In Christopher Germer's book, The Mindful Path to Self-compassion, freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions (one of my favorites), he defines Self-Compassion as bearing witness to our pain and responding with kindness and understanding. Labeling emotions calms the brain. How does mindfulness meditation actually help balance our emotions? In a research at University of California discovered that the amygdala - the part of the brain that sounds an alarm in times of danger- was less active when en emotion label was attached to the upset face shown compared to when a name was attached. Parts of the prefrontal cortex became more active as the amygdala became less active, demonstrating that the prefrontal cortex inhibited the activity in the amygdala. Creswell's research suggests a neurological 'mechanism of action' for why we feel better when we talk to a professional, a friend, write in a journal, or otherwise put our feelings into words. (page 72, Mindfulness & Self-Compassion)
Christy Cox, LCSW, 801.243.4959 will be offering an 8-week course beginning in September on Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions at Resilient Solutions, Inc. Contact her for more information.