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OTHER ITA SITES:
Slow Down Ageing By Engineering Your Mind Out Of Its Rut
One of the great gifts of being a human being is that we have this immense opportunity to continue developing, learning, and bettering ourselves for the duration our lives. We have this innate desire to explore, and challenge ourselves, but unfortunately most of us lose this desire. Somewhere along the way, we stop exploring; we lose our drive; we get into a rut; we take the path of least resistance. This is not simply a function of age, although it does tend to happen as we grow older. It is a result of our minds getting in a rut.
It is well known that people begin to age much quicker once their life becomes routine, boring, without challenge. If you think of what a rut in the road is, it is a path that has been formed through continued use. It is broken down and worn away. Yes it makes it an easier path to travel down because it is already formed and established, which is useful when you want to get somewhere quickly. But to get out of the rut and take a path less travelled requires willingness, greater effort and often courage.
When we say we are in a rut, what are we really saying? Well like a rut on the road, your brain also develops ‘rutted’ neural pathways. When we practice something, say playing an instrument, the continuous repetition of the act of playing causes the brain to develop easy (fast) to access neural pathways specifically developed for playing the instrument. That is why overtime and with continued practice a musician becomes accomplished because playing the instrument becomes one of the brains paths of least resistance. The brain has developed all the neural pathways necessary for the task. In fact it gradually becomes less and less active in developing potential in this area as it reaches its peak performance ability and once so, can develop no further. Its ‘rut’ is complete. This is also why people often lose their passion for something once they’ve reached the pinnacle. There is nowhere for them to go – except to develop some other aspect of their potential.
Of course having your brain ‘rutted’ in accomplished ways is a good thing (unlike what happens when a person is rutted in an addiction). But what is not good is that if a person stops taking up new challenges, and the brain is no longer being actively developed, is no longer forming new neural pathways, is no longer stimulated and (rather than becoming ever expansive in its abilities) tapping into what we know to be its larger unused part, it becomes contractive. The individual has literally stopped their brain from developing and exploring its full potential causing the mind to become contractive too. The body soon follows because the body always follows the mind.
Knowing that the body follows the mind, it then follows that the best way to stem the ageing process and extend the longevity of ones youthfulness is by keeping the mind active. To engage it in ways that will cause the brain to build ever more neural pathways. In doing this what you are really doing is ‘growing’ the brain. Unlike the ‘rutted’ worn down path analogy, ‘growing’ the brain is the creative rather than destructive employment of the brain. But there is more to this than just analogy and symbolic comparison.
When the brain is creatively engaged it dips into various brainwave states and this is key in scientifically understanding why an active brain is the best preventative against ageing. Science has now discovered that when the brain enters certain brainwave states (alpha, theta, delta) it deeply relaxes the body, reenergizes it, releases endorphins, and what are commonly understood to be ‘youth’ hormones. Most commonly known are DHEA and Melatonin. At the same time that the brain is increasing its life enhancing hormones, it is reducing its degenerative counterpart (Cortisone). As we get older, our DHEA drops off and our Cortisone level rises. This of course corresponds with the tendency of most adults to become less creative in their thoughts about their lives potential in general. This is powerful to understand, because what it means is that by engaging your brain in its more creative brainwave states you wield tremendous power over your ageing process and your physical well being. If you seriously want to counter the accepted ageing process customary in society do not doubt that age begins in the mind before the body, keep it exploring and expanding – get it out of its rut.
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