DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 2 years ago
Neuroplasticity has been a very significant part of my research over the last four decades and is a topic that I am both inspired to study and teach.
|Neuroplasticity: the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired. Neurogenesis is the brain’s ability to grow new neurons.|
If you prefer to watch the video on Epigenetics and Neuroplasticity, click below. ↓
In the 1970s and 80s, the thinking was that when you were conceived and born, the number of nerves in your body did not grow but instead slowly died and decreased, resulting in a dwindling supply of nerves over time. This was challenged in the following decades once people realized that neurogenesis occurred. In other words, that new nerves were able to be formed primarily in the hippocampus and certain regions of the brain that were involved in memory.
Scientists then went on to discover that neurogenesis not only occurred in those areas but also in many other areas in the brain, which essentially meant that the brain could adapt and add new nerves over time. I’m sure you know the saying, “If you don't use it; you lose it”. The reverse is true - if you do use it and it is useful, the brain will continue to develop.
So, in essence, scientists and researchers discovered that the nervous system is constantly remodeling. It doesn’t have build without destroy, and it doesn’t have destroy without build. The evolution of the brain to adapt to an ever-changing environment includes its ability to completely remodel.
Scientists and researchers also discovered that people with schizophrenia and bipolar conditions who presented with prefrontal cortexes that had been demyelinated and were losing neurons and dying, could also remodel their brains. This mostly occurred as a result of therapy or doing something deeply meaningful and inspiring to them, living by their highest values, and neutralizing some of the impulses and instincts that were polarized.
I find this to be so inspiring because it effectively means that if you manage your brain more effectively and manage your life more effectively, you can develop your forebrain, keep it active and growing, and therefore effectively remodel your brain. In other words - the brain has neuroplasticity.
I love telling people at the Breakthrough Experience that no matter what has gone on in your life and no matter what you've been through, it doesn’t automatically determine what goes on in the brain. You can take a perception that you think is traumatic, revamp it, and reassociate things with it so you can transform it into something that you are grateful for. In this way, you can move forward in life and develop your brain further.
This is in complete contrast to the thinking of the 60s and 70s that centered around blaming the so-called cause of an individual’s problems. More recent research shows that it's not what goes on the outside but rather your perception of it.
You may have already heard about the Hebbian theory that says that two nerves that happen to fire together, wire together. So, if you take an event that you perceive to be challenging and choose to look at the benefits you gained as a result of that event, you are likely to make new associations and increase new pathways in the brain.
In choosing to do so, you will tend to take command of your brain and choose the direction you want to go. In the same way that you master an instrument through regular practice, so too can you habitually and automatically regenerate your brain through continued daily habits.
The beauty of epigenetic and neuroplasticity is that the brain is plastic and remodelable. It is not set in stone but is instead constantly building and destroying, creating new pathways and synapses.
It would therefore be wise to fill your day with high priority actions that inspire you so your day does not fill up with low priority distractions that don't.
I’d like to be clear here that I'm not talking about positive thinking, which can set up a fantasy in the same way that negative thinking can set up a nightmare. I am instead referring to inspired thinking, which involves a willingness to embrace both pleasure and pain, and positive and negative, in the pursuit of something deeply meaningful to you.
So, if you give yourself permission to fill your day with things that are really deeply meaningful to you and what you are spontaneously inspired to do, your brain is likely to maximize its effectiveness by neuroplastically remodeling itself all the way down to the genes, epigenes and epitags to help you master your life and get what you want in life.
This is the magnificence of neuroplasticity - your brain’s innate ability to build, destroy and remodel itself, create new synaptic pathways and get rid of old synaptic pathways to help you maximize your potential in your life.
In other words, your potential is greater than you may have ever thought. You are capable of doing so much more than you may give yourself credit for - and it begins with your perceptions.
Let us turn to epigenetics and link it to neuroplasticity:
|Epigenetics: the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence.|
When I first studied genetics, I was fascinated by what happens immediately after a sperm and an egg unite. In other words, the formation of a zygote during procreation - a single cell comprising half the genes from the mother and half from the father.
The zygote then divides and divides and divides - 52 times, in total - resulting in the 7 trillion cells that you have in your body. However, each time the zygote divides, the resulting cell is slightly modified, as opposed to being identical.
This was discovered to be the result of stem cells branching into different cell types through signal molecule release and epigenetic modifications where types of cells differentiate and result in different types of cell. For instance, ectoderm cells can make nerves and skin, mesoderm cells can make bones and blood vessel systems, and endoderm cells can make various organs.
In other words, even though the genes are the same, an expression of the genes changes to result in the different types of cells - skin cells, hair cells, bone cells, et cetera - by the time you are born.
On a deeper level, scientists and researchers have shown that epigenetics doesn’t only occur during gestation, but instead that the tagging of each parent’s genes is passed down into the sperm and the egg and carried forward. In other words, they have discovered multigenerational epigenetic mutations.
Let’s say you have a parent who was highly distressed, or who had a major fight with somebody and never got over it and then procreated shortly thereafter with all that information stored in the subconscious mind as a wound, this is likely to result in an epigenetic tag that can potentially go into the sperm, which then unites with the egg and results in procreation.
So, the mother’s and father’s tags from their emotions are passed down like an inheritance of acquired characteristics and carried down into the next generation.
Your children may then receive that information that is carried down, which can affect how they interpret their own lives. They can allow it to run their lives and effectively become victims of it, or take those same experiences and neutralize them with the Demartini Method at the Breakthrough Experience, and effectively break and remove those epigenetic tags.
This is both exciting and amazing that you have the capacity to take whatever happens to you and turn it into an opportunity. With neuroplasticity and epigenetics, you can modify whatever happens in your life and turn it into something meaningful and inspiring.
As William James and Wilhelm Wundt said over a hundred years ago, you have the capacity not to be a victim of your history, but instead to be a master of your destiny.
You would be wise to avoid blaming your parents or grandparents for what you perceive to be your shortcomings or weaknesses in life, but instead to be mindful of the fact that your epigenetics are not necessarily permanent. If you choose to give power to the drama and blame, they are likely to stay there, run you and your life, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead, you might consider using the Demartini Method at the Breakthrough Experience to neutralize the emotional sources of your generational or possibly multigenerational epigenetic tags so you can take whatever has happened in your life and be fueled by it.
It is for this reason that you would be wise to master your perceptions, your decisions and your actions, the three things you have control over in your life:
- If you prioritize your actions, your motor neurons can be remodeled;
- If you prioritize your perceptions, your perceptions can be remodeled; and
- If you prioritize your decisions to do things that are inspiring to you, your interneurons and their many associations in your brain can be remodeled.
The moment you modify and balance these three areas, you can return to authenticity and the real expression of your genes - your gene potential. In this way, you are more likely to be grateful, inspired, loving, certain, present, and empowered.
Please consider coming to the Breakthrough Experience and learning the Demartini Method to help you transform your epimutations and epigenetics so you can neutralize those tags that may be running your life. In this way, you can get on with doing something that is authentic and inspiring to you while also being more resilient, adaptable and authentic. If you are just living from day to day and trying to merely survive, you are not likely to get the most out of your life. But if you have a thriving, inspired vision that you have a big enough reason to go after, and a “why” that is big enough, then you will tend to find solutions and strategies to go and do something extraordinary.
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