June 19, 2016 – Brain Health and Compassionate Communication

Garrett Riegg, J.D.
Brain Health and Compassionate Communication

Happy Father’s Day! I found recently that I am a father figure at a fraternity I advise at Sonoma State. It was very important to a young man there. His father was absent from his life, and he had no brothers or sisters. He told me recently about his wonderful girl friend and the great job he had as a camera man with the Forty Niners. He was so excited. Over break, though, he was binge drinking and took some pills. I got a call that he was found face down on the floor outside his room, dead.

It is believed that over 50% of students engage in this dangerous behavior. We do know more people are now dying from illegal and legal use of anti-depressants and opioids than from handguns or auto accidents. Among white middle-class women, up to 40% are using 1 or more anti-depressants. Medicine didn’t believe how dangerous these drugs are.

The answer to depression is not drugs. After researching thousands of studies, it has been determined that there are 8 ways to calm the brain.

From the last to the first:

8) Smile. Mean it or not, it releases endorphins. And little things count. It has been found that if a patient about to get a bad diagnosis were to give their doctor a small bag of jelly beans before the diagnosis, the doctor is 20% more accurate!

7) Think. Chess can reverse some dementia. Games and puzzles improve mental ability in the short run, but for the long run the mind needs big intellectual ideas and challenges, like philosophy, metaphysics, or world peace.

6) Relax. Relaxing your muscles and breathing deeply is good for the brain, as is playing relaxing music or repetitive activity like knitting or using rosary beads.

5) Yawn! It also relaxes the muscles in the neck and causes you to breathe deeply. Students who yawned 5 times before a test consistently made higher scores. 5 yawns, too, are as good as a cup of coffee.

4) Meditating. It’s a treat for the brain. MRIs show significant differences between monks and regular people. And they show negative emotions kill brain cells, while positive emotions grow brain cells.

3) Aerobic exercise is definitely good because it brings more oxygen to the brain.

2) Dialogue. Talking, especially talking about big concepts like God or evolution.

1) Faith. The most important. Not necessarily faith in God, but focusing on affirming, positive beliefs, like faith in humanity or the individual’s faith that he or she can overcome. Optimists have better health overall; pessimists die earlier.

I was lucky as a college student to not only have a good father, but over summer vacations I also had a good father figure in my boss at Beacon Moving in Oakland. He was African American, and this was 1963, before the Civil Rights movement had accomplished anything. But Bill had faith. His work was of the highest quality. He was the first black driver for Beacon in Oakland. He had zero customer complaints filed when the average was 20 to 30 a year. He was elected to union shop steward at Beacon, even when the union still didn’t want to integrate! I found out Bill had pulled himself out of poverty and alcoholism, gotten married, and at 50 started a family by adopting a little girl. They adopted 2 more girls, and all were good students. I know at least the oldest went to college. Bill had never even graduated high school! I so appreciate the fathers I had!

June 26, 2011 – Near Death Experience

6/26/11 Garrett Riegg, J.D.

Objective, statistical evidence sheds light on ancient beliefs and current theosophical tenets regarding
life after death. Much evidence is derived from Near Dearth Experiences, or NDEs. Although NDEs
are clothed in different images from different religious backgrounds, they almost always convey the
same message. They are mystical, spiritual experiences. They all share a sense of certainty, gutfeeling,
or inner knowledge – a “gnosis”. A majority of NDEs include the panoramic life review which
occurs in a matter of seconds. It is a re-living of every life experience, not as a judgment, but as an
exercise for learning how one’s life has affected every person that subject’s life has touched. It is
instantaneous and life-changing.

We use “story” to connect with others heart-to-heart. HeartMath has demonstrated that the heart is
powerful, that people in “coherence” can change DNA, either twisting or untwisting the DNA chain, (a
standard scientific measure). Hard science is showing that this other higher level or plane of thought is
real. Those reporting stories of NDEs describe the plane as a place of total understanding and love, out
of the body, with heightened senses, a state of bliss. They very often report passing through a tunnel,
with the presence of a being of light, in complete love and trust. They report altered space and time in
a heavenly realm. They experience the awareness of special knowledge and spiritual insight, of deep
learning of love and the universal message.

A young women relates the remarkable story that in her NDE she was enveloped in love and perfect
peace. She says she was being cared for, out among the stars. “I felt I understood EVERYTHING –
the law, the order, and the math of the universe.” She went on to say, “ One’s religion is written in your
own heart. You are just who you are. You are here to love divinely and master who you are to raise to
it’s highest level you own true self!”