The brain, the mind, parenting, education and adolescent anxiety…

  1. A lot of material has come my way this autumn on trauma and its impact, psychotherapy and sensorimotor or/and somatic approaches and spirituality, etc., and I have shared bits. However, today, I am sharing a podcast on the brain, the mind and adolescent anxiety by Dr Dan Siegel. In a nutshell, parenting is viewed as a relational, and thus, biological process, which as a result stimulates or hinders the growth of the child’s brain and its regulatory functions. D. Siegel refers to a present parenting approach, which can assist the development of a growth mindset or grit, curiosity and resilience in children. This is referred to as a YES brain approach. Mindsight is required of the caregivers, a capacity to see and listen to the child’s experience and inner world, in order to cultivate a YES brain stance of receptivity instead of a NO brain state of reactivity. He talks of the need to raise children that are not product focused, but process focused, and of the need of repair experiences from parents, which of course requires of them to have access to their own receptive brain state. The discussion is situated in the broader context of our current world climate of uncertainty, anxiety and violence, and the need for both education and parenting to be built on a less superficial or even cannibalistic competitive attitude and on the notion for collaboration and togetherness instead of competition against each other. The need for a discussion of the true essence of Self or of our true more expansive nature is also highlighted, as well as, the need for both healthy differentiation and linkage to be fostered in order to activate healthy empathy, compassion and action. Finally, D. Siegel notes that parents should be the guardians of their children’s natural curiosity, connectedness and creativity, which can easily be squashed by contemporary society.

You may listen to the discussion at:…..

  1. Also, providing a link to an article Why are more American teenagers then ever suffering from severe anxiety? (11/10/2017) by Benoit Denizet Lewis in The New York Times Magazine.

You can read the article at:


  • Gratitude Meditation

‘I feel thankful for the wonder of the universe, for all the atoms in my body—the carbon in my bones, the oxygen and iron in my blood—that were born in the heart of a star billions of years ago, to drift through space, to form a sun and planets, to form the hand that holds this piece of paper and the eye that reads this word.                             I feel thankful for all that was in order for me to be. For grace, for wisdom, for the sacred, for spirit as I know it. For this moment, this breath, this sight. For every good thing that was, that is, that ever will be’

(Rick Hanson Retrieved on November 5th, 2017 from

  • Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together

From Emily Fletcher’s article:  The Neuroscience of Gratitude

Retrieved on November 5th, 2017 from

‘When we take the time to ask what we are grateful for, certain neural circuits are activated. Production of dopamine and serotonin increases and these neurotransmitters then travel neural pathways to the “bliss” center of the brain — similar to the mechanisms of many antidepressants. Practicing gratitude, therefore, can be a way to naturally create the same effects of medications and create feelings of contentment’….

It gets better: The more you stimulate these neural pathways through practicing gratitude, the stronger and more automatic they become. On a scientific level, this is an example of Hebb’s Law, which states “neurons that fire together wire together.” But it’s also something you can see plainly in everyday life: If you’re forging a new path through the woods, the first trip is the most challenging and you have to be deliberate. But the more times the path is traveled, the more defined it becomes and the easier it is to follow it. Your brain works the same way: The more times a certain neural pathway is activated (neurons firing together), the less effort it takes to stimulate the pathway the next time (neurons wiring together)’

  • Grateful brains and brain activity

From Adam Hoffman’s article: What Does a Grateful Brain Look Like?

Retrieved on November 5th, 2017 from

‘The researchers found that grateful brains showed enhanced activity in two primary regions: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These areas have been previously associated with emotional processing, interpersonal bonding and rewarding social interactions, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.

A lot of people conflate gratitude with the simple emotion of receiving a nice thing. What we found was something a little more interesting,” says Fox. “The pattern of [brain] activity we see shows that gratitude is a complex social emotion that is really built around how others seek to benefit us.

In other words, gratitude isn’t merely about reward—and doesn’t just show up in the brain’s reward center. It involves morality, connecting with others, and taking their perspective.

In further studies, Glenn Fox hopes to investigate what’s going on in the body as gratitude improves our health and well-being’.

  • Neural correlates of gratitude

Abstract from research paper Neural Correlates of Gratitude by Glenn R. Fox, Jonas Kaplan, Hanna Damasio and Antonio Damasio

Retrieved on November 5th, 2017 from

Gratitude is an important aspect of human sociality, and is valued by religions and moral philosophies. It has been established that gratitude leads to benefits for both mental health and interpersonal relationships. It is thus important to elucidate the neurobiological correlates of gratitude, which are only now beginning to be investigated. To this end, we conducted an experiment during which we induced gratitude in participants while they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. We hypothesized that gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind. The stimuli used to elicit gratitude were drawn from stories of survivors of the Holocaust, as many survivors report being sheltered by strangers or receiving lifesaving food and clothing, and having strong feelings of gratitude for such gifts. The participants were asked to place themselves in the context of the Holocaust and imagine what their own experience would feel like if they received such gifts. For each gift, they rated how grateful they felt. The results revealed that ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.

  • Be grateful for your strength to handle the challenge

Finally, an extract from Chapter 16 in Danielle La Porte’s book White Hot Truth

‘I am not grateful for being ousted from a company that I co-founded. I am not grateful for losing $90,000 on a business idea gone south. I am not thankful for the Spirit-crushing ramifications of one particular relationship. And I really could have done without that two-year bout of a mystery illness. There have been losses. And trials that wore me down until I begged for a break.
But holy hell, am I profoundly grateful for everything that I learned from those challenges. I’m with Maya Angelou: “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.” I would not turn back the clock, or take back one tear, tremor, or dollar. All those moments that I had to quell the adrenaline with the power of my mind, or carry buckets of integrity back from the well when I thought it might be dry — that was some serious training. All those revelations of responsibility! So many illusions that got burned down! The flames that scarred me are the flames that purified and lifted me up — because I gave myself over to the fire, willing to learn, wanting to know. I got down on my knees, peered under the clouds of smoke and fear, and said, “Let me see what’s really going on here.”
And when I thank Life for what those challenges provided me with, I say, Thank you for helping me see clearly. For helping me see where I can grow and how I can get there. Thank you for helping me see where Love is and where fear lurks, and where the Truth has always been.
There’s no need to be grateful for your hardships and for the perpetrators themselves. Because, remember: the Universe brings you more of what you are grateful for. So be grateful for the Faith and the friends that held you when it all fell apart.
Be grateful that you have the capacity to transform suffering into learning, and brokenness into resilience. Be grateful for your strength to handle the challenge’