The first thing we often think about when we hear “mindfulness” is someone sitting in a lotus pose, eyes closed, deep in meditation. While this represents one mindfulness technique, know that mindfulness is a learned skill you practice and improve on over time. Mindfulness is an approach to living that involves bringing conscious awareness to the present moment, understanding oneself and other people, and being attentive and deliberate, particularly in stressful situations. Rather than allowing the events of the day to sweep over you, your actions and interactions are entered into with a strong sense of presence to live a healthy, purposeful lifestyle.
How does mindfulness affect brain health? One of the primary benefits of employing a mindfulness practice is the consequential effects of dealing with the stress of daily life. Rather than bottle it up or react emotionally, mindfulness teaches us to recognize and adapt to our challenging lives with intent. This sense of control over our situations reduces chronic stress that impairs brain function in multiple ways. Chronic stress can disrupt synaptic regulation, kill brain cells and reduce the size of the brain, shrinking the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Additionally, stress affects your brain's function and can promote inflammation, putting you at a higher risk for Alzheimer's and dementia. Mindfulness also improves mood, thinking, and memory. A recent study showed that mindfulness training increased the efficiency of pathways in the brain that process information, increasing attention and allowing the participants to see information more accurately.
Mindfulness may also improve our interpersonal relationships by increasing the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone" due to its connection with feelings of trust, empathy, bonding, positive relationship memories, and romantic attachment. Studies have shown that oxytocin may reverse the harmful effects linked to beta-amyloid, a hallmark of cognitive decline. Oxytocin also impacts the synaptic plasticity and strengthening of neural connections.
First Person developed Golden Hour to support the body's natural production of oxytocin to mitigate stress and boost the mind-body connection. Personally, I take Golden Hour to be more present, providing a solid feeling of contentment and joy.
With society's “always on" mentality, coping with the ever-present daily pressures can be overwhelming. By adopting mindfulness strategies, you give yourself an opportunity for rest and renewal, allowing your mind to reach its peak potential.