Leisure swimmers have different muscles to committed cyclists, gardening works muscles that typing wont. Just as muscles may be built by occupation, pastime or determination so too our brains are built upon by how they get worked – by experience, repeat experience, on going flexing. It is not just that we can alter our attitudes, we can actually change our minds – physically rewire the structure of our brain by regularly adopting and flexing that attitude. The brain is pliable enough to change, to alter – it is not rigid, it has plasticity. Previous embedded mind-sets can be unset.
This capacity for neuroplasticity is one of the reasons regular mindfulness is often clinically prescribed to undo the habitual harm and self-programming of depression, addiction, anxiety, panic and even PTSD. Mindfulness and other meditations can physically remodel brain regions associated with attention control, sensory processing and response to stimuli and so reshape attitudes and quality of life – helping people regain control after years of fixed patterns and inflexible reactions. The scientific studies and advancement of mindfulness in therapeutics is found in the works of Sara W. Lazar, Daniel J. Siegel and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Neuroplasticity is happing all the time it is how we learn new things. What is interesting is that one must be up for it, enthusiasm is required, you can’t really go through the motions of it – positive motivation and real alertness triggers the neurochemicals necessary to enable the brain modifications. So your depressed state or distracted anxiousness actually switches your neuroplasticity function off. Coming to mindfulness is the way to reengage that function and activate purpose.
In learning any new task the more honed the attention the more we take it in, the more memory is retained of how to. It’s the old ‘practice makes perfect’ idiom; the more repetition the more the brain grabs of the experience, the more it gets wired in. Each time, the brain strengthens the connections of neurons that are engaged in the task or experience. Cell-to cell cooperation is enhanced in the moment by moment of the occurrence. When we bring moment to moment mindfulness to this process we further enhance it by reducing the disruptive power of distraction. We are there, it is happening, game on, switch ‘on’.
The single tasking of bringing our presence to the moment – to the task in hand, consolidates performance and perfects acquisition. The more we practice mindfulness the more we cultivate our own neuroplasticity.
something to contemplate. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee (Hong Kong-American martial arts expert and philosopher.1940 – 1973)