“If you change your habits, if you change your experiences, you can quite literally change your brain.”

The Science and Practice of Yoga, Week 2

I have absolutely loved the lectures, interviews, and research studies in the coursework this week. The quote above is from Catherine Spann, Ph.D., a research scientist at Link Research Lab and contributing course instructor. This understanding of neuron activity is helping me better understand the powerful potential of meditation. Our brains are made of millions of neurons that are constantly reshaped by our experiences. A well known expression in neuroscience is “neurons that fire together, wire together” and scientific studies on meditation and mindfulness exercise have put this to the test. Our brain needs to continue to grow, learn, and make new connections throughout life. We have the ability to change our habits by focusing on our highest ideals. In the interview with Dr. Rick Hanson it is summed up well: “…drop by drop, breath by breath, synapse by synapse…” That is the process of well-being; continuing to fire neurons together to fill ourselves up so that we have more to offer to others.

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As we make these changes, checking in frequently throughout the day is crucial in order to reinforce new neuropathways. With this week’s focus on “being well in a digital age,” instructor Stacy Dockins suggests stopping to take five deep breaths each time you grab your phone. Another option is to set alarms throughout the day as “mindfulness breaks.” My yoga mentor Courtney Thibault recommends a six time book. A miniature composition notebook works really well.  If you are interested in learning more about it, you can read her article here. I’m currently using a combination of alarm reminders and a daily task list in my bullet journal.

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