Change Your Neural Pathways
Even if you are 90 years old, you can change your brain structure.
The old saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, is a myth. Dr. Siegel explains brain transformation via mindsight:
Within each of us there is an internal mental world–what I have come to think of as the sea inside–that is a wonderfully rich place, filled with thoughts and feelings, memories and dreams, hopes and wishes. Of course it can also be a turbulent place, where we experience the dark side of all those wonderful feelings and thoughts–fears, sorrows, dreads, regrets, nightmares. When this inner sea seems to crash in on us, threatening to drag us down below to the dark depths, it can make us feel as if we are drowning. Who among us has not at one time or another felt overwhelmed by the sensations from within our own minds? Sometimes these feelings are just a passing thing–a bad day at work, a fight with someone we love, an attack of nerves about a test we have to take or a presentation we have to give…there is a skill you can learn called “mindsight,” for once mastered is a truly transformational tool. Mindsight has the potential to free us from patterns of mind that are getting in the way of living our lives to the fullest.
What is mindsight? It is the kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.
By developing the ability to focus our attention on our internal world, we are picking up a “scapel” we can use to resculpt our neural pathways, stimulating the growth of areas of the brain that are crucial to mental health.
How we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain.
Mindsight helps the brain achieve and maintain integration, a process by which separate elements are linked together into a working whole. Integration enables us to be flexible and free; the lack of such connections promotes a life that is either rigid or chaotic.
The good news is that whatever our early history, it is never too late to stimulate the growth of the neural fibers that enable mindsight to flourish…the brain never stops growing in response to experience.