The Default Mode Network (DMN) is active when a person is not actively performing a specific task. Default implies automatic thought processes. Research shows that meditation strengthens and make a more resilient default mode network (DMN). The DMN involves many areas of the brain as well as their interconnectivity. They include the hippocampus of the temporal lobe, posterior cingulate cortex of the limbic system, parietal lobe, and the prefrontal cortex. Healthy activity of the DMN includes introspection, day dreaming, imagining scenarios, and revisiting decisions from the past to help better imagine the future.
Excessive mind wandering may draw us to ruminate over past problems or have anxiety about the future. We can get stuck in a default mode of living in the past or obsessing about our future unless we train our minds to be more present. The more the mind wanders, generally the more attention tilts toward anxiety, resentment, regret, and self-criticism.
According to research by Richard Davidson, the average American adult spends 47% of their waking life not paying attention to what they are doing.
Types of Meditation:
Meditation is an excellent way to be more present and mindful. Some Christians are apprehensive about meditation because it is associated with Buddhism. Yet, the Bible is full of references to meditation. There are many different ways to meditate. We can meditate on God’s word. Another form of meditation is called Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is an exceptional tool to help find and strengthen our connection to God’s presence.[i] Living in and with gratitude of God’s presence with us in each moment will change our self-awareness, it will strengthen our attention, decrease the stress response, and gear us more toward love and compassion. All of these ways rewire the brain.
Here is a simplified version Centering Prayer:
Sit comfortably with eyes closed. Relax and let yourself be quiet. Revel in God’s love and presence surrounding you.
Choose a sacred word, phrase, or passage from scripture that helps you remember God’s love and presence with you. Let the phrase or scripture be present to you.
If you find that you are distracted simply return to the word, phrase, or scripture.
Whenever you are aware of any other thoughts, feelings or images, simply return to your word or phrase that anchors you to God’s love.
Practice the above for 20 minutes per day. You can set a gentle alarm timer to help yourself know your time.