Through the use of Functional MRI research, scientists have discovered some remarkable insights of the human brain. Prior to this time it was pretty much understood that the number of brain cells were established at birth and could never increase. Now we know differently. Researchers like Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, who have studied (via fMRI) the brains of Buddhist monks, have come to understand that our brains are not static, but quite dynamic. Not only can new brain cells form, but the neurological connections between cells can be created and reinforced, by our thoughts (in the case of meditation, our non-thoughts.) Emotions too! The term used to describe the pliable nature of our brains is neuorplasticity. In essence, we create a nervous system “training effect” with regard to our thought processes, much like an athlete creates brain to muscle neural pathways. The act of repeated meditation can create one training effect (a very positive one). Multi-tasking, via technology, can create quite another. Nicholas Carr, author of the book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, suggests that the repeated, if not addictive, use of the Internet is altering the circuitry of the brain, and not in a good way. Repeated distractions create a paved super highway of brain neurons resulting in a decreased attention span, poor memory and dull right brain thinking skills. The result of Internet overuse (addiction) is a brain engaged in a perpetual fight or flight response.
Stress Tip for the Day
There is no doubt that we live in a culture of distractions, not the least of which includes Facebook, text messaging, emails and all other forms of social media. To find balance in the high tech world, make a concerted effort to practice meditation. Learn to sit quietly, in an unplugged environment and allow your mind to relax. By doing so you create and strenghten neural pathways in your brain to navigate a more peaceful, well-balanced life.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Nicholas Carr wrote an excellent article on the topic of the Internet and the brain in this Atlantic article…. Does Google Make Us Stupid?
If you wish to know more about the wonders of our brain, here are a few links of interest:
Quote for the Day:
“Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of the specific brain areas.” —Andy Weil, MD.
Photo For the Day
After a wonderful hike up Ireland’s sacred mountain, Crough Patrick, (near the town of Westport), some of us took some time to meditate on the beauty before our eyes. Here is Matt being very mindful of this mystical experience. Thanks Matt (and everyone that joined us that day!) Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.