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06.06.2014
With technologies like fMRI, EEG, and PET scans (don't worry, there's no test on these later) we gained the capability to peek inside the mysterious black box of our skulls. Our brains, like other organs in our bodies, have changing demands, and they are built to adjust to changes in demand. The number and strength of the connections between our brain cells determine a helluva lot about how we behave and think. By practicing or rehearsing something, we strengthen connections in our brains and that function becomes more efficient. The areas that are exercised when we practice mindfulness have to do with what we call ''direct experience.'' When we're experiencing something directly, we're fully enveloped by whatever we're doing. In my experiences with mindfulness, and teaching it to my patients, our life circumstances don't even need to change outwardly to see the improvements in our quality of life. It makes sense why mindfulness interventions are being tried and investigated for a variety of conditions, like addictions, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, a mindful practice won't just benefit people who are struggling with mental or psychological illnesses. When I bring up meditation with my patients, they often have the misconceptions that it is about improving their mood, or completely stopping their thoughts. Acceptance and acknowledgement – bringing openness to, kindness towards and welcoming of experience just as it is in the moment. Self-compassion – allows you to cultivate love for yourself as you are (without criticism or self-blame). Beginners mind – a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time with fresh curiosity and vitality.
Trust and self-reliance – a faith in the validity of our own experience and allowing you to see for yourself (from your experience) what is true and untrue. Non-striving – an attitude of willingness to allow the present to be the way it is without trying to fix things. Letting be – simply letting things be as they are – with no need to try and let go of whatever is present. If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards awakening your potential, overcome obstacles and living wholeheartedly, why not join our Toolkit? Ready to Balance Your Life and Live Wholeheartedly?Subscribe to receive exclusive content, special offers, ideas & inspiration on wholehearted living and latest news from Habits for Wellbeing.
The meditation method taught by the Buddha is called Satipatthana or mindfulness meditation. This simple but profound technique removes greed, hatred and delusion by the application of systematic and sustained mindfulness to one’s own mental and physical processes.
This method is suitable for a beginner because the abdominal movement is always present and easily located (by placing the hand on the belly if necessary).


Maybe it's the thought of being answered with a lot of neuroscience jargon that keeps people from asking. Before modern medical imaging, most of what we learned was through people with brain damage. Since we share similar structures to other mammals, especially primates, we can sometimes apply what we learn from them to us. The other part of that equation is the chemicals present in our brains (but we'll have to get into that some other time). A common symptom in these illnesses is that the person experiencing them has difficulty feeling connected to the current moment. The implications for people who are otherwise well are that they too will be more and more connected to the current moment, letting go of what already happened and what is yet to happen. And when they practice and are not feeling an improvement in their moods afterward, or cannot help from noticing distracting thoughts, they assume they are doing it incorrectly, or that it's not working for them. Striving may interfere with fully knowing the present and so being able to respond to it rather than to react. One method widely used is to contemplate the rising and falling of the abdomen as one breathes in and out.
We each have areas dedicated to vision, hearing, our sense of touch, our movements, emotion, etc. When someone would have a stroke, a brain surgery, or an accident that damaged part of their brain, we'd pay close attention to what changed with them. We can sense an increase in activity within areas of our brains, but we can't say precisely what that activity is down to a molecular level (which would give scientists much more information). So our connections have a lot to do with what we can do, the things we like and don't like, and most importantly how we think. I separate body and mind here, because most of the communication that occurs in our brains doesn't make it to our attention, and we mostly take for granted that it happens at all.
We call that ability to change connections "neuroplasticity," and its discovery is something relatively new in science. Mindfulness is a very specific kind of mental exercise for our brains, and it develops certain areas of our brains. Of course, direct experiences happen in our lives whether or not we practice mindfulness, and you can probably recall a time when you experienced this feeling of being completely enveloped.
By noticing more of what's happening right now, we disengage from what happened in the past, and what might happen in the future.
Often, their past or worries of the future consume their thoughts, leading to strong negative emotions that influence their behaviors.


A mindfulness practice isn't about being in a blissful mood all the time, it's about being in touch with reality, and accepting that reality.
Our behaviors slowly become more rational, beneficial, and compassionate as we understand ourselves and our tendencies.
Though beginners will not succeed at once, they should try their best to concentrate on the movement.
Anyway, it's something I have been curious about, which led me to do a bit of digging for the answer. We even have an area dedicated to only recognizing human faces (and it has a fun name, the fusiform gyrus). We came up with some great experiments and figured out what was "missing" from their previous functioning.
Their bodies don't just come out that way on their own, they make tremendous adjustments based on the demands (like lifting more weight with specific muscle groups).
Our brain cells are like a groups working together, the more often they work, the better they get at their tasks. Since each little bit has its own unique function, we target specific functional areas and get predictable results from this kind of exercise (meditation and mindfulness). But studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness, even irregularly, have direct experiences more often.
We gain a greater sense of what we can and cannot control, and prevent much of the conflict that comes from confusing these things. Hopefully, I can describe what's going on in plain English to help you understand, and maybe have a new appreciation for mindfulness. Also, if someone had some abnormal traits, sometimes we'd explore their brains during an autopsy and see if we could find any differences from what we considered normal.
You can see people moving about, but it's difficult to tell what people on the ground are talking about from several hundred feet up.
When our brains adjust to demands, though, they don't swell (not appreciably), because swelling inside the head is a very bad thing.
So instead of swelling, our brains adapt in a unique way -- they restructure their connections.



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