Neuroplasticity – you are what you think
By Duane Hewitt
According to something called “neuroplasticity,” it may be true that you are what you think – and the possibilities raise some very interesting questions that may yield a number of truly amazing benefits.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to “reorganize” or “remap” itself throughout a person’s lifetime, after physical trauma involving brain injury, or even when the brain’s owner (you, me) chooses to think differently and/or use the brain differently. The word “neuro” refers to the body’s nerves or nervous system. “Plasticity” is the quality of being shaped or molded. Put together, neuroplasticity is essentially the process by which the brain modifies itself by strengthening neural pathways and synaptic connections while eliminating or stopping use of those that are severely diminished or no longer in use.
And when you begin to consider what this means, you begin to realize the awesome power that can be unleashed by how and what you choose to think.
If the brain is indeed this malleable, it opens up a profound number of possibilities about the internal workings and capabilities of the human mind. From the effects of our external environments to those of our internal environments (that is, what goes on inside our brains), it is very likely that we may have in our power the means to “think” ourselves out of the effects of anxiety, depression, loneliness, health problems, and so much more. Moreover, neuroplasticity apparently allows us to “supercharge” our minds with staggering potential. We can actually expand our thinking processes, our conscious state of being, and our abilities. Furthermore, there is evidence to indicate that the brain “directs” the body to change and adapt to its needs. Consider what this means in applications of personal health or, for that matter, personal accomplishments.
A supporting reference can be made here to the work of Dr. Dennis Charney, Dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Charney made a study of how the brain responds to dramatic changes in peoples’ environments. He found through his research that prisoners of war who were put into solitary confinement developed unusual cognitive abilities. This is because such POWs were basically allowed to do little more than “think,” and were thereby essentially exercising their brains. Many other findings through research into neuroplasticity and the effects of the brain exercising itself through “thinking” reveal equally interesting and impressive findings. It opens the door to some thought-provoking questions and possibilities.
Neuroplasticity may be the very ticket to repairing our minds and bodies, and even changing the essence of whom and what we are because of what we think. It can also tip us to those who think in dis-eased ways or with wrongful intent. If it’s true that the choice is ours for the “who” we are, then we all might want to be careful about what we do with our thoughts and our mind!
But how do we apply neuroplasticity for our betterment? The topic is worth further study. Begin by being conscious of what you think. If you find yourself being negative in thought, allow for the human aspect that might have a purpose for this type of thinking. It may be part of an inner self-analysis or process related to healing. Then, try to change to positive thinking – or, attach a positive to the negative, such as “Once again I failed in my desire to change things, but in so doing I learned more about what is best for me and I can now take affirmative action in this new direction.” Also, laugh more. Laughter is important to those neural pathways that bring energy and joy to the mind. Pray, also. Prayer is a positive meditative process that does wonders for mind and body. Additionally, learn what other methods there are to improve and evolve yourself for the better.
On the practical side of things, and by example, just because you think of music all day long doesn’t mean you can expect to write a symphony anytime soon (particularly if you also happen to be tone deaf or can’t read music). In such a scenario, music lessons might be a good starting point. On the other hand, neuroplasticity is likely the very thing that can get you writing symphonies along with overhauling yourself for the better and doing a great many other truly remarkable things, too.
Copyright 2017 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
See: Psychology Today “How do neuroplasticity and neurogenesis rewire your brain?”
See: How prayer changes the brain and body