“The garden of the world has no limits,
except in your mind.”
Deepak Chopra is the source for this post – from his book – included with links and excerpts… I did not much more than organize this – my text is this lighter color. If you have some time, try the exercise and view both videos… there is really some terrific wisdom here from Dr. Chopra.
Look at the palm of your hand. Feel it as you look. Now imagine that it is getting warmer. Keep looking and focus on it getting warmer; see the color becoming redder. If you maintain focus on this intention, your palm will in fact grow warm and red.
Tibetan Buddhist monks use this simple biofeedback loop (an advanced meditation technique known as tumo) to warm their entire bodies.
This technique is so effective that monks who use it can sit in freezing ice caves meditating overnight while wearing nothing more than their thin silk saffron robes. Now the simple feedback loop has become totally engrossing, because what we can induce merely by intending it may have no limit.
The same Buddhist monks reach states of compassion, for example, that depend on physical changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Their brains didn’t do this on their own; they were following orders from the mind. Thus we cross a frontier. When a feedback loop is maintaining normal heart rhythm, the mechanism is involuntary— it is using you. But if you change your heart rate intentionally (for example, by imagining a certain someone who excites you romantically), you are using it instead.
Let’s take this concept to the place where life can be miserable or happy. Consider stroke victims. Medical science has made huge advances in patient survival after even massive strokes, some of which can be attributed to better medications and to the upsurge of trauma units, since strokes are ideally dealt with as soon as possible. Quick treatment is saving countless lives, compared to the past. But survival isn’t the same as recovery.
No drugs show comparable success in allowing victims to recover from paralysis, the most common effect of a stroke. As with the discouraged children, with stroke patients everything seems to depend on feedback. In the past they mostly sat in a chair with medical attention, and their course of least resistance was to use the side of the body that was unaffected by their stroke. Now rehabilitation actively takes the course of most resistance. If a patient’s left hand is paralyzed, for example, the therapist will have her use only that hand to pick up a coffee cup or comb her hair. At first these tasks are physically impossible. Even barely raising a paralyzed hand causes pain and frustration. But if the patient repeats the intention to use the bad hand, over and over, new feedback loops develop. The brain adapts, and slowly there is new function.
We now see remarkable recoveries in patients who walk, talk, and use their limbs normally with intensive rehab. Even twenty years ago these functions would have languished or shown only minor improvements. And all we have done so far is to explore the implications of two words.
“You don’t know what your brain can do until you test its limits…” The Super Brain Credo bridges two worlds, biology and experience. Biology is great at explaining physical processes, but it is totally inadequate at telling us about the meaning and purpose of our subjective experience. What does it feel like to be a discouraged child or a paralyzed stroke victim? The story begins with that question, and biology follows second. We need both worlds to understand ourselves. Otherwise, we fall into the biological fallacy, which holds that humans are controlled by their brains. Leaving aside countless arguments between various theories of mind and brain, the goal is clear: We want to use our brains, not have them use us. We’ll expand on these ten principles as the book unfolds. Major breakthroughs in neuroscience are all pointing in the same direction. The human brain can do far more than anyone ever thought. Contrary to outworn beliefs, its limitations are imposed by us, not by its physical shortcomings.
Special thanks to Kim Saeed for a link to this superb video.
Book Excerpt: Super Brain
by Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD
Available at Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound
A Golden Age for the Brain
What do we really know about the human brain? In the 1970s and 1980s, when the authors gained their training, the honest answer was “very little.” There was a saying circulating back then: Studying the brain was like putting a stethoscope on the outside of the Astrodome to learn the rules of football.
Your brain contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells forming anywhere from a trillion to perhaps even a quadrillion connections called synapses. These connections are in constant, dynamic state of remodeling in response to the world around you. As a marvel of nature, this one is minuscule and yet stupendous.
Everyone stood in awe of the brain, which was once dubbed “the three-pound universe.” And rightly so. Your brain not only interprets the world, it creates it. Everything you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell would have none of these qualities without the brain. Whatever you experience today—your morning coffee, the love you fee for your family, a brilliant idea at work—has been specifically customized solely for you.
Immediately we confront a crucial issue. If your world is unique and customized for you and you alone, who is behind such remarkable creativity, you or the brain itself? If the answer is you, then the door to greater creativity is flung open. If the answer is your brain, then there may be drastic physical limitations on what you are able to achieve. Maybe your genes are holding you back, or toxic memories, or low self esteem. Maybe you fall short because of limited expectations that have contracted your awareness, even though you don’t see it happening.
The facts of the case could easily tell both stories, of unlimited potential or physical limitation. Compared with the past, today science is amassing new facts with astonishing speed. We have entered a golden age of brain research. New breakthroughs emerge every month, but in the midst of such exciting advances, what about the individual, the person who depends upon the brain for everything?
Take a moment and watch what is going on in a meditating brain:
Is this a golden age for your brain?
We detect an enormous gap between brilliant research and everyday reality. Another medical school saying from the past comes to mind: Each person typically uses only 10 percent of their brain. Speaking literally, that’s not true. In a healthy adult, the brain’s neural networks operate at full capacity all the time. Even the most sophisticated brain scans available would show no detectable difference between Shakespeare writing a soliloquy from Hamlet and an aspiring poet writing his first sonnet. But the physical brain is not nearly the whole story.
To create a golden age for your brain, you need to use the gift nature has given you in a new way. It’s not the number of neurons or some magic inside your gray matter that makes life more vital, inspiring, and successful. Genes play their part, but your genes, like the rest of the brain, are also dynamic. Every day you step into the invisible firestorm of electrical and chemical activity that is the brain’s environment. You act as leader, inventor, teacher, and user of your brain, all at once.
- As leader, you hand out the day’s orders to your brain.
- As inventor, you create new pathways and connections inside your brain that didn’t exist yesterday.
- As teacher, you train your brain to learn new skills.
- As user, you are responsible for keeping your brain in good working order.
In these four roles lies the whole difference between the everyday brain—let’s dub it the baseline brain—and what we are calling super brain. The difference is immense. Even though you have not related to the brain by thinking What orders should I give today? or What new pathways do I want to create? that’s precisely what you are doing. The customized world that you live in needs a creator. The creator isn’t your brain; it’s you.
Super brain stands for a fully aware creator using the brain to maximum advantage. Your brain is endlessly adaptable, and you could be performing your fourfold role—leader, inventor, teacher, and user—with far more fulfilling results than you now achieve. ... more
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