Exercising our Brain Feels Good!

New neural connection


Early on when I was introducing Focusing to my local community of Floyd, Virginia, I bartered with a local artist for a picture of what she experienced in a Guided Focusing Session. This is her rendition of what she described as her "brain coming alive!" I would say she nailed it.

When we listen and hold a welcoming, non-judgmental space within ourselves, we are creating potential for new understandings. The qualities of being, like patience or kindness, that we extend to this space within us, become the ground for how our body-mind now approaches this situation for us. Science tells us that neurons that wire together, fire together. Opportunities to rewire cooperatively are happening everyday; however, we rarely show up to create a space for new understandings. Learning Focusing gives us the skills to do this. We understand HOW new neural connections form. 


Neuroplasticity: the brain's capacity to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences. 


Over the years of guiding and teaching Focusing skills, I've observed that expanding our capacity to respond in new ways is easier for people who already have some other health tools they practice. I introduce some of these in my Creating Space for Lasting Change courses. Essentially, we are intentionally evaluating the environments we expose ourselves to both for ease and challenge. Our goal is not to remove stress from our life, rather to become better at navigating the challenges of life with a sense of building resilience. 


Resilientsomeone who has strong coping skills and is able to bring together available resources, both from within and around themselves. They rise to meet challenges, ask for help when needed, and find ways to manage the situation they are facing.


Bring together what you already know with new information to find your next step forward.

Maybe what we already learned is not working for us anymore.

We all have behavioral patterns we learned when we were younger. In fact, many of our behaviors are set within our first 6 years of life. Changing these behaviors from within requires acknowledging what we previously learned and making space for potentially new options too. We make space for both the old pattern and new ideas.

What we love about exploring something like research around Healthy Brain Tools is that the research tells us something about the ways to use this tool that could make a big difference in our success.

1. Whenever trying something new, first pause to acknowledge the way it is now.

2. Begin your new routine.

3. Hold space for the process. Use your Power of And. Acknowledge yes, doing something new is hard, yes, you will forget sometimes AND bring your focus back again and again to what feels like life forward flow for you.

4. Our body/brain always wants our well-being. Once it catches on that this is helping us, your inner team is onboard. Now this new thing is easier.

Tools to Bolster Your Mood and Mental Health

This podcast caught my attention because it specifically refers to the value of intentionally exposing ourselves to stressors. Huberman Podcasts were started in 2021 and cover much of the science that is supportive to changing our behaviors. I am deeply appreciative that we have this neuroscience-based resource for mental and physical health knowledge and tools that we might need along the way. 

Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford School of Medicine. He has made numerous significant contributions to the fields of brain development, brain function and neural plasticity, which is the ability of our nervous system to rewire and learn new behaviors, skills and cognitive functioning. 

Six Necessary Self-Care Tools

Andrew Huberman describes these as six necessary, but not sufficient tools. Beyond these, he talks a lot about an attitude of building resilience and seeking out support like talk therapy. We can understand why he mentions talk therapy if we look at a key aspect of Gendlin's philosophy. This key aspect is that: change is facilitated by BEING IN RELATIONSHIP. Relationship requires a particular kind of welcoming space between two 'somethings'. When this space exists, either because we create it within ourselves or because we are in relationship to something outside of us, our body-brain comes alive to potentially rewire.

#1: Sleep and Sleep Routine

Most people need 6-8 hrs of sleep per night (experiment to find your need). Strive to go to bed and rise at a similar time each day (within +/- 1 hour). Andrew reminds us to approach sleep as a process you'll want to pay attention to for the rest of your life.

#2 Daytime Light and Nighttime Darkness

To support circadian rhythms, try to view sunlight as early as possible in the morning. 10 min for clear days, 20-30 min for overcast days. Repeat again later in the afternoon or evening. This light transmission does not work through windows. Conversely, keep your nighttime environment dark or dim.

#3: Movement

Daily movement is essential. Strive for 180-220 minutes of moderate movement per week and high cardio once a week.

#4 Nutrition

Consume sufficient, while not excessive, nutrients. Emphasize quality sources that are minimally processed, things you are preparing for yourself.

#5: Social Connection

Our nervous system is always interacting with other nervous systems in our environment. Limit social connections that cause you stress or have an overall negative affect. Some social connections elevate your energy. Reflect on these and make deliberate choices.

#6: Stress Control and Physiological Sigh

The physiological sigh is hardwired into our nervous system. It has the capability to calm our system more effectively than any other method he is aware. Just one sigh...