Meditation app marketers have been sowing confusion. Neuroscientist Adam Gazzely and Sam Harris discussed claims that meditation will change your brain. While true, it’s misleading. Buzzfeed or Facebook could make the same claim, although I doubt customers would be impressed.
Because, as Gazzely and Harris note, everything you put in your brain changes it.
Our brains are malleable, myelinating masses of organic Play-doh. Recent neuroplasticity research upended the prevailing thought that brain change only happened to the young. Just as the food we ingest matters from birth to death, so does the information we consume.
So I try to fill my brain with nourishing food.
I try to use video news for crises only — like announcements of pandemic restrictions or post-earthquake updates. (I’m in Southern California.) Otherwise, I think of Fox News, CNN and our local channels as entertainment. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a comical way of describing fact — our brains suck up terrible news like a kid devours candy. Good long-form analysis — as you might find in articles and podcasts — is like brain broccoli.
The area where I can improve most is technology screen time reduction. I’ve committed to the basics: turning off phone notifications, tracking usage time, and deleting attention-vacuums on the phone like the Twitter app.
Yet an open MacBook Air remains my default mode. However enriching the content, I want to default to stillness.
Because I know for my brain to be at its best, it needs rest.