How Powerful is Your Mind?
How powerful are your thoughts & beliefs — in influencing life’s outcomes?
Sometimes we say we feel “stuck in a rut”. It’s certainly a saying that triggers the imagination, but how much is there to it? Many of us fall into the trap of thinking, and feeling, the same things day in and day out. Of course, it’s only a trap if we don’t feel entirely satisfied with our reality; but far too often we long for change, while continuing the same cycles of thoughts and behaviour. So — ask yourself — have you ever considered why you think the way you do, and why you feel the way you feel? Fascinatingly, science is beginning to uncover what defines our experience of life, right down to a cellular level and beyond! The most exciting element of this new understanding is that once we identify our own patterns, they can be hacked and altered — allowing us to manifest greater health, happiness and well-being with nothing more than the power of our minds.
Understanding Your Programming
Meet Bob. Bob is 35 years old, and like most 35 year olds, roughly 95% of who he is — day in and day out — is based on programmed behaviour. What exactly do we mean by programmed behaviour? This we can consider a form of auto-pilot. It is learned patterns, delivered by our subconscious as we go about doing, feeling, and thinking through our familiar routine. Cell biologist and lecturer, Bruce H. Lipton, PhD, tells us that most of our programming develops in the first 7 years of life. In these formative years, our minds function on a specific vibration or frequency called theta.
This brain function, associated with imagination, is what allows a child to absorb volumes of information about the world around them, and play in such an immersive way that the boundaries between imagination and reality seem blurred. Dr. Lipton likened this period as the time you spend downloading music onto your brand new iPod. You can’t program a playlist until the music is on there, and so — in this sense — up to the age of 7 we are downloading the data that will form into programs that help us run our lives.
We acquire patterns of behaviour and thought that will construct the basis of our habits for the years ahead of us, but in a counter-productive turn of events, Dr. Lipton estimates that 70% or more of the programs that most of us are operating by are actually those of limitation and self-sabotage. So, how can we change our programming?!
Seeing The Habits That Don’t Serve You
Lecturer and researcher Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, there are chemical interactions within our brains that create a feedback, holding us in negative patterns of behaviour. Our brains act to interpret the signals they receive, and trigger the release of particular chemicals. When we bump into someone we love, we experience a rush of dopamine and oxytocin; while in contrast, when we see someone we are afraid of, our brain releases stress hormones.
These kinds of interactions when scaled down to our running thought processes mean that a positive thought creates a positive feeling — through changes in brain chemistry — and a negative thought creates a negative feeling, which in turn creates more negative thought, and we can remain in this cycle indefinitely, without awareness enough to identify it.
There’s a popular saying in neuroscience that goes “nerve cells that fire together, wire together”, which can lead us into that rut we mentioned earlier, but also means that through the application of mindfulness — presence and conscious living — we can forge new mental habits, and begin a positive feedback, rather than a negative one. Dr. Dispenza believes that in order to change our reality, we must master three things: our thoughts, our habits, and our emotions. Don’t wait for a crisis to shake you out of an unsatisfying life, but choose to alter your state of being today.
How Our Mind Affects Our Body
Now, I don’t want to create an awkward moment for you — if you’re in a train, or at a table in a cafe — but if you can, indulge me for a moment: find somewhere where you can see your reflection. Take a good hard look at yourself, because hopefully, by the end of this article, you won’t see yourself in the same way again.
Dr. Lipton takes these concepts even further, by drawing focus on the way that our thoughts can affect our physical health. He describes the body not as a singular living thing, but rather as a cooperative community of 50 trillion cells. You look at Bob, or your own reflection, but what you are really seeing is an organism made up of trillions of cells working in harmony.
Old science held to the concept that our health is largely dictated by our genetic inheritance — that if we have a history of cancer or depression in our family, we are far more likely to get it — and while this is certainly a factor, Dr. Lipton’s work has been in uncovering that, in fact, our physical health is also hugely impacted by our thoughts.
Just as Dr. Dispenza’s explained how what we think triggers brain chemicals that induce feelings connected to those thoughts, Dr. Lipton tells us that our thoughts and perceptions cause our brain to actually alter the chemistry of our blood, which in turn controls the genetic response of the cells within our bodies. This results in a placebo, or nocebo effect with traceable physical manifestation — so if you believe you are going to be well, your cells will respond in kind, while if your doctor tells you that you are going to get sicker, there is potentially a self-fulfilling element at play. These new understandings mark out the fundamentals of Epigenetics — meaning that which lies under the genetics.
Getting Down To A Quantum Level
As we delve further into the layers of how our thoughts affect our lives, quantum physics leads us to observe that we are ultimately each made up of energy waves — this truly serves to bridge the gap that lies between science and spiritual ideas such as the ancient Chinese concept of “Chi”, or life force. While an EEG in a hospital measures brain waves using electrodes on the skin, an MEG can measure brain activity without actually touching the body, because we each emit a field of energy waves.
Dr. Lipton suggests that our sense of intuition — the way our hairs stand on the back of our neck; or when we suddenly think to call someone, only to discover that they’re ill — can be explained by the way in which the energy fields of all living things interact. He goes on to argue that, just as negative or positive thoughts trigger negative or positive interactions within the body, the thoughts we have influence the world around us through this energy exchange. Words with intent influence our own, and other people’s lives — waves cannot be interrupted, and so all things are connected.
Living With Vision
With the knowledge that we are not only a walking community of 50 trillion cells, but also built of energy waves that we send out into the world, how might we choose to live differently? Dr. Lipton tells us that the energy waves we send out into the world directly influence our experience. Imagine a mugger choosing which person to target, or imagine needing help, and scanning a room to pick which person to ask — on what do you base that instinct?
Knowing that our thoughts are more powerful than we might have previously credited them with, we can practice observing the patterns of thoughts and feelings that we tend to slide into — whether it’s negative thoughts about ourselves, our abilities, or other people — and consciously correcting our thoughts until new habits are formed. Dr. Dispenza reminds us: “People who aren’t defined by a vision of the future are left with memories of the past.” So, choose to build a vision of the self you want to embody, and construct habits that support that future self. As each step forward is made in discovering the power of our minds, why risk doing anything less?
The GRAYLL Manifesto
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