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Building Your Brain Power
By Eli Bay   Printer Friendly Version

You have, contained between your ears, an extraordinary potential that contemporary neuroscientists believe is "virtually limitless".

Your brain has approximately 10 billion neurons, each of which can connect with about 50,000 other brain cells. The number of possible connections says Dr. Carl Sagan, quoting a Russian brain researcher, is 10800. That's 10 with eight hundred zeros after it!

To even hint at the grandness of that number, please understand that the number of tiny atoms in the entire infinite universe is estimated as the number 10100, or 10 with only one hundred zeros after it.

The level of complexity in your brain is unmatched anywhere. This is what it means to be human. That you use so little of it is the issue of our time.

Not just you. All of us! Researchers estimate that we all may be using no more than from one to ten per cent of our in-built capacities. As philosopher Robert Anton Wilson put it, "We are born giants and all our lives we live like pigmies, all slouched up".

It would be supremely arrogant to believe that we are the highest development possible for humankind and that evolution stopped with us. We can assume that evolution is a continuous process and that much of that unused capacity will become fulfilled sometime in the future.

But contemporary research is emphatically telling us that there are proven ways for all of us to access more of our dormant potentials. Wide-ranging research into the effects of various psychotech-nologies shows that we can indeed become more effective, more balanced, more productive, more creative, and healthier at every level of being: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In short, we could all be living much more intelligently than most of us are living now.

There is good research conducted on approaches like the relaxation response, yoga, meditation, exercise, hypnosis, prayer, body work, visualization, martial arts, positive thinking, psycho-cybernetics, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), self-healing, biofeedback, super learning, and many other systems, showing that we are all capable of consciously accessing more of our dormant capacities, if we choose to.

As we confront the new problems and opportunities of the twenty-first century, be assured that many of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and even twentieth century concepts, institutions and potentials to which we have grown accustomed, may not be adequate. We must rise to the new challenges and become more in order to do more.

But how does one start to go beyond just O.K.?

Certainly one of the fundamental skills that should be in everyone's personal repertoire is the ability to release your body and mind from the low level "fight or flight" (stress) state. This is especially important because chronic stress is the norm in today's rapidly changing and demanding workplace.

When you are stressed, your body mind systems gear up and go into a defensive, threatened posture. Your physical and mental resources are directed to maintain high-level arousal and vigilance. This is well and good when the threat is real but when it is a habitual state, it just saps your energy, impairs your mental effectiveness, and eventually makes you ill.

By letting go of the stress, you allow your physical and mental energy to be redirected into channels more available to you. Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, authors of the best-selling book, Super learning 2000, state that releasing excess stress through techniques of deep relaxation is "the core" of several of the most effective systems proven to improve mental potentials like memory, concentration, creativity and intelligence.

When you let go of stress, you achieve a state in which your body is loose and relaxed and your mind becomes alert and quiet. This is an unusual state for your mind as it is always chattering away as it plans and judges and reviews the past and worries about the future. Most humans have well over 50,000 thoughts a day, more than one per second for every second we're awake. We're just not aware of it because most of us never stop long enough to go inside and listen.

As your mind becomes quiet, your emotions become calm and your body gets out of your way by letting go of its tension and pains. This is the optimal body mind state for effectively working with mental tools. Your mind is uncommonly focused and your internal energies are working for you, not against you.

Watching peak performing Olympic athletes, we are now starting to appreciate that there is proven strategies that are being used to break through to higher levels of performance. The most widely publicized tool used by leading athletes is mental rehearsal, commonly called visualization or mental imagery. This is skill known to many who are involved in personal development, self-healing and sport improvement. It works in part because our brain cannot tell the difference between what is real and what we are imaging.

It involves imagining that you have achieved a specific goal. You feel it, see it, hear it, smell it and taste it - you imagine it multidimensionally as if it has already been accomplished. You try to get your emotions behind your images as you, for example, imagine the joy of sinking a thirty-foot putt, or of triumphing in your attempt to be promoted to the job you want.

Images and emotions are the language of the right hemisphere of your brain. The language of the left hemisphere is words. We can enlist the entire brain by using visualization to activate the right brain and, at the same time use positive self-talk or affirmations (like "I'm a great putter") to fire up the left-brain.

When you are in a deeply relaxed state, your brain waves slow down and the two hemispheres of your brain become more balanced. When you focus your attention by using words, pictures and emotions to involve your whole brain and body, you are directing your intention to achieve your goal in a most efficient and effective way. Just ask the athletes, ex-cancer patients, super learners, and successful business people who have achieved unusual success because of it.

Thanks to an extensive research, we can now confidently draw upon simple but powerful techniques to enlist more of our extraordinary brainpower. The American philosopher Norman Cousins sums it up very well: "Human beings have infinitely expandable capabilities ... and there is no more awesome evidence of a Deity than that which exists in human potentiality". Accessing even a fraction of these mental reserves will provide you with a distinct advantage in the challenging times awaiting us all in the new millennium.

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