Refresh Your Brain

I had the huge honour of attending the Dalai Lama Center's Heart-Mind conference and I wrote two articles for their blog about my experience.

Below is a piece I wrote in response to a presentation by the renown Dr. Cliff Saron, an expert on how mindfulness affects the brain. It was originally published here.


Dr. Cliff Saron

In a world where we are bombarded with texts, tweets and up-to-the-nanosecond news, why aren’t we totally alarmed at our decreasing ability and opportunity to focus peacefully on one thing at a time?

All of this incessant communication and stimuli is tricking us into thinking we’re highly productive. But here’s what I think. Our minds are busy, yes. But productive? Not nearly as much as we think.

Dr. Clifford Saron’s presentation cited research that shows people perform better at tasks after interacting with nature. Quieting the mind refreshes the brain. Not a shocker really, but what do we do about it? How do we make sure kids (and teachers, parents – and all adults) can regularly hit the refresh button on their brains?

I’ve been practicing meditation daily for several years, and I’m mid-way through an intensive two-year meditation teachers’ program in Vancouver. I’m a focus group of one, and I certainly don’t claim that my views are scientifically proven. But I’ll share my experience.

When it comes to refreshing the brain, meditation is like nature (Clifford’s research supports this).

You know that calm, still state that you experience when you really settle into a view of vast, open ocean? Or that feeling of oneness and openness that you get standing on top of a mountain peak or staring up at a rural, starlit sky? Yeah, meditation’s like that.

Not all the time, mind you. Sometimes it’s simply an exercise in letting the frantic mind simmer down. But that’s ok too because it still refreshes the brain, even when you don’t think it’s happening.

Frequently saying ‘no’ to stimuli and turning inward brings clarity. Ease. A bigger perspective.

I’ve been a news junkie, an iPhone addict, a social media strategist and a PR maven. I know a busy brain. It’s my hope that we create a world where the next set of adults at the helm have calm, clear, compassionate minds. I think we’ll all be better for it.