Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


9 Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

posted by exquisitemind

Mindfulness can bring our brains into an integrated state of harmony, balancing chaos on the one hand and rigidity on the other. This scientific wisdom is brought to us by neuroscientist, Dan Siegel, author of several important books, including the Developing Mind, The Mindful Brain, Mindsight, and his latest, The Mindful Therapist. The middle prefrontal cortex (a portion of the newest part of the brain evolution-wise, located behind your forehead) is critical to the following nine functions: 1. Bodily regulation. This is accomplished by regulating arousal and relaxation through the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system (think of the gas pedal and a brake in a car); 2. Attunement and being connected to others, or being “in tune.” Attunement sows the seeds of compassion; 3.Emotional balance refers to how we engage with experiences. It balances apathy on the one hand and feeling overwhelmed on the other. Like bodily regulation its a Goldliocks phenomenon, not too much and not too little. This is the optimal place where we find neural integration; 4. Response flexibility that refers to the pause that can develop between a stimulus and response. It really refers to the impulsive reactions that often occur in response to a stimulus. This pause comes from awareness and can help us to less impulsive and less destructive with what we say and do; 5. Downregulation of fear. This important feature is our ability to modulate the signals from the emotional brain that can often overwhelm us. This is accomplished through the development of inhibitory nerve fibers that go from the middle prefrontal cortex to structures like the amygdala in the emotional brain (limbic system); 6. Insight refers to what Siegel calls mental time travel or what we can call imagination. Mindfulness helps us to refine this capacity in the service living skillfully rather than being subjected the unregulated aspects of worry, regret, and self-criticism; 7. Empathy, or what Siegel calls “mindsight,” refers to our ability to take the perspective of the other; 8. Morality is also a function of the middle prefontal cortex and includes not just our ability to be moral in public settings but also in private; and finally 9. Intuition is the capacity to access the wisdom of the body by monitoring our bodily sensations. For example, a structure called the insula has map of the interior body and studies have found the insula gets thicker with meditation practice. Brain scientists such as Siegel and mindfulness researchers came up with this same list of functions independently. And it’s not just brain researchers, this list has been striven for in many spiritual traditions since ancient times. When we recognize the plasticity of the brain (that is, its capacity to change in response to experience) we can understand why we respond in certain situations the way that we do. Our previous conditioning will have us react in sometimes harmful ways. But it is the fault of conditioning. However, at the same time it is our responsibility (and potential) to change these conditionings through mindfulness and meditation.The middle prefrontal cortex develops optimally in an interpersonally attuned environment during infancy. Mindfulness provides the possibility of self-attunement to affect these same brain areas. So sit down and change your brain!
For more information visit: http://drdansiegel.com/



  • http://contoveros.wordpress.com contoveros

    Did not know I was creating such great potential for my mind and body while meditating deeply over the past two years. I knew it was good for me, but reading of these nine major benefits helps me understand more and be in a better position to urge others to join in.
    Thanks for the insight.
    michael j
    Conshohocken, PA USA

Previous Posts

Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
My dharma friend and mindfulness colleague, Elisha Goldstein has a fascinating new book out. It describes the ways that we can harness our own healing power to create natural antidepressants. These five include mindfulness, of course, self-compassion, living in accordance with purpose, play, and a s

posted 12:42:14pm Jan. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Find Your GPS for Success
GPS has become part of our lives. We find it in our cars, our phones, and even in watches (I got one as a gift over the holidays). In any moment, we can know where we are and also communicate that information to others. GPS can be helpful for getting to a destination and lends itself as a metaphor f

posted 11:02:53am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Getting Past the Tyranny of Should: A Timely Message for the Holiday Season
There are many things we "should" be doing around the holidays. We should be happy, merry, and jolly. We should be with family. We should be the consummate hosts. In the course of the day, we might impose expectations, rules, and agendas on ourselves tirelessly. This is the tyranny of should.

posted 10:36:45am Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Finding the Fall Line: The Technique of Practice
As I was meditating this morning, I came up with a new practice metaphor. There were times when I was clearly in the flow of my body, very attuned the myriad body sensations and there were other moments where I was somewhere else or trying to manage some aspect of the moment, almost as if I was tryi

posted 10:13:53am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Prime Time, All the Time
An add for television streaming service Hulu states, "Every minute of every day should be considered prime time." This clever quip has a double meaning. On the one hand, it reflects the tyrannical notion that every experience that we have should be exciting, entertaining, and novel. On the other han

posted 9:31:08am Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.