by clicking the "Next" arrow.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Mindful : December 2014
68 mindful December 2014 Beware the Habit-Forming Brain! Ever wonder how your spouse devel- oped that annoying habit of buying tools or kitchen gadgets they don’t need? Why do you check Facebook yet again when you just checked it 15 minutes ago? Or root around in the kitchen late at night, not really hungry but just wanting something? No myster y. It’s simply how our brains work. We crave. We get. We remember. We crave again. It’s the craving cycle. If we can understand it, we have more of a chance of catching it in the act, and taking steps to make more considered choices. Let’s break down the process and figure out where we can make adjustments. Judson Brewer MD, Ph.D., an addiction psychiatrist, is the Director of Research for the Center for Mindfulness, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and adjunct faculty at Yale University. 1 Our brain takes in data through our five senses or a thought. For example, you look at a selfie you took at the Eiffel Tower. 2 Based on similar experiences— and since we see the world through glasses we’ve manu- factured—our brain interprets this as pleasant or unpleasant. “Liking this picture!” 3 If pleasant, our brain gets an itch or an urge: “Get me some more of that!” If unpleasant, it says, “Get this away from me!” 4 We do something to make the good stick around, or to make the bad go away. For example, we post the picture on Face- book, and we get a bunch of “likes” and comments about it. For more on mindfulness practice, go to mindful. org/inpractice. To submit questions about techniques, the workplace, or relationships and home life, email inpractice@ mindful.org. 5 If our behavior was successful, our brain lays down a memor y so it will remember to do that again in the future. “That was great. Don’t forget to take more pictures and post them when you’re on exotic trips!” or “Must buy more shiny tools.” 6 This new memory feeds back to Step 2 to inform how we view the world—by solidifying how we saw it previously, or if there is new information, by updat- ing: tweaking the prescription for our mental glasses. THE PROCESS Each time we go through this, neural circuits that associ- ate the experience with pleas- ant or unpleasant strengthen. So, we might not even notice the feeling or the urge to act. Bam! A habit is laid down. Knowing how this works helps us be compassion- ate with ourselves (and our spouses). We star t to under- stand how we tick and not take ourselves as seriously. Also, seeing how we reinforce habits can help us change them. Consider a nagging habit. Nex t time you act it out, see if you can trace each step. Can you see how the habit rein- forces itself? Note what’s happening in your body. Can you notice the pleasant/unpleasant and not act on it? What does that urge to act feel like from moment to moment? What type of glasses are you wearing? ● THE PRACTICE: How to Change Illustration by Jason Lee techniques mindful practices