“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the power of thought, so naturally I thought I’d remind you just how powerful your thoughts are!
Your brain is capable of more than just changing the way you think about things and the way your brain works, it is also able to change in structure and shape. Scientists have found that doing an action and imagining that same action “require the same motor and sensory programs in the brain.” In another wonderful video from Asap Science, we learn just how powerful thoughts can be. For example, your Primary Visual Cortex lights up the same way regardless of whether you are looking at a letter on a screen or imagining it in your mind. The same thing occurs when you think about writing your name with your dominant hand: imagining writing your name with your dominant hand will take you just as long as if you actually write your name. The same goes for imagining writing your name with your non-dominant hand. The reason this is the case is because action and imagination “are integrated and engage the same neural pathways” and “practicing on actually influences the other.”
A study conducted had two groups practice the piano for two hours a day. One group was to practice traditionally (i.e. by actually playing) and the other group was only allowed to practice with their minds – sitting in front of it, they could only imagine practicing. “The exact same physical changes took place in the motor cortex of both groups.”
After three days of this the mental practice group was allowed to begin playing physically and was on the same level of accuracy as the physical practice group. At five days, however, the mental practice group’s abilities began to wane in comparison to the physical practice group; though, given the opportunity to physically practice, they were able to quickly catch up.
Another study had one group of individuals physically take part in finger exercises for a week, which increased their finger muscle size by thirty percent; while the second group – those who were only allowed to imagine the exercises – increased their muscle size by twenty-two percent!
What are you spending your time thinking about? With this knowledge, you now know it’s possible to physically change your brain and your abilities merely by thinking about them.
Spend more time taking daily action to think more about what you’d like to improve in your life and how you’d like to improve it. The discipline it requires to change the brain is a lot, but the outcome is worth it and much more fantastic than you may have imagined before.
Please, share your stories on how thinking a different way has changed your life.