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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creating New Neural Pathways (And Getting a Better Life in the Process)

Here's how the practice of mindfulness and the practice of focusing on positive experiences alters areas of the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that is directly behind the forehead, the area the most differentiates the human from the animal species. In other words, the neuroplasticity of the brain, or the flexibility of the brain, allows it to change when we do certain things. And doing things like being mindful and practising to focus on positive experiences (also gratitude, beauty, etc.), create changes (as per psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, author of - among others - The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being, in these functions:
  • regulation of body functions
  • emotional balance
  • social communication
  • mental flexibility
  • empathy
  • insight (awareness of self)
  • regulating fear
  • intuition
  • morality for the good of all
Isn't that reason enough to begin to be mindful???

Here's a wonderful podcast of an interview with Dr. Siegel on the Brain Science Podcast hosted by the magnificent Ginger Campbell, MD. Clicking on the link will take you to the site where you can either listen to the archived audio file or download it.

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