The term Neuroplasticity is the hope of the future of every human on the planet and yet, few people have even heard of it, and fewer actually know what it means. Why is it important? Simply, the theories of neuroplasticity have the capacity to change everything we know about living a happier and healthier life. It’s the holy grail of the human experience.
Breakthroughs in neuroscience over the last decade have produced an understanding that indeed, we can alter our own brain’s physical structure. Basically, the brain is able to re-wire itself. Science now reveals that brain cells are able to regenerate, making new connections thereby forming new neuronal pathways.
These findings are proving we can change our own emotional states as well as heal our own physical bodies. All we need is something we all have, our brains.
Neuroplasticity means changes in the synapses of the brain structure, basically, the brain is malleable. Thought formations occur within the brain structure. These thoughts travel along the synapses much like an electric current traveling down a wire. Science refers to this as feedback loops. These feedback loops consist of thoughts, stored in the form of memory. Interestingly, the brain seeks for matches that line up with its current experience of reality. In other words, the same thoughts are attracted to other similar thoughts. It finds these connections and attaches to it, forming patterns. These patterns of thinking and behaving are all relative to prior and current life experiences. When new input or knowledge is learned and practiced, new patterns are formed.
We have always known that repetition of anything, such as playing a musical instrument leads to the mastery of it. But repetition of negative self- harming patterning is learned as well. An example of a negative pattern could be a repetitive reaction to fear, such as panic attacks, or even an addictive behavior. It could be said that those with addiction have achieved mastery of their negative patterns.
It also known that world class athletes have mastered their own patterns as well. In essence, they have rewired their neuronal pathways to produce flawless golf swings and tennis shots.
Researchers in the field of psychology are understanding how the same concepts can be applied to the study of behavior.
The following is a small sample of mental exercises found to assist in the forming of new neuronal pathways.
- Slowing of brain wave frequencies- practicing deep states of meditation on a regular basis. This allows for the practice of quieting the mind-chatter, allowing for focus and concentration.
- Creative Visualization-Using detailed imagery to create new experiences. These experiences could be real or imagined.
- Invoking of emotion- Emotions are felt within the body. The mind speaks in the language of the senses. It is important to feel with all of the senses, to experience it as if it is actually happening.
- Repetition- As stated, practice is the key, the mind must learn to form the connection through recurrence of the desired intention.
Research has given us an understanding of how we can literally change our minds. We are no longer the victims of our past circumstances. In fact, with dedication and perseverance, we have the ability to actively own and heal our brains; changing the filter by which we view ourselves and others. The results are immeasurable. Neuroplasticity is truly the most important neuroscientific discovery of modern times.
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