Train Your Brain - Guest Writer Maria Martiniello

Maria Martiniello

Train Your Brain

I have learned recently to just be. It’s not as easy as one would expect, and for some reason, we don’t make time in our day to enjoy this indulgence. We live in a chaotic world surrounded by technology lending to the expectancy of immediate response day and night.

When you left work for the day you went home, I remember a time in my life, had dinner, worked out, and spent time with your family with no personal devices.At that time, (I’m dating myself), not everyone had a cell phone. We also didn’t have laptops and left our P.C.’s on our desk in the office. When we went home, we didn’t revisit work, check Facebook every half hour, play candy crush, etc. Imagine that!  

Today, I would not dare leave my house without my laptop, iPhone, and I often bring along my iPad. I read recently that the average person unlocks their iPhone 80 times a day. That’s once every 12 minutes for 16 hours every day. Admit it if you will you are also watching a few screens at once. As I’m writing this, I have the T.V. on, typing on my computer and checking my iPhone periodically for text messages. I feel embarrassed admitting that I’m doing that at this moment.

In my training as a life coach, I remember studying the main subject early on in my courses that focused on listening. I laughed out loud, thinking who doesn’t know how to listen. As we got more in-depth into the subject matter, I started thinking about how easy it is not to listen. That same day, I was with a friend of mine, and I was caught up in my thoughts and found myself thinking about what to make for dinner that night and what I needed to pick up from the grocery store. It’s not that I didn’t want to hear what was being shared with me. However, I was trying to manage my day in my head and not giving my entire self to this person. I have to say that in my lifetime, that was one of my most significant aha moments. We miss so much by not listening.

Who doesn't know how to listen?

Ask yourself, by not listening or being distracted by the number of times a day we unlock our devices each day, what are we missing? Could we be missing a cry for help from a child who is hurt or wants to share something with us? Are we missing an opportunity to hear birds chirping in the morning and acknowledging that we have our hearing and not take that for granted? 

Are we losing precious moments when not hearing our parents tell us stories of old that we might never hear again? I recently lost my mother and believe me; you likely don’t want to miss out on listening to your mom's voice again.

This segues beautifully into gratitude. By consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension. The simple act of reminding yourself of the positive things in your life – even as simple as the roof over your head or food on your plate – can invoke feelings of thankfulness and optimism that make managing stress, depression or anxiety easier( I believe this wholeheartedly and very grateful for my vision, hearing, being able to get out of bed using my limbs, and happy to have loving and supportive people in my life. I do this every morning and could spend ALL day finding things to be grateful for. It sets the tone for the entire day. These days I add into my practice that I am thankful for the time that I spent with my mom rather than the time that I will never have with her again. It changes the narrative.

To exercise gratitude, we need to know how to be still as we focus on this practice. What does it even really mean? I’m guessing it means something different for everyone, but to me, it means breathing. Sounds silly, however, when you focus on breathing and manage your breath, you become still. Still enough to focus on what’s important. You are essential, and resting your brain is just as important. A by-product of being still is that your brain is resting, and while resting, you become creative. The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions ( These are all great things. 

I encourage you to try at least one or all of the following items each and everyday.

*     Take a break and shut down your electronic devices to allow some pause in your day.

*     Breath– manage your breathing and taking a moment in this space encourages and supports stillness.

*     Allow your mind to rest as it inspires creativity and problem-solving.

*     Be grateful - it’s vital to a healthy state of mind.

*     Just be

*     Treat yourself well for one minute or many throughout the day – YOU are important.


Maria Martiniello

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