10.23.2013

If the Path be Beautiful >>



The other morning in my yoga class, my teacher was talking about finding that place of calm that exists in all of us. Granted, for some us it might be harder to find than for others, but I do believe that it is always there. She then went on to talk about "strengthening the neural pathways" to those calm places, rather than beating down the same old pathways that are tried to true and are often the paths to obsessing, listing, and letting your thoughts jump all over wildly. This concept has really stuck with me the last couple of days, I think because it's something proactive that we can all do to make actual, physical changes in our brains and thought-patterns.

Allow me put on my Modern Jackass hat for a moment.

When we have thoughts, there is actually something happening in our brains at a chemical and biological level. Neurons communicate with other neurons - each has about 10,000 connections with its neighbors- and when you have the same old thoughts the same connections happen over and over again, making it easier to have those same thoughts over and over again, often putting us into a cycle of thinking that's hard to get out of. But when we try to change those patterns, and make a point of repeating the new patterns, we actually create new pathways. And the more we explore the new pathways, the easier those become. Here is a nice analogy if you'd like to explore this more.

Last night I woke up around 3am and found myself trying to get back to sleep, and this thought about neural pathways crept into my brain. I realized that even by just literally imaging and focusing on these pathways changing and leading me to a place of calm, that I was making new pathways. Focusing on a single thought is also known as dharana in yoga, and is one of the 8 limbs and a precursor to meditation. So, as I see it....win win! Building new pathways, finding that calm center, and using single-pointed focus to get there. Trippy. Oh, and I only had to think about all of this for about 60 seconds, because soon I was fast asleep and not obsessively trying to think of all the emails I needed to send or the things I should do when I get to work.

Something to think about at least. :)

shanti >> sondra

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3 comments:

  1. Salvaged Strawberry10/23/13, 2:08 PM

    Love this. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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  2. I find this sort of thing so interesting. I've blogged a little about how I've slowly changed my attitude and perception over the years from a largely negative one to a more positive one-- although I still have a lot of work to do. I think the idea of exercising our brains or training it to think in different ways is so cool. Your description of how our brain actually creates new neural pathways will be a nice visual next time I want to change a negative thought to a more positive one! I can already see myself imagining the little positive neurons sparking up while the old negative neurons black out and die. I hope a neuroscientist doesn't read this because that's probably a totally inaccurate image haha!

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  3. abhaya_sondra10/24/13, 10:49 AM

    I know, I was imagining real scientists reading my post and cringing (thus the Modern Jackass reference - have you ever heard that This American Life? http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/293/a-little-bit-of-knowledge?act=0#play). Glad I helped you kill some bad neurons. :)

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