Brain Architecture and Parental Rewiring
As part of our ongoing work with Bubble + Sprout and Family Support Hammersmith & Fulham to bring yoga, mindfulness and brain-building sessions to parents and children, we love that we have the opportunity to share this post from Karin Schrijvers about brain architecture and rewiring our brains for our own wellbeing. We know by personal experience with Karin, that doing the below exercise is enormously relaxing and offers a fresh start to whatever tough and anxious moments you find yourself in throughout your day. Not to mention the long-term effects it has on our wellbeing! Thank you for sharing Karin ~ We all look forward to bringing you more support throughout our journey together.
brain building for your mental wellbeing
Our kids’ earliest experiences play an essential part in the construction of their brain architecture. It is at this stage that the foundation for lifelong physical and mental health is laid down. But what about the architecture of the parents’ brains? Can we still make structural changes or do some rewiring for our own wellbeing?
Fortunately, the belief that an old dog cannot be taught new tricks has officially been disproven by a mounting number of neuroscientific studies. There is more and more evidence to confirm that our brain does not lose its plasticity as we get older. And luckily for us, the saying that practice makes perfect has not been buried with that old dog. Although I would prefer it as “practice makes better” (or even awesome, as Matthew Syed would have it).
Brain research has shown that a focused practice can bring about structural changes that improve the communication between the different parts of our extended nervous system. In other words, with consistent and focused practice, our brain architecture is sufficiently adaptable for us to rewire and bring about structural changes throughout our entire life. That is pretty cool.
Well done. You have now officially taken the first step on your journey to rewire your brain for optimal integration. Conscious breathing together with mindful movement and paying attention to the mind, are the three key aspects of a mindful awareness practice that will help improve the wiring of your extended nervous system and bring about harmony.
Why not allow yourself a brief moment to try out the following focused practice? Start with a few minutes only and see for yourself whether it can really bring about a harmonious sense of calm for you:
Start with some fluid, mindful movements. These could be done standing, on hands and knees, or sitting down on a chair or floor. Let your body lead the way through gentle joint and spinal movements. They could be as simple as turning your head from side to side, circling your arms, arching and rounding your back. Once you feel that you have awakened your physical body, sit in a comfortable and supported upright position.
Connect with your breath. Close your eyes and observe the breath’s rhythm. Notice how the breath automatically deepens and lengthens when you give it your attention. Perhaps count the length of each breath, and note how it gradually increases. Aim for a complete yet natural breath.
Now bring your mind’s attention to what you can sense around you. Turn down your gaze with your eyes closed. Register the sounds around you. Feel the air on your skin. Allow the sweet taste of that last cup of tea to linger. Smell the coffee that is brewing in the kitchen. Tune in to your senses, your bodily sensations, your connection with others and your mental activities. Now simply sit with this. Sit with your body, with your breath, with your sensations and with your feelings. Avoid judging what you experience. Simply notice and accept.
After a short while, begin to expand your attention from your mind back to your body and beyond. Take a deep breath. Open your eyes. Move slowly.
Once you have expanded your awareness outwards and returned to daily life, notice whether you can respond more calmly to any chaotic demands. Even if just on one small occasion. And then remember that with a consistent and focused practice we can be our own brain architect and rewire for this transition from chaos to calm to become second nature.
Read more about our work with Bubble + Sprout and Family Support below: