Last night, I sat in the garden contemplating what I had learned from the presentations at a neuro-science conference this weekend. Lots of fascinating (for me) information about the functioning of brains and how we practitioners can help you change your mind.
I lit a candle in the twilight and watched how the flickering flames illuminated the lavender bush. They cast shadows that moved and danced in response. The sky’s blue ever deepening into dusk, allowed the stars to shine at their silver-white best.
The past is always present
I’d just been listening to Gabor Mate talk about addiction and trauma. He described how people with an addiction were ‘using’ as a coping strategy to stop (in the present) the pain of something that occurred in the past…the shadow within.
We want to feel safe, loved, purposeful
I felt serenely peaceful meditating out there in the fresh air after a hot day. As my mind cleared, it dawned on me that life is very simple really. We all just want to feel safe, loved, connected, and purposeful, but for some reason, we don’t.
Right now, it doesn’t matter whether you are loving, and connected to, a partner, child, parent, or even a pet or nature and the planet – sometimes you can still feel lonely or unloved. It matters not whether you’ve discovered your ‘life purpose’ or are just trying to get through today – sometimes you despair.
We attribute meaning…
Our mind attaches meaning to everything and that meaning usually depends on our experiences in life so far. We forget we rarely see an objective truth, but a perception filtered through our conscious and subconscious learning at times in our past when we weren’t safe, connected, or loved.
The thing is, if we’ve got time to attribute meaning, in other words to think about something, then we are safe in the here and now. This is the essence of mindfulness. All the rest is mind chatter, and that triggers feelings.
…and develop protection mechanisms
Early traumatic experiences physically change our brain, they literally cause neurons to wire together. Consequently, the likelihood of us thinking and acting in certain ways throughout our life increases. With each new experience, more layers are added. We become lost among the very programs our mind designed to protect us from further harm and keep us feeling good. The past is always present. It’s created a default setting in our brain, reinforced through repeated use: if x (or something like x) happens > the x program automatically loads. Although the program may be based on incomplete or faulty data and/or no longer serving your highest good – it plays anyway. It’s hard to change your mind through will-power alone.
Restore your ‘authentic’ self
When we restore ‘factory settings’, we start to regain our authentic self – our curious, loving, playful, creative sides. The ‘self’ most of us were as small children before our enjoyment of life was interrupted. Exercise, diet, physical health, and a non-toxic environment, can only take us so far in living a joyful life, our brain and mind does the rest. There are many techniques out there that can help you reset, break neural connections and build new grey matter: Havening, which was the subject of this weekend’s conference; EFT; EMDR; NLP; hypnosis; meditation… Seek one out and try it if you want to break free from an hindering habit or behaviour. Change your mind! Find out who you are underneath all that programming.
The stars are always up there, even though we can’t see them in the daylight. Your authentic self is there too. Imagine yourself on a good day when everything feels ‘oh so right’, and feel like that most days, not just some…Time to begin to uncover it. Time to shine.