Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to create new nerve pathways, allows us to change our thinking to tree us from potentially limiting beliefs. It means we can learn from and adapt to different experiences in a way that changes the physical structure of our brains and therefore the way we’ll think and act in the future. No wonder world-renowned neuroscientist and author Dr Tara Swart refers to your grey matter as ‘the source’.
In her new book, Open your mind, change your life – The Source (Vermilion, £12.99), Swart explains how you can strengthen your brain’s pathways to create a new ‘reality’. Whether it’s working with your ‘thalamus’, the part of your brain that manages how you filter information; or the limbic system, which determines what you retain as conscious thought, drawing on the inherent power of ‘the source’ can help you manifest the lite you want. Here are three strategies to get you started.
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WHAT SHAPED YOU?
Swart suggests you begin by exploring how your early attachments (parents, school teachers and the like) helped shape your neural pathways. In a journal, reflect on your role in your family and what beliefs, values, boundaries and secrets shaped your upbringing. Do they support your deepest wishes tor your life now? Then try some cognitive behaviour development techniques on any limiting thoughts you have, such as ‘I’m not outgoing enough to train as a PT’. What ‘evidence’, it any, are you using for your beliefs? Finally, ask yourself it they are objectively true – for example, has someone you know become a personal trainer, despite being ‘introverted’?
Devote a week to creating an authentic, individual action board, advises Swart. An action board is a collage that expresses your deepest longings and forms a blueprint for action. Images go straight to your brain’s visual centres, bypassing conscious thought, explains Swart, which means your brain’s filtering system can’t ‘edit’ or ‘delete’ them – or derail your goals. Include some symbolic or metaphoric representations of what you’d like to achieve as they speak to your subconscious. Look at it several times a day, so the images penetrate your brain (‘the source’).
Next, begin to create new neural pathways by practising mindtulness/becoming more present. Being mindful increases your brain’s surface area in the cerebral cortex, the area responsible tor processing and regulating data from the external world. ‘Within two or three months of increasing your presence, you’ll have fundamentally changed your brain,’ says Swart. To support your brain in making change happen, Swart suggests brainstorming your perfect future and writing down all possible barriers to achieving your ideal state, then listing opposite statements. For example, it you wrote lack of time as a barrier, replace this with, ‘I have all the time I need’. Finally, list what you would do differently if each of these opposite statement were true, then pick two or three you can start immediately.
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