There has been some research to indicate that brain exercises, including meditation, can help to reduce the effects of some mental illnesses as we age, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Even beyond preventing mental decline, incorporating brain exercises helps you to live a better life today: to become more creative, more flexible in your thinking, to break out of past ruts. An exercised brain is a nimble brain, that will be more likely to see opportunities and solutions that you may otherwise miss in life.
In the past it was thought that as a person gets older it is natural for their cognitive abilities to decline. However, there is now research that shows it doesn’t have to be this way at all. Instead it is possible for a person to continue improving on a cognitive level as they get older.
Most people don’t realize that they should work to train their brain through such things as meditation and brain exercises. Allowing it to just develop habits and behaviors any way that it will without some direction from you really isn’t a good idea. Previous generations seemed to understand this better than we do today. Today it is a concept that too many people have never given any thought to, perhaps because we now have so much technology to rely on, but I don’t know. How can you expect your brain to form the way you want it to if you don’t have any defined goals about what that is?
Many people have taken up brain exercising to reduce the risk of mental illness and increase mental fitness. It is never too late for someone to change their thinking processes. That is the good news because people too often assume that what a person has always done is what they are destined to continue doing. Not true! Change can be challenging and require some time and persistence, but it can be accomplished with dedication and a good game plan. That’s because of what is called “neural plasticity.” This is the ability of our brain to change it’s wiring, in significant ways. It was previously thought that this ability of the brain stopped about the age of 25, but it’s now known that it continues throughout life. And like many other things, the more you use it, the better it works for you. So the more new things you expose yourself to, such as brain exercises, meditating, or just making sure you do things differently on a regular basis, the more nimble your brain will be. A good book that explains neural plasticity that I recommend to lots of clients is “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain,” by Sharon Begley. If you find this area of research interesting, I would encourage you to pick up her book at your local library or bookstore.
I recently had a client who, at the age of 40, was quite stuck in her strategies for how she did things. Through our work together and just by my observation, I could see that she used the same strategies, or thought processes, over and over and it was hard for her to break out of them. When I felt that we had enough rapport, I shared my observations with her. She agreed, my observations were accurate. She was there for some help in opening herself up to trying new foods. She was on a personal program to be healthier and had been working with a nutritionist and wanted to incorporate more veggies and other “new” foods into her diet. But when she tried to do so she was faced with anxiety. Turns out that her inability to change her strategy with regard to what she ate was just an example of her rigidity in strategies in other areas of her life. When you’re like this, you often find that you repeat the same “mistakes” over and over. That despite TRYING to do things differently, somehow you keep coming up with the same results, whether that’s in relationships, career, or what you eat. As always, awareness is the beginning point of change. After making her aware of this tendency in herself and hearing her agreement with the observation, we discussed some ways that she could create more variety, purposefully, in how she does things in her life, from little things like going into her work building a different way than usual, to learning new skills, meditating, and traveling. Basically, to be more curious and to learn that there is ALWAYS more than one way to approach anything in life.
The more that you work your brain the better it is going to be. Whether that’s being more creative about how you do daily things in your life, using brain exercises, meditating or the like. The effort you put into it is going to help you live a happier, more successful and healthier life. One of the basic tenets of NLP is that the person who is most flexible in any given situation or communication will be the most successful. Embracing these concepts will make you more flexible, more adaptable, and make it easier for your to see alternate paths to reach your goals, and therefore you will be more likely to have the results you want, in any area of life, and less likely to keep getting stuck in the same ways. There is a great deal of personal power that comes from brain exercising so don’t underestimate it.