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Ben Martin

About the author : Ben Martin is a research and business development associate at Thera Rising Intenational. He also delivers seminars and oversees digital development.

Brain Bytes: What is Neuroplasticity?

August 2, 2016   Conflict IQ, The Science

Brain Circuits smallBack in 2012, I attended a week-long class on neuroplasticity led by neuropsychologist Rick Hanson and sponsored by the Cape Cod Institute. I turned the content into a newsletter series called Brain Bytes, full of tips, tricks, and strategies from the seminar.

The class was a few years ago, but the research is transformative and cutting-edge. So over the next few months, I’ll be updating the newsletters and transferring them to the blog for your reading pleasure! Our first installment will answer the question you’re probably been asking yourself since the first sentence of this post: “What is neuroplasticity?”

The whole concept of neurpolasticity can be boiled down to one simple sentence: “Cells that fire together, wire together.” Put another way, our experiences and our habits shape the way our brain physically wires itself. Experiences, places, people, even emotions and physical states of being can become entangled in our minds in entrenched and often very subtle ways. Once we understand those associations, building or dissolving them becomes a lot easier. This is an oversimplification, but it’s enough to get us started.

Before we dive in, we should take a look at one more thing: the difference between the brain and the mind. For now, we’ll be using a very straight-forward definition. The brain is the physical organ inside your skull, and the mind is the information encoded in the brain. While the mind and the brain are separate, each constructs and conditions the other.

OK, enough background. Let’s take a look at how you can use this information in day-to-day life.

A central part of positive neuroplasticity is known as “taking in the good.” We’ll talk more about it and why it’s so important later, but for today, try taking 30 seconds to a minute to take in the good. This is a simple three-step process.

  • Become mindful of something good in your life. It could be a pleasant physical feeling, or something you’re proud of, or something you’ve recently experienced or are looking forward to (seeing your family, a good meal, etc.).
  • Concentrate on the sensation for a short time – around 10 seconds. Experience how it affects your mind and your body. This helps the sensation stay with you longer.

That’s just a brief overview of the whole process, but remember, cells that fire together, wire together. Practicing simple techniques like this can go a long way toward combating the stresses of everyday life and the brain’s negativity bias.

In the coming weeks, Brain Bytes will dive further into how neuroplasticity ties into conflict resolution, and bring you more exercises and information. Stay tuned!

Ben MartinBen Martin specializes in research and business development at Thera Rising. When he’s not out delivering seminars, he oversees client outreach and digital development.

LinkedIn: Ben Martin

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