More Mindful Moments #6
This week we’re going to try something a little different. It’s mindfulness with a twist.
This week’s activity has been inspired by the work of Dr Rick Hanson who is a well known neuropsychologist and thought leader in self-directed neuroplasticity. Dr Hanson teaches a range of techniques designed to help us to take in the good (e.g., savouring a positive experience rather than allowing the experience to slip away virtually unnoticed). Noticing and feeling these everyday positive experiences leads to changes in your brain which overtime builds your inner strengths. Cultivating these inner strengths will help you to deal with the challenges you face and become more resilient and bounce back with greater ease from the inevitable stressors in life.
Noticing and savouring the good is not something that happens naturally. Our brains are wired to have a negativity bias. We constantly pay attention to and look out for the potential threats in our environment. For some of us our negativity bias becomes habitual, leads to elevated anxiety levels and increases our risk for depression.
In contrast, we don’t have an in built bias to pay attention to and learn from the positive events in our lives. This is a skill that needs to be cultivated and we need to learn how to pay attention to the good things in our lives. This is a critical skill that builds our inner resources and reduces the likelihood of chronic anxiety and depression. Dr Hanson explains this process beautifully. He writes “Imagine that your mind is like a garden. You could simply be with it, looking at its weeds and flowers without judging or changing anything. Second you could pull weeds by decreasing what’s negative in your mind. Third, you could grow flowers by increasing the positive in your mind” (p.6 Hanson, R., 2013). I love this! The key question is what practical steps can we take to grow these beautiful flowers in our minds?
There are three core key steps involved in actively taking in the good that occurs in our lives. The first step is to have a positive experience. This experience can be as simple as noticing something lovely in your environment like the vibrancy of a new moon or the smile on your child’s face. Or you could create a positive experience by thinking about something you are grateful for in your live.
Dr Hanson’s second step is to enrich the positive experience by fully experiencing the feelings associated with that particular positive experience. Open yourself to these feelings for five to ten seconds or more. Then in the third step absorb the feeling and sink into it. Embrace it and let it linger.
This week I’d like you to combine this practice with the ‘what went well’ practice. When you are chatting with your family about what went well in your day try to notice and immerse yourself in the positive feelings that were associated with that event. Enjoy
Hanson, R. (2013) Hardwiring Happiness The practical science of reshaping your brain – and your life. Rider