Viewing entries tagged
neuroscience

Forming New Trails

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When you embark on a journey of learning something new whether it's learning how to perform a push-up, meditate, or play the violin, just the act of trying makes a big impact. 

That awkwardness, hesitation, and shakiness you may encounter when trying something new is truly your body upgrading itself. As we interact with the world through our senses we take in information and form new neural pathways.

In the beginning it can be like walking through a dense forest, but as we continue to trek the path consistently a trail begins to form.

It gets easier as specific neurons are used over and over again and they begin to lay down a thick covering called myelin.

Think of myelin like pouring down concrete on that path. Now you have a road. Traffic flows freely. Nerve transmission gets faster and before you know it you have gone from a bumpy road to smooth cruising. 

The more you learn and practice the more neural networks light up! This is why my motto is "shine bright!" Through practice, you are shining from the inside out and radiating life itself. 

Here's something to ponder about: 

"The human nervous system is thought to consist of 10 (to the 11th power) neurons, about the same number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. No two neurons are identical." - Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. 
 

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Learning, not just using our minds, but by using our bodies is key for intelligence and a dynamic life. And, if you really want to be next level, put your heart into it. Backing your practice with positive emotion will keep you coming back for more.

Focus is Your Golden Ticket

Just doing an action is not the same as embodying the action.   

"Neural connections can be altered and grown only if there is full attention, focused interest on what we do."
 (Merzenich, Taub and Greenough. Neural Plasticity)

Therefore, it's not just WHAT you do. It's HOW you do it. 

My bottom line is you have the ability to wire and re-wire yourself based on what you practice. Keep moving and challenging yourself. Be mindful throughout the process. Starting and trying is the most important thing. 

 

Mindfulness Changes Your Brain

Just as physical exercise can make your body stronger and more mobile, MRI studies suggest meditation may make your brain stronger, more resilient, and promote longevity. 

Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice may increase cortical thickness and slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with problem solving. 

MRI Studies Report Thickening in 4 Regions of the Brain: 

  • Posterior cingulate: mind wandering + self relevance

  • Left hippocampus: learning, cognition, memory, emotional regulation

  • Temporo parietal junction TPJ: empathy, compassion, perspective

  • Pons (area of brain stem): production of regulatory neurotransmitters

Reduction in size of: 

Amygdala: fight or flight- fear, stress, anxiety