Events

3 Ways that dancing can boost your brain power

When we think of dance class more as a rite of passage for young girls than as movement therapy for any gender and any age. But, there are many benefits to engaging your body and your mind with some music and movement. Here are three ways that dancing can boost your brain!

1. Dancing strengthens neuroplasticity

Long term dance practice improves the brain’s ability to form new neural connections to change and adapt. Learning new steps, coordinating with music, moving hands and feet, repeating steps on the right and the left, all of this boosts the connectivity between both cerebral hemispheres.

Learning new choreography from week to week, and engaging in a social activity, keeps your neuropathways constantly changing and forging new connections. Proteins are produced within brain cells that spur the growth of new neurons and new cell connections, actually making the mind more supple.

2. Dancing boosts memory

Dancing works with spatial memory, a cognitive process that enables you to remember different locations as well as spatial relations between objects. It requires you to remember steps, combinations, and rhythms. Several studies have shown that dancing is linked to a reduced risk of dementia. In a study by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, they found that dancing is associated with 76% reduced risk of dementia among the participants.

Dancing increases muscle memory, the ability to do something without being able to explain how to do it. Think of riding a bike. The processes that are important for learning and memory of new skills occur mainly in the brain, not in the muscles. The motor cortex, responsible for controlling movement, develops strong connections between neurons that serve as the representation for motions, and these connections make memory better and easier to access.

3. Dancing makes you happy

In general, physical activities from running to ballet, release endorphins, brain chemicals that increase feelings of euphoria and increase our pain tolerance. However, research at the University of London indicates that dance boosts your mood more than exercise alone. You can burn 300-800 calories per hour dancing, and dancing to music provides a rhythm and satisfactory patterning. Listening to music that we like is an enjoyable experience; moving to it is even better.

Dancing is a way to bond with others. When one dancer’s movement and music expresses joy or sadness, others experience that as well, boosting our emotional regulation and feelings of empathy. Dance is a form of expression and can help process feelings. People who dance together or watch a dance performance feel connected with a group.

Dancing has always been an important part of my physical and mental health. Since I can remember, going to the dance studio was a way to destress. It’s one of the few places where you can drop your baggage at the door and drop into your body, completely focused on the music and the movement.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi investigates the “optimal experience,” proving that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. Flow is a state of happiness we experience when we are in complete engagement in a creative or playful activity. Dance is my flow! And the friends I have made at the studio have been friends for life.

If you are in the Rhode Island area, and you want to dance with me, sign up for my upcoming workshop that kicks off in September at Distinctive Dance, Etc. North. Here are the details!

Sources

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Is-Dancing-Good-for-the-Brain.aspx

https://www.popsci.com/what-is-muscle-memory/

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170308/Can-dancing-improve-your-mental-health.aspx

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-reverse-aging-brain.html?fbclid=IwAR195zhSrYvZgXrWIzGkpkuhXKDLaytvKzGnTIYNfij9jM5kntFZwOaVtRE

Events, Holidays

Online Magic Workshop: Imbolc Fire Festival

Join me in my Zoom Room on Monday, February 1st from 5:30-7:00pm to celebrate Imbolc, a time to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. If you want to create new plans, sweep away old energies, and plant the seeds of abundance for the season, then don’t miss this event!

Imbolc is an ancient Pagan holiday based on Celtic traditions; it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. This is the time of year when we start to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. Learning about ancient traditions can help us connect with the seasons of the Earth in the modern world.

  • During this online workshop, you will learn all about the Goddesses of the season: Celtic Goddess Brigid, Roman Goddess Juno, and Egyptian Goddess Renenutet.
  • You will discover some ways to celebrate Imbolc in the modern world – check out my board on Pinterest.
  • You will get a tarot reading that helps you set an intention for something you want to plant this Spring – a new project, a new job, a new relationship, a new energy, etc.
  • Then you will be guided through a meditation to plant your fire seed of intention so it can grow in the coming months. Manifest something great and connect with some amazing people.

Register before January 25th for a $20 discount! Upon registration, you will automatically receive an email with the zoom link. Email jamie@arrowtarotreadings.com if you have any questions!

Register Here

India

What’s all the hype about meditation?

Meditating is probably the number one thing I recommend to my clients. Meditation can be used for grounding, stress relief, for sleep, and for peace. An old zen saying goes, “everyone should meditate for ten minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour a day.” But lets get real here, sitting cross legged on the floor is not the best method for everyone. I hated the idea of meditating everyday, until I realized that there are hundreds of ways to meditate.

Anytime that you work to clear your mind, you are meditating. Focusing on the breath, relaxing the mind, quieting the voices – its all part of programming your own mindset. You can meditate while walking, while washing dishes, or listening to music. My favorite form of meditation is yoga and dance. Moving meditation can help you get in the zone mentally.

Movement was a big key to unlocking my own meditation practice. I spent a week in Vermont at a reclaiming Witch Camp last summer, and I took a workshop on meditation. We meditated in the forest for about three hours per day, learning different methods of meditation. My favorite is what I call, “mindful meandering.” Dropping into your belly, taking on a doe-eyed stare, and just wondering around the woods. Its amazing how much you can learn from nature. I was quite taken with the mushrooms, fungi and mitochondria at work in the forest; breaking down the old and fertilizing the new.

On a yoga retreat in India, I really ignited my love for movement as a part of meditation and spirituality, through my yoga practice. I’ve invested so much into my yoga practice this year, as my daily meditation break.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~Rumi

The Science of Meditation

One of the most interesting studies on meditation in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down.

In 2011, a team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. A program of yoga and meditation called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. 

Meditation is great for kids as well as adults! Children benefit in all the ways that adults do, if not more. A school in San Francisco introduced meditation to their students, and saw a lift in attendance and over all grade point average (source). Meditation has been proven to improve attention, focus, memory, and resilience to stress and other negative emotions.

Mindfulness Resources

Here are some of my favorite tools, whether you are starting a new meditation practice or diversifying your current routine. You can find free meditations on youtube and wherever you find your podcasts.

Focus Five cards from SERP Institute

A series of meditations that can be done in under five minutes. The cards can be downloaded for free. They are meant for kids to lead meditations in the classroom, but they are classic strateiges that work great for adults, too!

Insight Timer

A free app with guided meditations, music and a timer that will gently wake you from a meditative state with a gong or a bell sound.

Deepak Chopra

Offers a number of free guided meditations on his Youtube channel.

Yoga with Adrienne

She spins together yoga with soulful talks and meditations. You can choose videos based on mood or theme.

Do you want one-on-one coaching?

If you want to start a daily meditation practice, become more mindful and boost your happiness levels, consider signing up for my three month coaching program. We will use science to idenify your happiness areas that need improvement, and cultivate tools and resources around a mindfulness practice. I can incopororate tarot, astrology, reiki and guided meditation as part of your program.

The experince is individualized and focused on you and your unique path to your higher self. If you’re ready to level up in your vibrational awareness – contact me! I’m here to hold space for your growth and transformation.

Astrology and Tarot

The Three of Cups

For the June 2020 card of the month, I chose the three of cups! The month of June was named after the ancient Roman goddess Juno, goddess of childbirth and savior of women. Juno was connected to all aspects of the life of a woman, especially married life. She was often depicted with a peacock.

The Three of Cups shows three lovely ladies dancing in an abundant harvest, their cups raised high in a toast.

Tarot cards have both light sides and dark sides, they do represent the human experience after all. You might resonate with one side or to both.

The light side of the Three of Cups represents celebration, friendship, creativity, collaborations. The three women in the card are comrades. I think of Monica, Rachel and Phoebe. The card is about lifting each other up, and celebrating each and everyone’s contributions to society as a whole. The card represents abundant harvest and the good life.

The three women in the card can also represent the maiden, the mother and the crone. These are the three different stages of a woman’s life, and a phase of the moon. You may be familiar with the triple goddess symbol, which represents these phases of life, the phases of the moon, and the realms of heaven, earth and underworld.

I have to take this opportunity to relate the Three of Cups to the goddess Parvati in the Hindu tradition. She is the gentle and nurturing incarnation of the Supreme Goddess Adi Parashakti and wife to Shiva. She has two sons with Shiva, Ganesha (learn more about Ganesha) and Kartikeya. Parvati symbolises many different virtues esteemed by Hindu tradition: fertility, marital felicity, devotion to the spouse, asceticism, and power. I can feel Parvati’s energy through this card, and I call upon her this month to help me feel connected and abundant in such a time of loneliness and fear.

So this card has some serious symbolism and feminine power! When this card comes up in a reading, it means you need to let you hair down and forget about your obligations for awhile. Spend time with your good friends. Collaborate with others on a spirited project. Be with your tribe.

Three of Cups Reversed

To the contrary, you might get this card in reverse if you really prefer to be alone right now. Maybe you’re in between groups of friends, or your usual tribe’s vibe is not matching yours at the moment.

Honor your feelings to take time alone and recharge. Work on creative projects alone. Maybe you’re over indulging more than usual, just be careful not to over do it. Just because you’re social circle is more selective, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay connected with the people that you care most about.

How to call on the Three of Cups

If you want to invite more happiness, creativity and friendship into your life, here are some mini-ritual, spells, activities you could try:

  • Start a small book club (seriously, so fun!)
  • Take yourself out for a picnic, alone or camp out in a friend’s yard
  • Create something!
  • Make a toast before dinner each night, raising your glass to the things you are grateful for
  • Slowly and sensually eat a juicy piece of fruit
  • Ecstatic dance – put on some jams and ance around your house like no one is watching
  • Host a virtual gathering, there are lots of video rooms out there (you can book me to host a tarot party for your friends)
  • MEDITATE! The number one way to connect with any energy it to meditate with it. check out my guided meditation for the Three of Cups right here!
Personal Quips

A Witch’s Guide to Social Distancing

I’ve been shying away from posting about the pandemic that is rippling across the globe. I wanted to stay positive, and felt the last thing we need is more reminders of the current state of affairs. But as the weeks pass, I’ve come to realize that my daily rituals and witchy beliefs have helped me so much and I wanted to share my experience with all of you.

“Good morning star shine, the Earth says hello”

Morning ritual makes me feel like a human even if I’m not leaving the house all day. I meditate and hit my yoga mat every morning, first thing. Sometimes I free style and find what feels good. I also highly recommend this Down Dog app, which a friend turned me on to. It is being offered for free right now! Also, Yoga with Adriene on youtube is my jam. Don’t take your home yoga practice too seriously, just have fun with it.

After yoga, I always shower, and put on real pants! Well, at least clean pants. I always make a point to brush my teeth right after I finish breakfast. I open all of the curtains to let as much light in as possible. I try to get outside a little bit every day. I have three dogs and I live in a neighborhood with plenty of sidewalks for lunch time strolls and after dinner walks. I know that we all have different routines and preferences. Personally, nothing works better for me than movement, nature and healthy habits.

Spells and smells

Filling your space with nice smells can be surprisingly uplifting. I have some frankincense oil in my diffuser this morning. Sometimes I’ll pick a citrus scent or a floral scent. Nothing like that at home? You can simmer a small pot of water with cinnamon, rosemary, lemons, anything you have on hand to make the house smell good. This is also a good offering for your mediation or spells. A simple spell I like to do is write an intention on a piece of paper and burn it in a candle.

Speaking of making the house smell good, I’ve been doing so much baking! Check out these biscuits and cinnamon rolls. I made a sauce from some strawberries stuck in the back of my freezer and put that on the biscuits for some strawberry shortcake. What are you cooking up at home? I like getting creative with the odds and ends in my cabinets.

Staying connected

My pets have been a great comfort to me. As much as I enjoy conversations with my dogs and my cat, I also try to stay in touch with humans. I also have been putting myself out there online. I took a yoga class through zoom with Healing Within RI.

Other lifesavers have been: books, poetry, movies, coloring and crafting!

I’ve had some zoom chats with my friends, and I try to call and text friends and family throughout the day. Its not always easy for me to point the camera at myself, but this has been a great opportunity to work on that. I’ve been giving tarot readings over the phone way more than usual. I’m working on creating more video content, like this fun “pick a number” reading!

How are you coping with our current situation? Let me know! Connect on Facebook or shoot me an email. A 30 minute phone reading with me is not only great entertainment, but it can reveal some clues and give some insight on how to make the most of your time at home.