View Full Version : Attentiveness exercises


hanikamiya
01-01-13, 06:33 PM
So, I made the experience that attentiveness exercises can ease my brain fog and disorientedness a bit.
But the big problem is that most attentiveness exercises assume that you can direct your attention when you want to, you just forget to do it.

But when I try to do something more attentively, it lasts for a couple of seconds and then my mind wanders again. Normally I only manage to keep focused when it's dangerous not to, or hyperfocusing. But those things make my general state of mind only worse afterwards.



But! I recently figured out that I can do certain things as attentiveness exercises:



it must be easy and not un-fun to do
it must give immediate feedback when I'm distracted
it must be relatively easy to stop again





So, for me that's:

Balancing on curbs or garden walls when there's not much traffic around.
It should be a bit wider than my foot and have a flat non-slip surface. And it should be a bit elevated but so that it's not dangerous to fall down.

So I have to pay attention that I put my foot on the curbstone and not into thin air. When my mind wanders my footing becomes unbalanced and I am immediately reminded to be more attentive.


Juggling. Now, I learnt how to juggle three balls with my best friend. But it doesn't need to be three balls. Throwing one ball with one hand and catching it with the other, and then throwing it with the second hand and catching it with the first does the trick, and that is much easier to learn than juggling several balls.

The important part is that there's nothing fragile standing around, and that you aren't frustrated when the ball falls down. Surprised, yes. Amused is super. But not frustrated.
Because the ball falling down is your sign that you don't know how to throw/catch yet, or that you started thinking about other stuff.

When I'm bored because I'm fine with throwing for a dozen or more times, I start closing my eyes. Like, I throw four times and try to feel the strength and position of the ball, and then I try to throw and catch the ball twice with eyes closed, then I open them again. Or I take other items to throw.

Actually when I'm nervous or bored I tend to take my pencil case or something similar shaped and throw it so that it turns around once, and then alternate hands.

Oh god I must be such a weird person to be around.



Do you have any ideas for activities like that are not dangerous and give immediate feedback because it just doesn't work when you don't pay attention?

tudorose
01-01-13, 06:40 PM
Mountain biking! Watch out for that treeeeeeee aaauugghh!

Unmanagable
01-01-13, 07:02 PM
Punching the speed bag while listening to motivating jammage - trying to stay attentive enough so that I don't bust my knuckles on the edge of where it hangs (again), and keeping up a rhythmic flow to the music. Visualizing the last person that tripped your trigger can be quite motivating, too. :)

Playing my drum - helps me stay much more attentive to my breathing, posture, and keeping up with a rhythm requires focus.

Some days, I don't make it through a whole song on either activity, but I notice even trying can be very helpful to clear the fog a little.

hanikamiya
01-01-13, 07:17 PM
Haha I tend to take risks so mountainbiking definitely counts as dangerous for me, I get a real adrenaline rush from it.

:D

hanikamiya
01-02-13, 03:09 AM
Mindfulness! That was the word I was searching for earlier. Balancing makes me more mindful, strong exercise or excitement doesn't, it makes me focus intensely and then burn out.

stef
01-02-13, 04:44 AM
the game bejewelled
i just thought it was so bright and relaxing, I like to play when i get home from work,
i realized after a few rounds it was actually easier to refocus and go make dinner etc.

mildadhd
01-02-13, 10:05 PM
Mindfulness! That was the word I was searching for earlier. Balancing makes me more mindful, strong exercise or excitement doesn't, it makes me focus intensely and then burn out.


I think that burn out,

is normal,

just like exercise.


I am fascinated with your exercises.

Will try if I remember.


I have been able to cope with things better,

by breathing in and out of my nose,

kind of rudely,

at a faster pace.

It doesn't work so good when I over due physical work,

or stressed,

or have a runny nose.

Longer brighter days also help.

silivrentoliel
01-02-13, 10:10 PM
mahjong (or however that's spelled). I play it on my tablet quite a bit, but I find it helps me focus- even when I have a mushy brain.

stef
01-03-13, 04:17 AM
mahjong (or however that's spelled). I play it on my tablet quite a bit, but I find it helps me focus- even when I have a mushy brain.

oh right, that too! I forgot I had it, thanks!

Kunga Dorji
01-03-13, 09:17 AM
So, I made the experience that attentiveness exercises can ease my brain fog and disorientedness a bit.
But the big problem is that most attentiveness exercises assume that you can direct your attention when you want to, you just forget to do it.

But when I try to do something more attentively, it lasts for a couple of seconds and then my mind wanders again. Normally I only manage to keep focused when it's dangerous not to, or hyperfocusing. But those things make my general state of mind only worse afterwards.



But! I recently figured out that I can do certain things as attentiveness exercises:



it must be easy and not un-fun to do
it must give immediate feedback when I'm distracted
it must be relatively easy to stop again





So, for me that's:

Balancing on curbs or garden walls when there's not much traffic around.
It should be a bit wider than my foot and have a flat non-slip surface. And it should be a bit elevated but so that it's not dangerous to fall down.

So I have to pay attention that I put my foot on the curbstone and not into thin air. When my mind wanders my footing becomes unbalanced and I am immediately reminded to be more attentive.


Juggling. Now, I learnt how to juggle three balls with my best friend. But it doesn't need to be three balls. Throwing one ball with one hand and catching it with the other, and then throwing it with the second hand and catching it with the first does the trick, and that is much easier to learn than juggling several balls.

The important part is that there's nothing fragile standing around, and that you aren't frustrated when the ball falls down. Surprised, yes. Amused is super. But not frustrated.
Because the ball falling down is your sign that you don't know how to throw/catch yet, or that you started thinking about other stuff.

When I'm bored because I'm fine with throwing for a dozen or more times, I start closing my eyes. Like, I throw four times and try to feel the strength and position of the ball, and then I try to throw and catch the ball twice with eyes closed, then I open them again. Or I take other items to throw.

Actually when I'm nervous or bored I tend to take my pencil case or something similar shaped and throw it so that it turns around once, and then alternate hands.

Oh god I must be such a weird person to be around.



Do you have any ideas for activities like that are not dangerous and give immediate feedback because it just doesn't work when you don't pay attention?

You are definitely talking about mindfulness exercises.
These can be done sitting, lying, standing or walking (or other variants of movement).

In general, I suspect that movement based exercises are best.

What you describe is sensible, but the approach is far more refined in yoga. Tai Chi or Quigong.

For the beginner, the higher the stakes of injury etc are- the greater the chances of sustained attention.

That probably explains the popularity of extreme skiing, parkour or mountain wingsuits/base jumping!

hanikamiya
01-03-13, 09:54 AM
What you describe is sensible, but the approach is far more refined in yoga. Tai Chi or Quigong.
Only that for yoga etc you need to feel whether you are mindful or not. What I am trying to find are exercises that show you when you aren't.

Also, adrenaline based attentiveness is different from mindfulness. Mindfulness can only be achieved with parasympathetic activation. And it feels different. Adrenaline feels exhilatiating, or empowering. Mindfulness feels balancing.



As for games like bejeweled blitz, I know the effect they have, but it's different.

Like, when I step on a garden wall and balance, it's like ... like when you put on a laced shoe, and you have really loose shoe laces and then you pull only at the top so that between the top holes the lace are painfully tight but new the tip they are really loose still. So that's how my attention feels when I'm easily distracted.

And balancing for example feels like my mind adjusts the tightness of its own shoelaces between every pair of holes so that the shoe actually fits and feels comfortable.




Puzzle games are soothing for me, but it's more like when I've cut my finger and wrap a band aid around it
so before, the wound hurts with a sharp sting, and with the band aid it is more of a throbbing, dull pain that can be ignored more easily.

Kunga Dorji
01-03-13, 10:43 AM
Only that for yoga etc you need to feel whether you are mindful or not. What I am trying to find are exercises that show you when you aren't.

Also, adrenaline based attentiveness is different from mindfulness. Mindfulness can only be achieved with parasympathetic activation. And it feels different. Adrenaline feels exhilatiating, or empowering. Mindfulness feels balancing.



As for games like bejeweled blitz, I know the effect they have, but it's different.

Like, when I step on a garden wall and balance, it's like ... like when you put on a laced shoe, and you have really loose shoe laces and then you pull only at the top so that between the top holes the lace are painfully tight but new the tip they are really loose still. So that's how my attention feels when I'm easily distracted.

And balancing for example feels like my mind adjusts the tightness of its own shoelaces between every pair of holes so that the shoe actually fits and feels comfortable.




Puzzle games are soothing for me, but it's more like when I've cut my finger and wrap a band aid around it
so before, the wound hurts with a sharp sting, and with the band aid it is more of a throbbing, dull pain that can be ignored more easily.

What I would argue is that "adrenaline based attentiveness" is inherently unstable.

As soon as we enter into the world of adrenaline ( aka sympathetic activation) we enter into the world of predator and prey.

In that world, a sort of fleeting, scanning hypervigilant attention is prevalent.

I would go so far as to suggest that ADDers learn to hitchhike on the adrenaline based attention systems in lieu of being able to recruit more efficient systems- but in doing so we lock ourselves into a system of attention that is inherently unstable.

However, balance and movement can be very effective foci for attention even in the absence of serious consequences from falls.

mildadhd
01-03-13, 11:31 AM
Could I get an opinion of this research I posted in another thread,

http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=137457


Emotion regulation via the autonomic nervous system in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Quote:
Abstract
Despite growing interest in conceptualizing ADHD as involving disrupted emotion regulation, few studies have examined the physiological mechanisms related to emotion regulation in children with this disorder. This study examined parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system reactivity via measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP) in children with ADHD (n=32) and typically developing controls (n=34), using a novel emotion task with four conditions: negative induction, negative suppression, positive induction, and positive suppression of affect. Both groups showed strong task-response effects in RSA. However, typically developing children showed systematic variation in parasympathetic activity (RSA) depending on both emotion valence (more activation for negative emotion, reduced activation for positive emotion) and task demand (more activation for suppression than induction). In contrast, children with ADHD displayed a stable pattern of elevated parasympathetic activity (RSA) across all task conditions compared to baseline. No group differences in sympathetic activity (PEP) were observed. It is concluded ADHD in childhood is associated with abnormal parasympathetic mechanisms involved in emotion regulation.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21394506
__________________

I've been considering what they say and....

(If I understand the research correctly?)

The parasympathetic NS in people with ADHD is always over activating?

The sympathetic NS works normal.

If this is true it seems to make sense that ,

stimulating the sympathetic system would help,(ritalin) (and sympathetic stimulating exercises)

but at what cost to the sympathetic systems normal function?.

I have lots of questions but I will start there.

Kunga Dorji
01-03-13, 08:17 PM
Could I get an opinion of this research I posted in another thread,

http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=137457




I've been considering what they say and....

(If I understand the research correctly?)

The parasympathetic NS in people with ADHD is always over activating?

The sympathetic NS works normal.

If this is true it seems to make sense that ,

stimulating the sympathetic system would help,(ritalin) (and sympathetic stimulating exercises)

but at what cost to the sympathetic systems normal function?.

I have lots of questions but I will start there.

For a start this study applies to children.
Autonomic nervous system activation is difficult to measure, and the parameters being used in the study are better measures of the overall balance of the system rather than the specific levels of activation of the SNS and PNS.

However the stress response occurs on 3 levels
1) Highest level- involves social engagement and attunement as a response to outside stressors
(PNS- via myelinated vagus nerve).
2) Fight or flight-- principally SNS
- would be expected to increase impulsivity and scanning attention
3) Freeze response and variants (like dissociated states)
PNS via the unmyelinated vagus nerve.
-involves drop in blood pressure with decreased cerebral perfusion, pallor, lack of facial expression, sweatiness

Interestingly ritalin/dex increase cerebal blood flow-- so this article may be correct that excess PNS activity is a major mechanism in ADD.

see also this link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21400489

Interestingly this model of conceiving ADHD as a deficiency in emotion regulation is consistent with psychodynamic views of mental illness- which all regard the development of adult attention and emotion regulation as the main tasks of childhood.

My own view is that I have had multiple symptoms of autonomic dysregulation since adolecsence- often without emotion/ attention dysregulation - and I am starting to query the role of autonomic dysregulation more clsey.

Again this is where I query the use of yoga, which is aimed at achieving perfect self regulation- including temperature. Yogis in India are so good at this that they can sleep in near freezing temperatures with minimal clothing and awaken alert.

That level of self regulation has just got to be interesting.

mildadhd
01-03-13, 08:46 PM
I understand that I need more thought before making any conclusions.

I am going to take some time to review the topics.

I have been considering the over-activity of the Parasympathetic.

And a normal activity of the Sympathetic.

From a physiological feedback perspective.

In regards to myself.

Will need more time to understand better.

I'm not sure if the word is paradox,

but the awareness that I am a car,

with the brake stuck on,

instead of the idea that I am a car with

the gas is stuck on,

really seems to help.

I will be writing back.

hanikamiya
01-04-13, 12:58 AM
Again this is where I query the use of yoga, which is aimed at achieving perfect self regulation- including temperature. Yogis in India are so good at this that they can sleep in near freezing temperatures with minimal clothing and awaken alert.

That level of self regulation has just got to be interesting.

I can regulate my breathing and heart rate consciously. Like, I tell my heart to beat more slowly, and it does. Indirectly I also influence my blood pressure.
But I can only do this with my conscious mind concentrated on that function.

And that is basically the exact opposite of what those yogis do.

I do not know how it feels like to facilitate that my autonomous nervous system does its job without being hampered by the higher level stressors you get from anxiety and imagination and memory.



Something I recently looked into is the involvement of dopamine in habit formation. I can't find it on the spot, but one paper reported that they trained people with and without ADHD in a procedural task and measured the improvement directly after and after two weeks. The improvement directly after learning was the same in both groups, but the non ADHD group showed almost the same result two weeks afterwards, and the ADHD group was back to baseline after two weeks.

Another paper was on rats, and it showed that normal rats remember a task long after they stopped getting rewards for it. Dopamine deprived rats stop remembering how to do the task shortly after they stopped getting rewards.

I think both papers suggested that dopamine plays an important role in consolidating and protecting motor memory.


Now, that rang a bell with me. Unless you see my trying to play a ball game or dance, you probably won't notice. But I 'learn' movement patterns not as physical routine, I learn them as something I consciously control.
Or in the words of my gymnastics teacher: "I don't get it, when I tell you you did something wrong, you never make that mistake the next time, but you always repeat another mistake from before."

As long as I don't have to pay attention to other people moving around me, or I have to coordinate new motion patterns to a rhythm, I can cope that way.

But it means I improve very little from one training session to the next.


The same is true for other things that rely on procedural memory.



The only way I get better at routines is:
> they're immensely fun (how I learnt juggling with my best friend)
> I have to use them hundreds of times or I get immediately into trouble with my environment

so, immediate reward or punishment for not doing it. punishment doesn't hold up for too long though.



Now, when I try yoga I use the same conscious control over my body I used to use in gymnastics. When I juggle, it simply flows, at least the basic cascade does.

With yoga I *can* calm myself somewhat down when I am very anxious, but I don't know how to leave the command over my motions to those parts of my brain that actually evolved for it without that kind of routine.


And with most things I do routinely, my minds starts to wander. Often enough it doesn't even matter when my mind wanders. For example, I fall down about once a month because I forget to keep my ankle muscles rigid enough to support my ankles - and that is about maybe once every 150 000 steps. Of course the unsupported ankles happen more often, but I don't fall down every time.
When I do the same walking on top of a curb, I'm likely to fall within the first couple of steps when my mind just wanders. But my motor memory knows the routine, so I don't take over with conscious control like I would when trying to turn a cartwheel on the same place. I just end up walking more mindfully.


So what I am searching for is activities that rely on easy motor routines/procedural memory which I won't just replace with conscious control and that can be adjusted so that when my mind wanders it just doesn't work anymore.

mildadhd
01-04-13, 01:59 PM
Gymnastics Regulation

and Emotional Regulation,

have different exercises?

Excellent post!

mildadhd
01-04-13, 02:34 PM
For a start this study applies to children.
Autonomic nervous system activation is difficult to measure, and the parameters being used in the study are better measures of the overall balance of the system rather than the specific levels of activation of the SNS and PNS.

However the stress response occurs on 3 levels
1) Highest level- involves social engagement and attunement as a response to outside stressors
(PNS- via myelinated vagus nerve).
2) Fight or flight-- principally SNS
- would be expected to increase impulsivity and scanning attention
3) Freeze response and variants (like dissociated states)
PNS via the unmyelinated vagus nerve.
-involves drop in blood pressure with decreased cerebral perfusion, pallor, lack of facial expression, sweatiness

Interestingly ritalin/dex increase cerebal blood flow-- so this article may be correct that excess PNS activity is a major mechanism in ADD.

see also this link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21400489

Interestingly this model of conceiving ADHD as a deficiency in emotion regulation is consistent with psychodynamic views of mental illness- which all regard the development of adult attention and emotion regulation as the main tasks of childhood.

My own view is that I have had multiple symptoms of autonomic dysregulation since adolecsence- often without emotion/ attention dysregulation - and I am starting to query the role of autonomic dysregulation more clsey.

Again this is where I query the use of yoga, which is aimed at achieving perfect self regulation- including temperature. Yogis in India are so good at this that they can sleep in near freezing temperatures with minimal clothing and awaken alert.

That level of self regulation has just got to be interesting.

Reciprocal is an interesting word.

I might compare the sympathetic and parasympathetic for a while.

Thank You for sharing your experiences in regard to the autonomic NS.

Just like ADHD, in Autonomous Activity everyone is not exactly the same,

(not sure if the correct words) are "spectrum syndrome"?


Would it be fair to say ADHD is reciprocal?

mildadhd
01-04-13, 03:23 PM
What exercises would lower the activation of the parasympatetic nervous system?


Ideas?

hanikamiya
01-04-13, 07:03 PM
I'll think about that. But I just remembered the word for what I meant with 'I can't feel it is right' in yoga.

It's proprioception.


I looked at proprioception exercises and the ones I think I need are the ones where you shut your eyes to do things you know how to do with eyes open.



balancing on one leg with eyes closed



stetch out your arm bend the elbow and try to touch your nose with your finger



look at something, close your eyes and try to touch/grab it



walk on a straight line with eyes closed



walk backwards on a straight line



knitting also calms me down, probably because it does just that, it forces me to switch from visual perception to touch and proprioception




On a different note I may need more vitamin B12, so I'll make sure to actually eat my sauerkraut and kimchi instead of thinking of how I ought to eat it.



So, proprioception is processed by 'the entire nervous system'. I guess that that includes the autonomous nervous system.


From here (http://www.teamchiropractic.org/pages/stress.html)
Proprioceptors are also all over your body and they detect movement. In the spine a proprioceptor can detect less than a nanometer of movement. If a joint cannot go through its normal range of motion, the body recognizes this as noxious stimuli and will initiate the body’s stress response via the sympathetic nervous system. When a proprioceptor fires it inhibits nociception and thereby inhibits the sympathetic nervous system and inhibits the stress response.
From here (http://www.autonomicneuroscience.com/article/S1566-0702%2802%2900260-6/abstract)
On the other hand, (1) disengagement from the external environment, (2) low levels of internal energy and (3) dominance of proprioceptive information characterize a behavioral prevalence of vagal tone.'vagal tone' refers to the vagus nerve, the most dominant nerve of the parasympathetic systeme

Reading up, breathing exercises help with parasympathetic activation because they lead to activation of the vagus nerve. And apparently, so does yawning.



Regarding the last source, I'd say that I experience disengagement and low levels of energy, but am stuck with my outward oriented senses dominating. When I (can) use adrenaline based activities, I temporarily engage and feel energetic, but I go back to feeling stuck afterwards. And that means my body can't go into full relax and repair mode.

Apparently for me, activating proprioception in a calm environment seems to make it unstuck. And when I'm really stuck, I can't access it without things that give me immediate feedback.

Kunga Dorji
01-05-13, 07:05 AM
What exercises would lower the activation of the parasympatetic nervous system?


Ideas?

Broadly speaking excess sympathetic tone will leave you jittery and fidgety, while excess parasympathetic tone will leave you dull and listless, sometimes nauseated or with overactive bowels, or feeling faint.


It may not be so much a matter of "lowering parasympathetic tone" as rebalancing by increasing sympathetic tone. There is probably a degree of mutual reciprocal inhibition between the two aspects of the autonomic nervous system anyhow.

A few basic techniques for increasing sympathetic tone:

Alternate nostril breathing-
cycles of in through the right, out then in through the left, then out through the right-- increase relaxation
the opposite (starting from the left side) increases sympathetic tone

Running the shower cold before getting out definitely increases sympathetic tone
exercises that throw you off balance will increase sympathetic tone
I have been taught one called kaoshiki and recommended to do it every morning to improve alertness.
It is supposed, via a combination of basal ganglia and vestibular stimulation, to have a wider effect on alertness than just via increased sympathetic tone-- as the output from the basal ganglia is, in this case via dopaminergic pathways to the frontal cortex.

This area is one that is occupying much of my thought, as better mastery of my internal state certainly translates to better functionality.

Kunga Dorji
01-05-13, 07:24 AM
I'll think about that. But I just remembered the word for what I meant with 'I can't feel it is right' in yoga.

It's proprioception.


I looked at proprioception exercises and the ones I think I need are the ones where you shut your eyes to do things you know how to do with eyes open.



balancing on one leg with eyes closed



stetch out your arm bend the elbow and try to touch your nose with your finger



look at something, close your eyes and try to touch/grab it



walk on a straight line with eyes closed



walk backwards on a straight line



knitting also calms me down, probably because it does just that, it forces me to switch from visual perception to touch and proprioception




On a different note I may need more vitamin B12, so I'll make sure to actually eat my sauerkraut and kimchi instead of thinking of how I ought to eat it.



So, proprioception is processed by 'the entire nervous system'. I guess that that includes the autonomous nervous system.


From here (http://www.teamchiropractic.org/pages/stress.html)

From here (http://www.autonomicneuroscience.com/article/S1566-0702%2802%2900260-6/abstract)
'vagal tone' refers to the vagus nerve, the most dominant nerve of the parasympathetic systeme

Reading up, breathing exercises help with parasympathetic activation because they lead to activation of the vagus nerve. And apparently, so does yawning.



Regarding the last source, I'd say that I experience disengagement and low levels of energy, but am stuck with my outward oriented senses dominating. When I (can) use adrenaline based activities, I temporarily engage and feel energetic, but I go back to feeling stuck afterwards. And that means my body can't go into full relax and repair mode.

Apparently for me, activating proprioception in a calm environment seems to make it unstuck. And when I'm really stuck, I can't access it without things that give me immediate feedback.

Our proprioception is activated all the time.
There are a number of inputs:
Visual
vestibular (organs of balance in the inner ears)
stretch receptors in muscles and ligaments (especially the upper neck where the head joins to the neck)
position and pressure receptors in joints/joint capsules.

When we are aware of where our body is- we feel comfortable and calm, if we are uncertain where our body is- we feel anxious and have elevated sympathetic tone. If we are uncertain about our position in space, we are not sure of how to respond to threat.

The catch is that there can be conflicts between inputs
ie spasm in neck muscles causes false proprioceptive input
there may be mismatch between inputs ( when physically fatigued I have one eye that becomes slightly inturned- and presents me with false and competing information- knowing this has been very handy as now I know to shut one eye and fixate with only the other one if ever I am playing pool ( which only ever happens late in the day).

A couple of interesting references:
http://icakusablog.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/extraocular-muscle-imbalance-a-cause-of-crainal-faults/


<small class="comment-meta commentmetadata">February 27, 2010 at 12:02 am (http://icakusablog.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/extraocular-muscle-imbalance-a-cause-of-crainal-faults/#comment-20) </small> Dear Ian, Love to chat about this stuff. This is the best forum. I know there are many docs out there that would benefit from the discourse.
I agree passionately about posture and the integration of descending controls. I think that the “leap” to autonomic controls is a critical point to convey. Most AKer’s have a strong predisposition toward glandular and autonomic system, but unfortunately most of our profession is still explaining their results with arcane principles. As you know postural stability and autonomic function are inseparable,


The following is a brilliant talk on the subject, but unfortunately requires a minimum 1 month subscription to access it:
http://www.psychevisual.com/Video_by_Ian_Niven_on_Light_induced_suppression_of _the_vestibular_system.html

I will see if I can turn up any more free material.

mildadhd
01-05-13, 07:53 AM
Broadly speaking excess sympathetic tone will leave you jittery and fidgety, while excess parasympathetic tone will leave you dull and listless, sometimes nauseated or with overactive bowels, or feeling faint.


It may not be so much a matter of "lowering parasympathetic tone" as rebalancing by increasing sympathetic tone. There is probably a degree of mutual reciprocal inhibition between the two aspects of the autonomic nervous system anyhow.

A few basic techniques for increasing sympathetic tone:

Alternate nostril breathing-
cycles of in through the right, out then in through the left, then out through the right-- increase relaxation
the opposite (starting from the left side) increases sympathetic tone

Running the shower cold before getting out definitely increases sympathetic tone
exercises that throw you off balance will increase sympathetic tone
I have been taught one called kaoshiki and recommended to do it every morning to improve alertness.
It is supposed, via a combination of basal ganglia and vestibular stimulation, to have a wider effect on alertness than just via increased sympathetic tone-- as the output from the basal ganglia is, in this case via dopaminergic pathways to the frontal cortex.

This area is one that is occupying much of my thought, as better mastery of my internal state certainly translates to better functionality.


Thanks a million Barliman,

I've been sort of working on nostril breathing,

and it has been balancing my anxiety.

Hard to do when stressed and/or physically tired.

Alternating Nostrils sounds impossible,

but I will try everyday.

At first I found it hard to just breath through my nose when I closed my mouth.

Even now when close my mouth,

I feel a panic feeling,

as my brain reorganizes its pathways?

Then things start to work,

but I need to ride through the panic.

If that makes sense.

So far my rule is to breath in and out,

hard and faster than the anxiety.

It really works as I forget the anxiety,

replaced with a balanced less worry mindset.

Sorry for boring people,

this is huge for me.

Kunga Dorji
01-05-13, 08:27 AM
Thanks a million Barliman,

I've been sort of working on nostril breathing,

and it has been balancing my anxiety.

Hard to do when stressed and/or physically tired.

Alternating Nostrils sounds impossible,

but I will try everyday.

At first I found it hard to just breath through my nose when I closed my mouth.

Even now when close my mouth,

I feel a panic feeling,

as my brain reorganizes its pathways?

Then things start to work,

but I need to ride through the panic.

If that makes sense.

So far my rule is to breath in and out,

hard and faster than the anxiety.

It really works as I forget the anxiety,

replaced with a balanced less worry mindset.

Sorry for boring people,

this is huge for me.

Basically- what is aimed for is a cycle of 2 breaths in and out.
Attend closely to the sensation of inhalation and exhalation.
Sensations coming through the right nostril stimulate the left side of the brain. The left side is more associated with reason and the left amygdala with "approach' responses- while the right is more associated with "avoid"
responses.
The exercise is done by repeating 3 cycles of 2 breaths- usually doing the one starting on the left in the morning, and the one starting on the right in the evening as preparation for sleep.
That is what I have been told, and the effect is observable, but I would like to match it with heart rate variability measurements to confirm it.
--when I have a spare $200.

hanikamiya
01-05-13, 02:13 PM
Our proprioception is activated all the time.
I wasn't talking about activation, I was talking about dominance. When I'm distracted, or even worse in a brain fog, I run into door frames. Not because I don't see them but because my brain does not add up the image is sees and the body it feels and put it together into one spatial sphere. When I feel balanced, I can do that. When I don't feel balanced but alert, I use my eyes as my main feedback mechanism.

I was taught to play pool by shutting one eye from the get-go, because it's easier to imagine the lines of impact when you see the table in 2-D.

Now of course what that person wrote about muscle imbalance may be valid, or they may not be. Yet, if ocular fatigue was what caused my brain fog in the first place, I surmise it would be reduced while I do mindfulness exercises that shut out visual stimuli, but it would return as soon as I start using my eyes the same way as before. And that does not happen.
Yet at the same time relaxation exercises are hit and miss. When I'm restless and anxious I can sort of do them, and the reduce the restlessness. I can't even really do them when I'm in a brain fog state.


Peripheral, I find it easier to work on breathing when I first allow my body to get rid of the excess adrenaline. So when I'm about to panic, I might do jumping jacks for a minute or two, and then calm down and breathe. Slowly, deeply.
Breathing hard and fast makes me get vertigo, and than increases my anxiety.

And then, it helps to start sooner. Not when you notice you're already filled with panic, but when it starts welling up. Or before, as a ritual to focus, and not letting panic enter the picture.

Kunga Dorji
01-05-13, 10:37 PM
I wasn't talking about activation, I was talking about dominance. When I'm distracted, or even worse in a brain fog, I run into door frames. Not because I don't see them but because my brain does not add up the image is sees and the body it feels and put it together into one spatial sphere. When I feel balanced, I can do that. When I don't feel balanced but alert, I use my eyes as my main feedback mechanism.

I was taught to play pool by shutting one eye from the get-go, because it's easier to imagine the lines of impact when you see the table in 2-D.

Now of course what that person wrote about muscle imbalance may be valid, or they may not be. Yet, if ocular fatigue was what caused my brain fog in the first place, I surmise it would be reduced while I do mindfulness exercises that shut out visual stimuli, but it would return as soon as I start using my eyes the same way as before. And that does not happen.
Yet at the same time relaxation exercises are hit and miss. When I'm restless and anxious I can sort of do them, and the reduce the restlessness. I can't even really do them when I'm in a brain fog state.


Peripheral, I find it easier to work on breathing when I first allow my body to get rid of the excess adrenaline. So when I'm about to panic, I might do jumping jacks for a minute or two, and then calm down and breathe. Slowly, deeply.
Breathing hard and fast makes me get vertigo, and than increases my anxiety.

And then, it helps to start sooner. Not when you notice you're already filled with panic, but when it starts welling up. Or before, as a ritual to focus, and not letting panic enter the picture.

Proprioception is, actually always the dominant sensory input.
Competing proprioceptive inputs can lead to a sense of panic, which is often misinterpreted as arising from an interpersonal situation.

Breathing hard and fast may cause a drop in blood pressure, or a respiratory alkalosis, both of which may make you feel subjectively dizzt.

Blackmist
01-21-13, 12:17 AM
So, I made the experience that attentiveness exercises can ease my brain fog and disorientedness a bit.
But the big problem is that most attentiveness exercises assume that you can direct your attention when you want to, you just forget to do it.

But when I try to do something more attentively, it lasts for a couple of seconds and then my mind wanders again. Normally I only manage to keep focused when it's dangerous not to, or hyperfocusing. But those things make my general state of mind only worse afterwards.

But! I recently figured out that I can do certain things as attentiveness exercises:

So, for me that's:

Balancing on curbs

Juggling


Interesting approach you have to mindfulness exercises Hanikamiya. I can see why it works, now you just need to find something you won't get good at so the need to focus will be constant.

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hanikamiya
01-21-13, 05:59 PM
Interesting approach you have to mindfulness exercises Hanikamiya. I can see why it works, now you just need to find something you won't get good at so the need to focus will be constant.

Very neat idea.<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]-->
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Oh juggling with eyes closed works for that.

dresser
01-27-13, 02:24 PM
I think I will try using a metranome a coffee can with a plastic lid Yes the can has to be empty,sheecc!!! lolo a drum stick or pencil nd using 1hand strike the lid focusing on geting the same weight of strikke in order to maintain the same tone of the drum all the way and when or if that gets easy start with 2 hands.noo im not takin shoes an sock of to put the pencil between my toes can everry one picture that??? lololo Im shure it will help my darts game focus thank you

MellyFishButt
01-27-13, 04:28 PM
Even on Adderall this thread is above my intelligence.

*walks away ashamed*

hanikamiya
01-28-13, 01:29 AM
Even on Adderall this thread is above my intelligence.

*walks away ashamed*
Don't. Some people, like me, are good at copying words. Even long ones. But really intelligent people understand, and then explain it in words that others understand.


I just noticed before writing the OP that there are things that lessen my brain fog. Juggling and balancing are the ones I know of.

From others' stories, it seems like the effect is similar to mindfulness exercises. Making people feel better, more balanced, less distractable and caught in their own minds.

With mindfulness exercises like mindful breathing, being more mindful while doing things, yoga or meditation I get bored. Quickly. After 30 seconds, probably. The effect is close to zero.

And we got into a discussion about what might cause that experience, without coming to an agreement.

... nothing really interesting.

mrs. dobbs
01-28-13, 05:07 AM
Melly you're not alone in feeling a little confused, I've got depersonalization/derealization disorder and I meditate in different ways-- and I've just been coming back to the thread to process it in bits because I didn't quite get what they were talking about in one go. But it seemed very relevant to my issues.

Kunga Dorji
01-29-13, 05:32 AM
I can regulate my breathing and heart rate consciously. Like, I tell my heart to beat more slowly, and it does. Indirectly I also influence my blood pressure.
But I can only do this with my conscious mind concentrated on that function.

And that is basically the exact opposite of what those yogis do.

I do not know how it feels like to facilitate that my autonomous nervous system does its job without being hampered by the higher level stressors you get from anxiety and imagination and memory.



Something I recently looked into is the involvement of dopamine in habit formation. I can't find it on the spot, but one paper reported that they trained people with and without ADHD in a procedural task and measured the improvement directly after and after two weeks. The improvement directly after learning was the same in both groups, but the non ADHD group showed almost the same result two weeks afterwards, and the ADHD group was back to baseline after two weeks.

Another paper was on rats, and it showed that normal rats remember a task long after they stopped getting rewards for it. Dopamine deprived rats stop remembering how to do the task shortly after they stopped getting rewards.

I think both papers suggested that dopamine plays an important role in consolidating and protecting motor memory.


Now, that rang a bell with me. Unless you see my trying to play a ball game or dance, you probably won't notice. But I 'learn' movement patterns not as physical routine, I learn them as something I consciously control.
Or in the words of my gymnastics teacher: "I don't get it, when I tell you you did something wrong, you never make that mistake the next time, but you always repeat another mistake from before."

As long as I don't have to pay attention to other people moving around me, or I have to coordinate new motion patterns to a rhythm, I can cope that way.

But it means I improve very little from one training session to the next.


The same is true for other things that rely on procedural memory.



The only way I get better at routines is:
> they're immensely fun (how I learnt juggling with my best friend)
> I have to use them hundreds of times or I get immediately into trouble with my environment

so, immediate reward or punishment for not doing it. punishment doesn't hold up for too long though.



Now, when I try yoga I use the same conscious control over my body I used to use in gymnastics. When I juggle, it simply flows, at least the basic cascade does.

With yoga I *can* calm myself somewhat down when I am very anxious, but I don't know how to leave the command over my motions to those parts of my brain that actually evolved for it without that kind of routine.


And with most things I do routinely, my minds starts to wander. Often enough it doesn't even matter when my mind wanders. For example, I fall down about once a month because I forget to keep my ankle muscles rigid enough to support my ankles - and that is about maybe once every 150 000 steps. Of course the unsupported ankles happen more often, but I don't fall down every time.
When I do the same walking on top of a curb, I'm likely to fall within the first couple of steps when my mind just wanders. But my motor memory knows the routine, so I don't take over with conscious control like I would when trying to turn a cartwheel on the same place. I just end up walking more mindfully.


So what I am searching for is activities that rely on easy motor routines/procedural memory which I won't just replace with conscious control and that can be adjusted so that when my mind wanders it just doesn't work anymore.

I will respond to this in a new thread on the Polyvagal Theory.
This will need to go in the scientific section, and I will need to transcribe a good amount of material from a password protected pdf to be able to quote from it-- however the guts of it is that your anxiety (sympathetic overactivation) may well be key to creating your difficulty learning.

Re the ankle issue- the big question to me are:
"Why is the control of your ankles not happening unconsciously?"
and
"If you need to exert conscious control over a basic process like walking- is that not chewing up working memory that you might need elsewhere.

I sometimes adopt a "hippie" persona for my own amusement and wander around barefoot.

It is very funny as people are at pains to tell me to watch out for broken glass etc.

In an ordinary environment- ie a path with few stones, I simply assume that my subconscious processing of the visual environment will be enough to get my feet to land where they should. It works just fine, but it confounds people when I tell them that I have had far fewer injuries walking barefoot than in shoes. ( Usually they can't even think to retort that I have done most of my outdoor walking in shoes!)

Kunga Dorji
01-29-13, 05:40 AM
What exercises would lower the activation of the parasympatetic nervous system?


Ideas?

Abdominal breathing- especially with an emphasis on a rapid inbreath and slow outbreath.

Rolling the eyes upwards (often used in hypnosis induction, also artfully used in many churches where one is forced to look up to the iconography, also exploited by many political dictators who wish to invoke a sense of awe in their followers).

Alternate nostril breathing

Rolling the pelvis backwards (minimising sway back)-- see:

http://www.stephenporges.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16:shifts-in-pelvic-inclination-angle-and-parasympathetic-tone-produced-by-rolfing-soft-tissue-manipulation&catid=4:for-body-therapists&Itemid=10

Porges is a very heavy hitter in this area- and will probably re-define how we see psychiatry.

Keeping the neck upright.

Lunacie
01-29-13, 09:55 AM
Basically- what is aimed for is a cycle of 2 breaths in and out.
Attend closely to the sensation of inhalation and exhalation.
Sensations coming through the right nostril stimulate the left side of the brain. The left side is more associated with reason and the left amygdala with "approach' responses- while the right is more associated with "avoid"
responses.
The exercise is done by repeating 3 cycles of 2 breaths- usually doing the one starting on the left in the morning, and the one starting on the right in the evening as preparation for sleep.
That is what I have been told, and the effect is observable, but I would like to match it with heart rate variability measurements to confirm it.
--when I have a spare $200.

I'm just now seeing this thread and as I have trouble with both

proprioception and anxiety, this is interesting.

Some interesting things to try here.



When I first developed hypertension over a decade ago, I bought an

automatic blood pressure machine at WalMart for around $25.

It also records my pulse.

Now I'm thinking about checking my BP and pulse before trying

the nostril exercise, and check it again after doing the exercise.

Kunga Dorji
01-30-13, 06:42 AM
I'm just now seeing this thread and as I have trouble with both

proprioception and anxiety, this is interesting.

Some interesting things to try here.



When I first developed hypertension over a decade ago, I bought an

automatic blood pressure machine at WalMart for around $25.

It also records my pulse.

Now I'm thinking about checking my BP and pulse before trying

the nostril exercise, and check it again after doing the exercise.

Lunacie,
the proprioception issue may be more relevant to your anxiety and to your ADHD than you think.

Current thinking in neurology is now coming to the understanding that a sense of bodily safety is impossible if we are off balance and do not know where our body is in space.

To be quite simplistic - a proprioceptive problem leaves us unaware of where our body is in relation to potential predators and other threats- and that leaves us chronically on edge and tense.

Again the issue of safety is addressed in "Polyvagal Theory"
As I said- I will address this later when I have transcribed all the relevant quotes from this article into text that I can quote- but this is a taster- from page 3 of the article:

<style type="text/css">*<!-- @page { margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } --> </style> “If we observe children in a classroom, we a variety of behavioural features that illustrate that some children are safe and can sit comfortably in the same situations that trigger in other children the hypervigilant behaviours characterising a lack of safety.
Moreover, the children who are chronically monitoring the room for danger cues are the same children who have difficulties in learning, while those with the features of feeling safe can attend to the teacher and learn efficiently.

In fact the "hypervigilant behaviours" are the symptoms so characteristic of a hyperactive ADHD child, or an autism spectrum child in the classroom (Porges has a special interest in autism)
The full article is called "Somatic Perspectives In Psychotherapy" and can be found at this link:
http://www.stephenporges.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=28:somatic-perspectives-on-psychotherapy-interview&catid=4:for-body-therapists&Itemid=10


Now if you read the whole 15 pages of the article you will find that Porges is very sympathetic to the idea of neurodiversity, and in fact dwells on the fact that children who for some reason (ie genetically based) reach neurological maturity later than average are at a disadvantage in such a rigid system of schooling as we have.


Of course this is a very radical departure from the usual talk about "dopamine deficiency" but it fits very well with what else we do know about human and animal behaviour.

Lunacie
01-30-13, 12:34 PM
Thank you Barliman, more stuff that makes a lot of sense to me.

I was actually suggesting that might be able to check your heart rate

yourself much more cheaply than spending hundreds of dollars.

But I do appreciate the information about proprioception and feeling safe.

Kunga Dorji
01-31-13, 08:26 PM
Thank you Barliman, more stuff that makes a lot of sense to me.

I was actually suggesting that might be able to check your heart rate

yourself much more cheaply than spending hundreds of dollars.

But I do appreciate the information about proprioception and feeling safe.

Oh you can check it more cheaply- but the critical issue is not the rate it is the "beat to beat variability"- and that requires more sophisticated equipment.
I do see though that the institute of Heart Math is producing a free app for iPhone- must look at it.

mildadhd
02-01-13, 12:27 AM
Abdominal breathing- especially with an emphasis on a rapid inbreath and slow outbreath.

Rolling the eyes upwards (often used in hypnosis induction, also artfully used in many churches where one is forced to look up to the iconography, also exploited by many political dictators who wish to invoke a sense of awe in their followers).

Alternate nostril breathing

Rolling the pelvis backwards (minimising sway back)-- see:

http://www.stephenporges.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16:shifts-in-pelvic-inclination-angle-and-parasympathetic-tone-produced-by-rolfing-soft-tissue-manipulation&catid=4:for-body-therapists&Itemid=10

Porges is a very heavy hitter in this area- and will probably re-define how we see psychiatry.

Keeping the neck upright.

This is exactly what is working.(also wondering the effect of starting with the opposite , Sniff out first, then slow in, (no conclusion yet))

Flaring my nostrils,

and a quick in and out, (thanks I never thought to make them different, fast and hard in, then out slower focusing on control)

Need to work on posture.

I have only experimented with a few quick heavy in,

and ( I never really thought about the out but is slower now that I am aware)

I have never done more than a couple at a time,

since we last talked,

but I remember more and more,

under semi stressful situations,

like entering a room full of people.

And just a couple flirted nostril sniffs in and out, resets my brain.

I keep thinking hypothalamus but have not researched the higher, middle and lower parts either yet.

Could be them all,

although the prefrontal cortex seems the most "effected,"(maybe "most involved" is a better word?)

I am not a hundred percent sure if ADD (tank) is just the Prefrontal cortex,

or the system as a whole, (including the cerrubellum)

I can't rule out that "injury"or "lack of..something" related to different part parts among the whole system at different times of critical periods of development (especially early development).

I am Babbling!

But have some more questions and information to discuss in the near future.

I had some stressful setbacks, in the recent past, that where considered abnormal stress, that kind of slowed my focus, but am getting back into it, it is neat when I just remember to breath, (Like a horse blowing a fly off his nose, except the opposite)(try to sniff the fly in) (then relax on the way out)


Looking forward to learning more about the link.



.



.

sarahsweets
02-01-13, 07:14 AM
Due to the info shared by Barliman and Perphieral I have recently become a fan of deep breathing.

mildadhd
02-01-13, 05:35 PM
Thanks Sarahsweets

The information is fairly recent to me to.

I am really interested in what you find works for you.

I would also like to know how you remind yourself to breath?

One thing I find really cool,

is when I actually remember to deep breath to on purpose "help" myself,

during a stressful situation. (not all the time, but I am improving)



.