There is a direct relationship between mindfulness science and the brain. Getting to know how you can positively alter your brain is such a support for changing those things in your life that need somehow re-centring. Creating the new positive neural pathways of mindfulness within the self is just the ticket to the new balanced and relaxed and fulfilled you!
Whenever life is getting me down.
Whenever I feel depressed and low.
Whenever I have no energy to smile or pick myself up.
I Stop. Take a breath and look up.
Do you realise what I am seeing?
Above the clouds, there are a Billion Stars in our galaxy through the blue up there in the sky. Then beyond, there are a Billion Galaxies, each with a Billion Stars.
Out there above my head, above my mind, is a concept too big even to begin to comprehend.
Then, I ask myself this question. “what the hell am I worried about?”
For it is a ‘frigging’ miracle to be alive, here and now. And I smile.
So often in my life’s journey, I have mistaken an idea for what really is. I have made stories about myself and repeated the narrative until I firmly believed that this is the truth about me. I set up the conditions and tasks and achievements to attain before I could rest, be happy, be at peace or appreciate all that is around me.
Most often, my ‘goals’ were all external to me, and the goalposts were always on the opposite hillside, always just out of reach. Driven by the need to get there before I can begin. Even when I did reach them, there were more on the endless vista of a horizon of ‘when I get there, then I’ll be happy.’ Fulfilled, complete, loved, or whatever. The never-ending drive, for the never attainable, out of reach nirvana.
In my endless, relentless struggle to survive, compete and attempt to succeed. Sometimes brief moments of success came to me but, soon only to be supplanted by the endless quest of that feeling of the peace and contentment missing from my life. Driving me on and on till exhausted, I collapse, tired and defeated. Depressed and deluded, angry and frightened, sad and tired.
Mindfulness is my journey back to the Now. The process of being present with whatever is happening in this very moment. Easy to say, difficult to attain.
I was trained and educated to judge myself, evaluate my worth against the praise, comments, rebuttals and criticism of those around me. This placed me in the unenviable situation of my self-perception hanging on the thread of other’s values. I never considered myself for who I was, never acknowledging that maybe that is a truth in itself.
Mindfulness is not my idea. It is not my intellectual concept. It is not my therapy or my fad. Mindfulness is how I can increase my ability to understand and to authentically be with myself. Empowering my well-being physically and mentally
Benefits of learning Mindfulness science
Mindfulness is a skill. I mentally learnt the skill to become more aware, have more insight without judgement. Just an acceptance in my experiences, thoughts and feelings for what they are. This frees me from my emotional helta skeleta of my cascading self-enforcing delusions. I am learning to see life just for what it is. This is my evolution of personal insight, personal awareness and meta-consciousness.
Be who you are
For truly, I am who I am right now. You are who you are, as you are, right now. I might not be perfect, rich, beautiful, powerful or influential. But I am this person right here and now. And mark this, Acceptance is not a Resignation to life. It is the clarity to make the most of my brief time on this beautiful planet before I have to leave. Acceptance inspires me to dream, have aspirations to live life to the full and share with others the happiness found in being in the Now.
Mindfulness is the way Home
This practice of mindfulness allows me to learn the skill of bringing myself back ‘home’. And in this process, I wish to attain more acceptance of ‘who I am’ without creating an emotional feeling of inadequacy, loss, and disappointment, leading to fear, dis-empowerment, and loss of vitality and health, both physically and mentally.
I have found that by understanding the way my brain works. How the different areas doing different tasks linking to each other achieve this miracle I call life. It makes the shift to the mindfulness mind so much easier and sensible.
Through realising that I did not just turn up on this planet one day from a space rocket from the planet Zog. But I grew progressively in my body and mind over millions of years of evolution. Put it all into perspective.
Evolution of the Human Brain.
As a species, we have been on planet earth for a long, long time. Our bodies have evolved gradually over millions of years. Our present civilisation, this techno-economic agreement, is just a raindrop in the Ocean of Time. And the whole of our electrical, digital, technological influences is as brief as a single wing beat of the hummingbird.
Yet, I believe it is all so, so important that it keeps me awake at night. Worrying about the bills, the climate, the politics, the injustice and the violence. It all makes me oscillate from happiness to despair and rejection. I continually search for security, predictability and certainty. If only I had more money, it would all be ok….. really? Would it make a difference?
The Mindfulness science
Over our evolution in time, the brain has created links between memories and emotions and feelings, physically, mentally and emotionally. Positive feedback loops, negative feedback loops. Mechanisms and memories in the brain’s ultimate functionality allow it to remember everything I have ever experienced. Every part of the process is designed to increase my survival and procreate my species into the future.
Areas of my Brain
The pre-frontal cortex is only about 160,000 years old. A relatively new addition to the human brain and body continuum. Yet, it is the source and generator of all the mental health conditions we are suffering from in the 21century. This is evident through MRI scanning of how neural pathways are formed (habits) over time.
How come? Well, we have discrete connections between our five senses and the older reptilian brain. Connections administer and regulate the hormonal discharge and effects throughout the body. Millions of years in the making and fine-tuning to optimise our security and ability to survive.
Important areas for mindfulness
The prefrontal cortex was developed to streamline these processes and speed up the responses to the opportunities and the warning signals of threat and danger.
That was fine till our civilisation created the illusionary reality of the digital age. Imagine for the past 10,000 years we have lived in concert with our environment for good or ill. We created genetic neural pathways passed down from generation to the next with little to no major changes. Tweaks here and there. But in general, things progressed in a slow, smooth development down through time.
Then Wham in a short, concise period of time, 50 or so years, everything changes. Computers, mobile phones, digital everything. Seducing, hypnotic, addictive compulsive-like never before. Industrialisation, pollution, consumption, communications and travel.
Reality check: Mindfulness science
In building our perspective of reality, our brains were not designed and find great difficulty in discerning between that which is naturally occurring and that of the ingested, manufactured images, sounds, stories, and experiences of the modern-day techno experience.
The prefrontal cortex can not tell the visual difference between the film of a car crash and the experience of seeing a car crash. Both will create internal hormonal reactions. This is why movies work. They both solicit a similar emotional response. They are both stored in the hippocampus memory banks of the brain for future recall usage if such an experience were to happen again. BUT, there is a huge difference between the movie and reality. Yet both will generate a change in the levels of neurotransmitters and hormonal levels of the body.
Herein lies the difficulty of maintaining a balanced and happy mind. I am deeply affected by all that I experience, yet I have no mental function to make the differences between a film script, a video game and the reality of life.
This leads to major swings in my mental health balance.
How the Brain learns
One more thing.
The Brain has the ability to learn continually till the moment of death. It learns through creating neural pathways in the physical tissue of the brain. It achieves this through the repeated practice of learning a skill. Take, for instance, your wish to learn French. It doesn’t happen just by wishing it or even living in France. No, one has to sit and study the verbs, the nouns, the vocabulary, the tenses, etc. Until after a degree of repetition and focused attention, the new language is fitted into the mind. A new neural pathway has been created that of French. When we are young, the brains plasticity is superb, and one can learn easily, for that is the design intention. As we mature, new neural pathways are still possible, but they demand more effort and more focused attention. But they are possible to create at any time in your life. In this way, it is possible to learn and develop increased awareness, see the bigger picture! Which enables us to be less anxious and reactive to stressful events.
The mindfulness connection
A timeline of human life on Earth.
Millions of years
Reptilian Brain 400
Limbic Brain 200
Techno man .00005
Imagine the effect of the digital and communications age on our daily perception compared to that of even our recent ancestors!
Mindfulness is a skill that everyone can learn, just like learning to swim or ride a bike. Through repetition and diligence, and a focused mind, the New Neural pathway of mindfulness can be built within the mind to be recalled and relied upon at any time in the future of your life. Listen to the mindfulness science and learn.