How Not to Be a Slave to Your Brain: Mindfulness for Mental Health
It's possible to develop the areas of your brain that control feelings such as kindness, as well as the regulation of difficult emotions. In this way, you can train your brain to be a tougher guard against negativity.
Big Think and the Mental Health Channel are proud to present Big Thinkers on Mental Health, a new series dedicated to open discussion of anxiety, depression, and the many other psychological disorders that affect millions worldwide.
What does mindfulness have to do with neuroplasticity? Well, as Ruby Wax would tell you, neuroplasticity posits that you are the architect of your own brain. That means mindfulness is sort of like brick and mortar; it's the raw materials out of which you shape your consciousness and life experience. According to Dr. Mark Epstein, this week's Big Thinker on Mental Health, it's possible to develop the areas of the brain that control feelings such as kindness or altruism as well as the regulation of difficult emotions. That's where mindfulness comes in:
Epstein describes mindfulness as a way to temper our reactions to the many pleasant and unpleasant stigma of the external world. Just like lifting weights strengthens your biceps, mindful meditation bulks up your brain, in particular the parts dedicated to dealing with negative emotions. When you meditate, it's like taking a vitamin C for your mental health.
So how do you not be a slave to your brain? In short, you acknowledge that the brain is plastic (figuratively, not literally — unless you're a Barbie doll) and can be altered. Mindfulness works well in the treatment of myriad mental disorders, as well as a simple inoculation against the everyday strife endured by the brain. You have the power to build a better brain; all it takes is peace and dedication.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
If you want to be a better and more passionate communicator, these tips are important.
If you identify as being a socially conscious person in today's age of outrage, you've likely experienced the bewildering sensation when a conversation that was once harmless, suddenly doesn't feel that way anymore. Perhaps you're out for a quick bite with family, friends, or coworkers when the conversation takes a turn. Someone's said something that doesn't sit right with you, and you're unsure of how to respond. Navigating social situations like this is inherently stressful.
Below are five expert-approved tips on how to maintain your cool and effectively communicate.
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