The word mindfulness is all the buzz. Slowly rising in popularity since the 1950’s the term is translated from sati from the Buddhist tradition, understood as focusing awareness on the present moment with your mental state. Feelings, thoughts and sensations from the body are noticed, accepted and examined from a non-judgmental stance while creating intention for your life. For the purposes of this article mindfulness can encompass activities including prayer, chanting, meditation, yoga, scanning your body with an awareness practice, breath work, mindful seeing, accepting your thoughts and feelings and more. With all the buzz around mindfulness, why does this matter? And furthermore, why does this matter to your brain?
Mindfulness is of particular interest to specific areas of the brain, which are the limbic and middle prefrontal regions. The first 18 months of life determine how the right hemisphere of the brain wires in attachment styles, a sense of safety and a sense of security. Traumatic experiences, lack of attunement and connection with caregivers directly harm the development of this crucial connection in the brain. The connection from the limbic and middle prefrontal region determines specific outcomes in your life. Implicit memories encoded in the first 18 months of life impact behavior, perception, sensation and direct how you anticipate how life will develop in addition to how consciously aware you are in directing how you perceive the world and act.
Participating in any mindfulness activity has been shown by Dr. Dan Siegel and described by Bonnie Badenoch (2008; 2011) to strengthen the connection between the middle prefrontal cortex and limbic system. Nine outcomes have been shown to result from mindfulness. What we find interesting is the first seven are also the result from secure attachment.
When your middle prefrontal integration is deeply rooted the more you will be able to handle the upsets of life. Another influence on the localized emotion networks of the brain can be neurofeedback. Research has demonstrated that upregulating areas including the middle prefrontal cortex and limbic system allows for a higher degree of control of these networks. These findings demonstrate that neurofeedback of emotion networks is another therapeutic tool in addition to practicing mindfulness. We want to be your coach in integrating these neural networks utilizing both mindfulness and neurofeedback to help you in your journey toward regulation, attunement, flexibility, empathy, insight, fear extinction, intuition and morality. Join us.
Badenoch, B. (2008) Being A Brain-Wise Therapist. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Badenoch, B. (2011) The Brain-Savvy Therapist’s Workbook. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Johnston, S.J., Boehm, S.G., Healy, D., Goebel, R., Linden, D.E.J. (2010) Neurofeedback: A promising tool for the self-regulation of emotion networks. NeuroImage: 49(1) 1066-1072.
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