Back in 1968 prophet Spock spoke to us. “… I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with humans. I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.” – Star Trek, season 3, episode 7
Why would we wish to have perpetually damaging substance generating components in our brains that are fueled by half-truths that do not even make sense?
What do I mean by, “drugging your body?” The things that you think about effect hormones that flow from the “forest in your mind” in to your body as either cortisol (a stress hormone) or oxytocin (comfort hormone). Having too much cortisol in your body has serious implications for your heath and wellbeing, which I have experienced first hand.
As we mature in our mindfulness and become aware of harmful ideas, I recommend that you focus on a certain thought-pattern. As you identify the bogus reasoning, declare your freedom and drive a stake of truth in that harmful structure in your brain. I refer to these physical structures as thought-trees because they look like trees and the biological processes that affect trees provide accessible analogies for addressing brain activity. This is where neuroplasticity comes into play.
The capacity of the brain to develop and change throughout life.
The capacity of the nervous system to develop new neuronal connections.
Those are two vague and boring definitions.
Let me give you a better one:
Mindful Neuroplasticity: Your brain can be reshaped, rebuilt, made smarter, happier, and molded to bring about the best version of yourself by being mindful, catching harmful thoughts and renewing your mind.
Do you know what happens to the harmful thought-trees in our minds when are fully replaced by life-giving structures? Over time, they burn and are forgotten.
What to do? The path forward.
Identify. Capture. Discard. Replace. Rebuild.
The first step is to identify harmful false thought patterns.
We can do this by becoming aware of certain illogical thought triggers. These subtle deceptions are based on potent false ideas such as False Finalities and Nebulous Conclusions.
I’ll Never, I always, She is …,
Finality Defined: the fact or impression of being an irreversible ending.
Example: I am a failure is false, I sometimes fail is true.
Recognizing the false finality makes it easy to discard.
Nebulous Defined: hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused:
Double whammy: a statement that includes both a false finality and a nebulous conclusion.
False: There’s so much that I need to accomplish (nebulous), I could never complete it all (Finality).
True: There seems to be an overwhelming amount of things to accomplish, I need to make a list. Then I can have a realistic idea of what it will take to complete these tasks. I can get help if I need it.
For more tips on short circuiting these types of thoughts check out this article: How to Short Circuit Harmful Ruminating Thoughts
The Nightly Cleaning Crew
There are agents known as the gardeners of your respective brain landscape. Glial cells, as they are called work to speed up impulses among specific neurons. And there are additional agents. Also, glial cells are the debris removers, yanking up unwanted weed growth, pruning branches, vacuuming up fallen thoughts during your sleep.
This produces a critical question, which ones to prune?
There’s a classic saying amongst neuroscientists: “neurons that fire together wire together.”
Scientists are just starting to uncover this puzzle, however, what they have discovered to date is fascinating and has compelling implications. A protein, called C1q (almost sounds like a robot from Star Wars) marks the connections that are getting used less often. This mark is a sign for when the cleaning team sets out during sleep. The relationships that were attached to that structure are pruned. The thought tree is starting to forfeit its effect on your existence.
So we join in with Doctor Spock in saying to those damaging thoughts, “that’s illogical, those pesky thoughts are not worth considering.”
Now that we have a handle on Identifying, Capturing, and Discarding, my next post is going to be focused on replacing and rebuilding.
“be transformed by the renewal of your mind”- Romans 12:2
I think that sums it up quite nicely.
I hope that this offering has been helpful to you in some way. If you have any questions or comments or for more of my thoughts about Mindfulness and Christian Meditation please check out my blog Mindfully Renewed.
J. A. Conner