. Older, more experienced leaves that actually are acclimated to outside conditions can train naïve emerging young leaves with the PEPS [photoelectrophysiological signaling ]and cellular light memory mechanisms. This explains why plants possess a natural capacity to absorb more light energy than that required for photosynthetic CO2 assimilation. They need this absorbed energy in excess for optimization and training of light acclimatory and immune defenses.”

The authors leave us with the provocative conclusion:

“Our results suggest that plants are intelligent organisms capable of performing a sort of thinking process (understood as at the same time and non-stress conditions capable of performing several different scenarios of possible future definitive responses), and capable of memorizing this training.17 Indeed leaves in the dark are able to not only “see” the light,8,34 but also are able to differently remember its spectral composition and use this memorized information to increase their Darwinian fitness.”

Why is this discovery important?

There are many reasons why recognizing the sentience and intelligence of plants may have positive implications for the future of humanity. For one, it helps us all to transcend the dominant worldview that non-human life forms are best defined in strictly mechanistic terms, and that attributing a “life essence” or consciousness to them is a form of magical thinking. French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Pointy called this world view the “Great Object,” namely, that everything in the universe is compromised of material objects externally related to one another, and with consciousness merely an ephemeral subjectivity found only in humans.

To the contrary, if we open ourselves to the possibility that we are all participants in an interconnected web of life, as many indigenous peoples believed and actually experienced things to be, destroying the natural world simply to serve the essentially suicidal infinite economic growth model will be identified for the insanity that it is. If we recognize, as biologist James Lovelock proposed, the Earth as a whole should be looked upon more like a self-regulating organism (Gaia hypothesis), or as mycologist Paul Stamet envisions, that there is a fungi-based internet within the ground connecting all living things on the planet in an information-sharing network, we will be less likely to both perceive and to treat the natural world as “other” to be dominated. We’ve also been reporting on the role of exosomes as cross-kingdom messengers, which provides a plausible mechanism for how all of the Earth’s inhabitants — plant, fungal, bacteria, animal, etc. — are linked together in an open access, information sharing network.

Recognizing that plants, for instance, have consciousness, or that their simple presence in our environment has healing effects, reintroduces an element of wonder and mystery back into the experience of the natural world. A perfect example of this can be found in the singing plants of the sacred forest of Damanhur. Damanhurian researchers in the mid-70’s reported using custom equipment to capture electromagnetic changes on the surface of leaves and roots and transforming them into audible signals. The researchers also observed that the plants learned to control their electrical responses, indicating they had some rudimentary awareness of the music they were creating. To learn more visit the Damanhur project website, and watch the video below.


Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.


Original Article


If you’d like more information from Greenmedinfo, you can sign up for their newsletter here

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Consciousness

Science Says Silence Is Vital For Our Brains

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Studies have shown that excessive environmental noise not only decreases one's quality of life and cognitive function, but also reduces lifespan. The good news is that spending time in silence can reverse these effects.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you living in an environment that is consistently loud? Do you take much time for intended silence? Have you tried the 5 Days of You Challenge?

If you’re the average person, you wake up to the sound of an alarm. That alarm sends you to the bathroom where you quickly get yourself ready for your workday. If you have the time, you might eat something before jumping into your car to listen to music or the radio while you sit in traffic on your way to work.

Once you get there, it’s all people, customers, co-workers, cars, trucks, planes, lawn mowers, construction, phone calls, and tasks for the next 8 hours. These noises that most of us experience in excess send our bodies into stress states, decreasing our quality of life and potentially reducing our lifespan. It appears that noise, in excess, is not healthy for humans. Silence, on the other hand, can have huge benefits, but let’s explore the damage caused by noise before we get to the benefits of silence.

Before we get into the research, I’d like to note that the word ‘noise’ is said to come from the Latin word nausea, or the Latin word noxia, meaning seasickness, sickness, hurt, damage, or injury. Is it any wonder ‘noise’ is not healthy for us?

The Studies

Outside of your anecdotal reflection, there is scientific evidence that supports the negative effects of noise on our health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) examined and quantified its health burden based on a European study that involved 340 million people living in Western Europe. It found that residents were cumulatively losing about a million years off their lives due to noise every year. That’s like one in every three people losing an entire year off their life due to excessive noise!

A study that was published in 2011 in Psychological Science examined the effects Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Professor Gary W. Evans of Cornell University noted that the children who were exposed to noise developed a stress response that caused them to ignore the noise. These children not only ignored harmful noises, but also regular stimuli that are important to pay attention to like speech. Wonder why people have trouble paying attention these days? Perhaps we are exposed to too much noise and too many sounds.

This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise–even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage–causes stress and is harmful to humans. – Professor Gary Evans

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Going back to anecdotal evidence for a moment, I always find that staying with my friends who live in cities produces a much more uncomfortable situation for myself than when I’m in more quiet situations, or living at my quiet, somewhat isolated home in nature. I always share with friends that the environment of living in a city seems to be unhealthy; not just the air, but the energy, hustle and bustle, and the noise as well. Reading these studies clearly illustrates that it does not appear to be natural or healthy for humans to live or work in loud environments every day.

Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus, and loss of sleep. Living in consistently noisy environments will cause you to experience much higher levels of these harmful hormones. Of course, there is something you can do about this should you take action on it, but it requires that–action.

The Benefits of Silence

Again, pointing to anecdotal evidence for a moment, think back to the moments where you were on your own, retreating to the cottage or somewhere else quiet. Did you notice how often you NOTICED the silence? Not only that, but you likely felt a lot better after 3 or 4 hours of being there.

It isn’t just cleaner air or taking some time away from work, it’s the silence and lack of distraction. This can be observed by playing loud music and partying the entire time at a cottage as well. You’ll realize it isn’t relaxing, but simply another distraction. When you contrast the two different experiences, the benefits become more clear.

An interesting study observed the effects of noise, music, and silence on the brain. The study was published in the journal Heart and found that the two minute pauses randomly placed between the ‘relaxing music’  in the study were far more relaxing for the brain than the relaxing music. The longer the silence, the more benefits experienced by the participants. Study author L. Bernardi found that his ‘irrelevant’ blank pauses were the most important aspects of the study. Silence is heightened by contrast.

What You Can Do & The Takeaway

So, what can you do if you experience a lot of noise and are looking to avoid loud noises or simply take a break? Firstly, the good news is that the brain recovers from too much noise over time. According to the attention restoration theory, the brain’s finite cognitive resources can begin restoring when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input. In silence, the brain essentially lets down its sensory guard and restores some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.

The practical end of this would look like making an extra effort to be or spend time in silence. This means no music, movies, friends, conversations, phone chimes, etc, even if it’s only for 30 minutes or an hour each day.

This silence would not only allow your brain to restore its cognitive functions like creativity, but it can give you the opportunity to disconnect, quiet down and connect with yourself as well.

Years ago, I created a challenge called the 5 Days of You Challenge that’s designed to do just that – help people slow down, reduce noise and distraction, and connect deeper with themselves. Over the years, I have sent 180,000 people through this challenge and it has resulted in an incredible number of positive transformations.

If you’re looking to:

  • Clear emotional blocks
  • Connect deeply with yourself
  • Find more peace in your life
  • Develop greater self-awareness and presence
  • Slow down and enjoy life more

Then this challenge is something I highly recommend. I’ve made this challenge available to everyone to experience for free. You can check it out on CETV here.

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