Positive Plasticity: A Mindful Approach for Trying Times

When life rocks your world, it’s useful to know how to reset mind and body. One mindful approach is somatic soothing – using the body’s own built-in equipment to calm and re-balance the system.

The circuitry of the brain itself is malleable, like plastic. Research in neuro-science shows that new mental activity creates new neural pathways, which in turn result in physical changes to the brain.

Positive Neural Plasticity is the understanding that you can specifically train the brain to re-pattern unhelpful and unconscious thinking, to offset things like negativity-bias and chronic anxiety.  By mentally savoring the positive, you re-wire the brain for more happiness and compassion, better health and wellbeing.

Mindfulness practices focused on savoring pleasant sensation are one way of rewiring the brain. Somatic savoring practices not only change the brain over time, they soothe the nervous system, harmonizing the mind and body for optimal mental and physical wellbeing.

So go ahead – let yourself feel good! Play with the 5 “feel good” practices below, and then explore your own daily routine, cultivating your own personal pauses to savor private moments of soothing pleasure.

To Do: Take a full 3 seconds to appreciate the specific pleasure of the practice. and practice as often as you like. Repeatedly savoring the same experience will imprint a felt sense memory in the mind-body system, making it easier the next time around.  Accummulated time in positive savoring supports a calm nervous system and positive health outcomes.

Hair Raising  scalp massage. Vigorously scrubbing the skin on your head will increase bloodflow and release physical tension. Follow the intensity of scrubbing with gentle stroking of the hairs themselves, using a loving, childlike touch of nurturance. ple

Head Humming internal vibration. Open the jaw and lift the upper palate to hollow out the mouth, and then hum to yourself, using as deep as tone as is comfortable.  You can increase sensation by plugging the ears and closing the eyes, savoring the subtle vibration of the inner cavities of the head.

Open Handed touching exploration. Plunge your hands into something soft and warm – animal fur, a warm flax seed pillow or a sink of soft, soapy water. Let yourself savor the sensation on palms and backs of the hands, and in between fingers.  Notice what else in the body responds and relaxes as your loosen tension in the hands.

Feet Up time out. When’s the last time you lay down for a good, old fashioned rest? Elevate the feet in a seated or reclining position and feel the weight of your body release into the support behind you.  Enjoy the breath low and slow in the belly and  savor the surrender to gravity as you release surface muscle tension with each exhalation.

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