Neuroplasticity refers to the brains ability to change, to grow new connections & to develop even in adulthood. I normally write from development, spiritual or themed perspectives but today I thought it would be interesting to share some scientific focus as a game changer. Just to shake things up for those who may be interested.
Let’s talk with the brain in mind (lol!) Pardon the pun.
If the brain is stimulated through its environment, surroundings, human connections, growth stimulus, challenges etc, the brain has the ability to become enriched & actually GROW. The brain develops, much like a muscle that is being flexed doing training or exercise … because well…. The brain IS a muscle with superpowers! There is so much more to be unpacked in this area & we are constantly being exposed to exciting research & information about the process of neuroplasticity & what it can actually achieve!
But WHAT exactly is Neuroplasticity???? In more scientific terms.
The dendrites at the end of the neurons within your brain… the part that looks just like the tree in my logo, has the ability to grow, expand, multiply & with stimulation/exposure to change etc, it will do just this. Blood vessels work harder, oxygen levels increase, general movement & volumes of information passing through increases & this means good things for the person to whom this brain belongs.
So, in very simple terms, exposing the brain to new experiences, new stimulus & new connections means that the brain will GROW. Along with that comes the inverse, depriving the brain of all of these, results in the brain shrinking or remaining unchanged.
As a child, your brain is very flexible. As an adolescent, your brain goes through a process of myelination. It’s like an upgrading of the existing connections.
In adulthood, brains are therefore less flexible BUT able to operate at a faster pace. In other words your existing connections, thinking & patterning are embedded. They are given a protective coating which increases its ability to process its specific thinking patterns faster & with more efficiency. While this is great news for good habits & great thinking, it is bad news for bad habits & ineffective thinking. It embeds both, because the brain cannot determine whether something is truly harmful. It will place value on the thinking that is frequently practiced. It will embed the frequently used patterning. It puts the bad habits on autopilot, because it is patterning that you have been repeating over & over. You eventually become SO GOOD at this thinking that it happens automatically. Imagine your thinking as a beautiful green patch of grass. The more you walk on this patch of grass, the more your footprints form a path. Eventually the grass no longer grows there. It is the same with your thinking. The more you fire energy along those neural pathways, even the bad habits become embedded & to grow new grass in that area becomes hard. HARD BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE!
The GREAT news is that we are able to stimulate our brains in order to gain back some of the flexibility. We are able to increase the brains plasticity. We are able to grow grass in that area again, by deciding to walk on a different path. You can create new ways of thinking, processing, being… with intentional changes & practice.
There are exercise that can be done to develop cognitive flexibility. The just of this is to step outside of your comfort zone, do things that you are not used to doing. By remaining stuck in your old habits, not creating new stimulus for your brain, you are literally creating an impoverished environment for your brain to operate in.
The resistance you feel to all this talk of new processes, new ways of thinking, stepping outside of the comfort zone may be much like when you first start running or training. The tingling sensation in your butt cheeks when you first start training is just the muscles being woken after their slumber. Your brain will be resistant to the change at first because it is trying to save you energy, it wants to default to autopilot to make your life easier. Until you show it the potential that the new experiences & thinking can harness, it will resist the change.
Neuroplasticity forms part of the CORE processes in the coaching modality that we use. This is exciting because it means that this scientific process of improving your thinking & therefor your life is SOOOOO accessible!
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