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Taking Control of Your Brain

I don't know about you, but I've always felt a push and pull between my primal self and my higher self. My primal being my impulsive and honestly, very lazy self and my higher self being that rational being that's constantly trying to get me to stop procrastinating and not to react so quickly when I'm angry. In episode 42 of MentorZ, Louisa Nicola, a Neuroscientist and Brain Strategist, gives us critical details on how we can reshape our brain.


Neuroplasticity


"There's this saying among neuroscientists "when neurons fire together they wire together" - meaning we've got over 10 billion neurons. A neuron is a nerve cell in the brain, and we've got over 10 billion of them and they are working at any given time, whatever we are doing it's always working. And what we talk about with neuroplasticity is if you do a specific movement, you think a specific thought, you do something specific in order to achieve that output, your brain waves and also your neurons need to be firing in the same direction"


"So if you imagine your brain as this interconnected highway, there's just all these little highways going everywhere and you can drive down them. Now, what happens if, if you drive down one highway ... you will understand how to go down that highway again. You'll see some things along the road, you'll see the trees, you'll kind of remember them if you drive down that highway about 150 times or 10,000 times. You're going to know it so well that it becomes natural to you. You don't have to think about it you're just in sync. That is what we talk about when we talk about neuroplasticity."


"It's not something that's easy to achieve. However, that's where we get that whole saying of the 10,000-hour rule. You do something for 10,000 hours you perfect it. you're able to do it without even thinking "



An Example to Take Control - Meditation


On the subject of being quiet and silencing our minds, we talked about meditation and tuning out our surroundings. This allows her to feel focus and find her center - which means greater control of her brain.

"Again, neuroplasticity. The more times you do something the greater the highway strengthens. So if we are teaching our brains every morning to silence and to just focus, to become calm and block out the environment and block out the nonsense and the negative thoughts, then if we are feeling stress or anxious at any time in the day we are better able to switch that on because we've been practicing it."



Emotional Control - The Benefits of Meditation


Mental strength and endurance is something that every person should strive for. And something that always tests our ability to be rational and logical is our emotional reactions.

When it comes between emotion and logic, emotion has a much speedier reaction then thinking things through with a steady mind. This can usually get us into trouble by saying things we don't mean, having outbursts that can make situations worse, or blocks us from truly being able to hear the other person we are talking to. This can also be applied to emotional pattens we experience that make us want to feel afraid and timid. But when we think rationally in reflection, our fear was almost nonexistent, or maybe the person you were debating with was actually trying to be reasonable with you and you go out of hand.


Louisa explained how meditation allows us to take control of ourselves and provides us with more focus. Another meditative act, breathing, can allow us to take back control during times of emotional reactions. Again, here we are trying to retrain our brains in order to master ourselves.


"Take a breath before you react to anything I say this often in relationships before you react, take a breath, take an hour, go for a walk clear your mind. its really hard, it's really hard to like, hold that in and not react I get that because it is an emotional response but the stronger you are mentally the stronger your brain is ... the easier it is to literally not fight that impulse. It's like impulse control. ... How do you stop it? Well, before you react to something emotionally first and foremost you just have to take a breath, just set yourself "I'm going to take 5 seconds om going to take 10 seconds, I'm going to breathe and reassess " and if you still want to react after that after you've breathed then fine then go ahead and do that however if you can have that mental strength to just stop then yah, it's another learned behavior. "



The Ultimate Form of Neuroplasticity


Alpha waves and the flow state


In the interview, Louisa mentioned Micheal Jordan's incredible preformance of earning 16 points before a game ended. When reporters asked how he did it, he said he was "just in the zone". What is the zone?


The zone is flow state.

"Now what we found is that when people are in the zone they are admitting a number of different alpha brain waves and that's where we get that, they are called neural oscillations, but that's where we get that peak performance flow state. Its where things are coming so naturally it's like a euphoric moment. It only lasts a very short amount of time, it doesn't last hours upon hours, and it's very hard to get into. So this alpha brain wave state that we talk about ... which is the flow state, is where we are all trying to get in. It's where we do effortless work, we should all want that ... it's a trained habit. You can't just hope for the best, you have to train for it and we do that via things like meditation. It comes down to things like how well you've slept, how much you're eating, how well is your brain functioning, how much caffeine have you had? So it's not an easy thing to achieve and understand, however it is a very desirable state"


Essentially, when you master something and do it over and over again it becomes second nature. If you're an athlete, musician, or artist some of your best performances, competitions, or works came from when you weren't even thinking about it. You're subconscious takes over and does the work for you. And some people literally cannot remember some of their best races or best moments on stage. And that's why I think it's the top tier of neuroplasticity. Because you trained so hard it all comes naturally now.



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