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The changing brain & thinking heart

Did you know that the brain is actually capable of changing itself?

Only ten years ago we thought that the brain could not regenerate new brain cells. Now they are discovering the brain can not only regenerate new cells but it can also influence how our genes are expressed! Given the right conditions and support the brain can actually rewire and reprogram itself.

This means we can reset our neuronal circuits (that’s the pathways that whizz messages from cell to cell), and in turn influence how both our mind and body works. This is based on the groundbreaking science and fascinating evolutionary functions of neuroplasticity (the changing brain) and neurogenesis (how our genes are expressed).

Science has also recently discovered that changing the brain in this way actually influences how we experience life, including how we think, feel, sense and experience health, disease and pain.  We now know that we have more influence over our health and wellbeing then ever was previously thought.

 

A bit of an eye opener, and a strong signal that maybe we need to take better care of our ‘brain health’ and heart-mind-body connections?

 

So, the words out! Modern neuroscience has now proven that the brain and how it functions is in fact ‘neuroplastic’. This means that it is not permanent; it can be changed.

A great resource that discusses this phenomenon in fascinating detail, and was actually one of the first books to describe the wonders of ’neuroplasticity’ is the book by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge; ‘The brain that changes itself’. You can find a link to how to get your hands on it (plus other great reads) at my Resource Centre here. I strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about how to harness your capacity to change your thinking, and literally change your life.

Norman Doidge describes how our brains are in fact malleable. This means our brains can actually reset and rewire, growing new neural pathways and trimming unused ones, given the right conditions and focused awareness. If we carefully nurture and give the right type of focus to our most complex organ; our brain, we can actually have more power and influence over our thinking, health, bodily functions and sensations than we may have never given our body credit for. This is pretty exciting.

 

The Heart-mind

Harnessing the power of heart-brain communication. Just as fascinating as neuroplasticity is the concept of heart-mind science. This is a new area of research and scientists are only just scratching the surface; discovering for the first time a neuro-physiological scientific link between our heart (our deep emotions), our mind, and our health and life experiences.  

This emerging area of heart-mind science recognises that our emotional circuitry (heart) is closely linked to our mental circuitry (mind), and if we can influence these pathways in a positive way, we can change the way we experience life, physical health, pain, mental wellbeing, and much more!  

The heart-mind principles have been around for a very long time but up until now there has been no scientific basis for what many in the self-management and psychological field have long known – “Change your thinking, open your mind, connect with your heart,  and you can change your life”.

So, on a scientific, neurophysiological level, what is actually going on in our body’s to create such a dramatic impact?

American neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza is an expert of the human mind. He is heavily involved in new research from the field of neuroscience and has a particular interest in ‘the biology of change’.

Dr Dispenza says that much like the principles of neuroscience, heart-mind science is based on the knowledge that nerve cells that repeatedly fire together, wire together to create a well trodden path that creates repeated patterns. These repeated nervous system patterns have corresponding effects on our mental circuitry (mind) and emotional circuitory (heart), and visa versa, and this in turn impacts on our physical health.

Essentially, how we talk to ourselves, and the emotions that go right along with this ‘self talk’ (our heart-mind connection) can literally change the brain, and ‘changing the brain’ can have all sorts of impacts on how we function and experience life.

Let’s talk about the experience of pain, for example. The mind-body connection, or the ’neuro-physiological link’, strongly influences the physical body including the way we perceive and experience pain.

When we think a certain way (whether this be connected to a strong positive or negative emotion) we create a whole heap of nerve messages along the heart-mind connection, which in turn stimulates a host of chemical reactions within the brain that communicate directly with the body.

Dr Dispenza explains that these neuro-chemical communications travel around the body’s systems – influencing how our body is functioning, experiencing sensations and communicating.

All of these internal bodily systems play a role in influencing how we experience pain.  Depending on what emotion is linked to our thought patterns at the time, will depend on whether our pain is up-regulated (increased), or down-regulated (reduced).

If we can learn more about this fascinating heart-mind link, and the neuro-scientific mind body connection, we can learn how to go about influencing our lives in a very positive way. Maybe it’s time to bring more nurture, self-nourishment and  self-love into your mind and heart.

My whole-life fitness booster for this week:

 

Engage your heart-mind!

 

In the words of Gian Kumar

“Think with the heart and love with the mind”

 

Want to know more?

You can learn more about this heart-mind concept, plus plenty of other great stuff on all things mind, body and living by browsing my website,  reading my blog articles or following the Facebook discussions.

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