For the past couple of years I've been learning about the impacts of trauma on the body and mind. I've also been learning about neuroplasticity, which is an incredible means to healing a lot of conditions and issues. The power to heal by changing our brain is so big, that I consider neuroscience to be a science of hope.
I've gained knowledge about the way our brains work, how they influence our entire being and the ways in which they can heal, which has helped me both personally and professionally. Driven by a desire to understand my own experiences of illness, as well as to know how to support myself and others towards healing, I've devoted a lot of time and thought to building my understanding of mind-body health. To know about mind-body healing, is to know about Neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the concept that that the brain can change itself, that it is essentially 'plastic' and is therefore malleable. We used to believe that once the brain was fully developed, that was it, not much more change would take place; unless it was the decline that typically occurs with ageing.
We now know that the power of neuroplasticity is incredible, we can change our brains, by choice, at any age. They are also changing, by default, throughout our lives, according to a process called 'neural pruning'.
Our brains are complex, really really complex, so I'm not even going to try and get technical or detailed here, consider this a brief intro to neuroplasticity and if it gets you intrigued, go forth and explore the many resources available to learn more.
Just like the widely accepted understanding that exercising and moving our bodies can strengthen them, and that we can target certain muscles to strengthen and or lengthen them, we can also create change in our brains based on the same concept.
The old adage 'use it or lose it' is true for the brain also, because our brains are efficient, they only maintain the neural pathways that we use and allow the others to 'drop off' or weaken. Our brains naturally strengthen the neural pathways we use regularly, in the same way that repetitive physical exercise strengthens the body.
Intrigued to learn more? Click to read Part II of this series 'Neuroplasticity Simplifed'
I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions, don't be shy!
Resources to dive deeper with the experts:
- Dan Siegel's books, videos and courses
- The Body Keeps The Score, Bessell Van Der Kolk
- The brain that changes itself, Norman Doidge
- The Lightning Process Training
- When the body says no, Exploring The Stress-Disease connection Gabor Mate
- Neuro-Hacking Re-Wiring The Brain TedX Talk
- Gabor Mate on 'Sounds True' podcast
- Bessell Van Der Kolk on 'Sounds True podcast' discussing healing trauma
NB: I am not a neuroscientist, I have shared information to the best of my understanding, with the hope it might be spark your interest and support you to explore further. I encourage you to do your own learning & come to your own understanding of these topics.