This Summer….Surf’s Up: Brain Beach
They are a lot like waves. They go in and out of your brain. Some deliver you calmly to shore, and help you learn how to navigate the mental ocean a little more. While others shake you up in mother nature’s washing machine and spit you out with your bathing suit half off. In short, thoughts have power, power to change your mood, change your relationships, change your health, and change your goals. What it can be hard to recognize is that you have power over your thoughts. When the emotional portion of your brain takes over and tells you it’s hopeless (thanks a lot Amygdala) it is hard to re-connect and logically manage your expectations. Practicing certain mental habits can help with gaining re-connection to our logical or controlled thought processes. One of these is through scheduled mindfulness practices.
For example, meditation. (For those who are already SMH) you do not necessarily need a mantra, or even to sit still. The idea is to draw focus inward, and calm the mind. During meditation thoughts are bound to pop into your head. In these cases, you accept them, and let them exit just as they entered (like a wave)!
Believe it or not, there is a neurological reason you do your best thinking when you’re in the shower or right before bed. You have reduced competing stimuli that your brain has to focus on. This enables the parts of your brain that communicate for complex problem solving to increase your attention and ability to channel a very important human gift: INTUITION and mental flexibility.
I have a current podcast that I love for this called: Mindfulness in 8 Weeks: 20 Minutes a Day Program
For children, I like to use the term “Brain Break”. When one of my children or teens is really stuck we take time to let their mind “wander off”, and then we come back to the problem. There’s no technology involved….maybe drawing, “fidgeting”, or movement. We specifically discuss what may help our brain “wander” (ex: movement, coloring, music, jokes, etc.) Before we return to the problem we check in on how we are feeling (ex: relaxed, calm, still fidgety, stuck). Creative problem solving is often cultivated during times of boredom or “down time”.
Another child friendly tool is a great book called “What is a Thought? A Thought is A Lot” by Amy Kahofer and Jack Pransky
Schedule brain breaks for you and your family this summer. Allowing ourselves to be bored enables our minds to return to flexibility and creativity. Both are valuable tools for success.