A blog about yoga, life, health and healing.
The other day a friend said to me, "I wish I was half as calm as you are."
At first I thought, "Yes, I am lucky to have been born this way." Then I thought, "Hey wait just a second, I deserve a little credit for my calm state of mind."
I actually work at it. I may have been blessed with a certain amount of mellow but, my dedication to practicing yoga and meditation, combined with a commitment to being aware of my thoughts, words, and actions at all times (mindfulness) is what helps me to keep a peaceful state of mind even when things are stressful.
They say that, "The mind takes the shape of whatever it rests upon."
This isn't just an anticode. It is actually a proven fact. Studies on the activity of the brain show that whatever we repeatedly experience through our senses, thoughts, and behaviors, will slowly begin to shape the brain. So according to Rick Hansen in his book called, Just One Thing, the saying above should be modified to, "The brain takes the shape of whatever the mind rests upon."
In a nutshell, we have millions of neurons that fire and connect to each other through synapses in different areas of our brain. Depending on the information we are taking in through our senses, our thoughts, and our conscious or unconscious activity, specific areas of the brain which control specific responses will be activated. Whatever neurons are the most stimulated will get stronger, thereby strengthening that particular area of the brain. The areas that go unused or under-stimulated will wither.
So, this "experience dependent neuroplasticity" is how your brain takes the shape of whatever your mind rests upon. Whatever you repeatedly experience will alter your brain which will result in your tendency to a particular mind state.
This is why practicing the mind state you would like to develop makes sense. If you are fearful and would like to develop the part of your brain that is responsible for bravery, experiencing situations where you FEEL brave will improve the likelihood that you will respond to day to day challenges with less fear.
If you are anxious and would like to develop a mind state that is peaceful and calm, experiencing situations where you FEEL peaceful and calm will improve the likelihood that you will respond to day to day challenges with
It all comes down to practice, which author Rick Hansen says is "simply taking regular action (in thought, word, and deed) to increase positive qualities in yourself and decrease negatives ones." Just like exercising your muscles will make them stronger, exercising short but consistent bouts of relaxation will help to strengthen your ability to respond to stress in a calmer way.
In essence, no matter who we are or what we were given, through the practices that we commit to, each of us has the ability to "sculpt" our mind. To quote Hansen one more time, "how you use your mind changes your brain". Keeping this fact in mind, make sure that the changes you are getting are the ones that you want.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras