HJ: Your brain is an incredible, highly adaptable ‘machine’ that can and does change with you as you evolve and grow. In fact, with a little knowledge of it’s basic patterns and functioning, you can quite easily learn to reprogram it and shape it in any way you choose and see fit. This article is designed to help you do just that, by presenting 10 powerful ways you can rewire your brain for greater intelligence, happiness and peace.
Mapping the Mindscape
By Lisa Wimberger | Neurosculpting Institute
Well into this century, the prevailing scientific wisdom was that our brains were hardwired and fixed, and that we could not generate new brain cells.
Fortunately, for the betterment of mankind, science changed its tune. It is now widely accepted, and empirically proven, that our brains are elastic and regenerative.
Each of us has the ability to generate new brain cells through lifestyle and nutrition, a process called neurogenesis. The amazing revelations haven’t stopped there. Now we also know that we can rewire our neural mindscape through the same means, and do so at will!
No longer are we destined to express a genetic predisposition to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. No longer are we victims of negative stress cycles perpetuated by external situations. Destiny, like our mind, is malleable. WE are the drivers. WE are the storytellers, and this life is OUR story that can be written in our own way.
This theory is exciting, inspiring, and life-changing; but how do we take control? This is my mission: to help myself and others understand the “how," because without the real-world, practical application of such “magic," what good does it do us? The focus of my career is to help others sculpt their lives, remap their own mindscape, and shift reality to one in which mastery comes from inside, rather than outside.
Before I give you some practical tips on how to do this, it’s important to understand that during states of stress and fear, we disable our ability to learn and draw new “positive" maps in our brains because the your prefrontal cortex (PFC) is disengaged. This is key, because the PFC is a critical to our ability to sculpt new, positive neural pathways. Unfortunately, many of us function in low levels of stress most of the time. Getting our stress under control is extremely important, as it’s both a precursor and a result of remapping or sculpting–and therefore we cheat ourselves of all potential transformation when we ignore our stresses and anxieties.
Here are ten practical tips to help mitigate stress, and map a new mindscape:
Incorporate brain-teaser or problem-solving activities into your daily life. These engage your PFC in a way that increases your dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical in learning and encoding what you’ve learned. This is how we grow new neural pathways.
Exercise regularly. This stimulates critical growth hormones in the brain that specifically minimize and repair stress damage.
Don’t exhaust your brain’s energy on routine tasks. Don’t drain yourself on tasks that can be done without much active thought can drain your energy; if you are gearing up to do higher-level tasks, such as making a big decision, creating a project, or organizing an event, you need your PFC online and functioning–and it, too, is an energy hog.
Reframe or reappraise situations often. Understanding that the brain has a natural “negative bias," mindfully stop yourself during negative responses to tough situations and try to convert them into positive, or at least neutral ones. Boss is being a jerk? Think of it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness–who knows what’s happening in your boss’s life or what brought him to that state? You can only be derailed on a negative track if you allow yourself to be. Remember that you have grace and people who love you and a job to do: improving yourself by taking in the good, and that doesn’t include getting caught in “negative feedback loops." This, too, stimulates the PFC in a way that encourages new neural growth.
Be proactive in remapping yourself. Use vivid mental imagery, meditation, or visualizations imbued with positive, fulfilling, or engaging emotional associations to tell yourself stories of the way you’d like your situation to be. Associating a positive emotion with a visual engages the PFC and encodes the neural path more deeply.
You are what you eat. Add brain-foods and supplements to your diet such as strong antioxidants and lots of healthy fats, including foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. Reduce or eliminate refined sugars and carbohydrates so that your brain converts from using glucose as its inefficient fuel to using fats as its highly efficient fuel.
Meditate, practice mindfulness, or pray daily. This encourages an alpha-brainwave state, which is commonly associated with a relaxed awareness, and is the foundational state proceeding moments of insight. There are many methods and many paths, but none of them will work without setting aside the time to do them.
Change up your routines. Use your non-dominant hand to do things like brushing your teeth, turning on the faucet, or cutting your food. Switch up your routines by putting your opposite sock on first, turning the opposite way in the shower, or buttoning your shirt from top to bottom. As you switch your patterns your brain takes pause and stimulates your PFC to create new neural pathways to encode the new information.
Learn, engage and challenge yourself. Choose a new topic of interest or hobby and begin learning about it. Your PFC will be engaged and delighted, precisely the factors involved in creating new neural pathways.
As I continue teaching various levels of my NeuroSculpting programs, I am always amazed at how quickly individuals begin to shift their mindsets and lives. It is our human responsibility to sculpt our lives, to no longer perceive ourselves as victims, and to write our own victorious stories. It is our right to health, peace and well-being. And it is our right to learn how to do this in practical and easy ways.
As you incorporate some of these tips into your day-to-day life, feel free to send Lisa your feedback.
Yours in Mental Hygiene,
Founder, NeuroSculping Institute