My favorite example of our bodymind in operation is the link between positivity and our immune system. Learning to shift your attention to more positive topics (which for most of you means unlearning negativity bias) helps to boost your immune system.
To repeat that: a purely cognitive shift, a trick of your mind, changes how your immune system works.
There is now abundant evidence that mindfulness and other forms of concentration that help inculcate a positive mindset increases a higher immune cell count, slower immune cell aging, more rapid and stronger antibody response, faster clearing psoriasis, and more.
Here are three common factors in the programs studied in the array of scientific papers which have demonstrated these results.
1. Time spent focusing on your internal state —attending or listening to yourself.
2. Learning to listen to your emotions and see them as they are—most also included learning to respond, rather than react autonomously.
3. Learning to bring your attention back to the present after it drifts away. It drifts for all of us, but practice returning to the present moment strengthens... everything.
It seems quite difficult to believe but if something as small as shifting your attention to focus on positivity and mindfulness can greatly impact your physical self, what else can be influenced? Or, maybe we should turn that around, what can't be influenced?
Nobody really understands how this works. Here's my high-level view of the magic going on in your bodymind:
What you see as a positive emotion is your subconscious telling you your brain is in a good state. It’s more interoception (your window into your internal state) than it is reflective of anything "out there”. When you’re in a good state, your brain and body activate default mode and the parasympathetic nervous system. Your PNS boosts your immune system.
Check out the video summary here!
Find the Silver Lining
Embracing the storm
written while we were in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, mid-2021
Through the past year and a half while COVID has raged, I’ve listened to people deal with the changes. It’s taught me a lot about positivity. Online I’ve been talking to people from the UK and US, mostly, who have been consumed with problems.
Meanwhile, in the real world, I’ve been in countries that an economist would say are utterly reliant on tourist income. That are (still) ‘behind’ in the ‘vaccination race’. While some can't help but put the negative spin on things, I've also spent a lot of time talking to people who have mostly seen the bright side. They get time together and can farm or forage again.
I tend to look on the bright side by nature now, too, but there are occasions when it’s tough in the moment. Like when there's a storm getting closer, visible fork lightning under a mile away, and you're at sea with your family in a yacht (We live on the boat you see). With a 15m aluminum pole sticking up into the sky.
Our natural inclination was not to smile. It was to worry, then follow a well-practiced routine. We put out backup electronics in the oven and watch the weather closely, while calming our minds. The kids look after themselves for a short while.
We found the bright side. It's not often you get to experience such a clear example of the Coriolis effect on wind patterns. Or such beautiful, awe-inspiring sheet lighting. Or that we put up full sails in gusting winds to speed South away from the lightning.
We had fun being chased by lightning.
After a while, these negative feelings soon wash over. Just like how the storm passed. By choosing how to react in the moment when these emotions fluctuate, we are able to find the silver lining in the midst of chaos.