Mindfulness is the miracle by which we can call back our dispersed mind & restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” Thich Nhat Hanh in The Miracle of Mindfulness

I’ve just taken my third online course on the brain & it’s very clear that mindfulness has a huge impact. Every expert mentions it & I’m sold after a full day workshop on the subject a couple of weeks ago. It was the first workshop I stayed completely alert for from 8:30 until 3:30. I credit the mindfulness practice with my alertness.

I came back to my office & talked 26 people (& counting) into downloading a $1.99 app on their iphone. Already several of my clients report finding it very useful. The app I favor has several time options:mindfulness, what is mindfulness, mindfulness based, stress reduction, stress and brain, the effects of stress, benefits of meditation
There are many apps to choose from. This particular app is a small green square with the letters Mnf on it. It can be very useful to reduce stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness practice can change the brain. One expert Dan Siegel, makes it clear we can improve our self-control or self-regulation with meditation. In the workshop one woman described being upset in an elevator when her son was rude to her in front of other people on his wedding day & by the time the elevator doors opened she had used mindfulness to help her amygdala calm down & she was able to let go of what happened.

The amygdala processes our emotional memories and what triggers our anger & fears. The amygdala is the brown section at the base of the brain in this picture:mindfulness, meditation, stress & mindfulness, reducing stress, stress reduction, stress, stress reducers

Too often the amygdala in our brain hijacks us emotionally. We need to learn to respond instead of react which is really important to all of our relationships. So often our defense systems are on a hair trigger……we are too hyper alert. Soothing ourselves to think things through helps communication & creates greater accuracy.

Defensiveness that is so easily triggered can be a response to stress. Constantly experiencing stress can be bad for the cortisol in your brain. One expert I heard said stress is death to brain cells because of cortisol.

Mindfulness helps you back up from the immediacy of your emotions to a more calm & thoughtful place that can help you appreciate the complicatedness of a difficult situation. The lady in the elevator could step back from her hurt & appreciate he was taking the tension of his wedding day out on her & the most important thing was him, not her. What a gift greater perspective can be.

So listen to 5 minutes of mindfulness the next time you are afraid, hurt, guilty, furious or want to interrupt obsessing. Then build up to 10 or 15 minutes at a time. This can help your thinking & feeling to work together which is part of aging well. Thank goodness the brain is fully capable of change throughout the lifespan.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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