Friday, October 8, 2010
Working on my Brain
I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this in the past, because I found it fascinating that researchers have discovered that the brain has a sort of plasticity to it and that things like yoga and meditation can be helpful in maintaining and improving the brain's health.
Dr. Norman Doidge was in the news recently as his documentary about the brain's ability to change, even as we get older, was shown on CBC. I find it really interesting and my experiences with yoga and meditation have shown me that beyond a doubt, the biggest factor in determining the quality of my life at any rate, is what's happening in my mind. There are many things that contribute to that including my physical health and my surroundings, but if the brain isn't healthy, then things won't be as great as they could be, in my experience.
I followed a link on his site that took me to a brain fitness company and I ordered the product. It's not cheap at all and it's sort of in beta in my opinion, so I wouldn't say it's ready for everyday users on their own, but it's been pretty interesting. One of the principles that Norman Doidge mentioned is that the brain keeps thinking things and I think I heard him say, "thoughts that fire together, wire together," so what we think about sort of forms a rut and then we're trained into heading in the same direction by habit. I would call that a Samskara. Sam Dworks, my yoga teacher, taught me about this with yoga and injuries and how the brain gets wired to send stress signals a certain way, which is why we tend to get stressed in the same way repeatedly. More on that on his site.
One of the things that struck me this morning on a short walk though was how I'm training my brain to remember better and be sharper and at the same time, I'm aware of so many things that I feel a sense of longing to forget. I don't want to remember that I'm going to die and so are the people around me. I don't want to remember that even though I moved into the house I'm in 7 years ago as a temporary measure that it's likely this is where I'm going to live for the rest of my life. I don't want to remember I'm behind in an assignment I gave myself. I don't want to remember that I'm probably not going to have anymore kids. I don't want to remember a whole bunch of stuff and I can't help it. So there's a part of me that feels comforted by the promise of a diminished brain as I get older. Fortunately, that's not the part of me in the driver's seat and my sense of health and well-being is stronger than that little scared, sad place.
I have a hunch that training my brain to be as healthy as it can be, which includes eating well, sleeping well, practising yoga and meditation, and having good company, on top of these computer fitness exercises, will help to fend off those feelings of wanting to forget and help me be happy right where I am with everything I have in my life, as well as everything I don't have. I'll let you know how the program goes as I progress through it.