Donald Hebb, a Canadian psychologist, stated that neurons that fire together, wire together and what’s important to understand in this statement is what is firing and do you want that to be wired the way it is? Meaning, our habituated patterns of behavior are a result of this concept. If we self-reflect on our patterns of behavior, it becomes evident that there are a few or more that we’d like to change. The good news is is there’s a method. This method has proven efficacy as verified in neuroscience.
The brain puts out the call, the mind decides whether to listen, says Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, MD, from UCLA School of Medicine. What he is essentially stating is that our mind (remember from previous blog that mind is the flow of information and energy) makes a decision (often out of our awareness) to listen or not to listen to the brain. Our knee jerk reactions (habits) are those embedded neural events that keep as locked into actions and behaviors not serving us any longer. Essentially our precious cats and dogs are under this same brain systems acting in this same way.
So to actually activate and cultivate the higher brain center (Neo-cortex- which makes us human) activity and begin to get neurons firing and wiring here, especially the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC), it takes volition (will). Such volition or effort is what is referred to as attention. This attention operates under intention. When we set an intention and place attention on a single object, this is the cultivation of self-directed neuroplasticity. This is the path to liberating ourselves from entrenched patterns that have caused our suffering in our lives.
Breaking free from habituated ways of being take time and as stated, EFFORT. Our ability to maintain emotional stability of our minds is the cultivation of well-being. Through well-being our physical and sexual health will benefit.
Here’s a simple focused practice that I recommend to patients to do daily. Start with 5 minutes every day and build to 20-30 minutes. Over time you will begin noticing how all the triggers that sent you in fight-flight-freeze, are calming. It’s up to you now to take this simple advise on how you want your brain to be working for you. Or you can certainly decided to keep letting it act on it’s own accord. Or we are certainly in fond company with our fury friends.
- Make a space for your sitting. Either a cushion or chair
- Return to this space everyday for 5-30 minutes, start slow
- When sitting, keep your spine straight, dignified posture. Chin pulled in slightly, shoulders relaxed, hands relaxing in lap or on thighs. Close your eyes, over time you may have them slightly opened.
- Begin with counting your breaths. Follow the air as it moves through your nostrils, to the back of your throat into your lungs as you relax your belly and belly breath. Expand your breath fully allowing for your chest to expand as well. Slowly exhale. When you begin, you may find, slowly blowing out of your mouth with your lips slightly pursed is more comfortable.
- As you count, start from 1 going to 5 and then backwards. After several repetitions of this relax your mind and stay with your breath. You may find your thoughts wandering off and you are lost in them. This is normal. Thoughts happen by default, just as your heart beats by default and you breath by default.
- If you can stay with your breath and keep coming back to it, you will, with time, begin to find a greater ease in this process. Don’t give up. The effort here is soothing and calming your mind, body and spirit.