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An Excerpt from Pimp Your Brain: Neuroplasticity for Pleasure and Profit. DIY Neuroplasticity Tools & Techniques Part 2 of 7

An Excerpt from Pimp Your Brain – Neuroplasticity for Pleasure and Profit. DIY Neuroplasticity Tools and Techniques Part 2 of 7

Zazen or Sitting Meditation

This is adapted from Zen Buddhism and is about simply sitting and labelling whatever comes into your mind – thoughts, feelings, emotions, images etc. You don’t just need to sit; you can also do this while walking or sprinting, for example.

An interesting and instructive variant is to just sit and think about your brain. Where do your thoughts originate, can you locate their origin within your mind? What does this tell you about how, why and where you perceive your reality?

Once you become more au fait with the neuroscience of the brain, you can start to consider which neurotransmitters are active or most prominent at any one time. If you feel alert, happy and buzzy, you’ve most likely got a cocktail of serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine doing their thing. If you’re starting to draw on pleasant memories, or think about the layout of Rome after your last trip, your hippocampus is probably fetching appropriate memories or spatial patterns from long-term storage.

Think about your left PFC, blast positive words at it to shift to the eudaimonia prone left if you have a bias towards the more depression prone right PFC. Call up reserves of acetylcholine to help focus and improve your attention. Feeling good about yourself can also increase reserves of the reward oriented feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.

Here you will be meditating on the body, brain and mind, getting a feel for how these three connect and influence each other. It helps to quickly review the sections on the main parts of the brain and their function. Look at an image of the brain, or better still, draw your own or make a mind map.

Visualise the parts of the brain, work out where your thoughts originate, try bouncing them around the brain like you are playing squash with them. Explore your intent-driven frontal cortex, and then shift your attention to the more emotional limbic system. How do you feel when you do this, what are you beginning to learn about yourself?

Get a feel for your brain lighting up all over as you try to integrate it – remember that highly integrative gamma wave synchrony.

In the West, psychologists consider us ‘sane’ if we’re free of mental illness and living on a borderline emotional state. You might as well choose your neuroses with care – there are plenty to choose from and more and more come to light every year, according to DSM IV.

In Buddhism it gets much more dramatic and constructive in that you can choose more positive states like joy, eudaimonia, rapture, bliss and equanimity. You can learn to recalibrate your brain, mind and emotions and make a conscious choice as to how you feel, behave and process ‘reality’.

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