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How to calm your busy mind- How mindfulness can change your brain and your life

April 23, 2018

Matthew Jakovljevic – Osteopath B.S(clin), M.H.S(osteo)

We live in a busy world and if you are anything like me you find it hard to calm our busy minds. Whether it’s work, the kids, back pain, our minds are rarely still.

Mindfulness is a bit of buzz word going around at the moment, but what exactly is it? Put simply, it just means being right here, right now and calming that busy mind.

Mindfulness can do some really cool stuff and I’m finding myself talking to more and more patients about it. It can help with your mental health, all those ongoing pains you have and can even help your sex life!

Why practice mindfulness meditation

The word meditation can make some people cringe and think of monks chanting. I feel really comfortable talking about mindfulness for two reasons. It’s part of my daily routine to calm my own busy mind and it has some seriously good research behind it.

Mindfulness changes your brain. A study by Hölzel et al (2011), did MRIs before and after 8 week mindfulness meditation program and it showed increases in the size of the gray matter (muscle of your brain). Just think about that for a second, real, physical changes. Just like working out your muscles makes them bigger and stronger, being mindful makes your brain bigger and stronger.

You can learn more about these changes from this TedTalk from Sarah Lazar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8rRzTtP7Tc

There’s some high quality research showing mindfulness can:

Let’s do a quick and simple mindfulness exercise now…..

Give it go, you might just surprise yourself. 

I suggest that my patients try mindfulness everyday for at least two weeks. It’s a skill and just like any skill, it takes time to become good at it. So give a good chance to start seeing the benefits. Try one of these ‘apps’

Smiling Mind (Free)
ACT Companion: The Happiness Trap App ($15)
Headspace (10 days free)

Different forms of mindfulness

Maybe listening and thinking exercises aren’t working for you. You could always try to the new craze of adult colouring. Remember, the idea is to get lost in the colouring, not just ‘get it done’.

Please note, the advice above is generalised and may not be specific to your situation. If in doubt please contact one of our osteopaths or another health care provider to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment of your condition.

References

Harris, R. (2013). The happiness trap: Stop struggling, start living (Vol. 1): Exisle Publishing.

Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36-43.

Gotink, R. A., Chu, P., Busschbach, J. J., Benson, H., Fricchione, G. L., & Hunink, M. M. (2015). Standardised mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs. PLoS One, 10(4), e0124344.