This Blog continues to lay the foundations for future blogs. Recently I wrote about creating the conditions for mindfulness, This week I will be focusing on the Mindful Brain. That is, meditation or the practise of contemplation can switch on the frontal lobes which help to regulate our emotions.
I am a regular attender of the The Happiness and Its Causes Conference. Their most recent conferences focused on the impact of lifestyle factors on improving our happiness and well being and brain functioning. The results are strongly evident that meditation does change our brain. What seems to happen with a regular practise of meditation, just 20 minutes a day is that the structures of the brain for emotional regulation and happiness get switched on permanently. The grey areas of the brain ( the cortex) also increase. A regular practise of meditation not only makes us calmer, but happier and smarter.
Exercise also helps. 20 minutes of walking a day can improve our brain functioning, improve our immune system functioning and increase our life span. All of this for no cost other than a commitment to exercise and contemplation.
The good news is that we can transform our minds, our health and with this our lives with changing how we think and how we live. So lets do it. Just a simple step of making a small commitment to having small moments of stillness in the day can be the starting point for change.
This is even more important as a tool for helping us with managing depression, anxiety and stress. More importantly, regular practise creates the foundation in our brain structures for maintaining optimal emotional and physical health and can prevent future relapses of depression and anxiety. If sitting quietly on a chair or cushion seems to too difficult at present, then starting with keeping a journal can also be a helpful tool for raising awareness. With keeping a journal simply setting aside a regular time for recording your thoughts and mood and action urges helps with increasing your awareness of your mind and its functioning. With this commitment comes the opportunity for change and transformation through awareness.
Last weekend I had the good fortune to see the Australian Ballet perform Swan Lake. My earliest memories of this ballet was in Brisbane in the 1970s at her Majesty’s Theatre Queen St . I remember walking into the foyer, clutching my box of Darryl Lea chocolates in an outfit recently made for the occasion. I still have the programme for that evening, Kelvin Coe and Lucette Aldous danced the roles. .
This evening reminded me of the importance of tradition in our lives and how tradition and the honouring of the lineage enables our mind to be present and focused. Ballet can be likened to a school for kinetic mindfulness. Creating the conditions of mindfulness honours this understanding. Mindfulness is incorporated in many spiritual traditions and is the practice of being present, focused and letting go. Creating a space for therapy also honours this understanding. When there is an environment and space that is relatively unchanging it enables us to begin to look within without distraction.
My clinic space is on a busy road and because of this I have tried to create a spacious environment that is both calming and peaceful. We can all create the conditions for mindfulness in our daily lives by simply creating the space for this to occur in our homes and families. Having pause moments, having family traditions for meals and celebrations, creating a space in our home for simply resting and observing and being present all create the conditions for mindfulness.
When we have such busy lives it is important to create the opportunity to rest our minds. In doing this we give our minds a little refresher a little break from its business. It can be as simple as having a brief pause moment to just simply Be. You can do this while waiting at the lights, in between phone calls or just before you begin to eat.