My brain is in love with itself. Yours probably is too. We can have a grand old time making up things to think about. Boredom? Never, we keep each other entertained, but we can also get into trouble.
My brain is brilliant; it tells me so all the time. My elementary school teachers told my parents so too, but they used phrases like, “so much potential,” “if only she’d focus,” “if she applied herself,” “if she’d just stop talking.” They were thinking Mensa, probably.
I am fascinated with the inner workings of the brain. Not enough to become a neurobiologist or some high falutin doctor, but enough to pay attention to how people are. It’s so interesting to me that people make the same decisions over and over again even though they know those choices are harmful to them. Smoking, drugs, over-eating, playing in traffic, watching the news. Me too. Why do we do it?
What makes some people more successful than others? It’s in the brain, I’m sure of it, I just don’t know where or what it looks like. Maybe it looks like a stern father or a disappointed mother. Maybe it’s just wide open space that the brain can roll around in like a child rolling down a hill on a spring day.
How different must Hitler’s brain look from Einstein’s? Does it even?
There is a place where science and yoga intersect on the topic of the brain. Quantum physics tells us nerves that wire together fire together. Meaning if we repeat the same behavior often enough, we will continue to repeat it. We have created a neuro-pathway that is wired to do that same thing again and again. We’ve taught it.
In yoga they are called samskaras. Deep grooves held in the sub-conscious that prompt us to keep repeating the same behavior. Good or bad. Sometimes we don’t even know why we’re doing that silly thing we always do. This is why.
The good news is we can fix it. We simply have to create new grooves, new pathways with the good habits we’d like to foster. Simple, right? Simple, yes. Easy, no.
My brain has had full arguments with itself over whether or not I should have the oh-so-tiny piece of chocolate. I’m not sure which one is in charge of the mouth, but that’s the one that usually wins. If I want to change that, I need to train my brain to go for water, over and over again. The mouth controlling part of my brain is on the floor snorting with laughter right now. See what I’m up against?!
When I try to meditate, the bratty part of my brain – the one with all that potential – sits behind a table and holds up score cards. Usually they are failing marks. When I try to concentrate on one task, focus, really focus, the other part can be found semi-crumpled whining, “Come ooooonnn.” I usually go.
Full disclosure: As soon as I typed the word ‘go’ in that last paragraph, my head snapped to look outside to see what was going on. Nothing, by the way. Nothing was going on.
Creating a good habit seems more difficult than the bad ones because we usually view it as a corrective behavior. If we reframe it as just something new, the brain is likely to be pleased and pick up the new habit more easily.
So, I think I’ll go grab a big glass of water. Still laughing. Oh, big beautiful brain, how I love thee.
“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost