Until the 1900’s it was believed that we were born with the brains we would have for life and that after a certain age, we could no longer change them. Neuroplasticity has blown this belief away with the wind. It is now proven that our brains continue to reshape themselves throughout our entire life span. We are consistently able to transform our reality, abilities, beliefs, IQ, and even our genes by altering how we process information in our brains. In his book “The Brain That Changes Itself.” Norman Doidge interviews and witnesses the work of many neuroscientists who alter human potential by altering the brain. Individuals have reprogrammed their right brain to perform functions lost in the left brain, cured paralysis caused by stroke, healed OCD habits, eliminated chronic pain, reduced limitations of autism, and cured addiction along with many other amazing feets simply by reprogramming the brain. I shouldn’t say simply because reprogramming the brain requires an immense amount of awareness, concentration, and effort, motivated by the volition and dedication to make new choices.
This may make some of us uncomfortable because it is easier to blame our bad habits and dysfunctions on things outside of our control. We like to believe that society, circumstance, genetic predisposition, and past experience are what created our discomforts, illnesses, and psychological troubles because then we carry no responsibility. We then search outside of ourselves for solutions turning to drugs, doctors, and acts of the world around us to make us feel better. What neuroplasticity is telling us is that healing can be found within our own minds. If we can change how we relate to our experiences, our circumstances, and our genetic differences then we can change how they manifest in our lives. Essentially, we can heal ourselves which is a very hopeful way to approach life.
Contemplative practices like mindfulness can help us tap into the infinite potential of neuroplasticity by heightening our awareness and developing our insight and wisdom. David Hawkins an experienced clinician, scientist, and mystic says that “wisdom considers all knowledge to be provisional and subject to change, not only in meaning, but also in significance and value.” This wisdom permits us to put down our own perspectives and views of reality opening to greater possibility. He says that “the mind believes in the reality or truth of its own programs and is unaware that it lacks intrinsic capacity for self-correction. It’s data is limited to only internal processing systems.” By quieting the thinking mind that is stuck within its own programming we can begin to open to wisdoms greater than our own knowledge. Within these wisdoms we will find the infinite potential to create a happier healthier world.
The path towards creating a healthy mind is not easy. It requires a consistent cycle of observing, recognizing, investigating, understanding, and choosing to turn towards new thoughts and behaviors. One of the basic qualities of life is that it is in a constant state of change. From cells and living organisms to ideas and mind states everything is in a constant cycle of fading away and beginning anew. This means that in every moment we hold the possibility to start fresh and turn what is dying into a new form of life. With right concentration and volition we can use each moment as an opportunity to transform our reality into one that promotes health and happiness by putting down mindsets and beliefs that no longer serve us and picking up the ones that do. We can choose to use this time of mass change as an opportunity to begin anew creating new mindsets and behaviors that serve us much better than previous ones.