Focus Magazine - Fall 2015 - (Page 17)

NEUROSCIENCE Merrill Collier The Neuroscience of Mindfulness "Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come, or remembering what has gone." -Louis L'Amour M indfulness is becoming more popular in education, the workplace and in leadership development and coaching. More schools are adopting the MindUP curriculum, and LTEN is offering a transformative leadership program with Eric Kaufmann in the Fall. e applied practice of mindfulness is both an awareness and a skill, and positively impacts the ability to learn, lead, and more. What is it? Mindfulness involves learning to direct our attention to the moment as it unfolds with open-minded interest; to slow down and adjust how we listen to and experience interactions with everything around us. At its very core, mindfulness is wise attention. NeuroChemistry To learn more about regulating our attention, it helps to be familiar with the center of the limbic brain. e amygdala is the "watchdog" that protects us from danger and helps with our "fight or flight" decisions. It identifies incoming signals as safe and pleasurable, leading to dopamine release, or as hostile, resulting in release of stress hormones. When the amygdala is calm, information flows to the prefrontal cortex, freeing up the brain to use its higher thinking abilities. But, when the amygdala senses negative and stressful stimuli, one experiences an 'amygdala highjack' that blocks learning and higher thinking abilities. Mindful awareness and relaxation techniques can unblock the amygdala highjack and allow for improved learning of information, and more thoughtful decision-making. Common awareness exercises focus on immediate sensations, like slow breathing, tasting, smelling and listening. NeuroEvidence ere's not only a growing body of evidence that shows the practice of mindfulness can positively impact workplace performance and leadership effectiveness, but now even our health. Brain imaging, or MRI studies, including some randomized controlled studies, suggest that mindfulness meditation can decrease cortisol levels and calm an inflamed immune system. A 2013 study by neuroscientist Richard Davidson with 41 subjects - half engaged in meditative activities, and the other half participated in relaxing activities but no meditation - resulted in a decreased expression of genes that regulate inflammation. Some studies even show trends that meditation can possibly slow the age-related decline of gray matter in the brain. NeuroPractice How do we create mindful conditions with deadlines and compressed schedules? In the next meeting, notice your sensations and behaviors. (It's easier to see how we tend to react to individuals' communication and ideas this way.) ink of it as like watching yourself dance. Are we 100 percent focused on what that person is saying? On what they may not be saying? Is our own attention driing because of an upcoming meeting? Are we quick to offer a solution rather than asking what the employee thinks should be done? Anyone experiencing an amygdala "highjack?" By slowing down to be self-observant, we are more present, we listen better, absorb more information and possibly make better decisions. All we need is desire and practice. And practice makes permanence. ■ Merrill Collier is a senior manager of training & education at Thoratec. This article expresses the personal perspectives of the author. Merrill Collier can be reached at FOCUS | FALL 2015 | 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Focus Magazine - Fall 2015

Focus Magazine
From the President: Training's Transformative Power
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Guest Editors: The Role of Tension Management
Directions: More Ways to Connect
Front of the Room: Delivering the Unexpected
Neuroscience: The Neuroscience of Mindfulness
AstraZeneca: Creating a Blended Learning Curriculum
44th LTEN Annual Conference: The Power of Networking
Executing a Key Account Management Strategy
Member Solutions: Managing Global Learning
The Making of Great Leaders
Developing Reps: 5 Critical Steps to Success
Reaching Potential: Two Essential Skills
Virtual How: Medical Device Training Priorities
Ad Index
Focus Contacts
5 Questions with Anthony Caliendo

Focus Magazine - Fall 2015