The following guest post is complements of Carol Cummings, BSN, RN, CHWC, CWP Director of Optimum Life Development at Brookdale Senior Living. We appreciate her insight and contribution to improving the lives of caregivers. Here is a little wisdom about becoming more aware of ourselves and our relationships.
Some interesting research has come about because of our ability to image the brain. One such study involves looking at the effect of spirituality on the brain. According to researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University,
an area in the right parietal lobe known as the “me definer” is less operative in spiritual people. This area of the brain is responsible for awareness of “me” in social context and also for self-criticism. Having this area turned down through implementing spiritual practices can result in less self focus. According to the researchers, this more selfless state may be responsible for a great deal of the benefit experienced by those who engage in spiritual practices and translate to a more peaceful state.
So, what do they mean by spiritual practices? Should you go to church or temple more often? The practices looked at in the study had more to do with daily sessions of meditation, prayer and other quieting ways of focusing the mind. Any activity that causes one to “lose” oneself can have benefit. Below are some suggestions for things to try.
• Appreciation of art or nature-this can quiet the “me” definer and reduce stress. Find something that causes you to feel a high degree of joy. I have a garden with a water feature that is an amazing sanctuary-I spend every possible minute there in the summer.
• Repetitive activity such as knitting, walking, gardening-anything that you enjoy, can have benefits similar to meditation.
• Tai Chi and Yoga are often cited as examples of spiritual practices because of their ability to focus the mind and rework our thoughts.
• Music can bring great joy and comfort. Find a kind of music that you enjoy and listen often. A musical friend recently told me that music is its own language-allow it to speak to your soul.
• The greatest silencing of the “me center” will occur with deep states of mediation and prayer. There are many great resources for these practices. When you get good at mediation, you can bring about a state of relaxation very quickly.
Spiritual outlooks have long been associated with better states of wellness and health. Other common spiritual attitudes shown to have benefit include gratitude, forgiveness and giving. We could all benefit from turning down the “me” a little.
Be Well on Purpose
You can read more of Carol’s articles at: http://www.brookdaleliving.com/blog.aspx