Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center have found evidence suggesting that studying a musical instrument, which requires years of practice and learning, may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive decline as we get older.

The study recruited 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 who were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience.  The three groups of study participants included individuals with no musical training; with one to nine years of musical study; or with at least 10 years of musical training. All of the participants had similar levels of education and fitness and didn’t show any evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

All of the musicians were amateurs who began playing an instrument at about 10 years of age. More than half played the piano while approximately a quarter had studied woodwind instruments such as the flute or clarinet. Smaller numbers performed with stringed instruments, percussion, or brass instruments.

The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects, and cognitive flexibility (the brain’s ability to adapt to new information).

The brain functions measured by the tests typically decline as the body ages and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The results suggest a “strong predictive effect of high musical activity throughout the lifespan on preserved cognitive functioning in advanced age,” the researchers concluded.

Ref.: Brenda Hanna-Pladdy & Alicia MacKay, The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging,Neuropsychology, April 4, 2011

Topics: Cognitive Science/Neuros

A truly magical journey beckons to all who seek it; the destination is Sri Lanka.It has been called by many names, including; Ceylon,  Serendib, Taprobane, Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and of course it is easy to think of it simply as a tropical island offshoot of India.

But it is different from India in so many ways.  One major difference is that the majority of people are Buddhist, not Hindu. Ancient and modern travellers today consider it the finest island of its size in the world.
With our planned trip in January 2012, it will be climatically the driest and best season of the year, so you wont have any trouble agreeing that it is in fact the finest island of its size in the world.

So what takes your fancy?
There are so many highlights that it’s unfair to single out the best option. We are listing some of the ‘must see’ attractions which we will visit, and let the journey itself  bring up the rest.
They will include visiting beautiful sandy, clean beaches on the south coast, and villages that are so laid back you will never want to leave.
An ancient culture will speak to us from every corner, as we visit some of the most important sites in the Buddhist world; the impressive Temple of the Tooth relic- the ‘Dalada Maligawa’ in Kandy, and the equally impressive Dambulla rock caves.
It could be visiting the caves where the Buddhist doctrines were first committed to writing on “Ola leaves”, or maybe it is eating the finest Asian cuisine you are ever likely to experience, amongst swaying coconut palms and shimmering waters.
We will visit the ‘Veddas’,  Sri Lanka’s indigenous people, experiencing their way of life and seeing how they still live in harmony with the natural world.
A trip to the incredible Royal Botanic gardens will be an unforgettable experience, gardens that are considered Asia’s best. Be mesmerized as you walk through the avenue of double coconut palms, each coconut weighing anywhere between 10 to 20 kg.
The hill country is an experience of a different world; tea plantations, crisp mountain air, all within hours of the tropical coast. At a tea factory we will experience the entire process of tea manufacturing from the bush to the cup.
We will visit Yala National Park, home to the richest leopard population in the world. Elephants, deer, sambars, wild boar.. over one hundred and fifty species of birds have been sighted here.
We will see ancient rituals been performed in the holy city of Kataragama and visit the Sinharaja forest – the country’s oldest – to see a truly magnificient natural rain forest.
Visit the city of gems and be dazzled by the variety of these precious stones found in Sri Lanka.
And when the day is over, you can settle for a  Sri Lankan speciality – an unbelievably relaxing and healing Ayurvedic massage. While they are available all over the island, a good place for a proper Ayurvedic massage would be at Mount Lavinia, Colombo,  where the service would set you back a mere 1800 rupees,  or $18 for an hour and ten minutes.

At the end of the tour, for those who wish to stay longer, we will be making ourselves available to assist those who would like to participate in the endless opportunities that the new Sri Lanka presents. More on this later.

  1. All things pass. All things are transitory. Everything cycles in and cycles out
  2. Downturns are important. They are a natural cleansing process that can leave us in a stronger position when things turn upward.
  3. Experience it out. That is see it as just another experience. Things are often over dramatized and cause over reaction.
  4. Your true capital is creativity. It is not money.You’re never short of money—only short of an idea. Even in downturns, there are many businesses that start up and flourish.
  5. Adapting to change is a quality of the human condition.
  6. Stop resisting. Things are tough and might be so for some time. Resisting this fact or complaining about it only expends valuable energy that can be directed towards more fruitful ends.
  7. Focus on what you will create in the present, not on what you lack. the past.
  8. There are always opportunities.
  9. See life as a gift.

 

We will be performing at Sacred Fest………. a celebration of sacred music from around the world, also featured on the bill are Jenowi a Aboriginal dance group, a Sufi music ensemble and the Bahai community choir. Event date Sat 16th April at Bondi Beach. Further details on website

We are truly living in the Asian millenium. The US and European economies are ailing. The world’s fastest growing economies are China and India and there are a host of successful economies and models in Asia. Hence a look at Sri Lanka is timely and with this in mind we have put together a tour to the island nation in Jan 2012.  Having just returned I am excited about what I have seen first hand and it seems like exciting times ahead for the land of my birth. Details of our proposed tour is on our website.

Sri Lanka has it’s own Ayurvedic system based on a series of prescriptions handed down from generation to generation over a period of 3000 years. The ancient kings some of whom were also prominent physicians as recorded in the ancient texts encouraged it’s use, as a consequence the ayurvedic physicians were highly respected members of society. A famous Sri Lankan saying is attributed to this ancient heritage that says “If you cannot become a king become a healer”.

I recommend these magical products to clients and encourage everyone try them and see for themselves. We will be making some of the more popular products available through our website. Products such as the miracle balm which can be used for headaches, mucus obstruction, joint aches, and digestive problems. The all natural herbal teas which are caffeine free can be used for promoting healthy and beautiful skin to acting as dietary supplements. Those interested in knowing more can contact Ron via the web addresses.

 

BONDI INTERFAITH CELEBRATION OF CULTURE

The Chapel by the Sea Uniting Church, Bondi Beach will be the venue for a unique cultural celebration of differing faiths, Saturday 16th April. Four different faiths will be represented, Hinduism, Islam, Baha’i and Australian Aboriginal. The Chapel minister the Rev John Queripel commented, ‘this is the first of these events where the idea is to take different faiths and allow people to experience their cultural expressions, through music, song, dance or chant. While it is easy enough to read of different faiths it is not often that people have the opportunity to experience the expression of those faiths. Of course most of these faiths are so wide ranging that we can only touch one part of them, but with future celebrations we will come back to them and touch other parts of their diversity’

The Hindu faith will be celebrated in the music of Ron Ragel and Vicki Hansen (known as IndiaJiva). They are Sony music recording artists, multi instrumentalists musicians, authors and internationally renowned composers of sacred music having released over eleven CD’s of their work. They both co manage an internationally renowned music record label Medicine Music and have emerged as leading figures in the global music scene presenting concerts where ever they go based around classical Indian music and dynamic world fusion influences that feature an array of traditional and modern instruments and voice. Their music is a bridge to the ancient wisdom of Vedanta and an expression of spontaneity and a joyful celebration of life.

· Australian Sufi Music Ensemble will represent Islam. Coming from the Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn, these accomplished musicians are masters of a wide range of instruments and musical styles.

The Choir at Sydney’s Baha’i House of Worship sing words written by their founding prophet Baha’ullah. The singing is unaccompanied as instruments, it’s believed, are without souls and therefore inappropriate for making music during worship.

It is only appropriate in the initial interfaith celebration to acknowledge the spiritual tradition of those who were first in this land and this will be done by the Jenowi Dance Group who will perform for us some authentic Aboriginal dancers with their original choreography.

The cultural celebration begins at 7.30pm, entry being $20. A meal will be available from 6.30pm, that representing an important time to meet with those from different cultures and traditions.

Further information is available from the Chapel 9130-3445.

Just hours after Sri Lanka lost the final of the World Cup to India, every available square inch of space at Parliament Grounds had a pitch set up with people of every age group, gender and social background playing.

The cheers were loud and faces bright. Looking at them one would not even have imagined that the same location was the scene of abject desolation as hundreds of Sri Lankans watched their heroes crumble in a tightly-fought match with India. The love for cricket still calls and the response is a harsh, passionate cheer.
Cricket in many ways embodies the soul of Sri Lanka. Understanding it is all the more simplified when one understands the undying passion with which cricket has been played in this island nation for decades. Despite mixed fortunes and consecutive slumps in the World Cup final, the loyalty of the people and their determination to keep at it has never dimmed for a moment. Parliament Grounds was just one location where people flocked, equipped with flags, face paint, banners, placards and a fierce loyalty to never dessert the “boys”.
This same passion has floated to the surface at certain points in history without the attachment of cricket. The most remarkable in memory was the fervour to win the war, the single-minded determination not to stop till the overt violence ended and subsequently the intensity to drive Sri Lanka’s development forward. Obviously, the expectations for the economy are on the same level as cricket. If Sri Lanka can be the best globally in a sport, then it has the capacity to be equally good in reaching developed status.
Success attracts more passion, which in turn leads to more success. The consistency with which Sri Lanka Cricket bags accolades is one of the main reasons as to why there is such a massive following. Where the drive was once supplied for by passion, this has changed to professionalism taking centre stage. Amateur cricketers who worked part time have evolved into superstars, who are given massive contracts and perks – a dream that attracts more talent from diversified backgrounds.
What economic lessons can be learnt from cricket? The holistic approach is surely one point that grabs attention. The fact that every aspect of the game from talent scouting, grooming, advertising and marketing is done with one goal in mind – to create world class cricketers. Niche market focus is also key in understanding the strength of players and making a strategy to come out on top – surely a point that exports can learn from.
Indomitable spirit, the Sri Lankans already have. What is lacking is the capacity to focus and channel it. The importance of policies to reach targeted audiences, the significance of short-term goals and the challenge of adjusting to global realities while planning for the long term are all points that cricket has tackled successfully.
Players also have to earn their way with strict evaluation mechanisms to ensure that consistent performance and only that keeps them at the top. Political machinations are kept behind the scenes as much as possible. Corruption is kept in check at least to the point that is does not affect the overall performance of the game and its main stakeholders, basically the officials, have learnt not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
While the picture is not perfect, it is the brightest that the Sri Lankans have seen for some time and a perfect glimpse of what we can achieve if the right attitude drives us.

In the last 15 years, the total efforts of the cricket industry in Sri Lanka has resulted in winning a World Cup, two finals and a semi-final at the World Cup, and of course many other titles, records and accolades of which the nation can be truly proud.
This has been possible because we have taken a holistic approach to developing the entire industry i.e. supply chain (of cricketers from a wider geographical catchment), coaching, infrastructure, tournaments, marketing, management and a ‘culture’ of cricket that is positively infectious.
There are two industries that are so critical to the economic prosperity of our nation i.e. education and
exports – what can they learn from the development of the cricket industry?
Finally, imagine if we can have the same passion as cricket for our economy, to be the world economic champions (a trophy that small nations like Singapore have won many times over)?

Ayubowan…………

Let me greet you with the traditional Sri Lankan word “Ayubowan. I have come to learn that it coveys more than simply “Hello”. It is a word filled with the overflowing power of sincere Sri Lankan spirit. A word that conveys much more than simply “hello”, may you have long life and be happy.

A little sad that we didn’t win the Final in the cricket but making it to the finals was a tremendous achievement and I’m sure it boosted everyone’s spirit in this cricket crazy but lovable country from which I have just returned and excited to announce a forthcoming tour to the island of my birth at the end of Dec/Jan. The tropical paradise well known in the region as “the pearl of the Indian ocean” is certainly enjoying a tourist and economic boom and is a great time to visit. The land and it’s people I feel really captures the essence of the feminine within all of us with its enchantment, natural beauty and gentleness and also a seemingly endless capacity for seducing all our senses. So you have been warned.

One of the two main epics of India (The Ramayana) talks mainly about India’s interaction with Sri Lanka. And whilst Sri Lanka’s history recounts many such invasions from it’s northern neighbours it has been the war that escalated during the last thirty years between the Sinhala and Tamil people that has dominated everything to do with Sri Lanka. Today that war is well and truly over in the country and a new Sri Lanka is been born. Much of it is about rebuilding and renewal and presents an unprecedented opportunity to be a part of this renaissance. With this in mind we have carefully put together a tour of Sri Lanka that will give you a very invaluable insight and overview into this country. At the end of the tour for those interested parties who wish to stay longer we will be making ourselves available to assist those wishing to partake in some way or form in the endless opportunities that the new Sri Lanka presents.

If you wish to discuss these opportunities or know further please email us or call Ron 0419236266