As we learn more about research on the brain and the toxic effects stress has on our bodies, we are finding ways that we can prevent and manage problems. BrainWise teaches coping techniques, and past newsletters have introduced BrainWise instructors who have infused the 10 Wise Ways into their teaching and counseling, as well as their mindfulness, contemplation, and meditation (MCM) practices (Link to October 2016 and April 2017 newsletters).
Scientists support the effectiveness of mind and body interventions. Today, the techniques involved techniques are embraced by athletes, astronauts, physicians, Fortune 500 CEOs, welfare moms, soccer moms, inmates, celebrities, and others seeking a stress intervention. And while MCM may seem like a simple process, it still is difficult for many us to practice it.
The deep breathing, focused attention, and abstract thoughts are not as easy as they sound, and often require expert guidance to learn and retain. Without help, and even with help, they can be puzzling and
uncomfortable, conditions that make it easy to give up. Some effort is needed to locate a good instructor, as they vary widely in their training. Finding the right fit takes time and effort, as well as money. These barriers contribute to reluctance to become serious about learning MCM.
BrainWise helps bridge this gap, a fact that appeals to instructors who also are mindfulness and contemplation masters. They recognize that using the 10 Wise Ways establishes strong links between body and mind. The Wizard Brain over Lizard Brain lesson and “building brain connections” activity that follows each wise way provides a visual reinforcement that helps everyone, even young children and developmentally disabled adults, understand the connection between their brains and bodies.
Practicing Buddhist and BrainWise instructor Dell Brooks immediately saw the 10 Wise Ways as tools he could use to teach contemplation methods to high-risk teenagers in his classes, many of whom had returned to school after previously dropping out. He found that students had learned about the Wizard Brain and Lizard Brain and about building brain connections were motivated to learn and practice contemplation. His students recognized that MCM was a form of control self-talk that helped them lower their emotions elevator.
BrainWise also helps children, teens and adults recognize how a mantra – the repetitive use of word – can help them control their emotions to lower their Emotions Elevator and use Wizard Brain thinking. In fact,”mantra” is based on a word in Sanskrit that means ”to think.” People pick a number of simple words and statements such as “Calm,” “Peaceful,” and “Happy,” or “You can do it!” and “Keep going!”
A BrainWise instructor shared a clever use of mantras that helped some combative parents in her caseload . When asked to pick a word that would help them lower their elevators and calm down, the couple happened to chose words that made them laugh. When issues started getting tense, they agreed to use a nonsense mantra they had chosen. For him, it was “Popcorn!” This funny mantra defused the situation by helping them quickly lower their elevators.
Here are other tips for mantras:
Customize the mantra to fit the situation. Whether you are giving yourself an emotional boost (“You can do it!”), want to get rid of anxiety (“Stay calm and carry on”) or are trying to go to sleep (“Sleep”), choose a word or phrase that fits the specific situation.
Make it realistic. “Breathe.” “Cope.” “Get through this.”
Select a favorite line or phrase from a song, movie, or book. Pick a word or phrase that brings a smile to your face or makes your feel good.
Personal mantras affect stress by lowering our cortisol levels, blood pressure, and numerous other reactions triggered by the Lizard Brain. Placed in the context of control self-talk, individuals quickly understand that using personal mantras is an effective way to lower their Emotions Elevators.