Mindfullness-What Neuroscientists Want You to Know
Scientists are now advocating for a 15-minute session of mindfulness in your daily routine. The simple act of sitting still and relaxing apparently changes the way your brain works! Think of it as a brain re-set. This simple phenomenon has intrigued people all over the world; read on to see why you need that daily 15-minute session of quiet and calm.
What is Mindfulness?
The act of being mindful is segregating yourself from your daily routine to self-reflect in a quiet place. Mindfulness is when you are conscious of your current surroundings – your body, the sounds and scents around you. It’s the ability to be fully present in the moment and involving breathing exercises to calm the body and mind down. Post 2015, it has been incorporated heavily in coping skills treatment for anxiety, depression and for psychiatric rehabilitation patients in remission.
Your Brain on Mindfulness
Neuroscientists have been looking at how a few moments of self reflection a week can literally rewire the brain and boost productivity and functioning. A study reported improved functioning of the following areas:
Prefrontal Cortex – responsible for awareness, information procession.
Sensory and Insular Cortices – process tactile information like pain, touch and proprioception.
Hippocampus – Involved in emotional regulation, learning and memory.
Anterior Cingulate and Mid-Cingulate Cortex – In charge of self control, attention/focus,
body/emotional response regulation.
Corpus Callosum and Superior Longitudinal fasciculus – These sub cortical tracts communicate within and between the two hemispheres.
In your busy routine, try to find a quiet and comfortable place for 5-minutes to try some of these
exercises to revamp your productivity. Some of these can be done sitting at your desk, or even standing up!
Begin by slowly breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth - space your inhales and exhales about 6 seconds. Let go of your thoughts and agendas, and consciously monitor your breathing and become aware of your surroundings. Breathe in new air, breathe out stress.
For those who feel disconnected to life and self, this is a must try. Pick a natural object that is around you and focus on it for 1-2 minutes. Zoom into the object as if it’s new – deeply explore its formation, color, texture and take in its energy. Hear; Don’t Think Choose a new piece of positive music and listen to it over headphones. Objectively listen to the instruments, beats and vocals – separate them in your mind and let yourself respond to what you are hearing. Immerse yourself. This exercise fosters contentment and living in the moment. The idea is to take it one step at a time, one thing at a time – be fully immersed in the task at hand; notice every detail of it and your physical response to performing the activity.
Count your blessings.
Sitting quietly at the end of the day with a notebook and writing down a few things that you’re grateful for will create contentment and foster happiness. It will make you conscious of your daily life and all that is present there. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.