Updated: Jan 24
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that scientists around the world thought brains became ‘fixed’ after childhood. We were told that our minds were hardwired and unchangeable, once all of the wonder and learning of childhood was over. However, recent research has shown that we can change our brains! In fact, our brains are being rewired all of the time. Thoughts, feelings, and experiences can all play a part in rewiring the way our brains work. As soon as it was discovered that adults had the capacity to do this, it seemed like everyone wanted to ask the same question: How do we rewire our brains to be happier and healthier? It turns out; mindfulness may just be the answer everyone is searching for.
How it works
There have been countless studies around the topic of rewiring our brains since the world first out we could in the 1980s. Scientists and researchers found that our brains are able to change their structure and function, depending on the experiences we have in life. The technical term for this is neuroplasticity, and it has been studied extensively over the last few decades. While there is still a lot to learn about our brains, it seems as though they’re not as ‘fixed’ as we once thought. This means that we can rewire our brains if we know how. However, it also means that things like stress can rewire our brains in a negative way. In fact, a study in 2009 found that when we are stressed, we tend to make decisions based on habit instead of conscious ones.
The power of positive
While our brains can be rewired in a negative way, there are also plenty of ways to rewire them more positively. In fact, just the power of positive thinking can help us change our mindsets more permanently. One study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Oxford, found that those who experience depressive episodes could actually rewire their brains to have fewer periods of low mood. Since this study, plenty of experts have looked into the benefits of mindfulness-based therapy to treat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
How to rewire your brain using mindfulness
So, do you need to spend years of your life training your brain to be more mindful in order to become healthier and happier? It seems as though we can rewire our brains in just 11 hours of meditation training according to some researchers! Yep, after 11 hours of meditation training, scientists found that participants’ brains started changing, for the better. Want to know how can you benefit from this yourself? Follow some of these top tips:
Introduce a little bit of mindfulness into your daily life. This could be just stopping to appreciate the sights and sounds around you on a walk to the shops or using a meditation app to practice guided meditation before bed.
Utilise the power of positive! Positive affirmations can help you challenge negative thoughts and are proven to help rewire your brain when repeated often. There’s a reason why our positive affirmation cards are so popular!
Make it a habit. As you start to learn mindfulness or meditation, you may give up hope if it’s not working straight away. However, as research has proven, it can take time to rewire your brain. Make yourself a promise that you’ll try to commit to 21 days of mindfulness (even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day) to see real changes.
It’s incredible to think how far science has come in the last few decades - and how mindfulness is quickly being recognised as a force for good. Do you already practice mindfulness? Do you feel as though it has rewired your brain in any way? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!