Modes of Thinking & How Environment Plays A Role

With new technology comes new opportunity for neuroscientists to investigate the physical make up of the human nervous system.

Scanning the heads of some of the most enlightened monks, gurus and regular people is being done more and more, and we are beginning to uncover some of these new insights into brain and mind optimisation.

When you think about the life of a monk or guru, if you are like me you picture someone who is in touch, spending most of their days in natural settings.

There is new research to suggest that being out in nature can improve our well being – but how?

Scans reveal that when you are out in nature and your eyes are gazing towards objects that are far distances away, the parts of the brain responsible for clarity, peace and balance were activated.

It’s thought that, perhaps being in enclosed environments for too long leads to mental clutter – the reverse of peace and clarity.

Through online course work on a topic titled – “learning how to learn”, designed by an American engineer professor, we learn about the different modes of thinking – the focused mode and the diffused mode.

Both modes differ in their structure and function, both biologically and in your pattern of thought.

Focused mode is when you are in the middle of solving a problem. In this mode, you can hold a few items under your awareness, but that’s it. You can’t access the deeper parts of your brain that can give you some of the answers to your problems or understanding of something.

It’s in diffuse mode where you can take the foot off the accelerator and allow the mind to wander into deeper parts of its psych where helpful memories and links lie that can aid you in solving problems or understanding a concept.

It’s said that in diffuse mode, it’s great to get out into nature and exercise.

It’s only when you walk away from your enclosed environment and into a natural setting where you give your brain a chance to switch its modes, allowing you to make new connections in that more relaxed state of mind.

Those Were The Wild Days

I spent up to 2 months living in rural regions of Cambodia in some of the toughest conditions you can imagine.

🛏 My bed was a thin mattress placed on the floor under a mosquito net.

🚿 My shower was a small bucket that I had to fill up with water and pour over my head.

🚽 my toilet was a hole in the ground

🥘 my food was simple and not always so tasty, but quite nutritious.

In my room, I would encounter anything from frogs to rats.

These times stretched me in so many ways. They changed my perspective on many things and helped me appreciate some of the things I have at home.

I was pushed physically, mentally and emotionally, as I had to navigate my way through prolonged periods of discomfort, change and adaptation.

I engaged in labour intensive work, waking up off the mattress on the floor in a hot sweat each morning to start a hard days work building a school with our bare hands from the ground, up.

I didn’t always like the food, things got lonely very often and I was forced to sit with my mental madness on countless occasions.

I remember all the good times, as well. I got to do something good for people. I got to experience a culture that is so foreign and strange to me, my perceptions were continually challenged and turned upside down.

I hustled so hard when I was there, something that has proven to be a detriment.

However, I wouldn’t take it back for a thing.

For now though, it’s time to focus on my own health and well being. I neglected it for so long in the pursuit of “achieving” shit and “making a difference”.

I’m so exhausted now, and I’m enjoying my period of rest and recovery at the moment.

Once covid-19 has had its day and we are ready to get back to normal life, I plan to sketch out my next overseas journey where I can go and have fun, help people and learn new things about myself and life.

Cold Therapy – We Were Supposed To Engage With The Cold

This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was fresh off the plane after spending a year in Cambodia (first time I returned before going back for another 9 months).

🥶 Cold therapy

There are many benefits including –

❄️ Eases sores and aching muscles
❄️ Helps the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
❄️ Limits inflammatory response
❄️Engages with your vagus nerve – this is linked to your parasympathetic nervous system which helps calm you down.

Do I recommend? – yes. Although, I would say you must ease yourself into the cold before jumping right in. Start with cold showers and then work your way up.

I returned back from Cambodia during a hot Sydney summer. Yet, there were many days I had to wear a jumper.

What was lacking was that relentless South East Asian humidity, and my body had yet to adjust without it. I would shiver at every little breeze in the beginning.

I can’t say the whole time was spent shivering. The heat here is also relentless, just in different ways.

After 2 straights years of not feeling anything close to what a winter is here, it made me curious as to see how my body would react to the 2020 winter.

I’ve been feeling the cold this winter, for sure – I am usually found wearing around 3 layers most of the time.

However, I sleep in the nude with the windows open at night – go figure.

I’ve always read that the most favourable sleeping environment is a cool one, and I find my body needs that amount of cold at night to ensure I don’t overheat in my sleep.

When I do overheat, I find that’s when I’m most likely to have nightmares. I can only imagine that during nightmares, your heart rate would increase.

With an increased heart rate, this puts a strain on your brain and body’s ability to move through those restorative cycles during your sleep.

So in the nude with the windows open it is if it means I can get those good sleep scores under my belt.

I have an appreciation for the cold for many reasons, as all stated above. The cold showers I’ve taken in the past have proven to be rewarding, helping my body feel fresh and my mind alert.

Although hard during the winter, going back to those cold showers is something I aspire to do.

Becoming more comfortable in these conditions is not only beneficial for your physiology, but it is also a mental exercise.

The Power of The Breath

Engage in diaphragmatic breathing. Due to our lifestyle, most of us tend to lose our abilities to breathe using our stomach. We build habits of breathing with our chests with is problematic, as that doesn’t give us our sufficient amount of oxygen needed.

When we are faced with stressful situations, our sympathetic nervous system engages, rushing all the blood from our mid body’s to our limbs. Most of the time though, we don’t require this fight or flight response.

By engaging in breathing, you can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, bringing the blood back into your intestinal areas and lungs where it’s needed, switching on the parasympathetic nervous system which brings us back to that homeostasis state.

Stress is a major issue, especially given the new lifestyle we have taken on. Stress can build up for decades, playing a role in being responsible for other chronic disease like cancer or heart disease.

Reduce that stress response and bring yourself back to your grounding with diaphragmatic breathing

Thought & Emotion – The Filters of Your Perception

Thought and emotion are like filters.

You take a picture of yourself with your phone, and although you are slightly displeased, the photo is good enough to upload to Instagram.

After all, there are filters which can either dull features or bring them out. There are filters to add more colour and texture.

By the time you finish touching the photo up with filters, you seem much happier and at more at ease with posting it – it may even give you a sense of pleasure.

Our day to day experience is like the raw photo, and our the thoughts and emotions we have are like the filters.

For example, someone says something you don’t like during a confrontation and you start to feel angry. If the emotion of anger is strong enough, it will stick around.

It was a single event that triggered the emotion, but because the emotion stays around, you start to get angry at everything.

The emotion will feed back into your thoughts, so that your thoughts become angry – a negative feedback loop. Your whole world is now anger; angry thoughts, more angry emotions, anger driven decisions, anger driven interactions, anger driven reactions etc.

This event triggered anger and now anger has become the temporary filter to your experience as the observer.

Because we become so identified with our thoughts and emotions, they start to feel like our true reality. We are identified with them, so whatever program they run, we will most likely believe.

This analogy has come from trying my best to stay present, particularly when intense emotions arise. Leaning in and observing has taught me just how powerful these filters are in terms of how you perceive life.

Being present and trying to find a place of objectivity during these moments can help ground you back into reality, where most thoughts and emotions have no real basis.

Meridian Points – The Traditional Chinese Medicine Way of Healing

There are meridian points that run along parts of your body. These meridians contain a flow of energy within them. This concept is from Chinese medicine and is similar to acupuncture and acupressure, in which these meridian points are tapped.

The tapping is intended to restore balance and resolve any issue with energy blockage, which is believed to be the cause of physical and emotional pain.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, blocks or imbalances in the flow of energy lead to ill health. The interesting thing about traditional Chinese medicine is, they matched colours with emotions, and they also allocated each organ with a specific emotion.

Liver – often associated with stress
Heart – Associated with love and happiness
Stomach – worry, anxiety and stress
Lung – Greif and sadness
Kidney – Fear

In the Ayurvedic system, apart from yoga being used as a tool for self-realisation, or enlightenment, it can also achieve a balance of the body’s energy, or prana, by clearing blockages that may have gathered in the body overtime.

When the mind has been unable to process things correctly, unresolved emotions can get stored in the body. Once they become stored in the body, they can condition the body into feeling a certain way. So, what began as a thought in your mind, becomes energy in your body.

A thought can come and go very quickly in the mind. Emotions are different, however. Its our nervous system that creates these thoughts and, the very beginning of thes emotions. Once the brain decides what emotion it wants, the pituitary gland starts a process with its endocrine system counterparts, to release hormones and peptides throughout the body.

These hormones and peptides released by the endocrine system contain molecules that relate to the thoughts that began in the mind. If you were having fearful thoughts, these molecules most likely make up things like cortisol or adrenaline.

These things impact the body in many ways. If you cant see how, then go and do something that scares you or gets you hyped up and then watch what you body does.

The main meridian points used in EFT –

SS: The Sore Spot – Neurolymphatic point
EB: Beginning of the Eye Brow – Bladder Meridian
SE: Side of the Eye – Gall Bladder Meridian
UE: Under the Eye – Stomach Meridian
UN: Under the Nose – Governing Vessel
Ch: Chin – Central Vessel
CB: Beginning of the Collar Bone – Kidney Meridian
BN: Below Nipple – Liver Meridian
UA: Under the Arm – Spleen Meridian
TH: Top of the Head – Governing Vessel
Th: Thumb- Lung Meridian
IF: Index Finger – Large Intestine Meridian
MF: Middle Finger – Heart Protector
BF: Baby Finger – Heart Meridian
KC: Karate Chop – Small Intestine Meridian

Emotional Freedom Technique – Is Energy Medicine The Future?

Some 5 or 6 years ago, I had brought mindfulness meditation into my life as a way to treat myself from the painful thoughts and emotions that I was experiencing at the time. In those earlier stages, meditation never rid me of anything, but rather gave me new ways of looking at things.

This small shift in my perception set off my curiosity to find out what else was out there in the world of esoteric practice for all things health and well being.

I remember stumbling across a practice called EFT (emotional freedom technique). I had a book on EFT handy, and I learned what it was about and how to use it. I learned that it could help with all things related to difficult emotions, trauma, cravings and even unfavorable belief systems. The whole practice seemed a little left field, and I don’t remember being able to find any good research to back it, at the time.

I set it aside, only to cross paths with it about 6 years later while in a mindfulness retreat in Thailand.

I would keep my ears peeled while in the dining room of the retreat, especially of a night. There was always an interesting discussion to be had, always filled with insights and wisdom. I heard an Aussie lady talk about EFT and how she used it to combat certain cognitive and emotional challenges she had faced in her life.

A great workshop was held a few days later, and it was there where all the pieces of the puzzle came together for me – Some real life stories describing EFTs practicality, with a good body of research which has only grown in the last few years.

According to the developer of EFT, tapping on different parts of the body helps balance the energy within you and reduce emotional pain. It is considered an alternative therapy for things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress, chronic pain, weight loss, and some addictions.

How It Works –

There are meridian points that run along parts of your body. These meridians contain a flow of energy within them. This concept is from Chinese medicine and is similar to acupuncture and acupressure, in which these meridian points are tapped.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, blocks or imbalances in the flow of energy lead to ill health. The tapping is intended to restore balance and resolve any issue with energy blockage, which is believed to be the cause of physical and emotional pain.

Harvard medical school studies have revealed that by stimulating the body’s meridian points, you can significantly reduce activity in the amygdala, which is known as the alarm system of your brain. The amygdala is triggered during experiences of trauma or fear, and once it is triggered it releases cortisol through your body – this is the hormone corresponding to stress.

These studies reveal that when one stimulates these meridian points, there can be a reduction in distress, as the tapping signals to the amygdala that there is no danger. An amazing result showed that after a session of tapping, people were able to reduce their cortisol levels by up to 30%.

“Energy medicine is the future of all medicine. We’re beginning now to understand things that we know in our hearts are true but we could never measure. As we get better at understanding how little we know about the body, we begin to realize that the next big frontier in medicine is energy medicine. It’s not the mechanistic part of the joints moving. It’s not the chemistry of our body – its understanding for the first time how energy influences how we feel.”

Taking A Dive Into Human Psychology & Health Science

It’s been an absolute joy creating content for education and through the documentation of my experiences as a humanitarian.

I hope that I have been able to offer you insights into all things involving people, their well being and their self improvement.

In just over a month, I will begin the second phase of This is Philanthropy, as I take a deep dive into human psychology and health science at the University of Wollongong.

You may be wondering what this has to do with philanthropy. After all, that’s the name of the platform, right?

My philanthropic philosophy stretches much further than financial contribution or the inspiration I can offer you. To me, philanthropy is all about being on the ground, solving problems and looking at new ways to bring about change where it is needed.

With knowledge gained from science, it will allow me to better understand the nature of humans and the way in which we work. It will give me deep insights into how we can promote health and longevity and how we can come up with new solutions for some of the pressing issues we face in our modern day society, such as the mental health epidemic we face currently.

I trust that as I continue to gain a deeper level of understanding on life, I can continue to educate you along the way.

My goal is to help you understand yourself better, so you can maintain your own health, while also building on top of what you are already have.

If you are a fan of this page and have gained insight that you have found valuable in your life, please share word.

I plan to continue documenting my experiences as I evolve my humanitarian skill sets and find new projects overseas that are in need of service. I will continue to create psych and health education content that can hopefully leave a positive impact on your life.

Personal Development & It’s Crucial Counterparts

These are the most important topics I consider to be related to personal development, especially considering the changes that have taken place as of late.

Each of these areas are interconnected.

Our spirituality is so fundamental to life. Without it, everything would cease to exist. Your spirituality relates to the very experience you are having, each moment in time. Self-realisation is considered the ultimate goal. This requires being able to connect and realise more of your true nature, usually hidden behind your ego, or your “false sense of self”.

Unlike spirituality, which seeks to uncover the truth about the world that cannot be observed, science is the uncovering of truth in the material world. Everything that you can observe as material, this is a construct of such intricate physics, chemistry and biology. Our body of knowledge is growing so rapidly, and with this can come better education, health and well being.

Philosophy differs from spirituality in the sense that, philosophy involves a lot of logical thinking. Although philosophy plays an integral role in spiritual teachings, there are many other areas of life which are in need of philosophical debate, particularly if these areas hold a strong influence over the way we live our lives, collectively.

Technology is one of those life changing things that shape the way we work and live. Essentially, tech is an extension of us. Our sense are so limited, we can only experience a tiny fraction of what is really out there. Tech is what complements our biology, as it extends all of these senses. This speed of change has been seen as problematic for many reasons, which is why a healthy relationship with tech is vital. Being tech conscious is important, as this can also potentially change your life in good ways.

Business – Your relationship and knowledge around your personal finances, plus all of the skill sets that you have or plan to build during your working life. This area also involves how well you can market yourself to people, and your values, motivations and goals for working.

Art – “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton. Art can be a therapeutic form of expression. It is an escape from reality, just as much as it is a connection to reality. Used more in psychotherapy, art enables on to express their inner nature to the outside world.

The Human – A Biological Learning Machine

There are many reasons as to why I learn daily. For one, I am interested in a whole range of topics and I enjoy the process.

But perhaps more importantly, it keeps the mind sharp. I am training it and programming it daily with valuable insights. There have been studies that suggest that when we learn something new, the brain releases dopamine.

Dopamine is neurotransmitter and plays a key role in the feeling of pleasure. There is a pathway in the brain between where dopamine is created and the part of the brain that is associated with motivation and reward.

One can conclude that being a biological learning machine, the learning process creates a sense of pleasure and achievement.

At its core, it can be the learning of any skill, topic, language, interest – something of value to you and those around you.


The human is a learning machine. We are gathering and processing information from our external environment, almost constantly. Studies now reveal that the process of learning can release dopamine, the neurochemical associated with pleasure.

There is a direct pathway between where dopamine is produced in the brain and the part of the brain associated with reward and motivation. These findings suggest that learning new things can be a very rewarding task.

Learning keeps the mind sharp and even helps during the ageing process. Our brains are plastic, meaning they can change. When we learn new things, we are installing new neurological hardware. These changes can shape thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

Every time you learn something, you are changing who you are.

I’ve worked multiple jobs and each time I finish up a working day, I feel exhausted and stressed. Those days I spend studying, I feel energised, empowered and enlightened.

Full time study isn’t for everyone, but everyone can learn new skills sets, languages or concepts.

The learning process is universal and highly rewarding.