Using Your Mind toChange Your Brain
his is a book of practices—simple things you cando routinely, mainly inside your mind, that willsupport and increase your sense of security and worth,resilience, effectiveness, well-being, insight, and innerpeace. For example, they include
taking in the good, protecting your brain, feeling safer, relaxing anxietyabout imperfection, not knowing, enjoying your hands,taking refuge,
filling the hole in your heart
.At first glance, you may be tempted to underesti-mate the power of these seemingly simple practices.But they will gradually change your brain throughwhat’s called
.Moment to moment, whatever you’re aware of—sounds, sensations, thoughts, or your most heartfelt
Just One Thing
longings—is based on underlying neural activities; thesame goes for unconscious mental processes such as theconsolidation of memory or the control of breathing.Exactly
the physical brain produces nonphysical con-sciousness remains a great mystery. But apart from thepossible influence of transcendental factors—call themGod, Spirit, the Ground, or by no name at all—there is aone-to-one mapping between mental and neuralactivities.It’s a two-way street: as your brain changes, your mindchanges; and as your mind changes, your brain changes.This means—remarkably—that what you pay attention to,what you think and feel and want, and how you work with your reactions to things all sculpt your brain in multipleways:
Busy regions get more blood flow, since they need more oxygen and glucose.
The genes inside neurons get more or lessactive; for example, people who routinely relaxhave improved expression of genes that calmdown stress reactions, making them moreresilient (Dusek et al. 2008).
Neural connections that are relatively inactivewither away; it’s a kind of neural Darwinism,the survival of the busiest: use it or lose it.
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”This saying from the work of the psychologistDonald Hebb means that active synapses—theconnections between neurons—get more