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Monday, May 6, 2013

Bouncing Back: Neuroscience of 'boing'

(Photo by Xpogo)
Like a coiled spring that has the capacity to just say "boing," rewired brains are now also Bouncing Back thanks to author Linda Graham.

In her book by that title, marriage and family therapist Graham offers techniques for handling adversity "in a more positive and resilient way."   Jill Suttie of Berkeley's Greater Good explains some of the neuroscience behind Graham's methods.  She says that it is neuroplasticity, "the brain's ability to grow and change in response to experience," that allows us to "redirect automatic stress responses and rewire our brains for better resilience."

The good news is that by practicing these redirecting techniques, the neuroplasticity process becomes more within our conscious control.  Graham's repertoire of such practices includes the following:  seeking out calm people who can help us to calm ourselves; engaging in loving safe touch (such as hugs or massages); becoming mindful (attending to your present experience without judging it); and recalling past successes in order to build the brain's "confidence muscle."

Graham also talks quite a bit about oxytocin, which she describes as "the neurochemical basis in our body for the felt sense of safety and trust, of connection and belonging, which reassures us "everything is OK; everything is going to be OK."  Neuroscience has discovered that remembering, or even imagining, feeling loved is enough to activate the release of oxytocin in the brain.  Graham states that this "can include feeling 'held' by a spiritual figure or religious deity…"


Copyright May 6, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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