Growth Mindset For Clarity and Confusion

thoughtful woman writing in notebook at home

I saw a quote the other day on my box of Earl Grey tea, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It said “sometimes the grey area is the most interesting”. Let’s stop for just a moment and let you think about what that means to you. “Sometimes they grey area is the most interesting”.

This simple quote got me thinking on so many different levels. So let’s start to unpack it. Listen to the podcast episode, or read through the script below.

Connection Between Mindfulness and Grey Matter in the Brain

First of all, I want to talk about the scientific approach to this in the eyes of mindfulness and meditation.  This is one of the basic meditation fundamentals that I learned in my certification training, and it was one of the 1st things that popped into my head when I read this quote. Did you know that meditation increases the level of grey matter in the brain? Why is this important? Well, the grey matter contains most of the neural cell bodies and it collects, processes and sends nerve information to the body through the spinal cord. The more grey matter you have, the more motor and cognitive function you have. The amount of grey matter you have in your brain tends to peak in your twenties, and then stabilizes for a while and decreases as we get older. 

The good news is that you can do some things to help it stabilize your grey matter for a longer period of time in your life. And you already know what I’m going to say you can do. Yep, physical activity, meditation, and memory exercises will do the trick. So I, personally, think that’s super interesting. So the quote still stands. Sometimes the grey area IS the most interesting”. Literally. The abundance or lack of grey matter is what makes us who we are.  

I never want you to forget the internal benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Even if you feel like you are scatterbrained mess and “proper” meditation feels impossible, the fact that you are even trying it, is benefitting your lifelong outcomes. So cheers to you for starting on that journey with me. 

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The Mind and Body is Grey

The next set of thoughts that came to my mind with the quote obviously had to do with the idea that life isn’t always black and white. I’m guessing that was what many of you thought of as well. According to WebMD, black and white thinking is a thought pattern that makes people think in absolutes. So, this is right, and this is wrong. Things are all good. Or all bad. It’s all or nothing. 

Just think about how much you miss in life when you have that mindset. When you don’t have the ability, or the imagination to think about all the what-ifs in life. I took a poll on Instagram this week and most of us think we think in an all grey mindset. We want to believe that we have a growth mindset and are able to accept change and new ways of doing things. But there’s no way this can be the case all the time. Think about the last argument you had, or the last time you were extremely frustrated or disappointed with a situation. What was your mindset like when you were experiencing this? Chances are, you were reverting to old ways of thinking, where you thought you were correct and it wasn’t going the way you planned it out in your head. 

Now, I don’t want you to start thinking about yourself negatively around this. And I want you to turn it into a grey situation. You can do that after the fact. We all have emergency response patterns engrained in us after years and years of being told things were right or wrong. The first step is to simply begin to acknowledge that you sometimes do think things are black and white. Whether you realize it or not. And it’s ok to look back on it afterwards and be like, you know what, maybe I wasn’t seeing things clearly in that moment. And then you move on, and adjust your thought pattern next time. Don’t dwell on it. The best way to apologize is to change the behavior. Don’t just come out and say you were right or you were wrong. Change the way you treat the person or the situation next time. And that all starts with mindfulness. 

I was reading the book called Stop Missing Your Life, by Cory Muscara, one of my favorite mindfulness teachers recently, and in the beginning of the book, he talks about how when he first started practicing, he thought that ignoring your past and blocking it out, helped you to be more present now.  Thought-out the chapters, he explains how it’s actually the exact opposite. You need to dive deep, embrace, encourage, and learn from your past in order to feel peace now. Blocking everything out does nothing to help you heal and grow. You need to learn how to acknowledge and change those old behaviors before they continue to run your life making you numb inside. 

I’m going to challenge you a bit this week. I’m going to make you second-guess some things. I want you to be mindful that there’s so many times we think we’re being open, and free, and willing to accept change, when in reality, we’re only willing to accept it if it goes our way. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, if it’s not the total norm.

We are all a work in progress, having to unlearn old behaviors every single day if we want to continue to grow.

So that’s your mindful action for this week. Notice when you’re thinking in a black and white mindset. When you’re stuck, and when you’re frustrated. How can you use mindfulness to rearrange those thoughts to make it a grey area that you’re open-minded about, therefore, making it more interesting. How great would it be if you could use mindfulness to make the grey more interesting. To stop an argument in it’s tracks and opt for the peaceful route. I challenge you to increase the grey matter in your mind a little bit this week. 

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go put the tea kettle on, and brew up a cup of that earl grey tea while we’re practicing our meditation. 

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Guided Meditation For Stress and Clarity

[Meditation Script]

Let’s get inspired to dig deep today into thoughts that may be a little uncomfortable to you. I know you can do it. You are strong and you are willing to learn and grown, and that’s the first step right there. 

Begin to allow yourself to feel present and centered. Notice how it feels to be sitting here right now. How your mind and your body are reacting to a moment of  peace and calm. 

Breathe in through your nose, and sigh out through your mouth. 
Breathe in. Breathe out. 
Breathe in. Breathe out. 

Focus on your breath, and allow your thoughts to slow down and begin to settle. 

Now I want you to think about the last time your sense of ease, and your sense of peace, was put in jeopardy. 

Why, in that moment, did you feel unsettled and frustrated? What, or who, was threatening your mindset? 

What did you feel physically and emotionally?

Now let’s think back to your past. Depending on the situation, back to when you were a child and developing your own thoughts and behaviors, or maybe in school or the workplace. Is the response you had to this situation something that was modeled to you by others? Maybe by a family member, a teacher, or a coworker? And it was the first impression, or maybe even a repeated impression, you had as a response to these type of circumstance.

I really want you to sit and uncover an important part of you that you’ve most likely been overlooking. Think about why you get frustrated in the way that you do.  And what does it stem from?

Now, I want you to come back to focusing on a few deep breaths. Focusing on the action of the breath. The air coming into your body, and then leaving your body. 

And now, you’re going to think about how you can respond differently when a similar situation rises again. How can you change the narrative. How can YOU change the outcome?  

You don’t have control over what someone else does, but you do have control over your own response, and that simple adjustment can be the trigger that sets a whole new set of things in motion. You have the power to change a situation based off the way you react. 

Take a deep breath. Begin to bring your awareness back to you body and the room. And know that I’m sending you good vibes this week. You can be brave and begin to notice when you’re seeing things in black and white vs in the grey. 

Thank you for meditating with me today. Peace, Love, and Om. 

Healing Trauma and Worry with Mindfulness | bethbackes.com
About The Author

Beth Backes

Podcast host and certified meditation teacher. Creator of the Mindful Living Made Easy stress management strategy. Meditating, tea drinking, yogi, mom.

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