December 1, 2013: Putting Passions into Play

Thank you to guest illustrator Xine Kathryn

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life—think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”  --Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), an Indian Hindu monk who helped introduce yoga to the Western world

Over 100 years since Vivekananda’s words above, neuroscience research is telling us that, indeed, there’s something to be said for thinking, dreaming, and living our passions. Visualizing ourselves doing something well can lead to success. For example, golfers who visualize practicing improvements in their swing can actually improve their performance.

Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, in The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Passions (Penguin Group, 2008), assert that living our passions entails setting intentions and giving our passions attention. However, there should also be no tension – no straining.  Creating intentions and putting your attention on them, they say, should be “simple, easy, effortless process” (p. 58).

For us neuroscience geeks, the book offers passages that delve into the science of why this approach of “intention,”  “attention,” and “no tension” works. Interestingly, it has to do with what Swami Vivekandna told us over a hundred years ago, before neuroscience research came into its own: “the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body.”

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