Neuroplasiticity, Neutrality, and the Power of Self Love
The brain and body are inherently neutral. They don’t by nature have a preference for good, bad, right wrong, sour, salty, etc. It’s a curious phenomenon. Preferences are learned. Just as you can learn to be healthy, you can learn to be unhealthy.
I use the term brain/body because they are one and the same. What occurs in the brain affects the body and vice versa. What makes humans unique is the higher function to choose, freely whatever we desire.
Over the last year, I’ve been researching the field of neuroplasticity, which has profound implications for health and consciousness. For many decades the held belief in science is that after passing through critical stages of development in early childhood the brain remains unchanged. Scientists believed (and some still do) that the brain is structurally fixed, and remains that way throughout life. As the adage goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As early as the 1950s researchers challenged this notion, with studies showing that the brain did change. Through out the 1970s and into the last two decades research has extensively shown that the brain can and does change your entire lifetime.
Neuroplasticity is the anatomical and physiological changes in the brain that occur from new learning. Every cell in the body is connected to the brain for input and output. The brain/body loop passes information and directions electrically via the central nervous system thirty times per second. Our bodies and brains are one and the same. Hundreds of studies and real life cases demonstrate that the brain does change throughout life. What you think, say, and do matters, and have a profound effect on habituating your brain/body. In Buddhism they call this idea imprints. In Hinduism it is called samskaras – the karmic traces of your past actions imprinted on the subtle system.
Everything you’ve ever thought, said and done has left a trace of itself in your brain/body and subtle system.
Allow me to illustrate my point…
I have fond memories of sledding in the mountains of Idyllwild, and Mt Baldy, California as a kid. My brother and I built jumps and bombed our plastic saucer sleds down the track, launching into the air and laughing our heads off as we crashed into the slushy snow below. As the day went on our tracks deepened, we created a direct line that slung us bull’s-eye onto the snow ramp below. Likewise the more we think, say, or do something, the stronger the neuron or nerve pathway develops in the brain and body. When we become really good at something, we don’t have to think about it. It just happens automatically. This occurs because the amount of neuron connections in the brain increases, sending information faster than conscious thought. Through repetition and refinement we become skilled at life’s activities.
You can fully trust your brain to do whatever you tell it to through regular practice.
The neutrality of the brain and body means that innately you have freedom of choice to create the reality you want. All of us come into the world learning a reality beseeched to us by our forbearers. As life goes on, many people discover there are elements of their inherited reality that are pleasing and unpleasing. This is where remembering neutrality is important. You see, just because you see the same tendency in your mother in you doesn’t mean you’re doomed to become your mother or pass it along to your kid.
You can teach an old dog new tricks.
The first step is to recognize what’s triggering you about a particular issue. Bring consciousness to it. Breathe and make space for it to exist. Then make a new choice. Over and over. This is one of the principles of neuroplasticity. To wire a neuron you must fire it. Fire to wire, wire to fire. What you focus one will bear results over time. This is guaranteed. Whatever you’re working to shift in your life keep fiddling.
Don’t give up. When you give up you lose your ability. Which is the next principle, use it or lose it. If you are not firing a network of neurons, they become weakened and recruited for other tasks.
Another principle of neuroplasiticity is in order to make a neuron you have to break an existing one.
It’s called, make it to break it and break it to make it. If you are breaking and old habit, you don’t want to dwell on what a bad habit it is and what a bad person you are. You want to focus on the change and what a great job you are doing.
A recent discovery in neuroplasticity is that the brain becomes most plastic or changeable during an intense experience.
Research shows the most powerful positive emotion you can experience that changes your brain/body is Love.
When you love something your brain releases a plethora of hormones and neurotransmitters that calm the nervous system, balance the endocrine system, boost the immune system and several others. So I say lets take all that love and point it back to its source. When you love yourself your whole being shines with health and vitality you have energy to exchange with the world. This is the power behind self love. It’s not a trending fad. Self love works. Try it. Let me know how it feels. Neuroplasticity, wild stuff!