Yesterday (Friday November 19th, 2010) I had the great privilege to attend Norman Doidge MD's revolutionary workshop and seminar on Neuroplasticity from his book - "The Brain That Changes Itself".
That our brain can change it's structure and function is a revolutionary finding, because up until now science and society has been approaching our mind, and in return US, as something rigid, that "This is the way we are, for life" = wrong, very, very wrong…. We are constantly changing, adapting, and growing, and every stimulus we receive changes the way our brain functions, consciously and unconsciously - and now through brain scanning and dissection we know this is true.
We now know that we can 'teach an old dog new tricks' and quite easily IF we approach the old dog the right way. Also the way we are taught, what we are taught, and how we are socialized (the type of stimulation we receive) = the way our brain is hard-wired and in return how we react, and what type of emotions are brought up in any given situation.
With an auditorium filled with Psychoanalysts, Psychologists, Neuro-Therapists, and other geniuses - my goal in this article is to let us "Regular People" know how this incredible recent discovery affects our lives now and into the future.
What is Neuroplasticity?
There are two ways our Brain changes itself - naturally in our everyday lives, and when given some type of stimulation intentionally to change.
Neuroplasticity, the natural way - the property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and its function through our mental experience (everyday interaction with people, things we see on the TV and internet, what we feel, and how we're brought up)
Neuroplasticity, the applied way - the property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and function in response to scientific stimulation - like electric, magnetic rods that turn on the circuits that process our natural mental experience. (science can re-wire our brain)
Why is it good that we know that the Brain is Plastic (Can change itself)?
We can teach an old dog new tricks
This knowledge is revolutionizing our approach to what we thought were learning disorders, and many forms of psychological disorders - for our youth and any age student - there is no more permanent classification for them - we just find out which parts of the brain need to be tweaked and we train those areas.
For those with disorders or trauma - Hope, it allows us to always have hope because we know that our brain in any form of trauma; physical through stroke, accident, and abuse, or psychological through sexual or fear induced trauma; we can re-wire our brain to get over anything, and heal.
We can now see the value of introspection, reflection and mind exercise to start paving the way for an educated society that is beyond simply intellect, but one that is in balance and harmony of emotions as well. The concept of learning disorders can be eliminated - now we just fine tune the parts of the brain that registers symbols, math and language. We can start treating all psychological disorders in a manner beyond drugs, one that targets the issue from the roots and heal the Brain.
Understand what is a healthy environment for the minds structure and function and work towards a society that lives in a peaceful, happy, and motivated state by balancing our Intellectual and Emotional competencies.
Turns out that the ego, motivation and love are the powerful determining factors for you to achieve the benefits of this Plasticity of the Brain. One of the main powerful techniques to attain this state, is by entering a meditative state.
The ego, because of feelings of inferiority or superiority… to yourself, to the program that you are doing, and to the person(s) around you delivering the program and supporting you. If your receptivity, the willingness to open up to the experience, is limited by your thoughts that "this will never work for me" or "this is childish and a foolish exercise" your chances for success are severely limited.
Motivation, because a strong dedication to what you are doing is essential to stick with it, in a positive frame of mind and emotion.
And Love, because it is one of the most powerful emotions to flood our body. When you are in a state of love, your malleability or the ability for your brain to re-wire is heightened. You are relaxed and your mind/body is releasing endorphins - your pleasure centers fire when you are in a state of love so learning becomes much easier.
Meditation is the practice that brings the ego into balance (neither in a state of superiority or inferiority), develops motivation by bringing you into the moment (releasing yourself from thoughts of future failure or past pain), and finally it develops a state of compassion and loving-kindness through a deep sense of connectedness to everything and everyone around you (by tuning into the subtleties of yourself).
Norman Doidge showed a film on Mindfulness Meditation to eliminate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - which is a state of being consumed by your thoughts. Something that Dr.Doidge pointed out many times was the value of Meditation to set the path for the evolution of Brain
Observe & Step Back
Apply/Attribute the fear or limitation you have, to what you know is actually happening in your mind/brain physically and consciously.
Focus on something else wholesome, realizing your minds worthless distractions.
It was a very simple technique of relaxed awareness, but incredibly successful. I'm coining Meditation as "Self-Directed Neuroplasticity" - by uprooting your issue (which is usually repressed, rooted deep within your unconscious) by bringing it into conscious awareness in a relaxed state - you start re-wiring your Brain to understand that everything will be ok.
I'm very excited to where this can take all of humanity, the knowledge that we are essentially all the same, and that every mind is Plastic, brings us further into an understanding that We are a Global Community.
If you'd like to experience some techniques and what meditation is, you can through the articles written in the categories on the right column of site.
This is Dr.Norman Doidge if you'd like to read his book click his picture!