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
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