Continuously in our day to day lives as humans, we experience sensory input, ie. a stimulus occurs, and then we react. We may consider our ‘reaction’ non-problematic, or potentially we may regret our particular reaction in any given moment.
We experience a STIMULUS-and then a-REACTION
When ‘Mindfulness’ is present, a stimulus occurs, then Mindfulness, and then a response.
A response is ‘reflective’ rather than reactive, meaning that we have considered how we may respond.
Mindfulness gives us the ‘space’ between a stimulus and a response, so that we have the time to choose how we would like to respond (without the emotion in the ‘heat of the moment’).
Mindfulness and the Brain – how does Mindfulness affect the brain? – What is the role of the amygdala and hippocampus – our reactive, instinctual parts of the brain; compared to the pre-frontal cortex – the rational, ‘higher order thinking’ part of our brain? How does Mindfulness affect this process?
‘An impulsive reaction, triggered by emotions like fear or anger, rises up from the amygdala and hippocampus—the most ancient parts of our brain. These parts evolved to respond with defensive action to threatening situations.
If we can delay this reactivity, the newer pre-frontal cortex of the brain can respond from a place of reflection and thoughtfulness. The pre-frontal cortex is associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviors and making wise decisions.