Contrary to our Western medicine, the Oriental one and Zen Buddhism consider Mind and Body as an unbreakable single unit in which each part affects the other back and forth and continuously and at different degrees. Body functions, thoughts and emotions are the jobs of our subconscious and conscious mind and our brain which is made of contains around 100 billions neurons.
Recently, millions of neurons have been identified in our small and large intestine. There is a subconscious thinking and emotional loop between brain and intestines.
Rational thinking does not affect our body but our emotions, even at their subconscious level, could have significant impacts on various organs.
In our Western world, the way we define and delimit Self that is you, others and me living beings is very arbitrary, restrictive, too materialistic.
This “individual self” is just a biological organism made of around 30 trillions cells and trillions of trillions of atoms generating our body and mind and their physical and mental functions.
Self does exist but, we have been conditioned by our Western education, philosophy and religions to view ourselves as a unique, independent and separate entity, different from every other living beings.
Do you love yourself? or searching self-acceptance
Another strange Zen sentence. Don’t take it literally! It has nothing to do with narcissism or hedonistic behavior.
Zen is teaching that, in order to be nice, empathic, compassionate and generous with others, which is a mean goal, we have first, to do the same for ourselves self that is to think nicely and be tolerant about ourselves without, of course, loosing proper insight for improvement. We call it self-acceptance.
Often we equate happiness with serenity but their origin, meaning and purpose are totally different.
To achieve serenity, it is important to differentiate them.
Happiness (end of XVI c= hap= “good fortune/luck “ is a genetically programmed, ego driven, genuine and transient emotional reaction whereas serenity is a state of mind that must be learned. Big difference!
In our secular Western society the search for ongoing happiness is a must whereas the search of serenity sounds to be limited to few mystic and spiritual weird people. Live must be exiting and good for us because we deserve it! This is how marketing genius are manipulating us. If y we are not happy all the time, there is something wrong about because we should be able to be happy all the time. New car, new house, new job, new partner, new cruise, new adventure, etc….
Zen literature is full of strange, confusing and misleading words an such as “empty mind”,
“don’t know mind” , “mind before thinking”, “original mind”.
In the strict literally sense a “don’t know mind” is understood as a mind empty of knowledge, at max, an idiot mind. In its Zen meaning, a “don’t know mind” should not be understood as lack of knowledge but rather as a open mind that is a mind not frozen by too many ideas, opinions, judgments and other mind-set. (more…)
Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to reorganize its wiring and create new ones by increasing its synaptic connections (we have over 100 trillions of them) that is connections between neurons (we have around 100 billions neurons or around 1,000 connections per neuron).
One can enhance neuroplasticity using any kind of learning new experiences either manual, mental and emotional requiring mental adaptation.
Since the brain works like a computer either all or nothing, any kind of new experience will create new connections affecting all brain functions such as physical, sensorial, intellectual, memory and emotional.
How to increase brain’s neuroplasticity?
Moving away from our daily comfort zones, automatic and conditional physical, mental and emotional behaviors is the most effective way. This is equivalent to brain deconditioning thru reconditioning, sort of wake-up adaptation facing new challenges. You can do it for few hours, days or even a week.
Choose one of your recurrent daily habit – any kind, physical or mental routine, that is cemented
into your daily routine like a robotic behavior. We have many of them as part of our comfort zone.
If you can and without disturbances, stop doing it for few hours or days and allows yourself
to experience initial discomfort, frustration, even anxiety facing this new challenge from moving
away from routine and autopilot behavior.
At this point focus on your breathing and/or other sensations in your body such as heart rate.
2) Notice the times you bump into your mental wall made of recurrent thoughts, self-image, mind-set,
ideas, judgment, desires, aversions, expectations or any conditional reactivity to these emotions.
What is happening when you allow the wall to become permeable creating a bound?
What habitual chattering thoughts and feelings do produce?
3) Mindfulness meditation is also a wonderful and unique booster of neuro rewiring because
we are imposing to the mind to focus intensively on something without any specific goals or
decision, just as it is which is different for our usual decision-based focus.
This type of non-decisional focusing is new to the brain and it has to use remodeling to comply.
Rewiring on the frontal lobes is particularly interesting.
4) Learn and practice a new activity, task or new hobby. There are endless:
Art, music, sport, foreign language, learning to work with our left hand if right handed, etc…
These new activities must be active that is requiring effort, concentration and repetition.
The brain, like our heart and other muscles can morphologically change when facing new challenges
that is when where an adaptation either physical, mental or emotional is needed.
Recent neuro imaging has been very useful in this regard.
tart to use your left hand if right handed or vise versa for small stuff such as brushing
your teeth, holding your fork, etc. You will be slow and clumsy at first because your brain as
to figure out the way to do it. It will thru new wiring.
Beside, it is an excellent focusing exercise.
Our brain/mind is not as static as we thought but changing continuously as requested.