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Lighting up your pathways – Helping your brain to help you

Dear Integral Meditors,

This article explores ways of being mindful to help develop an appreciation toward your brain. I hope you enjoy it. If you do them it will be a part of this Tuesday and Wednesdays’ meditation class, you’d be welcome to join us, live or online.

In the spirit of a bright brain,





Lighting up your pathways – Helping your brain to help you

This article explores ways of being mindful to help develop an appreciation toward your brain. My experience over the years is that you can significantly change the health of the different internal organs and zones of the body using meditation. Since your brain is such an important aspect of our body-complex, time spend in mindful appreciation of your brain is well spent.
Like other areas of out body, often we only notice our brain when it starts to go wrong or malfunction. It doesn’t take too much wisdom to see the benefit of not waiting to that point before we start to look after it!

Caring attention to your brain
You can start mindfulness of the brain simply by noticing it sitting there in your skull, and paying attention the feelings and sensations that you have in and around it. Any areas of tension or ‘brain-fog’ that you notice there you can gently encourage the brain to release. Awareness itself is a healer, and just this opening stage can be quite powerful if done with reasonable quality attention

Smiling to your body and brain
In the Qi gong tradition of meditation there is a practice called ‘smiling to the internal organs’ which is a form of health meditation. This can be easily applied to the brain as follows:
Step 1: Relax your facial muscles. Then raise the corners of your mouth a few millimetres, so the expression on your face is that of a gentle half smile. Notice the natural warmth of the energy that is generated from this.
Step2: Imagine the warm energy of the smile as a miniature sun that gathers in the space between your eyebrows, maybe about the size of a golf ball. Then imagine that mini-sun moving to different parts of the brain. Focus your smiling energy in each area for a short while seeing it radiate its healing and energizing there. For example, you could move it:

  • First to the prefrontal cortex at the front, just behind the forehead and temples
  • Secondly to the mid-brain or limbic-zone, responsible for much of our emotional and social processing
  • Finally to the back, the primal/reptilian zone of the brain and the brain stem where our fight or flight responses are located

Move the smiling energy back and forth into each area for a while, and then finish by relaxing your attention and letting your brain absorb the effect of this process.
As well as being good for your brain, you’ll also notice that this meditation has a soothing effect on your thoughts, making it quite easy to feel mentally calm.

Mindfulness and brain density
Evidence has shown that regular meditation increases the gray matter in the:

  • Insula – which is linked to interoception; self-awareness; empathy for emotions. (Holzel et al.,2008; Lazar et al., 2005)
  • Hippocampus – associated to visual-spatial memory; establishing context; inhibiting amygdala and cortisol. (Holzel et al.,2008; Luders et al., 2009*)
  • Prefrontal cortext (PFC) – related to executive functions and attention control. (Larzar et al., 2005; Luders et al., 2009*)
  • Regular meditation reduces: Cortisol thinning linked to aging in insula and PFC. (Lazar et al.,2005)

The experiments above were just measuring the effects of a very general mindfulness practice, nothing brain specific. The proposition would be that the meditation that I describe above would have a rather more explicit and positive effect on the brain than the one done in the research.
Actually, I find that doing the brain meditation itself and the good feelings that come from it is rather more motivating than research. But if it motivates you to get practising, then by all means use it to get up and running!

Related readingMeditation Technique For Brain Relaxation, Non-Conceptuality and Falling Asleep at Night.
Access your brain’s ‘zero space’

© Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Sat & Sun 22nd/23rd October – Shamanic meditation workshop retreatLearn how to practice the fundamentals of the most ancient meditation tradition on the planet in a clear, practical and concise manner, and understand its relevance and value to you and the challenges that you face in your life.

The workshop will give an overview and introduce some simple but profound shamanic practices on day one, with a deeper dive into Shamanic meditation practices on day two…read full details


Tues & Weds 25th/26th October, 7.30pm – Deepavali Meditation – Connecting to your inner light

About the class: Deepavali is traditionally (amongst other things) the annual celebration in the Hindu Calendar of the triumph of the light ever the darkness, of good over evil. In this session we will be taking some time to connect to our own ‘inner light’ in meditation, as a way of conquering the ‘darkness’ of our own inner confusion and fear….read full details


Saturday September 24th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

In a sentence: Experience unique Qi gong and Taoist breathing techniques to improve your immune system, energy level, psychological wellness and enhance your meditation…read full details


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby


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All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Starts Tues 16th /Weds 17th August – An Adventure in Consciousness – The What, Why & How of integral & engaged meditation practice

Sat & Sun 22nd/23rd October – Shamanic meditation workshop retreat

Tues & Weds 25th/26th October, 7.30pm – Deepavali Meditation – Connecting to your inner light

Saturday October 29th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Tues 1st & Weds 2nd November, 7.30pm – Samhain Meditation (Live & Online) – Acknowledging the gifts and wounds of our ancestors


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