Recently I watched a very interesting program on PBS (public television) about brain plasticity. For most of my life, the conventional teaching has been that once the brain’s neurons became damaged, loss of function inevitably followed, because brain neurons could not be regenerated. In recent years, I have started to hear otherwise, but never really had anything to back it up. Had I been interested enough to seek documentation and evidence, I might well have found it. But with everything else to do, . . .
The program that I saw on PBS, The Brain Fitness Program discusses brain plasticity, the ability of the brain to continually develop new nerve connections. Neuro scientists share current research into how the brain functions. (For more information about the program, search online. Also, it may still have showings on PBS.)
Computer-generated illustrations of neurotransmitters in the brain biochemically explained for me how the Law of Attraction works, and how habits and patterns are formed. (The show didn’t use these terms. Those are the things that the show triggered in my memory.)
Basically, anything that you do over and over again strengthens that particular nerve pathway in the brain, making it increasingly easy for you to repeat that activity. Whatever that activity may be – thought, belief, emotion, action, speaking, etc. – it is strengthened as a pattern in your brain.
Strengthening Pathways in Positive Ways
In some cases, it is positive to strengthen a pathway. For example, as a baby learns and grows, their nerve pathways expand at exponential rates. Activities that are repeated ultimately result in the baby being able to walk, talk, learn to use the toilet, and eventually read. Each of these abilities is the culmination of thousands of pathways that have been strengthened to the point of becoming patterns that can be executed without requiring conscious thought. If you think about it, this is an astounding and miraculous accomplishment.
All skill development requires repetition. Repetition strengthens the nerve pathways.
Negative Thoughts and Emotions Strengthen Negative Pathways
However, strengthening of nerve pathways through repetition works both ways. As a bodywork practitioner, I frequently have clients who say lots of terrible things about their bodies and their health. I call their attention to this, and encourage them to 1) recognize what they are saying and 2) gradually reprogram their thoughts. How you feel and what you say powerfully shape your health.
When you have negative emotions and thoughts, do you tend to repeat them cyclically? Do fears and negative thoughts about your health ever run continuously? Think about the negative nerve pathways that are being strengthened! No wonder so many people experience continually declining health!
You can do something about this!!
Looking at the Ground While Walking Strengthens a NEGATIVE Pattern
One particularly notable example from the Brain Fitness program is the habit that some people develop of looking at the ground in front of them as they walk. The program mentioned that this frequently happens with older people. It may begin after they have fallen. Because they are concerned about falling again, they look at the ground so as to be more attentive to where they are stepping, so they can avoid hazards. This seems to be a sensible precaution. However, it has two drawbacks.
Whatever your age, when you look downward while walking forward, you will not see people or other objects moving TOWARD you until they have gotten very close. Therefore you have insufficient time to change directions so as to avoid a collision. A person walking rapidly and bumping into an elderly person who is already unstable can cause them to stumble and even fall. Important as this is, I found the second drawback to be even more significant.
What Neurological Pattern is Strengthened When You Look Down as You Walk??
Looking down is associated with an expectation of falling. You are only looking down because of the risk and fear of falling. Though you are moving forward, your attention and energy are directed towards the ground. Take even a slight mis-step, and your head follows your eyes and your attention, and down to the ground you go.
Every time you look down as you walk, you are strengthening the neurological pathway for falling!
Memory Loss in the Elderly
Much of the focus of the Brain Fitness program is on helping people retain and even improve their levels of brain functioning. Exercises can keep the brain learning and developing new neural pathways throughout life. This can prevent or slow loss of memory and other functions as people age. In fact, researchers have found that people can even regain function that has already been lost, both in the case of age-related conditions like dementia and Alzheimers, and in the case of injury to the brain from stroke or other trauma.
If you want more information about The Brain Fitness Program, do a search online. A DVD of the program and an actual program of brain fitness exercises are available.
A Lifetime of Learning
Personally, I am addicted to learning. I’m always finding new things to learn, new skills to gain. I don’t do the specific exercises from the Brain Fitness Program, but I am always using my brain in new ways. New and interesting things keep coming my way.
As a child, I loved puzzles and games. Numbers, words, shapes, mazes, jigsaw, cards, I did them all. And I read stacks and stacks of books. Long ago I came to appreciate the skills that I developed during those years. My ease at shape recognition and finding patterns has been helpful in countless situations. An example that comes to mind is reading upside down and backwards. (I can even read upside down and backwards reflected in a mirror, but there really aren’t many circumstances when that is necessary.) I think this is a problem of shape, pattern, and word recognition, sequencing, and probably more. This skill is most applicable when a person is filling out a form for me, at the bank, for instance. I give them the information that they need without their asking for it, because I can read the form. And when I was helping my son with learning to read or doing math homework, I could provide assistance from across the table.
Keep on Learning!!
Use it or you lose it. It’s familiar and it’s applicable. Fortunately, according to the Brain Fitness scientists, you can even regain some of the neurological ground that may have been lost over time or through injury.
Remember, Continue Using Your Brain in New Ways!
Sandra Lynn Lee
Certified Healing Codes Practitioner
Everything in this newsletter is the opinion of the author and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. When information is drawn from outside sources, both credit and access to the source are given, when available.
Copyright 2008 Miracle Inspirations. All rights reserved.