intentions

REWIRING YOUR BRAIN

REWIRING YOUR BRAIN

Fundamentally I believe humans would rather not get angry, impatient or be in a negative headspace. Unfortunately in everyday life this can happen often throughout the day. With some determination and a great deal of self-awareness, we have the capacity to change. 

NEURAL PATHWAYS

When certain thoughts and behaviours are repeated neurons fire together creating a ‘neural pathway’. If you’re on the tube and it’s jam packed and you’re hot and people are pushing you, and your reaction is anger, that fires a series of neurons together. The first time you have a reaction to something you are laying down the foundation for that neural pathway. Each time you have the same reaction you are reinforcing the neural pathway and eventually it becomes very easy to have the same angry or negative response. In fact, the response is no longer a unique reaction to a unique stimulus, it is a habit. A well known phrase to describe this is ‘neurons that fire together wire together’. 

The below explanation explains it clearly for us:

“Just think of your brain as a dynamic, connected power grid, with billions of roads and pathways lighting up every time you think, feel or do something. Some of these roads are well travelled. These are your habits; your established ways of thinking, feeling and doing. Every time you think in a certain way, practice a particular task, or feel a specific emotion, you strengthen this road, and it becomes easier for your brain to travel this pathway.”

Scientific research has now proven that we’re able to change the way we think. Where as previously it was thought that the adult mind was fixed and hard to change. Now it has been proven that we can alter our mind patterns by rewiring our neural pathways that regulate our emotions, thoughts, and reactions. This means we can create new neural pathways that lead us to compassion, gratitude, and joy instead of anxiety, fear and anger. With a great deal of awareness, mindfulness and acknowledgement of the present we can begin to reprogram our brain. But this is no easy task!

This process of rewiring your brain by forming new connections and weakening old ones is called “neuroplasticity”. 

The brain is constantly adapting and rewiring itself. Our thoughts and behaviours influence this process. If we consciously change and adapt our thoughts and behaviours we can begin to rewire our brain to a more positive state. SO…..

How can we begin to change our neural pathways?

  1. INTENTION SETTING - think of a situation where your emotions are triggered and set an intention to change the way you react. Set positively phrased intentions (click here for more on intentions). 
  2. VISUALISE - visualise the situation that triggers a negative reaction and then visualise yourself reacting different in that situation. 
  3. PAUSE - when you feel your emotion bubbling. Stop. Pause. Connect To Breath. If we can find a moments pause before we react we can then consciously react to the situation, rather then habitually. 
  4. COMPASSION - once you’ve paused put yourself in their shoes. If it is a person imagine what kind of day they could of had. You never know what someone else has gone through. Dig deep and practice compassion and find kindness for the situation and see how that changes your perspective. 

INTENTIONS WILL ENRICH YOUR LIFE

INTENTIONS WILL ENRICH YOUR LIFE 

When I first started yoga I didn’t understand what it meant to set an intention at the beginning of the practice. When a teacher would offer this my mind would race around searching for something that had meaning to me. Setting intentions was not part of my daily practice. I set goals and targets, which is ingrained in most of us from work, but this is very different to intention setting. 

Intentions are positive and uplifting affirmations that help us to be more aware of ourselves in the present moment. Goals are things we think about in the future, things to strive for and to give us drive, which is no bad thing.

Personally, I work with an overriding intention that I come back to for a significant period of time. Some days, in my practice, I’ll work with slightly different intentions depending on what I need. We can set intentions at any point in our life. Often people set intentions in relation to the moon cycle or the seasons. 

Inspired by ‘The Art Of Happiness’ - an interview with the Dalai Lama, an intention I’m focusing on in my day to day is to be compassionate, and to really understand what this means from moment to moment, person to person and with different experiences. 

‘Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive’. - Dalai Lama

‘In Buddhist teachings, setting an intention is a path or practice that is focused on how you are "being" in the present moment. Your attention is on the everpresent "now" in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.’

Setting an intention in our yoga practice acts like a metaphor to translate our practice off the mat and into our life. It is a vehicle that makes yoga an aspect of our lifestyle, rather than something we do just for exercise. Setting intentions in line with the yoga philosophy is a great way to integrate the philosophy into your life and to keep the teachings at the forefront of your mind. It’s important to set intentions that are positive with no negative connotations e.g. I intend to give off positive energy, I intend to spread happiness, I intend to be kind to all those around me including myself, I look for the best in everything, I am open minded, I am loved and share love.

Whether or not you’re practicing yoga think about an intention you might want to set for the week or month. Keep that in your mind and heart, throughout the day and make every effort to live by it. This practice will enrich our lives and those around us. If everyone were to set positive intentions and raise their internal vibrations think of the affects this would have on the world.