Use your Mind to change your Brain for the better.
Create an Optimal Brain to find Happiness : )
- reacting and responding to either positive or negative experiences.
We have a Brain and what a brain is, in its appearance, is a grey mass, with more than 100 billion nerves that communicate in trillions of connections called synapses. Those electrical or chemical signals flash from one side to another, travelling like shooting stars inside our heads. To get a picture of the speed and immensity of this just think of a single breath, and in that space, imagine a quadrillion messages flashing in your brain… Yes, the Brain is pretty complex.
A simple way to put what the Brain and Mind are is to think of them as Hardware and Software. So the Brain is a necessary condition for the Mind, but! the Brain depends on the Mind too.
Our Brain evolved from a system based on the idea of Avoidance; Approach and Attachment. Both Happiness or sadness arise from this cadence of actions. And the Brain has been evolving and growing in size based on the necessity of bonding/empathising with others, social skills so to speak.
Humans need more time than other mammals to develop because of the size of their Brain. Female Human can’t sustain the birth of a full developed brain so we need more time outside, childhood, to grow the Brain.
So, as the brain changes the Mind changes, but the Mind changes as the Brain changes too.
Pleasure Vs Pain… Love Vs Envy… those emotions have actually been mapped in scans, but when it comes to I, the Idea of Myself, there are too many and non-related areas that light up.
There’s not a particular part of the Brain for I, Me.
In scanners, the area for concentration/meditation is the same as for feelings. Scans show that people that are focused in feelings/concepts like Peace, Kindness, also have a embodied experience, so, our mental flow sculpts the Brain, creates paths, and that is why is possible to reduce the effects of Stress through meditation.
- Neurones that fire together wire together.
Our cortical mass with age gets thinner, but in scans they’ve seen how people who repeat certain actions thicken the cortical tissue surrounding those regions. And not only by really doing something, but also just by imagining the action.
This is what Neuroplasticity is.
So we can be a lot more thoughtful about what we are doing. The more pessimist you are, the more you reinforce the physicality of that feeling in your brain. The contrary is also true.
We should then be more mindfully self aware. It’s not just a catchy new age slogan… It’s a result, it’s a cause and effect reality.
You change your Mind you change your Brain reinforcing yourself.
Our amygdala is focused more in avoiding harmful things than reinforcing good habits. It’s good if you find food, and that behaviour is highlighted in our brain as a “do more and repeat” action, but, if we get caught in a trap and die it’s worse, so in that sense, rewarding a good action is secondary when compared to avoiding danger/surviving, in other words, the brain is like velcro for negative experiences.
How can we change this?
Self-Compassion is a way, but, self-compassion is hard for many people, due to feelings of
unworthiness, self-criticism, or “internalised oppression.”
A suggestion by Hanson to encourage the neural substrates of self-compassion is to do this experiment:
Start by getting the sense of being cared about by someone else; Bring to mind someone you naturally feel compassion for and sink into that experience of compassion in your body; then shift that compassionate feeling to yourself, perhaps with phrases like: “May I not suffer. May the pain of this moment pass.”
Anxiety, temperament, nervous behaviour… happens to everyone, happens in corporations, happens even in a national, world scale. What it does is to overestimate threat and underestimate opportunities. So we feel threaten and our body releases all different kind of stress responses, we feel overloaded, we feel unsure about the Future and raising a family, we overreact and give up too quickly, we get into “Inner Homeless Mode”, you don’t belong anywhere, you’re misunderstood everywhere.
Protect me, protect me… red alert! Us vs Them, vs It!
- If we want to make the World a better place we should ease up on reactivity.
But this Tiger way of acting is not always present. We sometimes achieve our optimal mind state, where we feel self-actualisation, inner Peace, enlightened. To be in The Zone, Calm, Content, Caring and Creative, but then, a trigger gets us back into reactive mode: if you want to prove you’re enlightened go visit your parents.
“If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves”
- Buddhist saying.
There are 3 Fundamental Pillars of Practice that show up in contemplative traditions as well as in modern psychology: Mindfulness (Open up), Virtue (Values) and Wisdom (What is the greater good) or in six words: Let be, Let go, Let in.
Remember the Brain’s Velcro attitude (taking in the negative), try taking in the positive, get in that habit, build that positive atitude.
Try this: Pick a positive fact, remember it, make yourself really feel it, savour it for 15/30s. Feel it sinking in, even replacing old places of pain in your Heart. Do this every time you can, you will see a big difference in time. You’ll become a velcro for positive experiences. Happiness is an important skill. Happy people are good people, good in productivity. Live by your own code of integrity and conduct, unilateral virtue. Be good for your own good.
Keep calm (get in the zone), soothe your stress and open up for some feelings, say to someone you love them. Find your own way, but find it in a positive way. Practice gratitude and peaceful mental states.