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My Mind and Fullness…Is There Enough Room? Dr. Mike Colson

My Mind and Fullness…Is There Enough Room? Dr Mike Colson

The newest rage in popular “get inside your head” culture is mindfulness. In effect, exercising our working memory by sensing what is going on around us. Mindfulness is the psychic equivalent of multi-tasking. The result of mindfulness training, according to a recent discourse in the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin (Winter 2006), is that it might actually offset some the effects of aging in the brain. The HMAB study found using MRI images, that the 20 people who practiced mindfulness/meditation regularly versus 15 control individuals, increased the rind of the brain much like a daily Nautilus workout. When the cortex is thickened, the study found that it can turn back the negative impacts of aging in the areas of cognitive, sensory, and emotional processing. All 20 of the non-cohort respondents had a thicker cortex, slower breathing rates, increased positive sensations, and increased sensory awareness. So, what does this all mean for those of us serving in arduous circumstances?

Think of all the plane flights you’ve been on. The noise, frustration, pushing and shoving, line standing, heat, cold, insensitivity and the like can be overwhelming. Many of us huff and puff, a natural reaction where we breath deep to release tension. Or the open-ended bad relationship that causes stress and strain, life circumstances, rising anger and frustration, anxiety…you get the picture.

Mindfulness is, according to this study, a way to gain some control over the circumstances that surround us that we cannot – for whatever reason – change or exclude ourselves from. The study states that we can “practice” how to beef up our brain (brain cortex, actually) in order to become more adept (and younger!) at handling pressure(s). Kabat-Zinn’s 1994 book; “Wherever You Go, There You Are” is a great primer on this topic. His 1990 book; “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, pain, and Illness” is good as well.

I know…exercise, weight management, relaxation, good eating habits, and regular medical check-ups are my regular mantra. But, what if I couldn’t do a damn thing about all the other stuff and it was clogging my brain? Well, that might be something I ought to be mindful of…even if I didn’t think I had the room for it in a busy life.

Dr. Mike!