by Bhanu Joy Harrison, LCSW, SEP
The headline is a quote from Dan Siegel, MD. What does it really mean? Dr. Siegel has done extensive research into how mindfulness practice can literally rewire our brain.
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, with curiosity, openness and non-judgment. When we are mindful, we activate neural processes that help us grow new pathways (neuroplasticity) that help increase focus, reduce reactivity, induce more calm, decrease pain, improve mood and increase wellbeing.
It is documented that the cortex of our brain shrinks as we age. However, the cortex of meditators is larger than those who don’t meditate (Lazar, 2005). Meditating just 20-30 minutes a day for 8 weeks will show noticeable growth in the gray matter of our brains which can improve memory and decision making.
How does mindfulness reduce stress, anxiety and fear? Practicing meditation (“using your mind”) actually shrinks the amygdala brain region (“to change your brain”) which correlates with decreased stress (“to change your mind and experience”). WOW!
Mindfulness is like exercise. We need to practice regularly to gain the amazing benefits to our mind, body and spirit.
All my classes provide mindfulness tools to help manage pain, cultivate calm, decrease stress and help you be more present in your life. Try it…you won’t be disappointed, and you will grow a more resilient nervous system and brain in the process!
Breath Practice: To lift your energy, make your inhalations a bit longer than your exhalations. To calm yourself, make your exhalations longer than your inhalations. Practice 5 min. Enjoy!
The pain class helped reduce my pain, AND I got bonus benefits by driving with more attention, eating mindfully and feeling much calmer. Thank you! N.C., ABQ