Hack Your Brain

Ever feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions? That’s definitely life in the capitol. But I have some good news: it doesn’t have to be stressful! In addition to exercise and nutrition, look at the science behind mindfulness and meditation to optimize your life at work and at home.

Preparing for that big hearing? Meditation can help you calm anxiety. Facing an 18-hour day in the capitol? It can help with endurance. Meditation has also been correlated with a boost in immune system function, lower blood pressure, and a decrease in stress. In simplistic terms, meditation is mental exercise that can quite literally change your brain.

Meditation is no longer just for the yoga crowd. Meditation retreats are becoming big business. The Headspace meditation app alone reached 40 million downloads this year. Corporations are adopting mindfulness and meditation techniques in the workplace. Even the US Military has begun regular training in mindfulness meditation! Why? Because scientific studies have begun to support once anecdotal evidence of the brain and body benefits of mindfulness and meditation.

Meditation achieves these results by reducing activity in the brain’s “default mode network,” a complex system we are just beginning to understand. DMN is our autopilot: it controls our everyday, automatic emotional responses. Evolved to protect us from predators, in the modern world DMN is not designed to make us happy or calm. The quieting of the DMN is theorized to lead to one’s ability to think outside the box, respond to external stimuli in a more effective way, and reduce the emotional toll of the outside world on our internal sense of self.

Meditation may also help improve communication, silence those inner doubts, develop more creative ideas, and view the world from another lens. The skills may help one better understand the differing perspectives that come together in the legislative process. Who knows, it just might make us better lobbyists. Or, at least more fun for our friends and families to be around.

As we gear up for legislature’s return in January and prepare for long, challenging days, consider adding meditation to your toolbox for a more fun, creative, and productive capitol experience. See you all in just a few weeks!

Leah Silverthorn, Policy Advocate

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