Neuroplasticity (Change your mind, change your reality)


Lisa Brown is a student at Orca Institute, Canada's Longest running hypnotherapy School


A superhero movie recently trumpeted this message. A counselling hypnotherapist sat in the movie theatre all dinner plate eyes at the transformation of well, just EVERYTHING on the screen. I’m that hypnotherapist and I was watching that movie as a story filled with metaphors, symbols, mind and magic and boy was I entranced by it all! Oh my gosh! This was IT on multiple levels. This was what I did with hypnosis, what I had been and was currently going through, This spoke to me as only stories and metaphors, and suggestion can! I was a kid in a candy shop!

My unconscious mind was jumping up and down, doing backflips and somersaults. Guy goes through a traumatic and totally out of the blue experience that laid waste destroying his expected career trajectory, his whole life and outlook/worldview. His experiences changed him and who he really was, a very different life. He found his greatness in his adversity. He thought he was one thing and that the world was only one thing, so it was for him for a long time.

Then something huge happened-a very unexpected experience shook all that up and it turns out everything is really really different from how it was before. Yet all along really was there all along. Hidden in the open. Like the unconscious mind. Like neuroplasticity. Sounds like, smells like, looks like magic but actually-it is science and art. Maybe that is our “magic” after all. Science and art. It sure is our mind and reality. The superhero drew golden light sigils upon the air with his mind to change reality, we craft words and thoughts upon the spaces within us, with our mind, and change reality.

Wikipedia defines it as:

Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity and neural plasticity, is the ability of the brain to change throughout an individual's life, e.g., brain activity associated with a given function can be transferred to a different location, the proportion of grey matter can change, and synapses may strengthen or weaken over time.

Research in the latter half of the 20th century showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered (or are "plastic") even through adulthood. This notion is in contrast with the previous scientific consensus that the brain develops during a critical period in early childhood and then remains relatively unchanged (or "static").

There is a woman in Toronto who changed her brain and is teaching others to do the same and even more. Her name is Barbara Arrowsmith and her challenges growing up were quite daunting. She couldn't understand what she read. She sometimes read a sentence many many times and still never sure she understood it. Something others take for granted like reading "take the book and place it the desk" It meant nothing to her. She was 26 before she could read a clock. The effect it had on her confidence and self-esteem was tremendous.

Her story is inspiring. Many children and adults carry shame over their hidden difficulties in learning or doing certain things that they keep hidden. Getting by with compensating for whatever it is they just can't do. For me it is math. For the person who interviewed her, it is reading maps. Maps make no sense to him, as fractions and long division are a mystery to me.

Not being able to do these things caused her tremendous pain and cost years of frustration and tears. She has a photographic memory-visually and auditory. She used this ability to compensate for not being able to reason in certain areas even through college. In fact, it was in college during a science class that she decided that she needed to figure out a way to address and change how she learned directly. Without compensating for it.

 She worked hard to discover how she could change what too many neuroscientists at the time said was impossible as an adult. She did it and she has a school in Toronto, The Arrowsmith School where she teaches others how to change their own brains. Some have struggled with learning disabilities their entire life. Others are still very young her students cover the entire human lifespan from kids to senior citizens. She said that she does it so others don't have to go through what she did. Overcoming her deficits didn't change her feelings of lack of confidence and self-esteem overnight built up over such a long time. That healing took longer but after a while, it happened for her.

I love that she changed, healed, and now guides others to change and heal themselves. I think we can heal and help others with their challenges without having first experienced those exact same issues but there is something about someone who has been there that gives hope and confidence a boost. A validity born of motivation, concentration, and belief.

An interesting thing to note is she doesn't only help others bring their cognitive abilities to average-she teaches her students how to bring them to as advanced a level as possible for them. To excel. That has got to be a huge huge boost to people's self-esteem and confidence.

When I first went to university in the 80’s Introductory Psychology classes, biology, anatomy, human development classes taught what was commonly believed to be true at the time. That neurons don’t grow, and that once an area of the brain is disrupted, injured, damaged, or otherwise undeveloped/malformed it is gone forever, can't regrow, that what you had at birth was what you would have throughout your life, that there was a small, all too brief window of opportunity when you were young in which you could learn languages, develop talents and abilities.

if you missed that window-you missed the train so to speak to ever learn and develop those things and more. Research and better brain imaging proved that this wasn’t true at all. In reality, our brains can and do grow new neurons throughout life. Our brains can and do grow pathways around damaged areas. Old dogs can and do learn new tricks. All the time.

Not only does this make sense in keeping with what we do commonly see happening around us in our experiences, but it has also been verified in studies and research. More so every day across the world.
Ask yourself in what ways can you take your highly malleable brain & using the art and science of what you do as a counselling hypnotherapist, make some magic in your client's lives?

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Saturday, 03 December 2022