This is the neuroscience behind mindfulness, and is really just a fancy pants way of say that the brain is changeable. For a long time, it was believed that who we were was locked in by the time we hit our 20’s, that our brain had been shaped, and that was kind of that.
Thankfully, we now know that to be completely untrue – phew! The brain is malleable; it can be reshaped and new thoughts, behaviours, beliefs and habits formed.
This gives us so much hope!
It means that at any point we can choose to form new ways of operating that are healthy and helpful for us. It means we no longer have to live at the mercy of a negative and reactive mind.
Is it easy?
The honest answer? It takes work. But is it worthwhile? A million times yes! It’s possibly the most important work we’ll ever undertake in life. It just takes practice.
And how do I practice?
By meditating! By learning to focus your attention in a new way, by repeatedly bringing the wandering mind back to focus. Newcomers to meditation often think “I’m no good at this, my mind keeps wandering” – great, you’ve noticed your mind wandering! That’s mindfulness in action. Every single time we refocus our mind, we are strengthening our mindfulness muscle.
Think of working out, of lifting a heavy weight; when we first start, it’ll be pretty tough and it won’t take many reps until we tire. But after a while, that muscle gets stronger, it’s easier to do and we’ve built up our stamina a bit. It’s the *very* same with training the mind. Each time we focus the mind, we grow stronger, we train the mind in mindful awareness.
Here’s a little video to help explain the process of reshaping the brain by bringing awareness to our thoughts and thought patterns.