“The rising of awareness is the most important thing that can happen to you…it is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle

I was clenching fists at the smallest shift in routine. Kneading unyielding knots in my jaw. Glaring at the doorframe that dare whack my shoulder. Everything seemed fuzzy and overwhelming. Molehills grew into mountains.

A few weeks ago, I noticed my mind and body were out of sorts. Where was this stress coming from? With some curiosity, I cracked the case. My son was coming home from school sad and mad; I was absorbing his emotions and adding mommy brain to the mix. 

My mirror neurons were hard at work. As described by Dr. Louann Brizendine in The Upgrade, these neurons “attune us to one another through body language, vocal inflection, and a million tiny, unconscious cues.” 

Here’s another way to look at it. You know when someone walks into the room angry as all get out, and you knit your eyebrows in defiance (or feel like heading for the hills)? This is your mirror neurons lighting up.

Now add the closeness of an intimate relationship (like our children), and it becomes much harder to resist taking on a person’s feelings. Drawing in someone’s suffering activates pain circuits in our brains (cue muscle tension) and empathic distress (cue brain fog and inability to focus).

Thanks to my dawning awareness, I reached into my tool box and doubled up on soft and slow breaths to soothe my nervous system. With a little space, I knew what I needed. I walked with a couple friends to lean into the benefits of belonging (e.g., lightness and ease)—because mirror neurons catch the good feelings, too. See “The Beauty of Belonging” below to give this whirl.

Change begins with seeing clearly. With noticing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Spotting patterns that are undermining your wellbeing.

Positive change begins with awareness. 

Last month, I introduced five landmarks of wellbeing uncovered in my graduate research, and you started to explore what you really want in midlife and beyond.

This month, begin to consciously curate your life with the landmark of Expanding Awareness. 

By practicing awareness, we wise up to the habits we’ve outgrown. Identify less with our old stories and reactions. Get to know the “calm place deep inside all of us…like the stillness on the ocean floor that remains undisturbed, no matter how frantically waves crash on the surface” (Dr. Timothy McCall).


The Beauty of Belonging

“Connecting with others—the need to belong—is as deep a survival instinct as eating, drinking and sleeping.” – Dr. Louann Brizendine

Next time you notice you’re out of sorts, first give yourself some compassion (you’re only human) and a pat on the back (change begins with seeing clearly!). 

Then, harness the power of this awareness to shift your narrative. Instead of sinking deeper into a rabbit hole, choose to spend time with someone who lifts you up with lightness and ease. 

Tap into your mirror neurons to find nourishment in the company of others. When you’re feeling fragile, be intentional about the people you spend time with. Who feels good to your mind, body, and nervous system? Who reflects a balm of wellbeing? Who inspires you to move in the direction of what you really want? 

If you can knit together a harmonious group of beings, even better!

© Copyright - Megan DeRosa - Site Built By: Overhaulics