Science has traditionally maintained a ‘material reductionistic’ view of mind and consciousness. Meaning that the phenomenon of consciousness and mind is something to be explained in terms of physical and chemical processes in the brain. On the other hand, certain philosophies and spiritual disciplines have held the inherent assumption that physical reality is totally detached from spiritual reality and one is not accessed through the other. This is of course creating more or less the same problem as in Science.
Many pre-Scientific cultures however have since time immemorial held an alternative and holistic view which transcends beyond these problems. They have seen the human experience in its totality – mind, body and spirit – as being closely interrelated and interconnected with the environment, the healing medicines of nature, the celestial movements and the cycles of the seasons, etc. Everything is causally interconnected in the grand wheel of life.
The obvious had been staring us in the face all along. So many cultures came up with various methods to hack the spiritual through the physical – healing herbs, entheogens, fasting, exercises and even dance movements, meditation and so on. Take for instance the healing medicine plant Ayahuasca – how is it that one molecule – DimethylTryptamine (DMT – often referred to as the ‘spirit molecule’) can unlock powerful healing and cleansing in the biological, mental, energetic and spiritual layers of Self at once?
I would like to share with you my own daily source of nutrients and supplements that can be used by everyone to gain mental, energetic and spiritual health through bio-physical means. Some of the items on the list are common foods items, familiar to most, together with herbs and supplements that are available over the counter. As a disclaimer, I would like to note that this is fruit of my own research and experimentation which might no fit everyone’s lifestyle and taste. Also please consult a physician if you have any conditions that might be affected by diet or food supplements.
Nootropics: Keeping Optimal Brain Performance
Poor diet, stress and a hectic lifestyle can sap our mental energies and brain performance leaving our brain foggy. We feel not up to task to healthily navigate our way through our daily routines. This cascades into other areas of our life, not least our work, relationships and creativity.
Nootropics are the hottest trend of the moment in both the personal development and health and fitness world. They are essentially a group of smart drugs that target cognitive and neurological enhancement most popularly memory, motivation, focus & attention and mood.
Nootropics are approved and regulated smart drugs that can be bought over the counter or internet for under $50. One of the best products on the market so far is Alpha Brain by Onnit. Alpha Brain basically targets focus, mental drive and memory performance. It seriously gives me a powerful mental boost on the tap. I feel mentally focused, clear and sharp to perform my tasks throughout the day without ‘mental fogginess’. Main active ingredients are:
- AC-11: the ‘rainforest super herb’ shown to help the body repair DNA
- Alpha GPC: which supports learning processes through increasing the synthesis and secretion of acetylcholine. Heightened acetylcholine has been linked to memory, focus, mental drive, and REM sleep states
- Huperzine A: known as Northern Firmross it prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine
- Bacopa Monniera: An Ayurvedic herb known for its cognitive enhancing properties.
The Good Fats and the Hippocampus
Proteins & cutting down on Gluten & Sugars
Another interesting insight from Alberto Villoldo’s talk, regards how sugar and gluten are also responsible for damaging the brain. He points at anthropological studies that show how for instance the rise of war and religion in society propped up when humanity shifted from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural based society. The diet shifted from fats & proteins to grain derived products like bread which are laden with gluten and sugar. The underlying epigenetic effect partly gave rise to the result that human society became more fear-based and aggressive. This is a very interesting point but now back to the kitchen.
My experiments in carb-free, Gluten-free and sugar-free diets have had an immense beneficial effect to my wellbeing and even mood overall. My last meal is before 6pm, then I break fast with a high protein meal – for example egg with tuna, spinach and topped with Guacamole. I snack on nuts, green smoothies then have a mini-lunch and early dinner with greens and fish ( or if you prefer meat).
Antioxidants play also a crucial part in detoxifying the mind and body. I take my antioxidants from the super foods I eat – mainly dark green veg, nuts and green tea ( I take Matcha green tea which has 137 times the antioxidants of normal green tea). Another source of antioxidants is from small bits of dark chocolate I put in my smoothies (dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants).
Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter in the brain synthesised from the amino acid Tryptophan. It is responsible for improving mood, promoting happiness, relaxation and the ability to get a good night sleep. Hence hacking your serotonin levels is crucial to reinforcing your overall wellbeing, not least spiritually and energetically. One way of doing this is through a natural amino acid supplement called 5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP for short. 5-HTP is synthesised in the brain into serotonin with the effect of elevating your mood and leaving you feel relaxed but focused at the same time.
The Calming Herbs:
Other natural tools to calm the mind and the nervous system are relaxing herbs such as valerian root, passion flower, lemon balm, chamomile and holy basil among others. These can be taken separately or combined together and steeped into teas. Ideal for winding down after a hard day or as an aid to get a good night of restorative sleep.