Mindfulness: Ancient wisdom and modern science

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A strategy to manage stress and anxiety

THE MIND IS A KITE AND THE BREATH IS THE STRING

BREATH IN
BREATH OUT
FOLLOW THE BREATH AS IT ENTERS THE LUNGS LIFTING THE RIBCAGE AND AS IT LEAVES RELEASING THE RIBCAGE TO FLATTEN
BREATH IN
BREATH OUT
FOLLOW THE CYCLE OF THE BREATH
ANCHOR YOURSELF TO ITS RHYTHM OF EXPANSION AND CONTRACTION
PAY ATTENTION TO THE RISE AND FALL
BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT AND THE MOMENTS TO FOLLOW
GIVING BREATH
GIVING LIFE

Sarah Berry in the Sunday edition March 21 2021 of the Sydney Morning Herald writes on how ancient wisdom of Indian Yogis and Chinese sages in regard to “following and focusing on the breath” and more recently Eckhart Tolle’s proposition of Mindfulness in his book The Power Of Now is being investigated and validated by neuroscience, the study of the brain.

Mindfulness according to Dr Vissel, professor of neuroscience at UTS and director for the Centre of Neuroscience and Mindfulness calms the amygdala giving “ momentary relief from the high alert that your body is in.” The amygdala is part of the brain that manages stress it takes control under stressful conditions and can cause us to catastrophise, freeze or react aggressively switching on the Adrenal System into “Flight, Fight or Freeze” response.

Dr Selena Bartlett, professor of neuroscience at Queensland University of Technology, explains that not only physical exercise changes your brain biology so too does mindfulness by “expanding the prefrontal cortex, which helps us focus our attention and shrinks the amygdala.” Retraining the brain takes practice of up to six to eight weeks. Each time you are confronted with a stressful situation you will find that you are in more control over your automated processes like your breathing, heart rate and stress response. You won’t be triggered in the same way because you’ve learned a new way of handling it.

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Helpful apps such as Headspace or Smiling Mind are recommended by the author.

Know your brain: Prefrontal cortex

Where is the prefrontal cortex? The prefrontal cortex is the section of the frontal cortex that lies at the very front of the brain, in front of the premotor cortex. The prefrontal cortex can be divided into several subregions. The method of anatomically subdividing the prefrontal cortex varies depending on the source, but common demarcations include the dorsolateral, dorsomedial, ventrolateral, ventromedial, and orbitofrontal regions.

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Know your brain: Prefrontal cortex