The Science Behind Meditation
March 24, 2017
Did you know that the practice of meditation is over five and a half thousand years old?
This thought-provoking anime by @UpRising on the science behind meditation tells us “Everytime we think, feel, or learn something new, a neural connection appears in our brain. Those things that we repeat the most, like our habits, make these connections grow stronger and stronger. And over time, the connections that we don’t use grow weaker, and eventually disappear. This is why our habits are automatic, and we don’t have to think before doing them.”
Your brain is like an iceberg: 90% of it is unconscious, strong neural connections we’re not aware of, built by habits, that influences our choices and reactions without us even realizing it.
So when you tell someone you’re not creative, good at sports, or procrastinate too much, it may be you’re listing a string of unconscious thoughts or habits, rather than listing fact. In this anime, we learn what we often call our “personality” are really just the “thoughts, emotions, and habits that we have repeated the most growing up.”
Why Mindfulness is a Superpower
March 22, 2017
“Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.”
Or so YouTube creator @Happify says in his bite-sized animation on mindfulness.
Just to clarify, this doesn’t mean you should go through your life not feeling anything and reacting to nothing. Without feeling, reaction, and option, there would be no art or innovation. “The proposition here is not that you should be rendered by mindfulness into some lifeless non-judgemental blob. The proposition is that you should learn how to respond wisely to things that happen to you, rather than just reacting blindly.”
@Happify calls mindfulness the next “public health revolution,” sort of how running was in the 1940s. (Before which, running wasn’t something people did for health. Running was usually equivalent with a) who’s chasing me, or b) I hear the ice cream truck… and it’s getting away!)
How Stress Affects Your Brain
March 19, 2017
You sit behind your computer, fidgeting. The white screen before you beckons; a ghost, taunting you with every blink of the cursor, reminding you of the seconds ticking by toward your impending deadline.
Feel that tightness in your chest? The muddled soup of your brain, pulling in a thousand directions at once? That’s stress. And while some stress can be good, giving us a rush of energy and motivation to accomplish important things, chronic stress-- like the stress many students experience while in educational programs not meeting their needs-- actually does more damage than you’d think.
This insightful and bite-sized animated video: “How Stress Affects Your Brain” by TED-Ed shows us exactly what happens to the brain when exposed to constant levels of chronic stress.
“Too much of it results in the loss of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that regulates behaviors like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things.”