I’m Talkin’ All About Neuroplasticity
Have you ever heard the expression “we’re on the same wavelength”—usually in reference to being in total agreement with someone? As it turns out, when it comes to neurobiology, it might literally be true.
The neurons in your brain operate in conjunction with all your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—communicating with one another constantly, whether your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are conscious or not. You even have neurons firing when you’re sleeping. That’s how busy your mind is, all the time.
While there are six measurable brainwaves, today we’re going to dive deep into two of my faves: Delta and theta. (The other four are infra-low, alpha, beta, and gamma, respectively. Google at will.)
From about birth to age two, the human brain only utilizes the delta brainwave—a deep, unconscious brainwave state. (This is why most babies sleep all the time.)
Then, between the ages of two and seven, the human brain begins to develop the theta brainwave. That is the subconscious, “twilight-zone,” transient brainwave state—the same brainwave introduced in hypnotherapy, if you’re into that kind of thing.
According to Neurohealth, a therapeutic organization that analyzes neurofeedback—a type of biofeedback that measures real-time brain activity:
“Theta activity has a frequency of 3.5 to 7.5 Hz and is classed as ‘slow’ activity. It is seen in connection with creativity, intuition, daydreaming, and fantasizing and is a repository for memories, emotions, sensations. Theta waves are strong during internal focus, meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness.”
Consider everything that happens in a child’s life between the ages of two and seven. Not only does this time include some of the most rapid biological, emotional, and social development in a human’s lifetime, it’s also when most of us are being completely programmed for life by our elders and influences.
If you happened to grow up in a family system where lovingkindness, compassion, and equanimity were the norm, chances are your “programming” has served you pretty well. But if you’re anything like the rest of us, your programming might need a little work.
Easier said than done, you might be thinking. And you wouldn’t be alone.
Until recently, doctors and scientists believed that the human brain was stagnant, assuming the brain developed in childhood, and whatever neuropathways were paved during that time were there for life. But, over the last few decades, evidence for neuroplasticity—your brain’s ability to change continuously throughout your life—has been overwhelming. Today, the science shows that anyone can rewire the neuropathways in their brain, reconditioning the biological processes of thoughts and neurons and thus creating new emotions that drive new (hopefully better!) behaviors.
But here’s the key: the brainwave (aka: Theta) that enabled to programming to carve neuropathways into your mind is the same brainwave necessary for removing that programming and replacing it with an upgraded version. By accessing your theta brainwave, you can start to become aware of your thoughts, access their origins, and align your conscious and subconscious mind to retrieve the information that is no longer serving you and bring it to conscious awareness.
The good news? Theta brainwave is produced during practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, and chi gong.
This is why shutting up and sitting—mindfulness—is integral to the behavioral change process. It’s an invitation to find stillness in which you can as yourself questions like:
Where did I hear these first messages?
Who is the voice of my inner-critic, really?
Do I REALLY believe this thought?
What part of me needs to heal?
Neuroscience, thus far, strongly supports the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in changing your internal narrative and enabling you to produce the behavioral results you want in your life. There are neurobiological responses to the thoughts that you have and the beliefs that you build—and you hold the power to decide what those responses are going to be.
In other words, through your chosen beliefs, you can transform your biology.
It’s easy to become so engrossed in your monkey mind, lost in thought and patterned beliefs, that sometimes you’re barely aware of what you’re thinking in the first place. But a commitment to a sitting practice of mindfulness invites you into a theta brainwave state, repeatedly, until it becomes routine.
The art of shutting up and sitting allows you to slow your thoughts enough to find a slight pause between each of them, wherein the freedom to choose a different thought lies. Mindfulness-induced theta brainwave state creates space for you to pull your unconscious mind into your conscious awareness, enabling a clarity of thought and an awareness of the pause between your thoughts.
The outcome is utterly free and present awareness, the ability to make decisions with honesty and clarity, and to direct and dictate your thoughts from a centered state of self—from the authenticity of your soul.
Want to learn more? There’s a book for that! Click here to take the first step towards greater awakening, awareness, self-love, and personal transformation.
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