Changing Your Brain
This weekend a friend took me to an event called Uplift Talks. The following post is inspired by Dr Frank Lipton's work & Prince EA (youtube sensation- look him up if you're not familiar!) woven in with what it sparked in me, personally.
Let's begin by talking about neural pathways, a topic near and dear to my heart (and brain...) If you have not looked into the workings of neural pathways much, let me give you an introduction! They are the pathways for our neurons in our brain. Long story short, the more we do something the more "paved" the neural pathway becomes (think habits/learning a new skill, etc.). All we have to do to get better at something, or incorporate a healthier habit in the place of an unhealthy one, is do it more! Simple and easy, right? Well maybe not so easy without discipline and the proper support system.. but possible? Yes. Absolutely!
The first seven years of our life our brainwaves are in Theta. That is a state of hypnosis!
Now let's look at how our neural pathways are formed. The first seven years of our life our brainwaves are in Theta. That is a state of hypnosis! In this phase we are basically downloading our reality. What we are told and witness in those years essentially become what we perceive the world to be. Our brain in that phase is basically putty that is being shaped by our upbringing. Most people hear "no" or "you can't do that" something like 30,000 times in that period. Take a moment to let that sink in....
Most people hear "no" or "you can't do that" something like 30,000 times in that period.
Think back to your childhood. Was is joyful, traumatic, creative or limiting? Just bring awareness to that, without any judgement. When we bring awareness to it we have the ability to begin recognizing what parts of our "programming" are serving us, and which ones may just be limiting beliefs that we hold about life. Note that we continue to build habits and patterns after childhood, but generally speaking, our brains are less malleable.
Next, let's get into what our internal dialog does to our body. Take a moment to reflect on how a typical conversation with yourself goes down. Do you ever criticize yourself? Put yourself down for not being good enough, or for fucking up, or for not being the best (or whatever)? When we do this our body produces stress hormones. We can literally put our nervous system into a state of fight or flight by doing this. (Cue panic attack).
We can literally put our nervous system into a state of fight or flight by doing this.
So, how do we keep this from happening?
First, Awareness: Begin to notice when your mind goes there.
Secondly, Practice: Every time you notice this you can try to change the conversation with yourself, and in doing so you will begin to build a positive neural pathway. Think along the lines of, "Ok that didn't go as planned. Now I know how to be a little better next time." instead of something like, "That was fucking terrible.")
Next, Recognize: You are not your thoughts. You are interpreting your thoughts. You have the ability to reshape your brain/thoughts/habits/patterns. It's called neural plasticity, and it's real! That's basically the abridged version of any practice such as mindfulness, meditation or yoga.
I feel that I must add my acknowledgment for how difficult the process can be. As we dive into the endeavor of changing ourselves we come up against all sorts of deeply rooted psychological blocks. And to that I say- You are a motherloving WARRIOR. The deeper the wound you heal, the more of a rewarding the freedom you will reap down the line. I promise I speak from experience.
So who are you? To find out who you truly are at your core, you must follow whatever it is that brings you joy. Do you light up talking about something in particular? Follow that! With the disclaimer of: Don't be a dick! In essence, follow what makes you happy as long as it does not involve hurting others. Know that your gifts are unique to you, no matter what you've been told or thought about it being otherwise.
Know that your gifts are unique to you, no matter what you've been told or thought about it being otherwise.
I will leave you with this: Get your support systems in place. Community is an essential part of healing and evolving. There are amazing studies that prove that the power of community is strong enough to fight off disease in itself (look up Roseto Effect for more on that). Find your people. Is it a music meet up, a gym, yoga studio, or club? Find a therapist/coach/unbiased listening ear to support you in the process. You don't have to go it alone! If you don't know how to find that, just reach out.
May you find peace, and relief!
*Additional shout out to Sarasvati Hewitt for the endless inspiration, and intention of spreading the word of Neuroscience/Yoga/Meditation for addiction, depression and anxiety. sarasvatihewitt.com