I won’t babble on and on about how amazing, staggeringly great I think the brain is….much. It’s pretty awesome, nonetheless. Where, however, do we find this elusive creature we call the mind? Does it hang out in the brain, pulling our strings like a puppeteer? Not quite. Modern theorists believe that the complexity of the brain gives rise to consciousness, and consciousness plus life experience becomes you!
The brain is an organ, the most complex biological device known. However, the mind is the result of all that complexity. We can thank our brains for being able to reason, to think, to feel, and to plan. The brain is the organ that allows us to be who we are. We can also give the brain a round of applause for allowing us to live, as it controls every vital function of the body. Movement, heart rate, breathing, body temperature, you name it—the brain has a hand in it. Oh, and that’s something else too! The brain takes care of keeping us oriented in three-dimensional space. Although unless we’re pilots or enjoy hopping up and down a lot, we mostly use just the basic two dimensions. However, our brain always keeps track of our location in three dimensions, allowing gymnasts to perform stunning feats and even beginning swimmers to navigate in the water.
However, the brain can have off days. Although I’m not going to get too far into the subject in this post, disorders such as clinical depression, chronic anxiety and panics attacks, and bipolar disorders are well-established disorders of the brain that cannot solely be willed away in some cases.
Regardless, there are a number of mental disciplines that can help the brain clean and clear itself of useless garbage. I for one do not like comparing the brain to a computer. It’s roughly again to comparing a nuclear power plant to a firecracker (the brain would be the nuclear power plant here). Computers are changing approaches and gaining fast, but the human brain still beats computers in the area of parallel processing. Right now, you’re reading this text while your brain is monitoring your environment, keeping you upright (balance isn’t magic, it doesn’t just happen. Every second your brain is making micro-adjustments to your body’s position to keep you from tumbling to the floor), taking in visual and auditory stimuli. The brain does this all at once. In fact, the brain is so good at this, it’s called massively parallel processing.
Computers only get that good when thousands upon thousands of processors are linked together. Well, your noggin contains billions of nerves and quintillions of interlinkages all standing ready to make you a happier, healthier person. Here are a few tips to help that magnificent brain pop, crackle, and leap into action!
1. The brain needs rest. The average human brain (there’s no such thing, we’re all amazing!) consumes 25% of the fresh, oxygenated supply of blood at any given time during the day. Problem is, the waste products of all that good stuff build up and only get cleaned out once we’re asleep. Getting 7 to 8 hours of rest a night does the job.
2. The brain needs stimulation! Don’t be afraid of stimulating environments; your brain loves them! Learn something new, even if you’re not so good at it. Learn to play the cello. Read a new book. Take up a foreign language. See how you like hiking. Experience is the metaphorical food of the brain. Experience causes the brain to develop more sophisticated neural networks and deepens your brain’s overall “horsepower.”
3. Feed me! The brain needs amino acids. These often come from animal protein, but for vegans and vegetarians, flaxseed, kale, spinach, and a whole host of green goodness can provide essential material for breakdown into amino acids. Taking supplement pills isn’t a bad idea; it’s simply not as effective as whole foods.
Ok, just a very few tips to get you guys started! Be sure to come back, and we’ll talk more about the magnificent brain and its best friend, the mind!
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