Meet your Prefrontal Lobes

Introducing…. your amazing prefrontal lobes!  In his book http://Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, Dan Siegel outlines the nine functions of the prefrontal lobes.  They are:

The Prefrontal lobe region of the brain, responsible for self-regulation, is strengthened during mindfulness meditation
  1. Bodily Regulation
  2. Attuned Communication
  3. Emotional Balance
  4. Fear Modulation
  5. Response Flexibility
  6. Insight
  7. Empathy
  8. Moral Awareness
  9. Intuition

And thanks to FMRI Imaging we now know that the prefrontal lobe area of the brain is strengthened through mindfulness meditation.  What does this mean?  Let’s take a deeper look at the prefrontal lobe functions.

1.  Bodily regulation. If your stress response is over-active because of past trauma, mindfulness can help re-regulate and sooth your nervous system.

2.  Attuned communication. Do you find yourself over-reacting in certain conversations?  Mindfulness can help you respond as opposed to react, and help you better understand your conversation partner’s point of view.  Now wouldn’t that make your spouse or boss happy?

3.  Emotional balance.  Having more control of your emotions on a daily basis leads to less stress, and better health.  With regular mindfulness practice, you will experience fewer peaks and valleys in your emotions.

4.  Fear modulation.  You’re late for work, speeding, and you get pulled over.  The kindly police officer lets you off with a warning but your nervous system didn’t get the message.  Your mindfulness meditation practice will help you get back to base-line faster, and allow you to go about your day without your heart pounding out of your chest.

Having more control of your emotions on a daily basis leads to less stress, and better health.  With regular mindfulness practice, you will experience fewer peaks and valleys in your emotions.

5.  Response flexibility.  John Gottman, the marriage guru who claims to be able to predict within 98% accuracy whether a couple will stay together or not says, “there is only one social skill, and that is self-regulation.”  Mindfulness allows you to choose your response to a situation as opposed to having the response choose you.

6.  Insight. One of my favorite effects of mindfulness meditation is the “aha” moment.  Sometimes I’ll be struggling to find a solution to a problem, and paradoxically, when I let go of the obsession, the answer comes in a moment of mindfulness.

7.  Empathy. Feeling resentful of a person or situation?  Empathy and compassion are much healthier emotions.  Better for you, better for your nervous system, better for the world.  Mindfulness trains up your empathy and compassion muscles.

8.  Moral Awareness.  More often than not the solutions I come up with during my mindfulness practice benefit me and others involved.  Neuroscientists have proven that mindfulness increases our ability to feel compassion.  Perhaps what I’m experiencing is moral awareness in action.  The Dalai Lama and other members of the Mind & Life institute are actively looking at ways to apply this affect to the world.

9.  Intuition. That gut feeling that we often ignore comes out loud and clear during meditation, often cutting away the stories we tell ourselves, allowing us to make better decisions with ease.

I hope this little tour of your frontal lobes has encouraged you to practice mindfulness today.  Need some help getting started?  Take a look at our worksheet, Seven Steps to Mindful Breathing.

What’s your favorite frontal lobe function?  Let us know.

Want to share this information?  We have a free worksheet that lists the nine prefrontal lobe functions on our resource page.



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