Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a Question to See the Answer.

Getting started

MAP stands for Mental And Physical. It means the same as Mind-Body. For example MAP Training is the same as Mind-Body Training.

Yes! We have a complete still and moving meditation training curriculum. If your primary training is in seated meditation, you will find our approach to enhance stillness practice while providing physical fitness benefits. It is said that DaMo taught the Buddhist monks a series of exercises because their single-minded sitting was ruining their bodies.

Yes! It's called Tai Chi Boost for Seniors. This specialized curriculum consists of a short series of breathing exercises and simple movements 20 to 40 minutes long. These movements address posture, relaxation, balance, bone density and coordination. Training is gentle synthesis of the following activities:

  • Neigong (QiGong of Chi Kung)
  • Strength training (No weights are used)
  • Meditation
  • Stretching

See the retreats listing below for times and dates. Ongoing classes available based on interest. Gather a group of your friends and get in touch! (520) 770-1200.

Kelley Grahamhas developed an elegant guide for self cultivation to improve life satisfaction.

  1. Social Connections
  2. Compassion
  3. Environment
  4. Mental Development
  5. Physical Development
  6. Purpose

The University of Arizona has an excellent overview available online. UA Science of Happiness Lecture Series

Sign up for the 50then40 6 Week Course.

Contact Kelley Graham using this contact form or call (520) 770-1200 to set an appointment for an informal interview concerning your background, goals and intentions.

You will be joining a tightly knit training commnuity who have been doing intensive work. Here is a brief overview of expectations for new members.

POLICY AND EXPECTATIONS

Neuroscience

Brain Fitness and Wellness Using a Blended Approach

Needs & Benefits

This program addresses major physical, mental health and societal concerns that significantly reduce the quality of life of many individuals. This program will teach techniques to improve individual health and interpersonal relationships:

This 12 month program of intensive study is divided into two six month phases with three modules of practice and includes the following benefits.

  • Better concentration and focus
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved physical condition
  • Improved mind-body connection

Who It Will Help?

Participants are volunteers in the greater Tucson – Oro Valley community who are interested in exploring new ways and skills to improve their health, mental condition and lifestyle.

Goals

We are committed to transforming our community by helping families and individuals achieve excellence in healthy living. Meditation alone has been proven to be useful and effective, while physical exercise has its own well-documented effects. Our study will show how this brain fitness program brings the two approaches together successfully for improved wellness. The study will also explore how perceived risk and risk tolorance impacts wellness.

Steps

We have expert advisors and mentors in the areas of osteopathy, instructional psychology and internal medicine who identify measures and establish criteria. The resulting wellness model will show what works and how to apply findings to inform other similar programs.

Outcomes

  • The role of social interactions in the propagation of new habits and thought models
  • The effects of the method on the respiratory rate, resting heart rate, blood sugar levels and blood pressure
  • The role of meditation alone (mind) vs meditation with stretching and specific breathing methods (body) in stress management and recovery
  • The blended method and its relationship to mental acuity, risk, innovation and neuroplasticity

How Long Will It Take?

The 12 month program of intensive study is offered in TWO six-month phases with three modules of practice with 15 students.


Module One - Boot Camp - 8 Weeks

This module is designed to make a clean break into a new way of thinking. Foundational mental and physical tools are introduced with an emphasis on calming the mind to address habitual behaviors. Participants learn and practice two meditations and one movement routine. This routine includes stretches designed to simultaneously stimulate the body while calming the mind.

Module Two - Finding Ease - 8 Weeks

Stress and tension reduce our quality of life. Module two develops a stronger and more relaxed body. In addition to the continuing practice from module one, specific breathing techniques are introduced and developed that help the student recognize the mental and physical cues that occur when losing ease and becoming tense.

Module 3 - A New Normal - 8 Weeks

A new normal means that we have consolidated our gains and can move forward. No new materials are presented, only continued training. The outcome of this module is very simple:

  • Practice makes perfect. In order to permanently realize the gains of this practice, the brain must be given the opportunity to change.
  • Duration of practice and consistency in method determine overall success.
  • This approach to practice sets a lower baseline for overall stress and results in greater mental acuity and better overall health.

If interested, contact Kelley Graham at (520) 770-1200 for an intake interview.

 

Conversations with Dr. Maggie Martinez concerning ongoing unpublished brain research have focused on the following key points.

  1. There is a brain cocktail that is required for the brain to best make new synaptic connections, aka Learning
  2. This cocktail is affected by emotional states. Stressors inhibit the cocktail from having the correct balance and learning cannot occur.
  3. The button that is pushed releasing this cocktail is under volitional control.
  4. This control is learned during early infancy, so early in infancy that awareness of the button is not conscious at later developmental stages. One aspect of meditative practice is recognizing that we do have conscious control of that button.
  5. Play, fun and pleasure all contribute to the formation of the cocktail.
  6. more forthcoming...

Related Links
Metalearning & Neuromodulation (a little dated but well written)
New Research Stresses the Responses to Stress
Learning Types - Detailed Comparison - Section B: Design Guidelines for Personalized Learning
Just For Fun - Buddha on the Brain - Wired magazine

Summary

Neuroscience cleary indicates that personalized presentation of curriculae results in measurable improvements in student performance over a standardized approach. Kelley Graham has had great success teaching traditional Chinese esoteric mind-body training methods using this pedagogical approach.


Learning Orientations

There are three basic learning orientations or learner types posited by recent brain research; transforming, performing and conforming. source

Transforming Learners are generally highly motivated, passionate, often persistent even in the face of failure, and highly comitted learners. They most often place great importance on learning ability, committed effort, independence, vision, and intrinsic resources.

  • They use personal strengths, ability, persistence, challenging strategies, high-standards, learning efficacy, and positive expectations to self-direct learning successfully.
  • They lose motivation and may become frustrated or resistant in environments or conditions that mismatch their aggressive learning needs.

CONTRASTS: In contrast to other orientations, Transforming Learners are holistic thinkers that know that they can commit great amounts of learning effort and use short-term goals as steps to accomplish important, long-term, transformational goals. They seldom solely rely on deadlines, structured environments, normative performance standards, expected social or instructional compliance, extrinisic rewards, or others for learning efficacy or self-motivation. They rely on themselves to learn and use it as a valuable resource to innovate.

Performing Learners are generally self-motivated in learning situations that particularly interest them, otherwise they may seek extrinsic rewards for accomplishing objectives that appear to have less value or benefit to them.

  • They most often are skilled, sophisticated learners that systematically follow principles, processes, or procedures, think hierarchially, and capably achieve average to above-standard learning objectives, tasks, and performance.may sometimes clearly acknowledge meeting only the stated objectives, getting the grade, streamlining learning efforts, and avoiding exploratory steps beyond the requirements of the situation and learning task.
  • They take control and responsibility for their learning but may also rely on others for motivation, coaching goal setting, scheduling, and direction.
  • They may self-motivate and exert greater effort in situations that greatly interest or benefit them. These learners may lose motivation or may even get frustrated or angry if too much effort or risk is required and the recognized rewards are not enough to compensate the perceived effort.
  • They are steadfast, true, and reliable when they recognize and appreciate the importance of implementing tasks, procedure, and structure.

CONTRASTS: In contrast to transforming learners, performing learners prefer what can be accomplished today, rather than tomorrow. Dreamers of the future and potential opportunities are sometimes frustrating and demotivating to performing learners. The performing learners are detail, task-oriented learners (i.e., they may value hollistic or big-picture thinkers less). Performing learners with higher LOQ scores generally focus on principles and processes that help how they can improve and implement. Performing learners with lower LOQ scores generally focus on procedures and facts for getting the job done today, rather than worrying about considering or exploring the possibilities of what could be accomplished in the future.

Performing learners are most comfortable with coaching relationships (not guiding or hand-holding), and rely on or appreciate external support, resources, rewards, interaction, and influences to accomplish a task. They may take fewer risks with challenging or difficult goals and limit discovery efforts to accomplish many more simpler tasks to achieve key goals. They may selectively focus on grades and rewards, show less persistence in the face of failure, or may cheerfully achieve less whenever standards are set below their capabilities, as long as their important, immediate goals are accomplished.

In contrast to conforming learners, these learners have more sophisticated learning skills, commit greater effort to achieve higher standard goals, and prefer learning and performance environments with practice and greater hands-on interaction that creates and stimulates interest, competition, and fun.

Conforming Learners like routine, structure, supportive relationships, and stability. They generally are more compliant and will more passively accept knowledge, store it, and reproduce it to conform, complete assigned tasks (if they can) and often please and help others. These learners typically prefer to leave the holistic, critical, or analytical thinking to others.

  • Conforming Learners value step-by-step feedback and guidance to help them monitor and review progress, accomplish goals set by others, and plan next steps. They generally prefer to be less sophisticated learners and have less desire to control or manage their own learning, take risks, or initiate change in their jobs or environment. Their focus is on social interaction and supportive relationships.
  • Learning in open learning environments, which focus on high learner control, discovery or exploratory learning, complex problem-solving, challenging goals, and inferential direction, may frustrate, demoralize, or demotivate these learners--without sufficient support and scaffolding. In contrast, with sufficient support and scaffolding, these learners can increasingly improve learning ability and accomplishment. They will be able to assume greater responsibility for their learning in more structured environments.
  • These learners work best with scaffolded structure, guiding direction, simple problems, linear sequencing, and explicit feedback. They would profit most from a variety of blended learning solutions that provide additional support from instructors and peers.

CONTRASTS: In contrast to other orientations, conforming learners learn best in well-structured, collaborative or directive environments using step-by-step procedures. Unlike transforming and performing learners, who have stronger, more positive beliefs about learning and greater learning efficacy, these learners may believe that achievement is often due to luck and that learning is most useful when it helps them avoid risk and meet basic requirements related to concrete tasks. They often prefer to use minimum effort on simpler goals that others set for them and help them achieve.


It may be apparent from this brief overview that what works for one learner type is exactly the opposite of what works for another learner.

Thursday, December 10, 2009
By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Scientists used to think that the structure of the human brain didn't change much after infancy.

But in the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of studies showing just how adaptable and malleable the human brain is, and one of the most intriguing was published today by Carnegie Mellon University scientists.

Writing in the journal Neuron, brain researchers Marcel Just and Timothy Keller said that after just six months of intensive remedial reading instruction, children who had been poor readers were not only able to improve their skills, but grew new white-matter connections in their brains.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09344/1019898-115.stm#ixzz0a0AyOIEo

 

From the Wikipedia article.

"Brain fitness is the capacity of a person to meet the various cognitive demands of life. It is evident in an ability to assimilate information, comprehend relationships, and develop reasonable conclusions and plans. Brain fitness can be developed by formal education, being actively mentally engaged in life, continuing to learn, and exercises designed to challenge cognitive skills.[4][5] Healthy lifestyle habits including mental stimulation, physical exercise, good nutritionstress management, and sleep can improve brain fitness.[6][7][8][9][10] On the other hand, chronic stressanxietydepressionaging, decreasing estrogen, excess oxytocin, and prolonged cortisol can decrease brain fitness as well as general health.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

Brain fitness can be measured physically at the cellular level by neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons, and increased functional connections of synapses and dendrites between neurons. It can also be evaluated by behavioral performance as seen in cognitive reserve, improved memoryattention, concentration, executive functionsdecision-making, mental flexibility, and other core capabilities.

Like physical fitness, brain fitness can be improved by various challenging activities such as playing chess or bridge, dancing regularly, practicing yoga and tai chi and also by engaging in more structured computer based workouts. Some research shows that brain stimulation can help prevent age-related cognitive decline, reverse behavioral assessment declines in dementia and Alzheimer’s[17][18][19], and can also improve normally functioning minds. In experiments, comparing some computer based brain boosting exercises to other computer based activities, brain exercises were found to improve attention and memory in people over age 60. [20][21]. Other studies have evaluated other brain boosting exercises and not found improvements. A study of 67 schoolchildren aged 10 compared 7 week Nintendo brain training to engaging in pen and paper puzzles. The study found that the brain training group suffered a 17 per cent decrease in memory tests after the seven week course, while the pen and paper group saw an increase of 33 per cent.[22] Many experts are skeptical with regard to the real value of different commercial brain boosting products. For example, a panel of experts gathered by Which? Magazine have concluded that ‘Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training’ for the Nintendo DS will not enhance brainpower at all." [23]

******************end Wikipedia excerpt*************************

When a deep, immersive calm is achieved and stressors are reduced, the brain can produce the neurochemical cocktail that enables formation of new neuronal connections. The brain and body are not separate. We have one nervous system, not two. The specific kind of concentration to achieve a deep, immersive calm requires the same level of effort as when learning a new language.

Urban Retreat Center curriculum engages your awareness using a physical tools. To accumulate knowledge, as in purely academic pursuits, is a less effective methodology. How do you know if you're training in just the right way to produce optimum brain fitness? Using the physical to train the mental produces better results then puzzles and games alone.

Real change is difficult and is not what you expect. Prepare to be surprised.

Anatomy and Physiology

Strength & Power are terms used to describe the capacity to have an effect or perform work. Physical strength can be distinguished from Strength of Materials. In our training, Structure is the best word to understand power generation.  The tensegrity model and anatomy trains provide valid physiological context. Benefits of cultivating and refining ones structure can include:

  • Balance - Refined awareness of the alignment with gravity results in exquisite balance.
  • Endurance - Awareness of one's structure when moving results in greatly improved use of self. An efficient movement uses less energy.
  • Pain relief - Better structure means the body can move naturally and drop unnecessary habitual tensions.
  • Profound Relaxation - This is a state of relaxation as your baseline condition, rather than an exceptional, fleeting, or occasional feeling.
  • Resiliency - Injuries are lessened as the body is well knitted together.

As one's awareness expands, poor structural habits dissolve away and the body lightens, becoming more transparent to inner and outer forces.

fascia (/ˈfæʃə//ˈfæʃiə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃɨ.i/; adjective or fascial; from Latin: "band") is connective tissue fibers, primarily collagen, that form sheets or bands beneath the skin to attach, stabilize, enclose, and separate muscles and other internal organs.[1] Fasciae are classified according to their distinct layers, their functions and their anatomical location: superficial fasciadeep (or muscle) fascia, and visceral (or parietal) fascia.

Like ligamentsaponeuroses, and tendons, fasciae are dense regular connective tissues, containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pull. Fasciae are consequently flexible structures able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force. These collagen fibers are produced by the fibroblasts located within the fascia.[1]

Fasciae are similar to ligaments and tendons as they have collagen as their major component. They differ in their location and function: ligaments join one bone to another bone, tendons join muscle to bone and fasciae surround muscles or other structures.

Wikipedia entry Fascia


Anatomy Trains - Fascia Overview - http://www.anatomytrains.com/fascialfitness/fascial_fitness1.pdf


Fascial Congress Video

Harvard Medical School Conf. Ctr.
Boston, 
October 2007
   

Click for the abstract.

Click for the
full presentation
(12min, 160MB).

 


Active fascial contractility: an in vitro mechanographic investigation

Schleip R et al., in: Findley TW & Schleip R (eds.), Fascia research – Basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. Elsevier Science, Munich 2007.

Summary

With immunohistological analysis we demonstrate the presence of myofibroblasts in normal human fasciae, particularly the
fascia lata, plantar fascia, and the lumbar fascia. Density was found to be highest in the lumbar fascia and seems to be positively related to physical activity. For in vitro contraction tests we suspended strips of lumbar fascia from rats in an organ bath and measured for responsiveness to potential contractile agonists.With the H1 antagonist mepyramine there were clear contractile responses; whereas the nitric oxide donator glyceryltrinitrate induced relaxation.The measured contraction forces are strong enough to impact upon musculoskeletal mechanics when assuming a similar contractility in vivo.
 

Full text (PDF) available here

The Spring-like Function of the Lumbar Fascia in Human Walking
Zorn A et al., in: Findley TW & Schleip R (eds.), Fascia research – Basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. Elsevier Science, Munich 2007 (plus video).

HYPOTHESIS
Although almost every person swings the arms and rotates the trunk in walking, the movement of arms and trunk in gait analysis are generally regarded as one inflexible passenger block serving no function in walking. We introduce the hypothesis that the clumbodorsal fascia acts as an elastic spring helping to propel the mass of the trunk forward.

METHODS
We developed a model of a walking human body which included the legs, the pelvis, the back, the shoulders and the arms. We described the kinetics of this body using accurate mathematical treatment of applied mechanics. The legs are represented by invertedcpendulums. The pelvic and the shoulder girdle are represented by torsion pendulums and the arms by suspended pendulums. A crisscross arrangement of elastic springs acts as a model for the posterior layer of the lumbodorsal fascia (PLF) which is put under tension by the latissimus dorsi and the glutaeus maximus muscles, thus connecting diagonally the contralateral arm and leg pendulums, based on the anatomical findings from [2]. The PLF has an attachment at the trunk (spine) in the lumbar region. Anthropometric data were mainly taken from [3]. The two muscles were assumed to work isometrically, thus giving the LDF a pre-stretch as described in [1]. The elastic stiffness of the PLF in vivo is unknown – instead we used Young's modulus of human tendons. This set of interconnected oscillators in the gravity field was handled by formation of the appropriate Lagrange function. The obtained equation was solved numerically with Maple(TM) software. The time-dependent values of kinetic and potential energies during the cycle of movement were examined.

RESULTS
The lumbodorsal fascia, the latissimus dorsi and the glutaeus maximus muscle together form a continuous bowstring-like sling, being able to periodically exert a sagittal force helping to propel the mass of the trunk forward. Acting in this way, these two muscles (being the largest of the human body) can also do work in the normal walking movement in an efficient isometric way, in addition to the generally recognized triceps surae muscle. The values of the kinetic and potential energies during the stride cycle show a shift from pendulum to spring loading and back again. As such, the PLF acts as an active force transmitter.

CONCLUSION
In contrast to the traditional gait analysis, the pendulum action of the arms and the spring-like action of the lumbar fascia can have the potential to facilitate energetic efficiency in walking.

Here's some resources on understanding structure and your knees. Alignment is the most important principle to follow. The knee points at the centerline of the big toe of the foot. For the beginner, in a front stance, the front shin does not move past vertical. This limit must be respected when pushing or pulling.

Power will not pass safely through a knee that is out of alignment. The source of most knee pain is in the relationship betweent the hip and ankle, not the knee itself. A habitual misalignment, coupled with overtraining, will result in permanent damage to the joint.

Develop your awareness so that such misalignment does not occur. The Urban Retreat Center does not allow students to train improperly and damage themselves.

More about sports related knee injury from this article on Common Dance Injuries.