Monday, February 24, 2014

Were Buddha's Executive Function Skills Tip-Top?

Does one go on a long mission without first making adequate provisions? 

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) is a great example of a person who exemplified a lifestyle that continuously strengthened and toned his executive function skills. He did so while walking away from a life of endless material provisions. Was this smart? Shouldn't he at least have taken out a health care plan from his Dad's kingdom? Did he think this through? How accurate was his foresight during the time he changed his values and principles? Was he able to anticipate and predict what would happen to a high degree? Did he make a reckless decision? 

So I ask the question again, does one go on a long mission without first making adequate provisions?

What insights can we glean from the lifestyle changes in his life that correlate with keeping one's executive function skills toned? Aside from doing a whole lotta meditating, what were some of his other activities? Can parts of this lifestyle be replicated in the day to day routine of kids and adults? Can it be done in a way that creates contentment at the same time?

Siddhartha was the son of a great king in India. He grew up in palaces, received the finest education, and had all the wealth and abundance he could ever hope for. Every opportunity to succeed was placed in front of him and he was next in line for the kingdom. Nonetheless, he was not content with all the world had to offer, even when it was on his lap. So he literally walked away and after much trial and error, he reached deep contentment across mind, body, and soul.  

This required great mental strength, as well as every single executive function skill that has been identified, including self-control, goal-directed persistence, focus, impulse control, sustaining attention, functional balance, and foresight.

What caused change within him? Was it God, was it God's creation, the Universe, was it an epiphany? 

It is obvious that action first manifests as thought so at some early point he must have had a shift in his mindset which caused a shift in his life values and principles, which caused a shift in how he chose to live each moment. Things that had value lost it, and things that had little or no value became much more for him. But what causes someone with so much material abundance, power, and opportunity to value it as mere nothing? A 'liquid-asset poor' individual may feel economically poor when compared to a' liquid-asset rich' individual. But Siddhartha was 'liquid-asset rich,' yet invariably counted himself... poor..., and then set out to become rich from within. By many accounts he may be noted to have been more or less 'liquid-asset poor' during the rest of his life. Well, perhaps he did not have the opulent palaces, exotic animals, and river of attending servants at his beck and call. But so what? He already had that, and that was not enough for him. He pursued living a life of happiness that was grounded and in tune with creation, not by pursuing earthly pleasures that were temporal. In his stillness, Siddhartha became a positive force which had an astounding effect in his region and across the world. 

What can you do? What can I do? How can we integrate routine and activities that lead to a richer, daily life which also exercises and supports our executive function skill 'muscles?' Well, you don't have to become a Buddhist to appreciate how to take care of yourself and your brain, and your mind.

Here are some actions you can take to bring greater richness and meaning to your life, no matter the circumstances:

Seek God, regardless of your faith. Who will you rest on when you are tired and worn out? Yourself? The govt? It is good for kids to be trained up to seek God.

Meditate a bit 2x's a day.Slowing down the daily pace trains the mind to be laser-focused.

Pray constantly with thanksgiving for everything big and small. 

Play chess.

Schedule time with our kids everyday. Time flies. Be creative with your time together.

Dance. Go to dance class if you don't know. Teach your kids.

Have a family happy hour every end of week. Appetizers, drinks, music, conversation. 

Play tennis, ping pong, paddleball, squash, racketball.

Become a surfer and/ or a skier.

Tap on yourself by doing acupressure (

Take an epsom salt bath, or a Himalayan salt bath seven days a week. 2 cups per bath. (Epsom salt 
available in pharmacy for about a $1 per pound.)

Spend time in nature every week, if not every day. Find quiet areas.

Change your values by demonstrating it to yourself by your actions. 

Be gregarious and affable with people in person, rather than in cyber space. 

Seek to improve the life of others, not with hand-outs, but with 'hand-ups.' (Empower others.)

Exercise in as natural a setting as possible. Did Buddha consider exercising everyday in the way we consider it? I don't think so. It was just a part of his life in a natural sense.

Drink cleaner water.  Our water is filled with a continuos barrage of trace amounts of very toxic substances which calcify the pineal gland and rob one of physical energy, mental clarity, and vitamins/ minerals needed in the brain and body. Hormone disruptor.

Eat natural food that is free of genetically modified organisms (yuck!). Tinkering with our food supply has led to agrobacterias that have been devastating the GMO-eating American population.

Consistently consume a rainbow of colorful natural foods in order to optimize your energy, brain clarity, and hormonal levels. 

Eat organic food, especially organic dairy products, meats, chickens. Avoiding the  consumption of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides saves you a great deal of time, money and health later on in life. These chemicals create a toxic, hormone-controlling cocktail that is personalized according to where a person lives, has lived, what they eat, drink, etc.

Pull back from the television in a big way. Cut your cable bill, perhaps. You don't need to get rid of the TV. It does nothing for your executive function skills. It has way to much access to your mind, and your kid's mind.

If you are a parent, having meals together as a family sets one's values front and center. This has a tremendous positive effect on kids as they grow up.

If you are a parent, how you treat your wife, or how you treat your husband shows your kids how you value marriage and the place of your spouse. This involves executive function skills, which overlap with paraverbal skills (how you say what you say). You can avoid a whole host of issues in adolescence if you heed this bullet point.

If you live in a state of thankfulness, contentment is like a continuos waterfall at your feet. Focus on gardening the fruit called contentment one day at a time and then success will be yours every night. Have a daily routine of pampering activities that nourish you and your family. Those listed support executive function skill development in natural, practical ways that are easy to follow.

Want to chat? Coach Bill videochats!  Contact me through  

No comments:

The Ballast Of The Ship / #theFreedomPapers #government #faith #God

“Get ye out of the way,  turn aside out of the path,  cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:11 Is ...