03 Mar Mindfulness and your brain
Jessie is constantly down on herself:
“That photo makes me look fat.” “No one will invite me to the party!” “I stink at math. I’m going to fail that test.”
Mindfulness profoundly (that means in a really big way) alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of your thoughts and feelings. Yes, your brain changes as a result of practicing mindfulness. And it changes in such a way that you feel better and you think better about who you are.
When you are doing your school work, you are often in the “thinking” part of your brain – the executive functions. This is when you plan ahead, strategize, problem-solve, reason, keep thoughts in your mind and manipulate them in the short-term. You can see that these are all the skills that help you be a better student.
Well, your prefrontal cortex, where the executive functions live, is still changing in order to become more efficient. Want to know where your prefrontal cortex is? Point to your forehead. Great. That’s it – in there is where all this good thinking stuff happens.
Okay, so you now know you need all these cognitive (thinking) skills to help you in school and in life. And you know that YOUR brain, because of your young age, is still perfecting itself in this particular area. And now you know that mindfulness will actually help grow this area. Now what?
Grow it! Be mindful.
The next time you have a test and want to be focused, sit for one minute prior to the test and breathe calmly. In your mind’s eye, see yourself sitting down to take the test. Envision yourself being calm and confident. What does your posture look like? What does you face look like. Let yourself be that. Now see the test being placed on the desk before you or on the computer screen in front of you. Imagine yourself being confident at the start. Take a deep breath. Feel the confidence flow through your body. Tell yourself, I am ready. Take two more deep breaths and open your eyes.
Sweet! That’s just one example of how mindfulness and your imagination can help you prepare cognitively. Now let’s look at how mindfulness can help you emotionally.
Have you ever used mindfulness to help you prepare for a test? If so, what do you do?