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Is Your Brain Stuck in the Past?

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Is Your Brain Stuck in the Past?

Empty out those negative experiences!
Alberto  Villoldo Ph.D.
Alberto Villoldo Ph.D. More by this author
Feb 01, 2011 at 09:00 AM

Enlightenment. This elusive state has been the focus of some of the greatest minds throughout history. Thousands of people have dedicated their lives to its pursuit. We see images of monks sitting peacefully on meditation cushions . . . nuns kneeling in prayer . . . shamans living in the wilds of the Amazon. And while these representations of enlightened individuals may be accurate, they also imply that this desired state is reserved for a privileged few.

We believe, however, that enlightenment is available to all those who are willing to dedicate the time and effort necessary to attain it. Finding this state does not require a lifestyle that is incompatible with surviving in the modern Western world. And the rewards of enlightenment are not limited to the attainment of spiritual knowledge enjoyed by the contemplative mystic. They can also be reaped in the discovery of DNA sequencing by the innovative scientist, the preparation of a mouth-watering meal by the inventive chef, or the creation of an inspiring masterpiece by the insightful artist. We believe that enlightenment promises everyone the possibility for innovation, extraordinary creativity, and inner peace.

We also believe that the search for enlightenment can be accelerated by following a practice focused on awakening the power of the higher brain. When our higher brain functions are engaged, we have the potential to change our lives both spiritually and biologically.

But to achieve this desired state of consciousness, we must not only master ancient enlightenment techniques but also restore the brain’s health at the cellular level.

Is Your Brain Stuck in the Past?

Anger, fear, jealousy, greed, and worry, while commonplace, undermine our inner peace and sense of self-worth. But even on a weekend meditation retreat or during a walk in the quiet and stillness of the woods, the mind continues to chase thoughts, compose to-do lists, and fret about activities not yet completed and situations not yet resolved. Hard as we might try to sit quietly and empty our mind of thoughts, it continues to gravitate toward the unfinished business of our past.

Why does your brain rely on the neural networks created by the prehistoric, survival-at-all-costs brain regions—the reptilian brain and the limbic brain—instead of operating at its optimal level of functioning? How do you overcome the toxic emotions of your old wiring, the conditioning based on negative experiences from the past?

By healing that prehistoric brain, you engage newer, higher, more evolved brain structures—the neocortex and, specifically, the prefrontal cortex—which will help you eliminate fear, poverty mentality, and anger from your life. This is done through the creation of new neural networks in your brain.

Until quite recently, most brain researchers held that, even though the brain is malleable in the early years of a child’s development, the window of opportunity for changing its wiring slams shut by around the age of seven years. While it is true that the brain of a fetus or a young child is like a dry sponge, with the potential to soak up all the knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors it needs to survive in its new worldly environment, the premise that the brain can no longer be rewired past a certain early age has now been upended.

Leading-edge research now confirms that we can grow new brain cells and change the actual networks in the brain. Once we provide our neurons with specific nutrients lacking in our everyday diet and embark on stimulating new activities, we can establish new neural networks that help transform limiting beliefs and behaviors and recapture long-lost feelings of joy, optimism, and tranquility.

In the language of neuroscience, enlightenment is the condition of optimal mitochondrial and brain functioning that allows us to experience both well-being and inner peace and the urge to create and innovate. Mitochondria are the energy factories at work within your cells. They impact your moods, your vitality, your aging process, and even how you might die. They are also in charge of the elimination of old cells and replacement with new cells, a function that occurs automatically, without your conscious awareness.

The mitochondria are influenced by the foods you eat, the amount of calories you ingest, the extent to which you exercise your body, and the inclusion of specific nutrients.

What if you could gain access to keys encoded in your mitochondrial DNA that, until now, have been password-protected? When you unlock this code, you break free of the illness-ridden journey that many Westerners suffer from cradle to grave. With your mitochondria restored, your cells will be able to express the genes that promote brain health and physical longevity, and you won’t have to continue perpetuating the ills and traumas of your family of origin.

About Author
Alberto  Villoldo Ph.D.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., is a medical anthropologist who comes from a long line of Earthkeepers from the Amazon and the Andes. The author of numerous best-selling books, Dr. Villoldo currently directs The Four Winds Society in Park City, Utah, where Continue reading