I left Sunday's Skirball Center seminars on compassion, resilience and emotional intelligence with my mind buzzing. Not surprising, because I had spent most of the day talking about the mind. Yes, we discussed brain structure, making sense of our own childhoods, mindfulness and much more...and it was fascinating!
|Dr. Dan Siegel, author of numerous books including|
"Parenting From The Inside Out"
In trying to help this family, what Dr. Siegel realized is that the part of the brain that had been destroyed in this woman (the Middle Prefrontal Cortex) was the part of the brain that regulated these 9 functions:
- Bodily Regulation - such as heart rate, breathing, sweating
- Attuned Communication - where you're receptive and regulated
- Emotional Balance - your emotions have vitality, but they are not too much or too little
- Fear Extinction - the ability to stay present
- Flexibility - allowing you to pause before you act
- Insight - your ability to connect where you've been to where you're going. This allows you to make a mental map of yourself, as opposed to just being on autopilot. You can look to the past, connect to where you are, decide where you need to go.
- Empathy - feel the feelings of others, make a mental map of others which is making a map of what you think others may be feeling
- Morality - the ability to understand that we are all interdependent
- Intuition - signals come from heart/gut and influence reasoning.
- These 9 areas are the very ones we all lose when we "flip our lids" with our children. In other words, we lose the ability to coordinate brain function.
- It has been scientifically proven that the first 8 of these brain functions are present in a child who has secure attachments.
- Later, mindfulness meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, pointed out to Dr. Siegel that when you are in a state of complete mindfulness, all 9 of these functions are integrated.
- Furthermore, Dr. Siegel came to learn that the major world religions and ancient peoples, such as the Inuit, taught that all 9 are what one needs to live a wise and kind life.
- Tell your child why: I was frustrated, I was stressed because of work, I was reminded of something that happened when I was a child etc. It's never too late to do this type of repair - no matter how old your children are, connect and take responsibility.
- Remember that children thrive on structure so set up a predictable sequence of action for situations that stress you.
- Model that you're monitoring and bring yourself from reactive to receptive.
|The 7 activities we need on a daily|
basis for a healthy mind
- Sleep Time: kids need sleep to solidify learning. Lack of sleep leads to a change in metabolism which can lead to obesity.
- Physical Time: Aerobic exercise grows the brain. Remember: the body isn't just to transport the head around. Girls involved in sports have a lower rate of eating disorders.
- Focus Time: focused attention creates new connections in the brain for both adults and children. We can actually prevent dementia by having a routine of focused attention.
- Connecting Time: Children need face to face social time. Among other things, this helps them build the part of the brain that allows them to regulate their emotions. This is also about connecting to nature.
- Play Time: Not structured athletics. Pure play. This time helps us learn to be spontaneous, have the courage to try new things, innovate, collaborate.
- Down Time: Not playing, just in neutral.
- Time in: Dr. Siegel presented a model of The Wheel Of Awareness in which he showed our connection to our 8 senses. The first 5 we are familiar with. The sixth sense allows us to perceive our internal bodily states (a quickly beating heart, butterflies in the stomach etc.). The seventh sense, is Mindsight (as defined above). Our eighth sense is our sense of relationship to other people. "Time in" is a chance each day to connect to all of these senses.
|I can't wait to read this one!|
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