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Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness’

Recent scientific studies suggest that people with mindfulness traits have the ability to calm their emotions by naming them. Mindfulness is a process where one is aware and receptive to present moment experiences.

In a study conducted by UCLA researchers Matthew Leiberman and David Creswell, subjects in an MRI scanner were shown emotionally expressive faces. When they were asked to name the gender of the person expressing the emotion no changes occurred. However when the same subjects were asked to name the emotion they were seeing (such as anger, fear or sadness), the person’s right ventro-lateral region became activated at the moment that the emotion was being named and the subcortical regions that respond to facial expressions especially in the region of the right amygdala calmed down. (more…)

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In his poem, Ash Wednesday, TS Eliot writes, “Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still…

These words are like a paradox. How can we care and at the same time not care? We have goals and desires and we want things to be a certain way. What Eliot is suggesting in this poem is that we can have desires and at the same time not be imprisoned by them. Life is going to march on regardless of how we want things to be. Sometimes we will get what we want and sometimes we won’t. It’s just the way life is. However, when we hold on rigidly to the objects of our desire, we suffer.

This is the central teaching of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. In the Second Noble Truth, the Buddha instructs us “to abandon attachment to getting what we desire.” (more…)

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Our brains are composed of a left and right hemisphere connected by the corpus collosum, a small number of neural circuits located deep in the brain where energy and information is sent back and forth between the two sides. The left hemisphere is the more analytical, conceptual, fact based side that loves logical, linear, linguistic and literal communication. The right side of the brain is the more image-based side that processes non-verbal eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, gestures and timing. It sees the whole picture whereas the left sees the world in terms of either/or. The right is characterized by autobiographical memory which is non-language based whereas factual memory is dominated on the left. (more…)

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Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love (COAL) is an acronym invented by Dr. Daniel Siegel to describe the qualities of mindfulness. Interestingly, COAL are also the qualities present in secure parent/child attachments and between psychotherapist and patient in successful healing outcomes. It is a loving and openly accepting relationship between parent and child that determines how well the child will grow into a successful and mature adult.

In his book “The Mindful Brain” Siegel states that “the interpersonal attunement of secure attachment is paralled by the intrapersonal attunement of mindful awareness. Both interpersonal and intrapersonal attunement develop the capacity for intimate relationships, well being and resilience.”

When the child’s world is understood by the parent, the child feels good, connected and loved. This is attunement. Similarly, when we are mindful of our moment to moment experience with a kind, and open-hearted presence, we become our own best friend.

Siegel also states that “both forms of attunement share common neural pathways particularly those found in the pre-frontal cortex. The development of these regulatory circuits in the brain is associated with emotional resilience, compassion for oneself and others. Seigel lists nine prefrontal functions that overlap with mindfulness practice and secure parent/child attachments. “They are regulation of body systems, balancing emotions, modulating fear, responding flexibly, attuning to others, exhibiting insight, empathy, intuition, and morality.”

Seigel states “Another important dimension of looking toward the mindful brain is that by understanding the neural mechanisms associated with mindful awareness, we may be in a better position to identify it’s universal human qualities and make it more accessible and acceptable to a broader audience.” Seigel invites the reader to “imagine a world in which this health promoting, empathy-enhancing, executive-attention developing, self compassion nurturing, affordable, and adaptable mental practice is made available in everyone’s life”.

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