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The Mindfulness Series: 4 - Mindfulness And The Mind

Updated: Mar 3




In this series:

1 - What Is Mindfulness?

2 - Mindfulness In Times of Chaos

3 - Mindfulness And The Body

4 - Mindfulness And The Mind

5 - Mindfulness And The Spirit

6 - Mindfulness As A Growth Opportunity

7 - Mindfulness In Meditation

8 - Bring It All Together: Holistic Mindfulness For Your Entire Essence



Just as mindfulness positively affects the body, it also positively affects the mind. In fact, mindfulness literally changes the brain, allowing it to function properly. As a result, your mind is improved, allowing you to be a better learner, listener, and thinker.


Benefits Of Practicing Mindfulness For The Mind


Thanks to modern medical technology, researchers are able to study exactly how mindfulness and meditation affect the brain. Numerous studies have since come out, showing that mindfulness greatly impacts the brain, allowing you to be the best version of yourself.


Improves Reasoning Abilities And Increases Attention


Practicing mindfulness improves reasoning abilities and increases attention. Studies have found that mindfulness and meditation boost brain activity in the frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain associated with rational thought, intentional planning, effective functioning, and emotional awareness and control. If the frontal cortex is more active, you are better able to problem-solve and think outside the box in tough situations.


Additionally, mindfulness increases brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex or the ACC. This area of the brain is associated with things like emotion regulation, self-perception, and attention. If the ACC is more active, you are able to lengthen your attention span, allowing you to focus for longer periods of time and learn more technical content easier.


Together, these two benefits, namely improving reasoning abilities and increasing attention, allow you to be a better learner. You will be able to think of more effective problem-solving techniques as well as focus on whatever task is at hand.


Improves Memory


The hippocampus is also affected by mindfulness. The hippocampus is responsible for making new memories, instead of living in the past. Studies have found that patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or severe depression have a smaller hippocampus, which partially explains why these patients are less able to disconnect from the past and live in the present.


Mindfulness increases the gray matter within the hippocampus, which improves your ability to make new memories. When you make new memories, you usually are more content with your life in the present, instead of focusing on things in the past. This generally allows people to feel more content and satisfied with their lives.


Regulates Emotions And Improves Compassion


Both the frontal cortex and ACC are associated with emotion regulation. As both of the brain regions are improved, so will your emotional regulation. As your emotions become more regulated, you are better able to see situations as they are, connect actual situations to your feelings, and live an overall happier and more content life.


At the same time, mindfulness improves compassion and self-compassion. This allows you to respond to tough situations more understandingly and responsibly. More so, it allows you to view yourself in a more positive light, which prevents irrational self depictions.


Helps To Connect The Right And Left Hemispheres Of The Brain


Mindfulness also helps to connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The right hemisphere is often associated with emotional and nonverbal processing, while the left hemisphere is associated with logical thinking and verbal processing. When the two hemispheres work together, you are better able to connect your emotional feelings with rationality and the outside world, allowing you to be more realistic.


The corpus callosum is responsible for connecting the two hemispheres. Scientists believe that the thicker the corpus callosum, the better able your brain is to connect the ideas or processes between the two hemispheres. The thought goes that a person with a thicker corpus callosum is better able to understand their own feelings and relate them to real-life events, henceforth allowing them to be more responsible and realistic in their responses.

Mindfulness And The Mind Practices


Creating A Morning Routine


A morning routine will help set the stage for your day. If you have a chaotic morning, chances are the rest of your day will feel stressful, chaotic, and unorganized. Put your best foot forward by creating a mindful morning routine that makes you motivated and relaxed for the day to come. Every person's morning routine should be tailored to their preferences and desires.


With that being said, there are a few general rules that most people like to incorporate into their morning routine to make their days more mindful.


1. Put Down The Phone


Firstly, try not to use a device for the first hour you are awake. Use this hour to really connect with yourself and your senses, as opposed to Instagram or your inbox. Though this rule may be impossible to implement every day, try your best to avoid using your phone or device during your morning routine.


2. Set An Intention


Another important aspect of most people's morning routine is setting an intention for the day. Oftentimes, it is so easy to fall into a trap of waking up, working, eating, sleeping, allowing our lives to be run on autopilot. To help prevent this from happening, set an intention that matches your needs and To-Do List for the day. Throughout the day, check in with your intention and see how well you are doing.


3. Write It Out


Some people also like to journal or write a gratitude list every morning. Journaling will allow you to get in touch with your feelings and set the stage for the day, while a gratitude list will allow you to truly focus on what matters in your life. This will prevent you from getting bogged down by negative feelings or harsh situations that may come your way.


Repeating Affirmations


Affirmations are short but inspirational sayings that you say to yourself, either in your head or out loud. Studies suggest that repeating affirmations rewires your brain to think more positively and compassionately. As a result, repeating affirmations is one of the best ways to use mindfulness to better your brain and mind.


You can look online for affirmation ideas or you can create your own by paying attention to your needs, insecurities, and anything else that may be weighing on your mind. For example, if you feel inadequate at work, create an affirmation like “I am competent and able.” An affirmation like this one will directly address your issues while still being easy to remember on a daily basis.


The only rule for affirmations is that they must be short. The reason for this is that it is obviously easier to remember a short sentence than a long one. Create affirmations that are to the point and catchy so you are sure to remember them for multiple days at a time. It is important to repeat the affirmation for several days in a row since that is how our brain becomes rewired.


We will discuss affirmations in more detail in the next chapter.


Recap


Mindfulness greatly increases our minds by making us better learners and listeners, as well as making us more compassionate and emotionally stable. To increase the benefits of mindfulness for your mind, try creating a mindful morning routine to set the stage for the day or reciting affirmations that address your exact needs, desires, or weaknesses.


 

Calm.Peaceful.Inspired

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