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Intentionality and Health

 

Mindfulness practice allows us to develop the ability to observe and experience our thoughts, sensations, and emotions non-judgmentally, non-analytically, and with complete, unconditional acceptance.  This practice is an antidote to anxiety and depression, improves brain function, and is conducive to health and well-being.

 Along with mindfulness practice, intentionality is an effective catalyst to health and wellbeing.  In other words, it is important to set a very clear  intention to observe our thoughts, images, sensations, feelings, and emotions, without judging or analyzing them. The intentionality itself helps us to practice in a very natural, non-striving way.  

 Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson

Dr. Rick Hanson

states that when entering a potentially stressful interpersonal interaction, the act of setting a clear intention of acceptance, openness, authenticity, and empathy serves to activate the prefrontal cortex, priming neural networks that relate to those qualities.  Setting a clear intention creates a neurophysiological milieu that makes the realization of those intentions more likely.

 There are specific behaviors that are associated with health and well-being. The following behaviors and attributes of healthy people can be developed with intentionality. Cultivate an intention to live with acceptance, mindfulness, altruism, authenticity, challenge, choice, compassion, curiosity, empathy, gratitude, meaning and purpose, and environmental mastery.  

 The simple act of setting the intention to practice something serves to activate neural networks that relate to whatever it is that we practice, making it more likely to experience the qualities of that practice. 

 In addition, intentionality, when practiced throughout the day and in every interaction creates purpose and meaning to our lives. 

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5 Responses to Intentionality and Health

  1. Suzanne Quijano March 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Agreed! I do not advocate intention without follow through–that would not really be intention at all, would it?! It’s just a bonus that the positive rewiring begins even before we kick into action when our intentions are in the right place! Hopefully this is a clearer communication of what I INTENDED to say 🙂

  2. Suzanne Quijano March 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    What a lovely idea that just the intention to practice something can have the same positive effects of actually practicing. It certainly negates the old adage that I have long despised: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. For a long time, l have told my young therapy clients (and my own children!) that even when no one sees us, our intentions to do the “right thing” do matter. How great to have the neuropsychology findings to back it up!

    • Larry Berkelhammer March 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Suzanne, the amazing thing is that intentions rewire the brain even before we act on our intentions. However, it is important to act on our intentions, and pretenting to intend to do something does not have the same effect. In other words, we need to set an intention and to also act on it.

      • Suzanne Quijano March 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

        Agreed! I do not advocate intention without follow through–that would not really be intention at all, would it?! It’s just a bonus that the positive rewiring begins even before we kick into action when our intentions are in the right place! Hopefully this is a clearer communication of what I INTENDED to say

        • Larry Berkelhammer March 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

          Suzanne, we are definitely on the same page. It’s nice to have validation and be in sympatico on this important concept.

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