Monday, 9 May 2011

If you can change your mind, you can change your life.
William James

In the last few decades, thanks MRI imaging techniques, scientists can observe what’s actually going on in the brain while people sleep, work, make decisions etc.
The breakthrough in imaging techniques led Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, now a research psychiatrist at the School of Medicine at the University of California and co-author with Sharon Begley of Mind and the Brain, to wonder, “What kind of internal experience is generated by the neuronal activity captured on a brain scan? Even more important, how can we use scientific discoveries linking inner experience with brain function to effect constructive changes in everyday life?” A student of Buddhist meditation, he developed a form of therapy to change the faulty chemistry of a well-identified brain circuit: that of the patient with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (OCD is a prime example of pathological brain processes in which negative thoughts can be traced on an MRI). He told his patients: “The feeling of doubt … is a false message, due to a jammed transmission in the brain.”They learned to change the way they thought about their thoughts through regular refocusing, which engaged them in intentional rather than automatic behavior, activating a different brain circuitry. Not only did he introduce a new treatment for mental illness, he also ­provided hard evidence that the mind can control the brain’s chemistry as he demonstrated how refocusing literally reprograms the brain, and mindfulness gives people more control over their lives.

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