“The Mind Platter”

There is more to education than Reading, wRiting and ‘aRithmetic. Dr Dan Siegel M.D, world renowned Neuropsychiatrist, likes to focus on three different R’s: Relationships, Reflection and Resilience. Through his research he reports that when we are interconnected with others, have empathy with others and insight into ourselves, we have “mind sight”. With mind sight we can experience reflective relationships, which create resilience – the ability to meet challenges and bounce back after a fall.

The goal for Siegel is a healthy brain that sustains a person’s wellbeing. As he sees it, the brain needs proper nutrition every day and he prescribes a “healthy mind platter” of daily nourishment. On his mind platter he places seven “dishes”:

  1. Sleep time
  2. Physical time
  3. Focus time
  4. Time in
  5. Down time
  6. Play time
  7. Connecting time

Years of brain research lie behind these simple prescriptions. In practice, adopting the mind platter comes down to two areas that need daily attention, inner and outer.

  1. Inner nutrients: Sleep Time, Focus Time, Down Time, Time In. Enough sleep to be adequately rested. There is intense focus with enough down time to let the brain rebalance and a time to go inward through prayer, meditation or self-reflection. Siegel believes reflection is the most precious time, since it opens the way for evolution and growth.
  2. Outer nutrients: Physical Time, Play Time, Connecting Time. This is the area of outward activity and recreation. Although physical time focuses primarily on getting your muscles to move, the holistic effect is to balance the mind-body system. Healthiest of all is connect time, because it gets neglected the most in the rush of modern life. It takes a conscious decision to commit to building family and friends and to find things to do together. As many sociologists have pointed out, this area of life used to dominate everyday existence, at a time when families sat together at evening meal time. Social habits change. Yet it’s still true, according to the field of positive psychology, that the happiest people tend to be those who spend one or two hours a day talking with close family and friends.

I would like to add my own three R’s to this list: Remember, Respect, Reciprocate.

We all know that relationships have a huge affect on us, either positive or negative. What we need to Remember is that we have control over the depth of each relationship. We choose to Respect the other person or not. We choose to spend time with others, or not. We choose to Reciprocate or not. If someone is kind and thoughtful, it is appreciated when we reciprocate a kind or thoughtful act in return. However, if someone is mean and rude, we can choose to reciprocate in the same vein or not. Sometimes I hear people saying “she made me be horrible” this is not true, no one can make you do anything. You have a choice, so today why not choose to remember the good in those around you, respect them, as you would like to be respected, and reciprocate all kindness.


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Anne McKeown