Did you know you have the ability to strengthen and rewire your brain? We already know that changing our diets or physical activity can drastically change the way we look and feel. When you’re stressed you think about getting a massage or going on vacation. What if we could have the same feelings of a massage, a healthy meal, a weekend getaway, or a full night’s rest…all the time? Mindfulness, meditation, and pranayama are techniques to train your brain to give you these feelings of satisfaction anywhere and anytime.
I graduated from my first Yoga Teacher Training program at Warrior One in 2015. It was some time after my program that I developed an interest in mindfulness. I used to spend hours binge watching TedTalks to learn more about sales and interpersonal relationships to be better at my job. Then I came across an entire library on breathwork and mindfulness. I never got into the practice of meditation until I was introduced to yoga. So as an adult I needed more commitment to practicing and learning about meditation myself if I was going to teach and promote the benefits of it. So I spent many nights and weekends watching videos and reading articles and having discussions with friends when I was finally convinced that meditation is not just something yogis do to heal from unwanted thoughts and feelings, it is something all humans can do, simply to live a healthy and stable life.
Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease actually starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before you show any symptoms? Did you know that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists that virtually never look at the organ they treat before diagnosing and prescribing?
In one of the videos I watched, the speaker shared a statement from the World Health Organization, saying that “by 2020, worldwide, depression and anxiety will be the number one disability (see Breathe to Heal by Max Strom).” Ironically this past year created a lot of fear and uncertainty into either ourselves or our neighbors or general community. We can use mindfulness to promote the balance and ease our world is looking for.
If you break down your feelings (of anxiety, depression, compulsion etc..) into symptoms (shortness of breath, restlessness, tightness in the chest etc..), you can use meditation techniques to prevent the feelings from fully taking over. A huge benefit of meditation for the brain is that it helps to strengthen the neuroplasticity of the organ. Your brain has the ability to modify itself based on experiences and – with the practice of focus, mindfulness, and restorative sleep – can change it’s response to specific environments to keep you safe and stable. For me, it is changing my perception of going to the gym, it is changing my relationship with food, it is helping me stay true to myself when confronted with a challenge or conflict. It is keeping me accountable for the choices I am making, and I know I am creating a beautiful future for myself!
So take your brain for a little spa day from time to time. Go outside at sunrise or sunset. Be silent. Feel the quality of your breath – cool as you inhale, warm as you exhale. Listen to the sounds around you while you feel the silence within you. Close your eyes. Be grateful – right now you are setting the tone for the rest of your life.
“The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness” – Andrew Huberman