“The same nerves that carry the sensations of misery carry also the sensation of happiness.” – Vivekananda
Neuroscience is the cool kid on the block these days. So let us look at its history and understand that neurology is simply the story of the nervous system. The nervous system is 600 million years old. Modern man is only 50,000 years old. The earth is 4+ billion years old. Short story: nervous system mapping is older than modern day cognitive thinking.
Mechanism of firing and wiring together:
What fires together wires together is how neural plasticity is described. Let us look at how neural structures are created. A thought is a mental activity. So mental activity creates neural activity. Repeated mental activity creates repeated neural activity. Repeated neural activity builds neural structure. According to Neuropsychologist Rick Hansen, what matters most is not the event, but what is the implicit residue of experience. He says that our brains are velcro to negative experiences while teflon to positive ones.
In other words, you’ve got a thought that lasts 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Joe Despanza, Joe Despanza, author of Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, describes it in layman’s terms this way. When it continues for hours or days, you’ve got a mood. When it continues for weeks and months, it is now a temperament. Give it a several years and it is your personality trait! The important point to remember though is that it is learned behavior and sticks around because we keep doing it over and over again. We simply memorize it and therefore we have its autograph on our synapses!
According to the Neuroscientist Merzenich, motivation and change is neurology. Ancient wisdom reminds us that it is all about change, impermanence.
The key is that as long as we are breathing, the opportunity for change and creating a life that works better and makes us happier is always available!
Anatomy of Stress
When you are stressed as in stuck in traffic again and you are late for a very important meeting, this is what happens to your body.
The amygdala in the brain initiates the stress response. Think alarm bell! The pupils dilate looking for danger. Heart rate increases. The extremities prepare to fight or run. Certain chemicals are released to alter our perception. The hippocampus (forms and retrieves contextual memory) in the brain inhibits the cortisol and amygdala. The adrenals pump cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol gets us out of danger quickly. It is meant to be short-term fuel. It inhibits and shrinks the hippocampus (killing brain cells). It can impair sleep, digestion, metabolism, memory and learning.
How do you find a calm place in your neurology?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind….no, it lies in your gut!!
The gut is our second brain! There are nine meters from end of esophagus to anus. Sheaths of neurons are embedded in the walls of this long tube called your gut! It contains 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.
We are wired and designed to activate more quickly in the parasympathetic part of our nervous system than the sympathetic drive. That means we are geared towards peace rather than stress. We are meant to find our power in relaxation, not fighting.
A quiet lizard brain is important because of the health of digestion, sleep, cardiovascular system, decrease of inflammatory and autoimmune efficiency. Do you know that 90 percent of neurotransmitters are made in your gut? Over 60 percent of your immune system function is within the gut walls. 95 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut as well.
The gut-brain axis affects the HPA axis in the upper brain. The bacteria in your gut influence the biochemistry and development of the brain. There is a 10:1 ration of internal bacteria to human gene. Ninety percent of information is passed from from gut to brain, not the other way around.
Healthy nutrition is good. But taking in oxygen fully is key. So breathe, breathe and breathe…all the way down your belly!
My name is Kathrina Peterson and I invite you to participate in this forum around awareness and movement. I have been a Buddhist meditator for over 20 years and have been exploring in depth what it means to develop as a human being: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is my passion, both on a personal and a professional level. I welcome you to share thoughts around what it means to be awake.