Island Senior: Mindfulness and a Healthy Brain

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.

Posted on October 17, 2019 at 6:24 am by

Categories: Health & Wellness, Island Senior


  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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