Mindfulness offers a way to shift attitude into gratitude. And routine meditation can shift the way your brain functions and communicates; shifting how you perceive your environment and allows for increased connection and positive perspective.
This may explain the power of prayer often described among healers and healthcare providers. It allows for paradigm shifting not only cognitively but physically too.
Attitude, here, is defined by a sense of negativity, rigidity or defensiveness.
If focus is on what isn’t working, one’s limitations, or injuries than an attitude develops of neediness, negativity, self-centeredness, discouragement, and self-pity.
If focus is on what works, strengths/or gifts, compassion, and connections than an attitude of gratefulness and gratitude develops; one feels more in sync with the environment around him. This has a relaxing and opening effect.
Buddhist monks who do meditation called compassion meditation, (Metta, or Lovingkindness meditation which includes focused deep breathing) have been shown to modulate their amygdala, along with temporoparietal junction and insula, during their practice.
In an MRI study, more intensive insula activity was found in expert meditators than in novices. Increased activity in the amygdala following compassion-oriented meditation may contribute to social connectedness.
Amygdala activity at the time of encoding information correlates with retention for that information. However, this correlation depends on the relative “emotional quality” of the information. More emotionally arousing information increases amygdala activity, and that activity correlates with retention. Amygdala neurons show various types of oscillation during emotional arousal, such as theta brain wave activity (linked to increased creativity, relaxation, intuition, right-brained activity, emotional and subconscious connectedness).
These synchronized events could promote synaptic plasticity (which is involved in memory retention) by increasing interactions between neocortical storage sites and temporal lobe structures involved in declarative memory.
For an example of a Lovingkindness meditation please see blog Meditation on Lovingkindness posted on June 10, 2010 – on this site.
Smiling creates a relaxation of our shoulders, jaw, and neck muscles and increases neuron firings in the connected areas in our brain that regulate emotion, memory and cognition (amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus).
Breathing deeply increases this sense of openness and relaxation.
And these areas are negatively affected by stress.
Furrowing ones brow leads to increased tension and strain on our shoulders, neck and jaw and a reduction in firing in these same areas in our brain which leads to increased depression, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, a sense of isolation and disconnectedness, and memory issues.
During stressful times people tend to decrease their breath to shallow breathing.
Simply allowing yourself to focus on deep breathing and then attending to the positive elements of a situation, its benefits, lessons, positive outcomes, or it’s attributing gifts can shift your perspective from negative to positive – from feeling sorry for yourself, defeated, or fearful to a sense of gratefulness and positivity.
Having a routine of meditation and mindfulness can keep you primed for just such opportunities and reduce your chance of developing many stress related psychological and physical illnesses.
So for your mental/emotional, spiritual and physical health remember:
- Breathe deeply and fully
- less attitude more gratitude
- Meditate daily with an eye to compassion and loving acceptance
- And consider what positive may be connected to the negative situation you are facing – paradigm shifting.