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Two Science-Backed Approaches To Train Your Brain

Written by: Jackie Woodside, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I was sitting in a beautiful sun-lit sanctuary of a Unity Church one fall day in 2008 when my life changed in an instant.

I was listening to the Sunday message by a sprite of a minister who delivered powerful messages week after week. She was giving a talk about fulfilling our potential, and right in the middle of it, I heard this quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas that cut right to my heart:

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.

If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

In that instant, I knew the roots of my discontent and ennui. There was something within me that I was not bringing forth, and it was destroying me. Not my actual physical life but it was destroying my spirit, my vitality, and my joy of living.

For years, I had wanted to close my clinical psychotherapy practice and devote myself to writing, teaching, and speaking about new advances in mind and consciousness but I had was afraid. I was filled with justifications as to why I shouldn’t do it. But the real cause of my inaction was simply fear, the habitual, self-protective mental patterns designed to keep me safe from harm.

I felt called into a new self-expression, but fear talked me out of it. "I" was not running the show of my life, but the thoughts and emotions coursing through me were directing my actions. Filled with fear-based, protective thoughts and feelings, I was powerless to act. I realized that if I let that inner experience continue to run the show, I would never know the fulfillment that I imagined.

I needed to use my mind to train my brain to create a different outcome for my life.

Science shows that people have between 12,000 thoughts for the "average thinker" and 80,000 for those engaged in highly creative, stimulating endeavors. And of these multitudes, most are negative. Some research even went as far as to say that 80% of our mind chatter is fearful, anxious, discouraged, self-critical, or otherwise negative in character.

We have an odd relationship with our complex inner world of thought and emotion. Our culture is rampant with "drama and trauma" sharing. It is socially acceptable, expected even, to talk about what's NOT going well rather than the awe and wonder of life itself and the blessings we have.

Yet we get embarrassed to admit the degree of our stress-laden, fear-based thinking that often leads to a type of paranoid self-reflection of, "What's wrong with me??"

The truth of the matter is that there is NOTHING wrong with you whatsoever – other than the fact that you have yet to learn to use your mind in a clear, directed manner.

Here's what we know from neuroscience – the brain does NOT function for your happiness; it functions for your survival. Your brain is on the lookout for what could be dangerous, what could go wrong, and it helps you survive in an often-uncertain world. That's a good thing! It has an evolutionary function that was once critical to human survival like when being chased through the forest by a sizeable woolly mammoth! However, what we are more often faced with today are threats to our sense of self, our wholeness, and our well-being.

The shift that needs to occur is to focus beyond mere survival to the conscious evolution of our mind and consciousness.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Michael Merzenich of the University of California at San Francisco discovered that your brain can and does change to adapt to impairment or injury. Neuroplasticity was the fantastic discovery that our brains can change over time.

It was previously believed that the human brain was set and unchanging from early childhood and that for the rest of our lives, we are at the whims of how the brain operates based on early life experiences and genetics.

But today, we know that not only does the brain rewire to compensate for an injury, but that you can also rewire your habitual thinking and emotions by "talking back to your brain." This is called "self-directed neuroplasticity," which changes the brain's structure to be less driven by fear and anxiety and more driven by higher-order thinking, awareness, creativity.

A study out of Harvard and Boston University showed that people trained with just 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation showed a decrease in the size and activity of their amygdala, which is the fear and anxiety center of the brain. This means that learning to consciously focus on your inner world in present moment awareness changes the structure and operation of your brain.

But this is not only true of your ability to change your thoughts, thoughts, but your emotions too.

The magnetic energy of the heart is 5000 times stronger than the brain. Meaning that the vibratory pattern given off by your heart center, your seat of emotion, is much stronger than the energy of your mind.

You can learn to increase positive emotions to ramp up your vibe through self-generated positive emotion. For example, expressing gratitude, serving others, giving compliments, and simply smiling at others are ways to generate positive heart energy and vibration.

These two powerful tools of self-directed neuroplasticity and self-generated positive emotion are the launchpad for your success and happiness in life.

This is how you can learn to use your mind to train your brain. This is no easy task as we live in a world filled with scarcity, discord, and stress. But with clarity, focus, and present moment awareness, you can learn to use your mind as a superpower bringing you to higher levels of optimal human experience and potential.

If you would like to apply these principles to the very compelling area of money, join me in the 30-Day Money Vibe Challenge and see how changing your vibe can impact your finances in positive ways.

For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


Jackie Woodside, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jackie Woodside, CPC, MSW, is a best-selling author, TEDx speaker, radio and television personality, and trainer passionate about expanding the edge of human potential. Jackie has written three best-selling books and over 30 different training programs. She was featured along with Jack Canfield and Don Miguel Ruiz on the Wake-Up! TV series. She is the Founder of the Curriculum for Conscious Living and the Conscious Living and Money Vibe Summits.

Jackie provides custom training programs or keynote speeches for organizations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bayer Corporation, the Air Force National Guard, The National Association of Social Workers, Gallaudet University, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Jackie is committed to raising consciousness on the planet, creating a world that works for everyone.



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