How to Rework Your Brain with Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices can shapes new neural pathways for positive plasticity.

Written by Nicole Tetreault on March 8, 2022

The brain is plastic with 100 billion brain cells, 5,000 cellular connections and 100 neurotransmitters responsible for neuronal connectivity and activity. This delicate orchestration of brain development shapes the infrastructure of neural pathways. Synchrony of neurons firing together builds stronger neural networks: neurons that fire wire together. Thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and actions all influence the neural networks in the brain. 

Humans operate from conditioned patterns and sometimes these patterns, although they may be protective, can have negative consequences that lead us to closing our mind and heart.  For example, think of a time when someone has said something to you that may have struck a nerve. What is your default response? Do you fight back with anger, run away with fear, or sink into a well of sadness?

Now for a moment let’s break down a negative word, or phrase. What is it? It’s a sound wave that has a beginning, middle, and an end. A word is a vibrational frequency that dissipates. You can hold on to the negative word or phrase and embody it in your neural coding or you can release it and allow the dissonant frequency to pass right by you. This takes practice. A current study found it takes 66 days on average to form an automatic new habit with dedication and practice. 

Mindfulness is a practice that shapes new neural pathways for positive plasticity. There are over 16,500 studies that show the benefits of mindfulness for mental, physical and emotional health. A study found practicing mindfulness for 13 minutes a day for eight weeks increases emotional equanimity, enhances memory, and improves attention. 

A simple mindful practice Dr. Rick Hanson teaches is taking in the good. This is the concept of retraining the brain to hold onto positive experiences. It’s simple: when you have a positive experience, focus your attention on elongating the experience for twenty seconds by soaking up the positivity. For example, when someone compliments you, you can look into their eyes and say thank you while placing your hand on your belly or heart. Let it sink into the level of your DNA and retrain your brain to build positive neural networks as you resonate with the good. 

 Nicole Tetreault

Nicole Tetreault

Neuroscientist, Author, International Speaker, Founder, Researcher, & Meditation Teacher

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