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This article is taken from the New York Times, Sunday Review, August 9, 2014 edition. The original can be seen by clicking here.
As we contemplate the people that come to visit the Jim Thorpe area, in the summer and indeed in all seasons, we think about the nature of time off itself, and its many benefits. And Jim Thorpe is a great place to spend that time off and leave it all behind, even if for just a day or two.
Here are some things to ponder while doing whatever you do here – whether it’s rafting down a river, reading a book, sipping some coffee, or taking in a show.

By DANIEL J. LEVITIN AUG. 9, 2014

THIS month, many Americans will take time off from work to go on vacation, catch up on household projects and simply be with family and friends. And many of us will feel guilty for doing so. We will worry about all of the emails piling up at work, and in many cases continue to compulsively check email during our precious time off.

New York Times Reset Your BrainBut beware the false break. Make sure you have a real one. The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.

Every day we’re assaulted with facts, pseudofacts, news feeds and jibber-jabber, coming from all directions. According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986. As the world’s 21,274 television stations produce some 85,000 hours of original programming every day (by 2003 figures), we watch an average of five hours of television per day. For every hour of YouTube video you watch, there are 5,999 hours of new video just posted!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited. This is a result of how the brain’s attentional system evolved. Our brains have two dominant modes of attention: the task-positive network and the task-negative network (they’re called networks because they comprise distributed networks of neurons, like electrical circuits within the brain). The task-positive network is active when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted; neuroscientists have taken to calling it the central executive. The task-negative network is active when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode. These two attentional networks operate like a seesaw in the brain: when one is active the other is not.

This two-part attentional system is one of the crowning achievements of the human brain, and the focus it enables allowed us to harness fire, build the pyramids, discover penicillin and decode the entire human genome. Those projects required some plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

But the insight that led to them probably came from the daydreaming mode. This brain state, marked by the flow of connections among disparate ideas and thoughts, is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. You might be going for a walk or grocery shopping or doing something that doesn’t require sustained attention and suddenly — boom — the answer to a problem that had been vexing you suddenly appears. This is the mind-wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected.

A third component of the attentional system, the attentional filter, helps to orient our attention, to tell us what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. This undoubtedly evolved to alert us to predators and other dangerous situations. The constant flow of information from Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, text messages and the like engages that system, and we find ourselves not sustaining attention on any one thing for very long — the curse of the information age.

My collaborator Vinod Menon, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford, and I showed that the switch between daydreaming and attention is controlled in a part of the brain called the insula, an important structure about an inch or so beneath the surface of the top of your skull. Switching between two external objects involves the temporal-parietal junction. If the relationship between the central executive system and the mind-wandering system is like a seesaw, then the insula — the attentional switch — is like an adult holding one side down so that the other stays up in the air. The efficacy of this switch varies from person to person, in some functioning smoothly, in others rather rusty. But switch it does, and if it is called upon to switch too often, we feel tired and a bit dizzy, as though we were seesawing too rapidly.

Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.

Daydreaming leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment. Music, for example, turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.

This radical idea — that problem solving might take some time and doesn’t always have to be accomplished immediately — could have profound effects on decision making and even on our economy. Consider this: By some estimates, preventable medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. You want your diagnostician to give the right answer, not always the quickest one. Zoning out is not always bad. You don’t want your airline pilot or air traffic controller to do it while they’re on the job, but you do want them to have opportunities to reset — this is why air traffic control and other high-attention jobs typically require frequent breaks. Several studies have shown that people who work overtime reach a point of diminishing returns.

Taking breaks is biologically restorative. Naps are even better. In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue. If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.
Daniel J. Levitin is the director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and the author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.”

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There are all kinds of B&B’s in and around town, making the experience of staying at a bed and breakfast unique and especially enjoyable.

B&B owners have put together a site to make it easier to see what’s available, and Amazing Jim Thorpe has information here.

bbjt

 

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Pocono Biking is eager to announce a partnership with the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway that will bring a one-of-a-kind Rail-Trail Bike and Train Ride to the historic town of Jim Thorpe.

Bike and Train in Jim Thorpe PAI hope you are as excited as we are about this unique program. We strongly feel this new event will help draw more visitors to area and become an annual affair.

Here are the details:

On June 7th & 8th, it’s all aboard the scenic bike train! Step back in time and enjoy a relaxing train ride up the Lehigh Gorge for 25 miles, then pedal your bike back down to Jim Thorpe at your own pace along the Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail.

Your day begins in Jim Thorpe where you & your bike will board the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a one hour ride as the train swings onto the former Lehigh Valley main line and passes Glen Onoko, the southern gateway to the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Bike and Train in Jim Thorpe PAWhile you sit back, relax and take in the outstanding scenery, the train will  follow the winding Lehigh River for 25 miles, rounding curve after curve until you reach the village of White Haven. Here you and your bike will be dropped  off at the Lehigh Gorge trailhead.

Once at the trailhead, pedal at your own pace down the Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail for 25 miles back to Jim Thorpe. Along the way, you’ll pass canal remnants, swim spots, scenic overlooks and railroad trestles. Remember your camera. The many sparkling waterfalls provide great photo opportunities.

There are two convenient arrival times to choose from – 10am and 2pm.  If you don’t have a bike, no worries – you can rent one here in Jim Thorpe.

Train Ride/Shuttle with your own bike rates: $19.99/Adult, $9.99/Child (ages 3 – 12)

Train Ride/Shuttle & Rental Rates:  $39.99/Adult, $34.99/Child (ages 3 – 12)

Advance tickets/reservations are required and  can be made by calling Pocono Biking at: 570-325-3654

Please do not hesitate to call me directly at 570.732.0690 should you have any questions about this event.  We will have promotional materials for this event  shortly and hope you will help us spread the word about the Pocono Bike & Train!

Sincerely,

Nikki Hurley,

Director of Marketing

Pocono Biking

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Treat yourselves to an exhilarating “soft adventure” vintage motorcycle sidecar ride around our beautiful historic town and it’s surrounding splendor. Enjoy a sightseeing experience that you probably won’t find anywhere else in the Poconos.

Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz  Each season in the Poconos brings its own unique beauty. Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz helps you enjoy it with a vintage BMW motorcycle sidecar rig that can accomcodate two additional riders on the bike to take in the sights.

Experienced vintage motorcycle enthusiast Barbara Timberz will pick you up at your location and take you on an unforgettable road trip through the beautiful town of historic Jim Thorpe and the surrounding foothills of the scenic Pocono Mountains.Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz

Sanitary goggles and helmets are provided. Inquire about additional options, such as a picnic lunch, local vineyard wine tasting, and indoor antique markets.

Sidecar ride bucket list – check – your chariot awaits you. Visit them at www.jimthorpesidecartourz.com or call 570-249-1570.

Price is only $75 per hour for two. Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz is a member of the United Sidecar Association.

Jim Thorpe Sidecar Tourz

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The Jim Thorpe Yoga Studio, located at 434 Center street in Jim Thorpe, hosts a grand opening celebration on Saturday, September 29, beginning at 8:00 AM with  free yoga classes for all levels, scheduled fun activities throughout the day, and concluding with an evening meditation from 7:30  to 8:30 PM.

 “Yoga has been an important part of my life since 1997, and my passion has grown to the extent that I wanted to share its many  physical and mental benefits with the local community,”  says owner and entrepreneur Maya Kowalcyk.  “ I am excited about the opportunity to teach people of all physical capabilities ways to lessen the pain and stress in their everyday lives.”

Yoga Instructor and Entrepreneur Maya Kowlacyk

Maya Kowalcyk

The schedule of the day’s events is posted at JimThorpeYoga, and includes an interactive juggling show, hula hooping, crafts, music, yoga sessions and a drawing to win a free month of unlimited yoga classes or a free yoga mat.

Maya, a certified instructor through Yoga Alliance, has been practicing yoga since 1997 and has been teaching in Jim Thorpe and the Lehigh Valley since 2008. She is also certified in Child Play Yoga.

Her previous career  as an 11th  grade English teacher, woven with her passion for yoga, inspired her to open her own yoga studio on Center Street.

Jim Thorpe Yoga offers meditation, yoga classes for kids and adults, private and semi-private yoga, belly dance,  workshops, and getaways for groups of all sizes.

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There are many reasons people have come to Jim Thorpe and its  surrounding areas since the 1800’s.  None has been more timeless than the scenery.  Now, with its historic buildings and easy access, there hasn’t been a better time to take in all that the area offers.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopEspecially if you’re a photographer.

Award-winning photographer Tom Storm offers an 8-hour photography workshop on July 28. More than simply a photo 101 course, it will hone your skills as well as challenge the way you observe one of the northeast’s most  beautiful small towns specifically, and how you see in general.

If you are intimidated by your Digital SLR or would like to take better pictures, this is the course for you. Combining class time and copious amounts of hands on, in-the-field learning around Jim Thorpe, this workshop is a great opportunity to find out how to get the most out of your camera.Whether your main interest is in the landscape, or more specific subjects such as architectural detail, you’ll find answers here.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopMr. Storm’s goal is to merge the technology with the art and your passion, and thereby help you begin your journey as a photographer. That journey begins with an understanding of your equipment as well as an understanding of the art.

Using the historic downtown as a backdrop, you’ll learn how to use your  digital SLR to capture the natural and historic beauty that defined and still defines the region.  Classes are limited to 15 seats. Hands-on is the name of the game as you set out to learn new skills through one-on-one coaching and photographic challenges.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopAfter exploring the  streets, alleyways, and hillsides, you’ll finish your day with a better understanding of both your camera and how you photographically approach the world around  you.

For more information or to register, click here.

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Written By Tara Banninger

It is estimated that 1 out of 10 U.S weddings are destination weddings.  Most of us think of Hawaii , Jamaica, or a European villa when we hear those words.  But, what if a unique, romantic, and truly memorable location could be found closer to home?

Weddings in Jim Thorpe PA

Jim Thorpe, PA – a town tucked away on the western edge of the Poconos, offers a unique backdrop.  The town’s Victorian architecture and rich history creates an air of romance not easily found or duplicated.

If a traditional church ceremony is not your thing, you can exchanged vows at the historic Mauch Chunk Opera House, among the art at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery, at the Train Station, on the train itself as it rides into Lehigh Gorge State Park and back, or in one of many local parks including Kemmerer Park on Front Hill.

The possibilities for a unique wedding here are endless.  The beauty of nature that surrounds it adds a rustic elegance and sense of outdoor adventure, while the many art galleries and unique local shops give just the right touch of sophistication.

Weddings in Jim Thorpe PAThere is no shortage of wedding photo opportunities with historic landmarks like the Old Jailhouse Museum that once held the Molly Maguires, the Asa Packer and Harry Packer Mansions, the Kemmerer Carriage House, and the train station all within walking distance.

And, who can forget the Inn at Jim Thorpe, the restored historical gem of Broadway that once played host to dignitaries like Ulysses S. Grant, US presidents William Taft and Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Edison. For an elegant and intimate reception, there is the meticulously restored Mauch Chunk Ballroom that features a wedding planner to assist with the many details involved in a destination wedding.

Whether you are looking for a unique, rustic, elegant, adventurous, or sophisticated affair, Jim Thorpe has it all. It’s your premiere destination wedding location close to home.

Tara Banninger is a local wedding planner and owner of Jim Thorpe Weddings & Events (www.jimthorpeweddings.net), the exclusive manager of the Mauch Chunk Ballroom space (www.mauchchunkballroom.com) and producer of the Jim Thorpe Wedding Expo (www.jtweddingexpo.com). For more information about weddings in Jim Thorpe & The Ballroom, you can contact her at info@jimthorpeweddings.net or by calling 484-629-5070. 

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