Island Senior: Mindfulness and a Healthy Brain

Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:24 am by

Blue Buddha - Peggy Sue McRae photo

Island Senior is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae…

The prac­tice of mind­ful­ness is an impor­tant tool to have in your men­tal tool­box espe­cial­ly when life gets stress­ful. I’ve learned dif­fer­ent mind­ful­ness tech­niques or med­i­ta­tion prac­tices over the years most­ly with­in the con­text of a yoga class or Bud­dhist teaching.

Recent­ly, I began tak­ing a class, Mind­ful­ness For Well­be­ing and Peak Per­for­mance, a free online course through Future Learn from Monash Uni­ver­si­ty in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia. This class approach­es mind­ful­ness from a sci­en­tif­ic perspective.

Recent stud­ies of mind­ful­ness, described as aware­ness, pay­ing atten­tion on pur­pose, in the present moment, and with­out judg­ment, have changed how we see the brain. It used to be thought that your adult brain had reached its apex and would only dete­ri­o­rate. Neu­ro­science today tells a more hope­ful story.

Accord­ing to Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist Dr. Richard Cham­bers even a small amount of reg­u­lar mind­ful­ness prac­tice can rewire your brain increas­ing gray mat­ter and strength­en­ing parts of the the brain includ­ing the pre­frontal cor­tex, the part of the brain that pays atten­tion, thinks, rea­sons and plans. Short-term mem­o­ry, man­ag­ing emo­tions and impulse con­trol are also direct­ed by this part of the brain.

While research at this point is incon­clu­sive, stud­ies point to mind­ful­ness as a poten­tial tool for the pre­ven­tion of demen­tia. Stud­ies show that mind­ful­ness train­ing can slow the aging process­es of the brain. In the event of a life threat­en­ing dis­ease or chron­ic pain, mind­ful­ness enhances a person’s abil­i­ty to cope.

Link to Future Learn Course: Mind­ful­ness For Well­be­ing and Peak Performance

More infor­ma­tion on brain sci­ence, YouTube video: Becom­ing Con­scious: The Sci­ence of Mindfulness

Relat­ed: Brain Health Video View­ing, Mon­day Octo­ber 28 at 1 pm. Join us at the Mullis Cen­ter to view the video series that explores new inter­ven­tions for mem­o­ry prob­lems and Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Gain insights into lifestyle, sup­ple­ments and activ­i­ties that can pre­vent mem­o­ry impairments.

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  1. Good arti­cle, Peg­gy Sue! A lit­tle descrip­tion of what mind­ful­ness is might be use­ful for the uninformed.

    Comment by Anita M Barreca on October 18, 2019 at 8:53 am
  2. Hi Ani­ta, Thanks for your com­ment. I appre­ci­ate your sug­ges­tion. The descrip­tion, “Recent stud­ies of mind­ful­ness, described as aware­ness, pay­ing atten­tion on pur­pose, in the present moment, and with­out judg­ment, have changed how we see the brain.” is a very brief but I think accu­rate sec­u­lar descrip­tion of what is meant by mind­ful­ness. There are many dif­fer­ent approach­es to prac­tic­ing mind­ful­ness. It is some­thing we all expe­ri­ence when we are deeply absorbed in an activ­i­ty that holds our focused atten­tion and can also be expe­ri­enced as a for­mal medi­a­tion prac­tice. Per­haps a top­ic for anoth­er arti­cle! Thanks again for your comment.

    Comment by Peggy Sue McRae on October 18, 2019 at 10:21 am

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