Ten Commandments for a Better Brain

This weekend I attended a lecture by Bruce Lipton PhD, author of The Biology of Belief.   

Dr. Lipton showed FMRI’s (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging–a way of taking a picture of what part of the brain is active) of the brain while playing Pac Man, that old 80’s game I personally spent many quarters not becoming  good at. 

While playing the game, whenever the ghost was far away—in other words, when the player was “safe”, the prefrontal cortex (the evolved, higher thinking, frontal portion of the brain) was active.  When the ghost was near and Pac Man was in danger, the hindbrain lit up on the MRI.

So what?  Just this: If something as inconsequential as a low-graphic video game can shift consciousness from smooth sailing to primal panic, what does that tell you about the need to be a strong guardian of the data you allow entry into your mind?  Our minds are vulnerable to any perceived threat, even a pixilated one. 

What’s more our subconscious, the hind brain has a nerve-impulse processing ability of a whopping forty million per second, while our conscious mind, the new and improved prefrontal cortex, has a nerve-impulse processing ability of a mere forty per second.  In other words our subconscious is literally one million times more efficient at processing data. 

This is why making changes in our belief system is so much work.

Therapy helps to make subconscious beliefs conscious.  Then consciously replacing habitual negative thought patterns with new ones is the next step. 

In honor of our dear friend, the prefrontal cortex, here are my very own 10 commandments of mental health:

  1. Thou shall not engage in negative “what if” games in your mind.  (Do ANYTHING ELSE if you are bored).

  2. Thou shall not watch crime shows nor horror movies.

  3. Thou shall end emotionally abusive relationships at home, work or school. 

  4. Thou shall refrain from Googling your potential medical conditions.

  5. Thou shall leave yourself enough time to get to work, home, and social activities without having to drive like a bat out of hell.

  6. Thou shall not run up thy credit cards for any reason whatsoever, no matter how great the price nor how cute the purse.

  7. Thou shall not initiate any emotionally significant/conflict-laden conversations with thy loved ones after nine P.M., even on weekends. 

  8. Thou shall not read books that center around abuse without resolution for the victim(s).

  9. Thou shall not get thy news from sensationalistic media. 

  10. Thou shall enter therapy for additional support if thou doth struggle with anxiety and/or depression.    

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One comment on “Ten Commandments for a Better Brain

  1. Hi, Tanya … These are wonderful! How about another one: “Thou shalt not scare thyself witless with Thoughts Of DOOM.” ;-D

    I had a consult today with an MD who asked me, “Are you a worrywart?” I couldn’t help but smile, first, in response. I opened my mouth to speak, and this good doctor added, “When your husband’s on his way home from work, for example — do you imagine him dying in a crash or driving off into the sunset without you or blowing a tire on the highway or …?” Yikes … if I believed in such things, I’d say she was reading my mind!

    The difference in nerve conduction rates between the cortex and the hindbrain … WOW. That one little piece of information helps so much make sense … We sure are creatures of habit … !

    (Oh anxiety. What a formidable opponent you are.)

    I once started to consider “The Ten Commandments for Cats”, after one of my felines made my favourite necklace disappear. The commandment was this: “Thou shalt not covet thy mommy’s bling.” More glittery, slithery things have disappeared since then. I gave up after the one commandment … I mean, come on: commanding a *cat*? ;-D

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