I seldom re-blog or re-publish someone’s work here in my WordPress account. However, this day, this very day, I have stumbled upon a great article in LinkedIn.
This very article is what I really wanted to point out with my entry last May 8.
The Worst Thing You Can Do to Your Brain
(And Vice Versa)
Deepak Chopra MD (official)
Founder, Chopra Foundation
May 15, 2014
The brain hasn’t ever been unimportant, but it has risen to new heights in an age where neuroscience and genetics are sharply focused on it. We are gaining so much insight into brain processes that it’s easy to assume that the brain runs our lives. The truth is that each of us is the user of our brain, and as with any mechanism, the user’s intention makes all the difference.
There’s no need to get mired in the contentious argument over whether the brain is the mind or a physical representation of the mind. Without a doubt every person gives their brain input every day, and in return, the brain responds. In other words, you and your brain are related in a feedback loop. This feedback loop is so sensitive that it responds to every moment of life, including every experience, thought, feeling, and sensation you’ve ever had.
Which leads to a deep question. Are you in charge of the feedback or is it in charge of you? If you let your embedded memories and old habits have their own way, you can’t be in charge. Instead, you will automatically react to a wide host of new experiences as if they were the shadow of old ones. This results in a state I call stuckness, where the most precious ability to possess – the ability of free choice – has been taken away from you.
When you are stuck, the following results build up over time:
• You act thoughtlessly.
• You become blind to new input.
• You accept old output without question.
• Your brain keeps imprinting its old wiring deeper and deeper.
• You lose self-awareness.
Getting stuck is the worst thing your brain can do to you, and vice versa. The ultimate responsibility rests upon you, because you are meant to be the user of your brain, not the other way around. When a person isn’t stuck, there is a conscious attempt, year in and year out, to renew the feedback loop. To do this, the following pointers will help:
• Question your ingrained beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions.
• Keep lines of communication open with others.
• Encourage opinions from a wide circle of people.
• Respect and understand views that are the opposite of yours.
• Be aware of your negative emotions and work on them without blaming others.
• Value self-awareness and work to expand your awareness.
• Look upon your life as a continuing process of evolution.
None of this is new advice; it goes back thousands of years in the world’s wisdom traditions. The only new twist is that modern people want to see physical evidence before they accept the validity of what used to be called wisdom, and now advanced brain research has provided it. There’s no neurological term for stuckness, yet it is well established that the brain has natural plasticity – that is, it’s highly adaptive and sensitive to input from body, mind, and surroundings.
In a very real sense, you are creating the brain you are going to live with in the future, according to how you respond to life today. Stuckness represents a state of inertia; it says that you don’t value your personal growth as much as you should. The fact that the brain is crucial to a person’s evolution seems obvious, but in the past an inability to change was blamed on sin, laziness, lack of intellect, and genetic programming. In reality, volition – the ability to carry through the change you want to achieve – plays a major role. When we misuse the brain, every experience suffers, and that includes spiritual experience, which like every other kind depends on the brain to register it. No saint ever saw angels without the participation of the visual cortex.
Avoiding the condition of stuckness comes under the heading of self-care, which has become more and more important recently. There’s much to say about self-care, but the first and most important step is to take seriously your role as the user of your brain, a role with far-reaching implications.