Aging & Attitude
Happy New Year!
The year 2015 was crappy. Although it is not politically or otherwise correct to say so, it was; and became more crappy and crappier.
Remember; it started with Tom Brady and an inflated, uninflated or deflated (whatever) football. Then as shock and dismay about Bill Crosby unfolded, we almost forgot about Hillary’s emails.
Let’s not revisit the numerous mass shootings, police killings, plane crashes, and weather related disasters. You can read about them at abcnews link, factor in any personal crappiness and evaluate the year yourself. For me, it was one of the crappiest.
Thank goodness Donald Trump added some much needed humor, Prince William and Kate appear to be a happy family, and Pope Francis’s visit to the United States prompted John Boehner to resign.
Mr. Wonderful and I were asleep by 9:30 pm on New Year’s Eve. We took a 6 am flight home to Florida, having spent Christmas in Albuquerque with our kids and grandkids, and exhausted.
I slept until 8am the next morning and while enjoying a cup of coffee viewed Dr. Oz. He discussed the glass half-full or half-empty approach to the New Year and a solution for cynicism. “Practicing Optimism,” is the catchy expression he used.
Although a sunny disposition is to some degree a byproduct of genes and life experience, there is increasing support that thoughts have a cognitive effect on the mind. Specifically, meditation and mindfulness are being studied.
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
In the March 2014 issue/Meditation Research Psychological Science of Meditation the following findings are listed from articles:
- Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness
- Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem
- The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippopotami and frontal volumes of gray matter
- Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density
- Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation
Sounds promising. Previous research indicating jumping up and down was the way to reactivate a shrinking hippocampus. Now we can achieve the same, if not better, improvement in a prone position.
Things are looking up. My Christmas cactus is in full bloom and being an optimist, I believe it to be a sign that 2016 will not be as crappy.
. . . . just saying
These articles discuss the benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mindfulness-research-2015_567865b6e4b06fa6887e3f1d