Richard Davidson: Changing the mind, we will physically change your brain

Richard Davidson - a specialist in neuroscience and emotional one of those people to whom we owe the discovery of the phenomenon of neuroplasticity. In this interview he talks about his new book, "The emotional life of your brain" (in Russian translation, "As emotions run the brain"), about how our emotional styles affect our lives and how it can be changed with the help of meditation.

Could you briefly formulate what you are currently doing?

I'm doing research, the results of which I have just summarized in the book "The emotional life of your brain» (The Emotional Life of Your Brain) - it is dedicated to emotional style of people: how differently they react to emotional challenges. The fact is that even at relatively early stages of my career I made two observations, which had a decisive influence on my work and formed the core of my future research interests.





The first observation was: the hallmark of all human emotions is how different each person reacts to life's troubles. Each of us has a completely unique emotional structure, and this individual is responsible for the fact that one of us is easily upset, and someone has a great emotional flexibility, someone feels great, despite the objective of unhappiness, and someone quickly to despair in response to the slightest trouble.

The second observation was due to the fact that I was very lucky - at the very beginning of my career I have been fortunate to work with some outstanding people. They were remarkable not because they had some kind of academic degrees and achieved great professional success, but because of their different emotional style very special, special demeanor. They were extremely kind and generous people. They were very attentive, and when I was in front of them, I felt as if all of their attention was entirely focused on me.

I wanted to spend with these people as much as possible. And I found out that all these people had one thing in common - they regularly meditated. Then I began to ask them, if they always were so, and they have assured me that there was no - these traits of their character they have developed as a result of meditation practice

. Only many years later I was confronted with the phenomenon of neuroplasticity and realized that it is neuroplasticity mechanisms may explain how our emotional style is formed and how it can be changed. Although most adult emotional style is quite stable, it can be changed by means of systematic mental exercises. Transforming your mind, we can change his mind perfectly clear, concrete way.

And it is the emotional sphere is the most important from the point of view of these changes. Because it is our emotional styles play an incredibly important, decisive role when it comes to who would be more vulnerable to psychopathology, and someone - no. Emotional styles also have a critical impact on our physical health. Our mental and physical well-being are inextricably linked.

What is your new book?

In my book I describe the six emotional styles that I found on the basis of neuroscientific research.

These six styles are:

1. Flexibility: How quickly or slowly you are recovering from misfortune

? 2. Attitude: How long have you been experiencing positive emotions after some happy event

? 3. Social intuition: How accurately you are able to identify non-verbal social cues from other people

? 4. Context: Are you their emotions correlate with the context around you

? 5. Self-awareness: How well do you understand your own body signals that make up every emotion?

6. Warning: It is focused or scattered your attention

? And I'm not that sat down one day and decided to figure out how many there are emotional styles and styles which are meaningful to people. Each of these styles emerged as an independent as a result of a significant amount of research that my colleagues and I have conducted over the past 30 years, using strict neuroscientific techniques.

These styles do not seem obvious and can not be clearly correlated with the well-known typologies - for example, with the division into extroverts and introverts. But as I explain in my book, these styles can explain the components of the common psychological types.

And the fact that these styles are in fact determined by our neural systems, gives us important clues for understanding how each of these styles affects our emotional behavior and how those styles affect the slave system of the physical body, which is important for our physical health .

The extent to which human emotional style recognized them?

Many aspects of emotional style unconscious. They constitute our emotional habits, most of which are developing in the absence of awareness. For example, most of us did not realize how long after some heavy events, we continue to experience negative emotions.

The style of self-awareness highlights the fact that many of our bodily processes that are involved in the formation of emotions, just not recognized us. I wanted people to start to realize those habits of mind, which were previously not conscious, and this is one of the reasons why I wrote this book

My ardent desire is to describe the nature of emotional styles, and how they relate to the structure and activity of the brain, help others begin to recognize their emotional styles and templates - and this awareness is always the first and often most important step on the path of change <. br>
So if you want to change some aspects of your emotional style, first you need to determine which components of your mind will be the key to these changes.

In my book I propose a simple test to determine the severity of the questionnaires you have each of the six emotional styles - so you can sort out which of them have expressed more or less. And I also suggest a simple strategy to change your emotional style - if you want to do this one. These strategies have evolved from ancient meditation practices, and based on current scientific research. And together they constitute what I have called "neuronal-inspired behavioral interventions».

These interventions were born from some understanding of the brain, and simple mental or behavioral techniques used in them that can help you transform your mind and, as a consequence, change your brain. In the book I also shows that we can all take on much more responsibility for our own brain and his intention to form a more positive way.

In my experience of meditation topic is still a lot of skepticism among scientists and those who consider themselves atheists. Could you describe what you mean by "meditation" and tell us why you think this practice is so important for the understanding of the human brain?

One definition of the word "meditation" in Sanskrit - "acquaintance." And if you remember this, then the family of mental practices that make up the meditation, can be seen as a set of strategies to introduce a man with his own mind. In this sense, meditation can help us clean the inner perception in a way that will allow us to see our own mind with greater clarity.

For those who study the human mind, this practice can be very informative and provide the internal phenomenological perspective on our mind, which is different from an objective view of scientific approaches. In addition, meditation refers to the practice of mental attention and emotional regulation. For example, some practices include focusing attention on the breath and return attention to the breath every time a man realizes that he was distracted and his mind wanders. Due to this over time you can develop their selective attention.

The term "mindfulness meditation" refers to that type of meditation in which practitioners learn to deliberate and direct their attention without judgment. And here "without judgment" is a very important part of the process - because learning what not to judge, gradually changing our emotional responses to stimuli: we learn just to observe the activity of the mind and how it reacts to stimuli that can cause negative or positive emotions, and in this case, these emotions do not absorb us.

This does not mean that the intensity of our emotions decreased. It only means that our emotions are not repeated in response to certain stimuli, we have a choice. If we are faced with an unpleasant situation, we can continue to experience the intermittent burst of negative emotions, but they quickly come to naught, and do not torment us after the event for a long time in the past.

Scientific studies have found that certain forms of meditation do have a similar effect, and they emphasize their importance for the understanding of the human mind. It turned out that the mind is more "malleable" than we had expected in their research.

And by "plasticity" we mean the ability to transform. These findings show that many of the qualities that we considered relatively stable - for example, the level of happiness and well-being of a particular person - more appropriately considered as a consequence of the development of certain mental skills which can be developed with the help of training

. Translation © Anastacia Gosteva

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