Train your brain for happiness no matter how old you are!
Join 5 Journeys’ board-certified family doctor, Marianela Lavena, as she shares her passion and knowledge of yoga and mindful meditation. She discusses how daily practice physically changes your brain, the scientific studies showing the beneficial impacts of mindfulness, and plenty of resources to get you started.
It might feel like nothing is happening when practicing yoga and meditation, but that isn’t necessarily true. One study done by the University of Massachusetts compared students’ brain scans before starting meditating for ten minutes a day to scans taken eight weeks later. After those eight weeks, researchers found the prefrontal cortex (the more evolved part of the brain) had grown in size while the amygdala (known for the fight-flight-freeze response) got smaller.
These results suggest you shouldn’t just practice yoga or meditate when you’re stressed, but every day! That way, when you are experiencing a stressful situation, your amygdala doesn’t hijack your reactions.
Meditation and yoga have the same benefits, but there are a few differences between them. Mindfulness meditation is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. With yoga, you’re moving your thoughts away from your worries and onto your body. Emerging data shows yoga and meditation also alleviate the strain of depression and anxiety!
Choosing between meditation and yoga mostly comes down to individual preference and what you’re more comfortable with. Just exercising and eating well isn’t enough. We must ensure we put equal work into both spiritual and mental wellness.
Every time we repeat an activity, our brain creates new connections between neurons. The same happens with mindful meditation if we practice it every day.
We’re never too young or old to change our brains. Even those who have suffered brain damage from strokes can benefit from meditation. And just like we can train our brains to play the piano, we can train our brains for happiness.
It’s important to note you can’t meditate your way out of something like chemical poisoning. So, if a chemical imbalance or another physical ailment is behind your depression and anxiety, it’s critical to get proper medical care in addition to practicing mindfulness.
Dr. Lavena usually starts by providing patients with a list of different meditations, exercises, or yoga moves to get them started. If they seem more resistant to the idea at first, she usually recommends movement, such as yoga, because that might be easier for them to do every day. Most people start to see results between four to six weeks of doing just a few minutes of mindfulness each day.
Begin your journey to better health with just a few minutes of mindfulness every day!
Marianela Lavena, MD is a board certified family doctor who currently works at Five Journeys. Dr Lavena graduated from the University of Buenos Aires Medical School. She trained at Julio Mendez hospital in Internal Medicine, UAMS during her residency in Family Medicine, trained in Functional Medicine by IFM.
For the past 15 years, Dr. Lavena has been teaching and recommending mindfulness meditation and yoga as part of the therapeutic plan for her patients. She has trained with Tara Brach, buddhist psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher, Christopher Gerner, psychologist specializing in self-compassion and mindfulness, studied MBSR, founded by Dr John Kabat Zin, and at the Herbert Benson Mind-body medicine Institute at Harvard to name a few.
– Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmQi3VQCdCQ (Soften Sooth and Allow)
– https://youtu.be/mILRWPdQPKs (loving-kindness for ourselves/Christopher Germer)
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG-CsHbkkzE (loving kindness beginners Christopher Germer)
– https://youtu.be/T_80y_CT32c (self-compassion Break / Christopher Germer)
– https://youtu.be/wm1t5FyK5Ek (the Rain of self compassion/Tara Brach)
– https://youtu.be/d5VO2Xq7G0Q (forgiving others and self forgiveness meditation/Jack Kornfield)
– https://youtu.be/4dMucFZtnxQ (healing meditation Jack Kornfield)
– https://youtu.be/PypGPUz6mX0 (Dr Bernie Siegel) Apps: Insight timer, Calm, Stop, breath, think., Head space.
– https://youtu.be/P-FDCeAv8k0 (Oliver Indri / tai chi)