A compelling article by the talented Elena Bower on the internal workings of the mind and the ultimate control we have over changing our reality by changing how we think. She walks us through the many findings of yoga and meditation’s effects on our brain chemistry and well-being, with light revealing grace.
Yoga and the Brain:
How to Be Attentive Through Spirituality
In his TED talk, “The Art of Misdirection,” Apollo Robbins gives a brief and accessible overview of how our mind allocates attention and then, with an incredible pickpocketing performance, shows how susceptible we are to misdirection.
For 15 years, fueled by frustration over my own fear-based thinking, I’ve observed how I allocate my attention, studied how to meditate, and sought teachers to inspire and help. As Robbins says, attention steers perception, so it stands to reason that if I put my attention on cultivating interior spaciousness, I will perceive more space. And if I put my attention on judging folks around me, I’ll be more susceptible to perceive that I, too, am being judged. Both have served me as shining examples of this theory, that how we place our attention determines how we see.
To take this a step further, I’ve observed that as I placed consistent attention on many judgments, daily over several years, my brain became much more likely to call upon those neuronal connections of judgment, which was perpetuating the experience that the ‘world is against me.’ That fear-based thinking led to destructive and draining behavior that needed to shift. Learning how to place my attention intentionally on the vastness of my inner world regularly through meditation and yoga, I can focus more readily, practice patience and cultivate my relationships with less judgment, more steadiness and loving care. I can be more alert to the threads of cause and effect, especially when it comes to my family and my work.
So in his talk, Robbins implores us to “play” with the “security guard” in our brain, who’s in charge of the ways in which we place our attention. How could the security guard let any judgments enter? Likely because this guard hasn’t had enough training, therefore permits thoughts like judgments, doubts and limiting beliefs. And in our experience of a lazy brain, somehow it all seems as though it’s “happening” to us, rather than an inner state we’ve (subconsciously) created. Time to train our brains, by educating the guards at the gates.
Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are the ways in which we can train those “guards.” Regular practice helps me choose how I spend my attention, so I can be present wherever I am. When I forget to choose how I pay attention, doubt comes roaring in, refinement dissolves and my body doesn’t feel like my own. With practice, we can begin to train our minds to be more attuned to love, to subtlety, to listening. We can communicate and relate with more kindness, notice when we aren’t, and avoid own our missteps – with ourselves and others.
You can find the complete article by Elena Bower at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elena-brower/awakening-intelligence-at_b_4479391.html