Changing Your Brain with Mindbody Practices

Mindbody practices and skills enhance what is called neuroplasticity or the ability of the brain to change itself. Mindbody practices is a core tool in the RM toolkit for this reason. Mindbody interventions as simple as a few minutes of mindful deep breathing each day can change our biology, inflammatory markers, stress hormones and other neurochemicals over time and are accessible to everyone. They are even more powerful when used with the other tools from cannabinoids and new medicines and even diet especially removing stimulants such as caffeine temporarily which can make it harder to sit and calm the mind. In fact, breathwork can even be used as a caffeine substitute for more energy after some practice in specific techniques.

Mind-body Practices Include Mindfulness, Meditation, and Breathwork.

Mind-body practices help change our brains and bodies in many ways. One way is by activating what is known as the body’s relaxation response. Another is by creating what is called cognitive restructuring. In cognitive restructuring, we inform our minds and brains how to identify and then change maladaptive or negative thought patterns or beliefs about ourselves that may not serve us. These changes create physical chemical responses and rewire neural circuits in the brain.

When we combine cognitive restructuring with deep relaxation, profound healing can occur. It can also enhance both mental and physical wellbeing and even reduce chronic inflammation, which can cause many problems in the brain and body.

Finding the Right Mindbody Practice for You

People who may already feel very stressed or suffer from anxiety or chronic pain find it hard to stick to a mind-body practice due to high discomfort levels, especially when learning. The first 6-8 weeks can be the hardest – but this is also the most crucial time for the brain to change. Just 5 – 20 minutes a day can make an enormous difference, and many people find that mind-body practices become easier with the introduction of cannabinoids like CBD. That is why finding the best fit is so important and this is how the RM assessment can help guide you where to start.

Combining a mind-body practice with cannabinoids, which can reduce stress, anxiety and pain levels and improve mood, can give you the boost you may need to stick with your practice until it becomes second nature.

mind-body Interventions Include:

  • Yoga Nidra, a form of guided meditation also known as effortless relaxation (helps with energy and reducing stress)
  • Concentration-based meditation (to help with mental clarity)
  • Mindfulness (which can help with Energy and Cultivating Calm as well as mood)
  • Benson Technique – a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the nervous system (helps with Cultivating Calm)
  • Loving-kindness or compassion meditation (helps with Mood balance)
  • Breathwork
    • Here-holotropic breathwork (Dr Dani explains in a video here)
    • Pranayama, including balancing pranayama (such as Nadi Shodhana) and energizing and calming pranayama taken from the traditional Indian yoga system and practiced for just a few minutes each day.
  • Altered states therapy using tools like holotropic breathwork, therapeutic psychedelics and brain biofeedback deep state training

Mindbody interventions are SO powerful for healing, but most people find it quite overwhelming trying to figure out how to do it, wonder if they are doing it right or try complicated time consuming practices that are not possible to maintain in hectic modern daily life. Many of my patients over the years have also been practicing a mindbody technique for many years or even teaching one but still suffered from an issue like depression and their practice seemed to do little to improve it. That is a very frustrating confusing place to be but actually is very common even among experienced meditators and yogis.

Oftentimes it is matching the resilience skill most in need of help with the style of meditation or mindbody practice that is needed and then simplifying it so it is easy to do and stick to. For example, people struggling with low mood or depression often benefit most from a loving kindness or compassion style of of practice more so than a straight mindfulness or relaxation practice in order to help break those negative thought and feeling cycles. Moving meditations can be better suited to other people who have a lot of ‘body noise’ especially as beginners and energizing breath work practices can help lower anxiety and stress levels and boost energy in just a few minutes naturally and without needing caffeine.

I have over the years in my medical practice often used tailored simple mindbody practices, often combined with cannabinoids to wean people off of serious anxiety meds like the ‘z drugs’ that have many side effects and high potential for dependency, even when people have been reliant on these pills for many years. This change is often life changing and so empowering that we can use our brains, breath and minds to overcome huge mental health and stress challenges often to the disbelief and surprise of the patient’s other doctors. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a big chunk of time or drain your energy or time resources further to do these practices. I have a simple mindbody practice that takes only a few minutes each day because I don’t have the time to sit for even 1 hour a day in meditation being a busy working professional and mother so I wouldn’t expect my patients to spend an hour or more each day either!

Dr Dani Gordon, Founder of Resilience Medicine