As you read this, wiggle your toes. Feel the way they push against your shoes, and the weight of your feet on the floor. Really think about what your feet feel like right now – their heaviness.
Well done you just did some mindful movement, yes, it is as simple as that.
Does the word ‘meditation’ freak you out a little? Do you imagine angles and woo woo candles and lots of humming? I did too, I love my science. I like to hear the actual hard facts before I commit to anything. So it wasn’t until the facts were explained to me that I started to take notice.
Meditation and mindfulness is so ‘in vogue’ these days. It’s everywhere but it does have extraordinary effects on the brains of those who do it regularly.
Few hours of quiet reflection each week could lead to such an intriguing range of mental and physical effects. Now, as the popularity of mindfulness grows, brain imaging techniques are revealing that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other – and therefore how we think – permanently.
Here comes the sciencey bit (scroll on if you feel the need!)
MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress.
As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
The “functional connectivity” between these regions – i.e. how often they are activated together – also changes. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger.
Things get even more interesting when researchers study mindfulness experts experiencing pain.
Advanced meditators report feeling significantly less pain than non-meditators. Yet scans of their brains show slightly more activity in areas associated with pain than the non-meditators.
The expert mindfulness meditators also showed “massive” reductions in activity in regions involved in appraising stimuli, emotion and memory.
Again, two regions that are normally functionally connected, the anterior cingulate cortex (associated with the unpleasantness of pain) and parts of the prefrontal cortex, appear to become “uncoupled” in meditators.
That information was enough to convince me! I quickly downloaded the app HEADSPACE
you can get 10 days free, and at first couldn’t understand it, felt it wasn’t working. But after doing an 8 week mindfulness course I started to understand that it is simply
Being in the moment, and bringing your mind back to the present time
I particularly grew to like it because it meant I could have a quiet 10 minutes to myself and not feel guilty! I now enjoy the APP Calm which I really enjoy due to the heavenly music they play in the back ground.
I include a 10 minute mindful meditation in all of my pilates sessions. You can get 3 FREE Mindful Movement videos by signing up below. They are all based on these facts and also you get to release the tension from your body using simple Pilates moves.