Understanding the brain
Working with your control center (ie. your brain) gives you the skill to understand why and how you think about things. This understanding gives you amazing power in learning how to control your thoughts and a major advantage in becoming resilient and taking charge of your life.
Our brain is a complex collection of nerve cells and neurotransmitters that continually send and respond to information all the time throughout the day and night. This activity and these messages can be altered to bring about new ways of behaving and being. This fact is extremely exciting to know that we have the power to actually control our “control” center.
Teaching you some of the ways that our brain is able to do this is one of my hopes as we travel on the mindfulness journey of trying to be everything that we were designed to be. The first step in understanding how to change something is to understand how something works.
The brain works by transmitting messages in the form of an electrical signals via projections referred to as dendrites and axons. When this electrical signal reaches the end of the axon, chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, are released to stimulate a response. When neuroscientists talk about changing, or rewiring, the brain they are referring to changing the way these messages between nerve cells are transmitted. As a result of changing the messages, we see new ways of behaving.
These changes can occur in several ways. Like muscles that grow when you work them, the same is true for the brain. The more you use your brain for a particular activity, the more it will grow. The brain actually grows more cells to do a particular task. This is evidenced by improving your performance, or skill, in that particular activity.
Changes to the nerve cells and brain activity is very responsive to our thoughts, emotions, actions and environment. A new thought, new emotion, new behavior, or new environment can trigger new patterns of electrical activity, changes in nerve cells and/or neurotransmitters. So if we immerse ourselves in situations where these new experiences can occur, we can change how our brain works.
Try to experience something new, unfamiliar or foreign to you and see what happens. Alternatively, try to work at a task repetitively and see if you noticed any improvement in the performance of that particular task.