Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mind and Matter - Mind Matters

I am heartened (actually I am thrilled) that all the newest science about the brain (and mind) is supporting and confirming the scientific approach that I already use when I teach about this. This post introduces some thrilling and exciting aspects of using the mind - the subconscious mind - deliberately.

In 1989 I said that the exploration of Human Consciousness is one of the last great frontiers that quantum science is focusing on. I say "one of the last" because I also believe that another frontier is the proving, in layman's terms, the existence of "the Universal mind" (some call it the "Mind of God"). Those two frontiers are inexplicably bound together.
I have found Dr Joe Dispenza's book "Evolve Your Mind" a veritable feast of recent science, which explains the deeper operation of the Human Brain and the Mind. "The Mind", Dr Joe writes, "is the brain in action." Another description of the mind that I like is "the brain at work" or Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield's expression: "The mind is the personalisation of the brain."

An Example of "Quantum Physics"

My son-in-law, Stefan, told me of an experiment he carried out at university, whereby light passed through small holes onto a sensitive screen that measured the pattern of light hitting the screen. When the experiment was observed and then not observed, the pattern of light measured on the screen was different. That's right! The very fact that somebody was observing the light, had an effect.
Think about it. Your energy effects matter. Your mind effects matter. Your energy matters. We all have a unique energy. The fact that you are in this world means that the world is a different place! Yes, that's right! Your energy makes a difference. It's a short jump to say that what you think matters. Mind matters! The study of all the above (plus other subjects) is Quantum Physics.
Every time we change ourselves, say from being an angry, or fearful, or vengeful, or negative person, we are changing our own energy, and therefore effecting those around us (and the world), in a different way. Wow! Aren't we powerful. We have the ability to change, change our mind by using our brains.

Neural Pathways

I have previously written about how we establish Neural Pathways in our brain and how science has actually photographed the process. An example of beneficial neural pathways are how people can visualise (over and over again in their Peaceful Place, using emotion) the achievements of say a fantastic dive sequence, or a complicated move on the parallel bars, or shooting a basket, or place-kicking a goal, or complicated dance steps ... and then do all of these automatically. All wonderful examples of mind power!

Have you heard the expression "nerve cells (in the brain) that fire together wire together", and hence the continual firing together forms a neural pathway. The more this pathway is used, the stronger and more established it becomes. Actions become automatic because the "body" basically takes over.

Another way of explaining this (from Dr Joe's book) is that science has shown that when we quieten the internal chatter of our brain (going to Peaceful Place in Alpha and even more so by going from here into deeper meditation - the Theta brainwave state) we are using the frontal lobes of our brain in focused concentration to develop the neural networks in our neo-cortex (Left & Right brain) of whatever it is that we are working on to achieve with our mind.

Doing this over and over using great emotion (the language of the subconscious mind is emotion) develops the neural pathway. When it is automatic the memory of it moves into the seat of the subconscious - the cerebellum, which is in the mid brain or the Limbic System. The Cerebellum houses all our automatic actions - it is the keeper of what the body learns from the mind and is directly connected to all the circuits that fire in the Neo Cortex.

There is a corollary to Wire Together, Fire Together

It is absolutely fantastic that science has shown that "there is an important corollary to the 'fire together, wire together' mantra. When we interrupt certain thought processes repeatedly, nerve cells that no longer fire together will no longer wire together. The good news is that those nerve cells don't want to remain inactive. Instead, they seek out new connections and they use recycled neural growth factor to attach themselves to new neurons." Page 396 of "Evolve Your Brain".

This whole process is called pruning, and yes, science has filmed it. I have seen a video demonstrating "pruning" which to my untrained eye was a little hard to follow. meditation, subconscious mind, subconscious, mind, mind power.

Changing an Implicit Memory

When memories move to the subconscious mind, science is calling this "implicit" memory. Other memories or actions when they are not automatic is called explicit. In the process of forming a new habit we are going from explicit to implicit memory.

Changing an implicit memory to get a better habit (smoking to non smoking) is a challenge because the familiar, or the Comfort Zone, is so seductive. The subconscious mind (the Comfort Zone) wants what it's got - and not what it's not got. So "pruning" has to take place.
Awareness is always the first step. Awareness of being a victim, a complainer, an angry person or challenged by unworthiness, a depressed person, an anxious person, a judgmental person ... and more ... is the first step to change. Wanting to change is the next step, that is, saying YES. The next step is doing it and that's what I teach - how to do it.

Nobody said it's easy. Try this - sit or lie down and draw an infinity sign in the air, ? - (it's like a figure 8 lying on its side), with either leg, and the figure 6 with either arm. Difficult isn't it? If you use your will power, practice and visualisation after a while you could change the hard wiring in your brain.

Similarly if you persisted with the methods I teach using
1. Writing the goal in positive, personal and present tense language
2. Writing the reasons for your goals (WIIFMs)
3. Relaxing in your Peaceful Place and visualising the success of the goal
4. Using emotion (building emotional anchor)
5. Deep meditation on appropriate aspects of the above
then you would be able to change the new Implicit Memory - pruning away the old implicit memory and have the new habit housed in your cerebellum.

So , isn't it exciting and fantastic that the science of the brain has shown that change can be achieved and that with positive energy we can effect the world positively.

All The Best

Sandy MacGregor

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Establishing Neural Pathways

In the last month I have completed watching a series on ABC TV (from the BBC) titled "the humanbrain", narrated by Professor Robert Winston . The series takes a pioneering journey through the unexplored galaxy inside our own heads, describing cutting edge science and extraordinary experiments.
My favourite part of the series is when Professor Winston talks about a neural pathway and the fact that science has made the connection between visualisation and the establishment of a neural pathway. Furthermore, the established link between a neural pathway and physical achievement.

The Experiment described
A very competent young gymnast, who had been practising for five hours a day for 10 years, wanted to compete in the Olympic Games.
This meant that she had to learn a very complicated move. Despite what the coach showed and described to her, when the young gymnast tried the new move, she failed - over and over again. It was just not working and she needed a more "radical" approach - visualisation.
We saw the young gymnast standing still and practising the move in her mind - hundreds, if not thousands of times. You, of course, know the end result. When she then actually tried the move she was successful and could now focus on improving her technique. Robert Winston went on to say that what science has shown is that through visualisation the young gymnast had established a new neural pathway inside her mind. It was not until this neural pathway had been established that the actual physical achievement of completing the move could take place.

What more is there?

Know that "all good and lasting change occurs on the inside first". Another way to say this is, "if you can't perceive this happening in your mind's eye then there is very little chance of it taking place in physical reality".
Remember what the deeper meaning of visualisation is? It doesn't mean just see or see in your mind's eye! It is to visualise by using any or all of our senses (see, feel, smell, hear, or taste) and imagine and talk to yourself. The latter two we can all do; however with the five senses we can have varying degrees of success.
So if you can't -
- visualise yourself doing well in an exam, or
- visualise running a race and achieving it in a certain time, or
- envisaging yourself in the job that you want, or ...........
- expand your mind with other examples -

then there will be very little chance of it ever taking place in reality. Positive self talk plays an enormous part in achieving what you want and .......... so does the technique you use to implant the new thoughts in your subconscious mind.

Achieving faster
The young gymnast was standing still, focusing on visualising inside her mind, over and over again.
I know that you don't have to stand - you can sit comfortably. It is all very well to say "focus" on visualisation, however many people may have a challenge to do that. An easy way to do that is to go to a relaxed spot that you have experienced in your life, which takes you to the Alpha brainwave state, that is, a relaxed and focused state. Once you are in this focused state the Reticular Activating System is open and you can work inside your mind establishing new "neural pathways" which become new habits.
I suggest that you say your written goal (in positive, present tense, and personal language,) and then visualise the outcome. In the case of the young gymnast, not only completing the new move, but visualising the fact that she was representing her country at the Olympic Games would be most appropriate.
How do you think she would be feeling at the end of this visualisation? Fantastic! Yes the emotion has started. It is this emotion that is the language of the subconscious mind (not words, sounds or pictures,) and this emotion, can be enhanced using other good positive emotional events overlaying and adding to the original emotion. With more emotion the new neural pathway (the new habit) is established faster.
Muscle improvement
Professor Winston went on to describe how science has shown that up to 50% of muscle gain with "body builders" in a gymnasium can be gained just using the visualisation process! Almost unbelievable isn't it?
And yet when we stop and think about how science is showing how the human mind works, why not! After all, we have all heard about experiments being done years ago with basketballers shooting for baskets - how those who visualised beat those that actually practised.
A friend of mine is a paraplegic from the waist down. He has been visualising exercising his legs for years and his legs look good. The more common outcome for paraplegics who do not visualise is that their legs waste away.
I am personally thrilled that what I have been encouraging for years, has now got even more science behind it. Credibility has taken another leap forward! I encourage you to study and practise in your daily life - making the system a habit. This way you establish new neural pathways and achieve the possibilities that you dream about. So, be encouraged! Science is showing how our mind works. To achieve goals faster, create a new habit or to replace one that you wish to let go, use what I have said above - it works. I encourage you to put it into your daily life!