Posts Tagged ‘MINDFULNESS’

Mindfulness of Breathing Builds Neural Structure: “Bouncing Back” by Linda Graham

  
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“We can begin cultivating this mindfulness by focusing our attention on one specific object of awareness — in Eastern wisdom traditions, usually the breath.
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Research has shown that even this introductory level of mindfulness practice can increase the cell volume of the anterior cingulate cortex (the brain structure that focuses our attention) and other associated brain structures.
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That makes sense; the more we use any structures of the cortex, the more they can grow new cells.
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Studies show that violinists who have mastered rapid fingering in the left hand have greater cell volume in the area of the motor cortex responsible for that dexterity.
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Taxi drivers in London, who are required to memorize the city’s many circuitous streets and alleyways and then use that information day after day, show a measurable increase in the volume of the area of the brain responsible for directional orientation.
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In the same way that working out our muscles at the gym actually builds them, focusing our attention strengthens the structures that our brain uses to focus that attention.
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This helps us see clearly what’s going on and then see our choices about what to do about what’s going on.
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Research also shows that mindfulness practices, even at this introductory level, increase the volume of the insula and improve its function of interoception — awareness of what’s going on in the body.
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Better interoception strengthens our capacities for self-attunement, self-awareness, and self-empathy: it helps us track how physically comfortable, how emotionally nourished, and how relationally supported we feel.
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This in turn increase the confidence in ourselves that increase resilience.
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We can strengthen the structures in the brain that help us become more present, engaged, and confident in our lives, simply by paying attention to our breathing.”
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Amygdala Encodes Aversion and Attraction to Opposite Sex in Developing Brain

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Image credit: Julie McMahon
Neuroscience News April 9, 2015 Featured, Psychology
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Scientists have found a signal in the brain that reflects young children’s aversion to members of the opposite sex (the “cooties” effect) and also their growing interest in opposite-sex peers as they enter puberty. These two responses to members of the opposite sex are encoded in the amygdala, the researchers report.
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The findings, reported in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, challenge traditional notions about the role of the amygdala, the researchers say.
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The team evaluated 93 children’s attitudes toward same-sex and opposite-sex peers. Using functional MRI, which tracks how oxygenated blood flows in the brain, the researchers also analyzed brain activity in 52 children.
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The amygdala was once thought of as a “threat detector,” said University of Illinois psychology and Beckman Institute professor Eva Telzer, who led the new analysis. “But increasing evidence indicates that it is activated whenever someone detects something meaningful in the environment,” she said. “It is a significance detector.”
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The finding that very young children are paying close attention to gender is not a surprise, Telzer said.
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“We know that there are developmental changes in terms of the significance of gender boundaries in young kids,” Telzer said. “We also know about the whole ‘cooties’ phenomenon,” where young children develop an aversion to opposite-sex peers and act as if members of the opposite sex could, if they got too close, contaminate them with a dreadful infestation. Children at this age also tend to strongly prefer the company of their same-sex peers, she said.
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This phenomenon was reflected in young children’s evaluations of each other.
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“Only the youngest children in our sample demonstrated a behavioral sex bias such that they rated same-sex peers as having more positive (and less negative) attributes than opposite-sex peers,” the researchers wrote.
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This illustration shows how the amygdala responds to the opposite sex over the child’s development.
A brain structure called the amygdala responds more to opposite-sex faces in children aged 4-7 and increases again in puberty, but pre-pubescent children respond no differently to same-sex and opposite-sex faces, researchers report.
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“And so we think the amygdala is signaling the significance of cooties at this developmental period,” Telzer said.
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The interest in opposite-sex peers tends to wane in later childhood, just before puberty, Telzer said. The researchers saw no difference in the amygdala’s response to same-sex and opposite-sex faces in children between the ages of 10 and 12. *
But in puberty, children’s interest in opposite-sex peers blooms anew. They may become infatuated with a member of the opposite sex, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as a “crush,” Telzer said.
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“When puberty hits, gender becomes more significant again, whether it’s because your body is changing, or because of sexual attraction or you are becoming aware of more rigid sexual boundaries as you become more sexually mature,” Telzer said. “The brain is responding very appropriately, in terms of what’s changing developmentally.”
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Let us ponder—- Who is the happiest person we know

  
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Observe the happiest person you know.
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Why are they “Happy”?
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Explore their temperament, their attitude, their resilience, their energy level, their confidence.
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How do others view them, talk about them?
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What is their outlook?
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Do they worry? Are they fearful, timid?
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Do they avoid life?
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See if they spend their waking hours in the present moment or in the past.
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What traits can you copy, develop?
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Choices: do we grasp the negative or let it go for this moment?

  
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“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. …
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Why not try the other way,
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to look into the patient
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and see positive things,
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to just touch those things
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and make them bloom?”
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Thich Nhat Hanh
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What fires together wires together.
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Where we place our attention grows, where we withdrawl attention fades and dies.
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Water happiness, giving, compassion and kindness.
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Direction: which direction are you headed?

  

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“The problem is whether we are determined to go in the direction of compassion or not.
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If we are, then can we reduce the suffering to a minimum?
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If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north.
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That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star.
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I just want to go in that direction.”
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-Thich Nhat Hanh-
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Sit today,,focus, peer inward, change your direction toward happiness.
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Thoughts are air without some action to solidify their existence

  
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Our thoughts are invisible to others. Those 60,00 daily thoughts we humans average, are mostly air.
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That is about a thought a second during waking time. It would be impossible to act or respond every second to a new thought.
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It follows then, that the great majority of those 60,000 thoughts, fade into oblivion, like they never existed.
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Why give attention to any negative thought of doubt, worry or unworthiness, then. They will fade like the other 59,990 thoughts we ignored or did not have time to honor.
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Next, we are not responsible, liable for any of the crazy thoughts that are created in the mind.
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No, we are not bad people because a thought was mean or directed ill will towards another.
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That thought that we would like someone who harmed us to suffer loss, has nothing to do with who we are. Let it go, quickly.
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Do not judge the plethera of junk mail (thoughts) that invade our consciousness.
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It is just the ego trying to direct, control our minds.
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Adapting. Is easier when we focus and build resilience in our nervous systems!

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“It is not
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the strongest
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of the species
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that survives,
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nor the
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most intelligent
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that survives.
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It is the one
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that is the most
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adaptive
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to change.” —
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CHARLES DARWIN
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Sit today, focus and adapting will be immediate, intuitive, effortless.
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