The power of the mind to heal the body and achieve great things, for eons known by man to be fact, has in recent times been ignorantly overlooked or, worse, intentionally swept under the rug. Why?
“Everything we do and say is first a thought.” And that’s where many of the problems begin.
How Much Is Genetic?
Many diseases are caused or brought on by our negative thinking and resulting poor choices. “Genes may create an environment within us in which a problem may grow, a predisposition, but they do not produce the problem; we produce it through our choices.” Consider these findings:
- “Research shows that DNA actually changes shape in response to our thoughts.”
- “Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life.”
- “Our genetic makeup fluctuates by the minute based on what we are thinking and choosing.”
- “Research shows that 40 to 60 percent of heart disease patients suffer clinical depression and 30 to 50 percent of patients who suffer clinical depression are at risk for heart disease.”
- “Our thinking and subsequent choices become the signal switches for our genes.”
- “Other research shows that women who have suffered abuse were 60 percent more likely to have a child with autism.”
- Our negative thinking and poor choices can genetically affect our children, predisposing them with similar tendencies.
There are other not-so-pleasant side effects from our thinking (or lack thereof). “Greater social media use is associated with a higher body mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt for consumers with many close friends in their social network – all caused by a lack of self-control.”
We are as we think. “What we say and do is based on what we have already built into our minds.” If undealt with garbage from the past and present is built into our minds, then we are not likely healthy or happy.
The Brain’s Constant Dance
The brain is not static, but always changing as a result of input from our five senses, as well as the rehashing of good and bad “baggage” in our sub-consciences. Our thoughts continuously rewire and physically change our brain. “Neuroplasticity by definition means the brain is malleable and adaptable, changing moment by moment of every day.”
“Our thoughts, imagination, and choices can change the structure and function of our brains on every level: molecular, genetic, epigenetic, cellular, structural, neurochemical, and electromagnetic, and even subatomic.”
“It is very interesting that every cell in the body is connected to the heart, and the brain controls the heart and the mind controls the brain. So whatever we are thinking about affects [or can affect] every cell in our body.”
The Flip Side
“The design of the brain allows us to capture and discipline chaotic thoughts.” It is possible to “take every thought captive” and retrain our thinking to starve the negative thoughts and feed good ones.
“Our brain does not control us; we control our brain through our thinking and choosing.”
“We can change the physical nature of our brain through our thinking and choosing.”
“As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.”
Put Rubber To The Road
“We need to wire in positive thought networks that can fill us with the power to get us back on track.” The process of changing our thinking is a conscious, disciplined one, and to be practiced daily. “Through our thoughts, we can be our own brain surgeons as we make choices that change the circuits in our brains. We are designed to do our own brain surgery.”
“Research has shown that mental practice – imagination, visualization, deep thought, and reflection – produces the same physical changes in the brain as would physically carrying out the same imagined processes.” The same parts of the brain are activated by thinking about an act, as by the act itself.
“It’s your thinking that will actually change your brain.”
Daily practice of the five steps below will simultaneously break down toxic thoughts and build up healthy replacement memories. Perform this process seven to ten minutes per day, for a least a 21 day cycle (this is considered to be the brain detox cycle). Most times one cycle is enough to rewire toxic thought, but repeat the 21 day cycle as needed (the book referenced below recommends at least three total cycles in order for the change to become automatized).
- “Gather” – Be aware of incoming thoughts through the five senses, and from nonconscious memories and their attitudes, and associated feelings. This step brings thought into consciousness.
- “Focused Reflection” – Evaluate one of the harmful thoughts and its interconnections. The process includes body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. Think about solutions too, not just the problem.
- “Write” – Writing helps consolidate thoughts/memory, adds clarity to thinking, and helps you see areas needing work. Keep a thought journal. Or try drawing a graphical representation or diagram of the central thought, with off-chutes and branches for each facet of that thought. Aside from defining issues, identify ideas for solutions.
- “Revisit” – Work out solutions and ways to overcome. Evaluate where you have come from and where you are going.
- “Active Reach” – Take action. Teach yourself to get rid of the thought in some creative, active manner. For example, every time you have that particular harmful thought, you could remind yourself of your solution, dwell on your chosen replacement thought, or repeat some other positive message to yourself. Eventually your response to this toxic thought will become automatic. Important: Repeat/practice this action step at least seven times throughout the day.
Seek these good things for your brain: Introspection and thinking things through, letting your mind wander (but stay out of the gutter), sleeping, deep thinking, self-reflection, prayer, catching your thoughts and weeding out toxic ones, developing your mind intellectually, and trying to see the positive in things.
All quotes and the five step process paraphrased above are from the book, Switch On Your Brain, The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, by Dr. Caroline Leaf.