Do you know that every time you are practicing a habit you are strengthening a certain neural-network in your brain?

  In the last years, we hear more and more about neuroplasticity, that the brain has the ability to change. When you change the way you think about yourself, the brain is changing. When you get good at what you practice the brain changes into its best form. If you exercise a certain muscle, or mentally connect with that muscles, it becomes stronger. The same happens with your brain. Your mental habits have power,  “ I am good at doing this”, and your brain is changing under the influence of this single positive thought.

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The secret of your brain neuroplasticity lies in your habits. The most powerful way to change your brain is not medication and “superfoods” but your behavior. That is how the brain was designed to change, and not any behavior but a specific mental behavior of paying attention. Whatever you hold in your attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain. Unintentionally we practice different habits until they become automatic. Is this automatism that keeps your brain static.  

Is my brain static or is constantly changing?

For example, bring a mental thought to your mind, something you don’t like about you. Is that thought coming fast or slow to mind?  If it comes fast it tells you how good you are at criticizing yourself. The question is if you are so good at criticizing yourself, then how quick are you to criticize others. Very quick. Self-criticism gets strongly rooted in the brain because we practice it for some time since we are children. (This practice of self-criticism, in fact, is the foundation for depression, chronic anxiety, fear, and worry. I will write about this in another post.)

Neural pathways in your brain

Another good technique is to think about someone that has a positive quality and influenced you as a child. What is the quality of that person? Repeat in your mind the quality; kindness, optimistic, hard-working… Now look inside yourself and see how much of that quality you manifest in you. ” I have none of the quality that I admire”, or the answer can be ” I do have this quality in me”. The qualities of kindness, compassion, acceptance when practiced become skills. In Yoga practice, you cultivate these skills by taking the time to tune inward and notice your mental habits. You learn new habits and overwrite the old one with more ease. What seemed difficult and impossible in the past, suddenly looks easy and achievable. Yoga practice is like a bridge between the old brain and the new one.

Ask yourself what kind of thoughts, emotions, skills, attitudes, behavior do you practice on a daily basis? Do you know that you practice a certain habit regularly? Do you want to be good at it? What are you looking to find in it?

Take time and notice what other neural networks are you strengthening in your brain.
Stay Brave,
Maria Mitea,
HealthYoga Therapist, Teacher, and Student,