When you hear the word – “Neural Rewiring” or “Neuroplasticity”, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps, a vague idea that it has something to do with brain health?
Which brings us to our second question for you – What are your thoughts about how your brain works? Do you believe that we are hardwired for life? Do you believe your thoughts define who you are? What if we told you, you could rewire your brain for better health & well-being?
What we all have been taught about our brain is based on a conventional model of brain function. According to this model, the following is what we know to be true.
- We have a limited capacity to physically grow our neurons beyond our childhood.
- Our neural networks are well established by age 25.
- Beyond this age, there is no significant growth.
- These connections were thought to be stable. They formed the basis for understanding how brain structure correlates to its function.
Immense research in neuroscience in recent years has brought to the forefront an alternate theory of brain function. Contrary to the age-old traditional model, scientists have now proven that our neural networks are as malleable as plastic. This ability to rewire & build new connections forms the basis of “Neuroplasticity”.
The focus of this article is to understand how rewiring can be used to achieve better brain health and well-being.
Let us dive right into it.
Neuroplasticity: What is it Really?
Our brain reorganizes itself throughout life. Its architecture is constantly shaped and reshaped by our experiences and memories. In this context, modification of synaptic strength and extension of neuronal dendrites forms the molecular basis for rewiring.
Neuroplasticity makes your brain extremely resilient. It is the underlying reason behind miraculous recoveries of terminally ill patients and drug addicts. Furthermore, rewiring of old existing neuronal connections has been linked to recovery and repair in traumatic brain injury.
Why Should I Rewire My Brain?
Good question! But first, let us understand the big picture of how your everyday life is affecting your internal landscape. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, your personality creates your personal reality. 95% of our personality is conditioned programming of thoughts and memorized behaviors. The habits we demonstrate in our everyday lives are governed by the conditioning of our mind.
The process of change requires unlearning. It requires breaking the habit of the old self and reinventing a new self.”– Joe Dispenza
Our brains are safe houses of what we perceive as our environment. Our memories, thoughts, and experiences are all neatly packaged and stored away into different areas of the brain for later reference. When a habitual action is performed, the neurons associated with it will always fire together. These neurons thus get strengthened. In this context, it is important to know that neurons that wire together will always fire together.
If You Thought – Okay, All This Makes Sense, but Where is the Problem?
Here it is: Environment based conditioning of the mind is not always conducive to our natural state of being. We form habits & behaviors based on environmental conditioning. They become “hard-wired” into us. And we all know, breaking habits, small or big, good or bad, is a herculean task. It ends up being an uphill battle for most of us.
For instance, consider this. Say, you have a habit of checking your phone first thing in the morning each day. You will reach for that phone, no matter, an impending deadline, a migraine episode, strained eyes or radiation hazard! Your neurons have been wired to fire such that you cannot resist the habit. The result of this is varied levels of anxiety & stress. Many such conditioned behaviors (”habits”) throughout the day lead to accumulated stress.
Your body is knocked out of its normal balance. A state of perpetual fight or flight response kicks in. Very quickly you will find yourself having alarming stress levels as the new norm.
Stress activates adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. The energy rush associated with this can be addictive much like a narcotic. We get addicted to such habits, thus generating more of the same. Therefore, to restore health & well-being, a parasympathetic state of being must be regained.
In addition to inducing an addictive unsustainable energy rush, conditioned stressful thinking is also linked to cancer risk. It does so by having an effect on regulation of tumor inducing genes.
Pause here for a minute. Now, we would like for you to quickly scan your everyday habits. Which of these are contributing to your daily stress levels? Are you having trouble breaking out of them? From what you have read above, are you convinced that rewiring is a great strategy to better your brain health?
Methods to Rewire Your Brain
To break your conditioned habits, new neural connections need to be created. It is very much possible to entirely rewire an existing brain map. When a new set of neurons fire together, the old connections slowly disintegrate & wither away.
Scientists now understand that learning is a major trigger for neural rewiring. Having a curious outlook and learning new skills is central to creating new connections. So, the more we engage ourselves in mentally stimulating activities the more our neural network is reshaped. Therefore, “bend-your-mind-like-a-pretzel” seems to be a good motto to have!
Also, a life filled with joy, purpose & meaning automatically translates to lesser stress. This allows for a natural physiological balance to exist.
Ancient Practices and Neural Rewiring:
Spiritual yogis and ancient medicine practitioners have long known that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda & meditation are all ways to achieve a state of Neuroplasticity. A growing interest in this field has led to immense research in these eastern practices. Because of this, recent reports were able to show that acupuncture has induced neuronal growth in Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, reports have shown that the mental challenge induced by meditation is very similar to other forms of skill acquisition in the context of promoting rewiring.
We humans have an incredible innate ability to make a mere thought appear more real in our minds than anything else in the actual physical world. Therefore, our body reacts and responds to this thought as if it were real.
Visualization and guided meditation techniques rewire our pathways by leveraging this fact. For instance, the repair of a broken bone occurs at an accelerated rate with guided meditation than if left to heal by itself.
Wim-Hof Cold Therapy:
More recent studies show that Neuroplasticity can be achieved by methods other than Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. The Wim Hof method Cold Therapy as the name suggests, is where our body is exposed to colder temperatures outside of what we are used to. This resulted in stronger immune response to pathogens and reduced inflammation. The immune system was overall better regulated.
The Wim Hof method uses a combination of straight forward techniques – forced breathing, cold exposure & meditation. It is based on self-developed practices of a Dutch national Wim Hof. He demonstrated an ability to tolerate frequent periods of extreme cold exposure. The mechanism responsible for a boost in immune response is still unknown, but a link to neural rewiring has successfully been established.
Are You Ready to Begin Rewiring Your Brain?
Now that you are familiar with ways to rewire your neural pathways; who is ready to train your brain & become a new you? Have you said yes?
If so, congratulations! Here begins your journey of renewing your mind and yourself.
Remember that we at Innovative medicine are with you at every step of your new journey!
Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.
At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.
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