Meditation and Neuroplasticity Training May Help Reduce Stress and Stop the Cycle of Addiction by Patrick Bailey
Stress is a word many people throw around casually. Many do not realize its very…
We can get stuck in some pretty outdated and unnecessary patterns. Even if we can see that we’ve outgrown these stories, we don’t always see our way out of them. For the answer on how, let’s turn to some basic neuroscience.
How the Brain Thinks a Thought
Our brains are made up of approximately 100 billions neurons (the same number as galaxies in the known universe!). These neurons connect to each other throughout our brains through neural pathways. Each neural pathway, in layman’s terms, is essentially a thought or a pattern of thinking. Every time we think that thought, that neural pathway lights up.
Here’s Where it Gets Really Interesting!
Neurons have branches (called Dendrites) which are made up of grey matter and reach out to other nearby neurons, creating the neural pathway. Grey matter grows or shrinks depending on how frequently it’s activated. The more frequently a neural pathway lights up, the bigger it grows, the more nearby pathways it reaches, and the more physical space it takes up in the brain.
This means that the more often you think a thought, it will become literally, physically easier to think it! You may see how this makes it easy to stay stuck in a pattern of thinking.
“Use It or Lose It!”
Does this work the other way around? YOU BET! The less often a neural pathway is activated, the less important your brain thinks it must be. Because your brain is trying to be efficient, if a neural pathway doesn’t get much use, the grey matter will prune back and recycle into what you do use. Your brain runs on predictions and if you aren’t predictably using a pathway, it recycles into something you are using.
This means that patterns of thinking are “Use It or Lose It!” If you want to change the old patterns, outdated stories, and ways of thinking that you automatically go to, using them less will make them prune back and become physically more difficult to think!
Re-Wiring the Brain
This all means that we can intentionally, systematically, and literally re-wire our brains! What do you want to be easier to pull up? What are you ready to recycle into something new?
The key ingredient for this formula is: REPETITION! Re-wiring your well-established patterns won’t happen overnight. You can’t simply know this and have that be enough to change the way you think. Your brain is a prediction machine and it will activate whatever it predicts you want pulled up. The more often you use a pattern of thinking, the more important your brain will think it is and the more often it will think you want it available. So repetition is the key to success.
Practice thinking the thoughts you want to be thinking! Teaching your brain through repetition that you want this idea ready and accessible will make it that way. Conversely, if you’re outgrowing an old pathway, try to interrupt your brain’s attempts to bring it up. It will take some training for your brain to conclude that that pathway doesn’t get used enough to keep at the ready. But through repetition, you can literally make it physically easier to design the brain you want.
If you want to learn more about the essential basics of brain ownership, join Danielle Rachlin, CNSF at NSI on June 9th, 2019 for Foundational Neurosculpting. Click here for details and registration
Danielle Rachlin, CNSF
Danielle received her Neurosculpting® Facilitator Certification in the original round of NSI graduates in 2013. Since then, she has taken an academic approach to teaching and has brought Neurosculpting® into the world of college campuses with her recurring quarter-long series at Colorado Mesa University. Danielle has also produced an educational ghostwriting collection for the Neurosculpting® Institute during the completion of her Master’s degree in Public Service for Environmental Policy.
Danielle is passionate about introducing these concepts to people that do not necessarily already know they are interested in the subject and in making the information accessible to all kinds of people. She is motivated to spread the content of Neurosculpting® as widely as she can because she wants everyone to understand the natural processes of their brain so personal development is not an uphill battle. She has been meditating since childhood and was originally drawn deeply to Neurosculpting® due to its solid and digestible foundation in science.