Taking Back Our Emotional Well Being

Last week we continued our discussion on “the power of emotions over happiness” and shared insights from cutting edge scientists, who are merging science and spirituality. Today I’d like to discuss how our conditioning influences our emotions and provide a simple technique on how to begin to make permanent changes in patterns of behavior that cause challenge.

Among those participating in breakthrough studies on the brain (merging science and spirituality), is Dr. Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. “Dr. Davidson has unearthed some significant findings regarding how the emotion of happiness can be tracked in the brain. Davidson collaborated with His Holiness the Dalia Lama to study monks, who are experienced practitioners in meditation, having meditated ten thousand hours or more. These monks live in states of peace, compassion, gratitude, happiness, and well being…”(Excerpt from Happily Ever After…Right Now, pp.xxx, Prologue).

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Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes the Brain, mentioned in last week’s post, states that, (  “…Focused attention (meditation, focused breathing, yoga, etc.) begins to build new neuronal circuits (brain patterns)…repeating a task, such as meditation or prayer, changes the synaptic activity at the end of a neuron and will eventually change the structure of the cell (forming new patterns). Such changes affect the way information is relayed to other parts of the brain.—pp. 33, How God Changes the Brain. Recall what Joseph LeDoux’s finding suggested: The struggle between thought and emotion might be resolved by a “more harmonious integration of reason (cortex) and passion (fight/flight/amygdala), and focused attention (meditation) seems to be a supporting link.

Perhaps you meditate regularly. If so, we would welcome your ideas and suggestions of what has worked for you. If you have never meditated and are interested in getting started, I encourage you to begin to practice it (simple steps below) and take note of any subtle changes that might occur in your level of stress or anxiety.  If you do, please keep us posted!


Suggested meditation practice for beginners this week:

Time commitment: 5-7 minutes daily (preferably upon awakening, though this can be done anywhere—even in the subway on the way to work)

Exercise:  The Breath and Focused Attention

Sit in a comfortable position. Focus on the “in” breath and the “out” breath. You could repeat the words “in” and “out” as you notice your breathing. Try not to change your normal breathing pattern.Your mind will wander. Come back to the breath. Practice this technique for five to seven minutes and try not to judge how well you believe you are doing. Meditation practice has been shown to have a cumulative effect. Just the fact that you are sitting there, committed to doing this is progress!

Next week we will continue the series with more information and meditation practice ideas. The goal: To change the chemistry of our brain, change the patterns that have allowed our reptilian brain to rule our emotions (and allowed the “fight or flight” mechanism to dominate), and to finally reach a higher (or more expanded) level of consciousness.

We can do this!




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