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  • Tracey Duke

So are you truly capable of achieving optimal performance?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

It's pretty fair to say that we at Dare to Dream have a slight obsession with the pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for executive functions; self-control, planning, decision making, and problem-solving, among others.

Now whilst science cannot confidently assign specific roles to Pre-Frontal Cortex sub-regions, what we do know is that when the PFC receives sensory information about the external world, it uses that information to plan responses, and then communicates with other areas of the brain to enact a response.

Why does this matter to us? Because the core focus of our work revolves around the question: Are we truly all capable of achieving optimal performance?

The answer, it would seem, is yes.

Let’s go a little deeper. When you’re faced with a difficult challenge; whether that’s an unexpected redundancy, a relationship breakdown, or a ten-foot wave on your single handed Pacific Ocean crossing attempt, you’ll suddenly find yourself facing a whole series of emotions, with the potential to fall into a state of depression, anxiety & fear. Three states that will certainly not help you in overcoming the challenge at hand.

Science has shown that it’s a weakness, or abnormality, within the pre-frontal cortex that impairs decision making and brainpower; opening the floodgates to anxiety and depression.

The good news; a landmark 2005 study by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar, and colleagues, showed that the brains of meditators had remarkably more "thickness," "folds," and overall "surface area" in their left prefrontal cortexes, with its magnitude directly tied to experience. i.e the more experience in meditation you have, the stronger the effect.

It’s a hugely significant study with monumental implications.

Meditation is now seen by many within the neuro-scientific and psychological research communities as the "holy grail" for a variety of mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression.

Studies also indicate that meditation strengthens connections between the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala, (responsible for fear, anxiety & aggression), giving us far better control over our emotions.

Not only that, studies suggest that the actual size of the amygdala was smaller and its connections to other primal parts of the brain lowered, in experienced meditators.

What’s the bottom line here?

If you want to reach optimal levels of performance, and respond with strength, clarity, and focus to any given challenge, you could do far worse than to introduce a practice to your daily routine.

Daily meditation will play an essential, key part in the way in which you respond to external demands which will ultimately dictate your leadership skills, how likely you are to adapt and overcome challenges, and your ability to cope with extreme pressure; all elements in achieving your optimal level of performance.

Make sense? We think so too.

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