Cutting edge research in neuroplasticity confirms what many meditators have long known. We shape our brain, our reality, by what we put our attention on.
We can practice a minute of silence to prepare for changing the physical structure of our brains. Our brain is a pattern recognition organ. More than any other organ in the body, our brain functions as a enthrallingly sophisticated, yet deceptively simple, sorting hat.
This thought- “I can’t sleep and I need to be fresh for the meeting tomorrow!” goes in this pathway, that behavior- taking yourself on a walk to re-energize, goes in the other pathway.
Everything we do, say, think or feel feeds or starves neural roads in the brain. The more we feed particular pathways, the more cerebral real estate they take up.
Research shows that the human brain has a negativity bias-it is pre-disposed to locate and remember the things that could potentially harm us…very logical. However, as the brain also doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined threat, the self-protection part of the brain, the Limbic system, can get put on red alert without having an actual threat.
When this happens, all non-essential functions go offline. Immune function, digestion, higher level reasoning and relating. Kaput.
And this is where mindfulness comes in to offer the first step in the antidote to negativity.
Also read: Proactive Mindfulness in Business - Beyond the eye of the storm
A 3 step exercise
The following exercise can be done any time and anywhere, without having to let anyone even know you are actively creating a more positive bias and therefore healthier patterning in your brain.
1. First, begin to recognize when particular thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are not contributing to your overall quality of life. Then mentally say, “Stop, stop, stop”. You can even put your hands up in a blocking movement to engage more parts of the brain. This effectively puts a road block on the negatively biased road being used.
2. Next, call to mind something that evokes a positive feeling-even if you have to make it up. Remember, the brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined scenarios! Smile. Even if you don’t feel like it. Smiling releases endorphins-one of the happy making neurochemicals.
3. Finally, expand the positive thought. Flesh it out by including as many senses as you can. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, taste in this moment? Make it last at least 10 seconds so it can move into the long-term part of memory and start to feed pathways of positivity.
And remember, you aren’t just going to become happier. You will become a healthier, smarter AND friendlier person and colleague at work.
Not a bad way to spend a minute or two, eh?
Better still, the more you practice, the more benefit you’ll see.
But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself and let us know what you discover!
First step could be to join our FREE Monday Recharge with inspiring mindfulness exercises and meditations.
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