Category Archives: Brain Stuff

Have you been introduced to your wise advocate?


I would like to share this presentation I have just watched by Dr Jeffrey Schwartz entitled ‘You are not Your Brain’. Wow – it has some real insights into ideas that the mind and the brain are separate and where you give your attention (your mind) actually can change the way that your brain thinks.

The wise advocate, as Schwartz explains it, is the aspect of your attentive mind that knows what you are thinking, can see the deceptive brain messages for what they are and understands how you feel. The wise advocate wants the best for you, it loves and cares for you, so it encourages you to value yourself and make  decisions in a rational manner that are in your overall best interests.

From the video link….

You are not your brain
• How does the brain work? What happens in an overactive brain circuit?
• Why do we so often feel besieged by bad brain wiring?
• Is it possible to free ourselves from destructive thoughts and actions and to change bad habits for good?
• How to identify and work with negative brain impulses
• Making your brain work for you — the 4-Step solution for changing bad habits, ending unhealthy thinking, and taking control of your life
Dr Jeffrey M Schwartz, leading neuroplasticity researcher and coauthor of the just released You Are Not Your Brain and the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain; Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, USA

Yobbos Do Yoga


Yesterday I shared a picture book called “Yobbos Do Yoga’ by Phillip Gwynne and Andrew Joyner  with a year 2 class.

It is the story of a little girl and her dad, who have ‘yobbos’ move in next door (for non-Australians, yobbos are usually young men, generally uncouth, prone to swearing and constant use of Aussie vernacular. A Yobbo is a heavy drinker, who places mateship above all else and lives for those wild memorable moments that are unforgettable.)

And the dad is a lover of peace and calm, and spends his day doing different yoga poses, so he is not pleased to have new neighbours. But Tubby, Ferret and King Wally Kahuna turn out to be very decent blokes,enjoying loud parties and music but including everyone and  are also willing to lend a hand and try out new things eg yoga!

yobbos do yoga 2



yobbos do yoga 1

Last year, when my colleague and I were considering what integrated units the library could support and complement during library classes, the year 2 unit of Healthy Living came up. The classroom focus is very much on healthy eating and exercising and we saw an obvious gap to us,  as there was no discussion about a healthy mind and ways to keep it healthy. So, in our limited class time with them, (45 minutes once a fortnight), I have begun to introduce the idea of a healthy mind and encouraging them to think about how something like meditation (of which yoga is a form)  can help to train the mind to be healthy and calm and positive, not re-hashing old and self- limiting ideas.

It is an area I would be interested in getting some training in as, for myself, doing a short meditation each morning before I get up, helps me set the tone for the day ahead…being one of calm and being able to observe those recurring thought patterns that don’t help me.

I have a teacher resource called ‘Meditation Capsules – A Mindfulness Program for Children’ by Janet Etty-Leal.She has done extensive work at Geelong Grammar , as well as other schools, as their ‘meditation’ consultant (2009) , pioneering well being for student’s through Positive Education. As my school has identified well-being for students and staff as being a priority for 2015 and beyond, this course and way of thinking of meditation as a life skill, fits in very well.

So I feel things aligning for me to delve deeper into teaching meditation to children.

New videos from The Kid Should See This – cool videos for curious minds of all ages


This is a great site to subscribe to, as every week you get sent a selection of the week’s most shared videos. But you can also go to the site and search for particular topics you are after.

Here are some gems, I reckon…..







3 weeks into Mindful in May


I started Mindful in May – a global meditation program and have been doing it pretty much every day since May 1st, using the meditations and expert interviews sent to my inbox. My biggest challenge has been to be kind to myself – practice self-compassion – as  I attempt, over and over again, to  let go of my thoughts and tune into my body, breath, sounds around me….but I can definitely say it has been a ripple that is slowly spreading into my everyday life.

We even had Dr Craig Hassad, from Monash university, who was interviewed as part of the Mindful in May expert interviews, talk to the staff last night about mindfulness and the growing body of research that shows that regular meditation can actually help the brain to grow. So, it has been an eye-opening month for me.

From Mindfulness in May – myths and stereotypes around meditation


This was part of an email that arrived this morning, and with my readings and meditation I did during the weekend, I think I am getting the message that meditation is not about emptying your mind of thoughts, as that just won’t happen. If this is your aim,  you are setting yourself up to fail.

Here are Dr. Elise Bialylew‘s words, taken straight from her Mindfulness in May challenge…

There are many myths and stereotypes around meditation. One of them is that the aim of meditation is to empty your mind of thoughts.

Often when people start to meditate they notice how busy the mind is during practice and they think they are “bad” meditators.   

The fact is the mind makes thoughts.   Like the eyes see, the ears hear, the skin feels, the tongue tastes, the nose smells… THE MIND THINKS.

The average person has about 70,000 thoughts a day. That means in a ten minute meditation you’ll probably be having about 486 thoughts…  (from me – WOW – how amazing is that!!)

The purpose of practising mindfulness meditation is not to eliminate thoughts but rather to become more familiar with the nature of our minds, and become more able to unhook from thoughts rather than be hijacked by them. 

This helps us reduce the “stickiness of the mind”,( as Richie Davidson describes in his interview), that is, the tendency of the mind to cling and ruminate on particular (usually unhelpful) thoughts which then impact our emotional state.  Cultivating mindfulness supports our capacity to CHOOSE what we are paying attention to and how we are relating to our experience, both internally and in relation to the outside world. 

I really like the way Richie Davidson describes thoughts as ‘sticky’ and I have become much more aware this weekend, of just letting thoughts pass on by and not hold on to them and get caught up in going over and over the same thing.

The other thing that has been a lesson for me this weekend was that we can be feeling a bit rotten inside (in my case, anxious), but instead of me focusing on that feeling and working myself up into feeling worse because I am being a pest/inconveniencing other people etc., I can observe these feelings and realize that they will soon disappear. I did this and all the sting went out of the anxiety, for a while at least. So this is another thing for me to include and remember to practice in my daily life.


Susan Piver is another meditative practitioner, like Elise Bialylew. I listened to Elise interview her and have since joined her free project called ‘The Open Heart’ project. On her blog, there are many meditations and she emphasizes as well, to let thoughts go and don’t beat yourself up for  having them.

I feel I have some great resources now to strongly continue my journey into the practice of meditation. It is soooo worth it!



Mindfulness in May


I got an email last week from a  colleague inviting me and anyone else to join her in a challenge called ‘Mindful in May’. Each day, you receive an email from Mindful in May which has a meditation attached and interesting information to do with mindfulness and sometimes a video or interview with an expert or something that makes up think or feel uplifted.

Loved this one from Saturday😃



So it really gives you the opportunity to try meditation and mindfulness for a sustained period of time and really, you just need to open the email and follow the instructions.

The other good thing coming out of this is that, to sign up to Mindful in May, you donate $25 to raise money for building wells to supply water to people in Africa. So far, over the years the program has been running, Mindful in May has raised nearly $100,000 which means over 3000 peoples lives will be transformed by access to clean, fresh water.


If you think this sounds like something you would like to try, the sign up date for the challenge closes on May 15, so you still have some time.

I say, go for it!


A mystery of the brain – from The Kid Should See This


How long can a blindfolded person walk in a straight line?

I wanted to share this interesting post from ‘The Kid Should See This’ – something I hadn’t really thought about before. Can people walk in a straight line if they are blindfolded, and the answer is NO! And scientists haven’t worked out why .

Will show it to the year 3 teachers as they are looking into mapping …could be a fascinating tangent.

The Happy Secret to Better Work – inspirational


My son just showed me this video. I love TED talks as they are to the point and always by people who really know what they are talking about. Shawn Achor seems to know his stuff and makes a lot of sense – we have put success ahead of happiness in our modern world. Each time we reach our goal or have success, all that we feel is that we replace this goal with a harder to reach one. And our feeling of happiness is supposed to happen after we reach our goal, but as we never really do, we don’t get to feel happy. Shawn shares 5 things that he does with each company he works with to up their employees happiness. He suggests that we need to do these things for 21 days straight to re-program our thinking to look for happiness. Sounds great, and as someone who has journal led their 10 things to be thankful for for a few years + now has a gratitude jar at work to add 1 thing to be grateful for each day, I think what he says really makes sense. But don’t take my world for it – watch the TED talk and see for yourself. Maybe even take on the 21 day challenge!