· Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change itself.
· MRI studies, and EEG studies confirm the ability of mindfulness practice to change brain structure as well as brain functioning.
· Studies show improvements in mood, self-esteem, self-regulation, sleep, well-being, concentration, health, addictions, memory and so much more. Therefore, mindfulness practice is an excellent way to cause positive neuro-plastic changes in the brain.
The Paths in the Grass Analogy:
· Close your eyes and visualize a lawn of green grass.
· Now imagine that someone walked across the grass diagonally from one corner of the lawn to the opposite corner.
· Notice how the grass changes, perhaps the grass is a bit matted down where they walked.
· Now imagine lots of people walking across the grass following the same path. After a while, notice that some of the grass is dying where so many footsteps have happened.
· This is the process of neuroplasticity in the brain. The fact is, neurons that fire together wire together, and dendrites increase in size and effectiveness when something is repeated over and over. So, like the path worn in the grass, the neuronal pathway gets stronger and stronger with repetition. Mindfulness practice is an effective means to create more healthy “pathways” in the brain.
· Now visualize the lawn with the path across it. Notice what happens to it over time when no one walks on it anymore. The grass slowly begins to grow where the path was until at some point there is no longer a path at all. Mindfulness practice can help rewire the brain so it no longer automatically responds with anxiety, or angry, or fear, or feeling stressed. Mindfulness helps decrease the negative pathways in the brain.