Times of Social Unrest Appear to Boost Our Brain’s Neuroplasticity

Times of Social Unrest Appear to Boost Our Brain’s Neuroplasticity

New research suggests that times of global unrest present a unique opportunity for neurological growth and profound behavior change, but only when leveraged correctly.

Kayla Osterhoff is a neuropsychophysiologist who studies the interaction of the mind and brain, which she calls the ‘human operating system.’

“One of the greatest mysteries in modern neuroscience is actually how the brain produces the mind. The reason why we have not been able to come up with the answer for this is because that’s not how it works. These two are actually separate systems that interact together to produce what I call the ‘human operating system,’ which is responsible for our version of reality as humans,” Osterhoff said.

Osterhoff has recently been researching the hypothesis that times of social unrest provide a valuable opportunity to neurologically upgrade this human operating system.

“Right now, we have this very unique opportunity to upgrade our ‘human operating system’ globally,” Osterhoff said. “And that is because as a society around the entire world we are experiencing this social unrest and this has caused a couple of significant cognitive and neurological shifts that have provided an opportunity for us to grow and evolve as a society.”

Osterhoff points to several fascinating factors that contribute to this phenomenon.

“So, studies are showing that acute states of stress, like shock, trauma, or something surprising like what we’re currently experiencing in our world, caused this cognitive psychological shift that actually makes our subconscious mind more suggestible, meaning that our subconscious mind is brought forward so to speak, and it’s more malleable, it’s more programmable,” Osterhoff said. 

“If you look back at clinical hypnosis research and Ericksonian research — he was kind of the father of clinical hypnosis — he found in his research that shock and surprise are actually a form of hypnotic induction that can be utilized to reprogram the subconscious mind or increase subconscious suggestibility,” she said. 

Another contributing factor Osterhoff has uncovered has to do with the phenomenon of neuroplasticity.

“So, neuroplasticity refers to the way that our neurons, our brain cells, fire, and wire together. So, neuroplasticity increases our ability to change and reshape these neural pathways,” Osterhoff said. “The second opportunity that we have right now is a global increase in neuroplasticity. Now, in these times of unrest, our lives have been upended, our patterns have shifted, and we’re experiencing things for the first time. So, because of this our globe is experiencing heightened neuroplasticity and heightened subconscious suggestibility.”

What are the implications of these findings?

“Now, the opportunity here is that we can leverage these two abilities to change, grow, evolve, shift, and learn to our benefit or if we remain unaware of this, we can be shifted in a way that is detrimental to us as well,” Osterhoff said. 

“For instance, if you want to quit smoking, or you want to change some kind of behavior, you have a greater ability to do that right now than ever before. On the opposite side of things, if you spend this time in fear or in worry, you risk hardwiring those behaviors into your physiology. Because this is happening on a mass scale, our world has a greater capacity to evolve, shift, and grow than it ever has before. So we need to leverage this, we need to take advantage so that we can make the positive changes that we want to see in the world happen.”

How to Access Your Subconscious Mind in 4 Steps

How to Access Your Subconscious Mind in 4 Steps

“Logic can take you from point A to point B, but imagination can take you anywhere.” – Albert Einstein

How to Access your Subconscious Mind?

Exercise: Access your Subconscious Mind in 4 Steps

  1. Relax

Relaxation is challenging for many of us, but it’s the gateway to opening and moving deeper within ourselves. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place. If you’re sitting, use a cushion or a folded blanket underneath to help your sitz bones relax the hip flexors and knees. If you’re lying down, roll your shoulder blades down your back to support the heart. Place the hands at your sides palms up, and let the legs and ankles splay out. Relax the eyes with a soft gaze or close them, whatever feels most comfortable for you.

  1. Listen

Listen to the sound of your breath. If your breath is fast and choppy, slow it down by taking long, slow breaths. This calms the mind. Listen to the sound of your heart beating in sync with the natural rhythms of your body. The more you listen and focus on the breath, the more you’ll arrive in the moment, at ease, letting go of thoughts.

  1. Find Guidance

Using a guided meditation or a yoga nidra recording can be a powerful way to encourage visualization and deeper meditation. Better yet, seek out a teacher. Guided meditations will help you set your intention for what you want to work on, from dealing with trauma to fulfilling dreams, getting rid of bad habits, etc.

Guided meditations can often be found free through many different apps. Another option is brain wave music, which moves the hemispheres of the brain into alpha, delta and theta states, which help to de-program old thought patterns.

  1. Be Consistent

The more frequent you practice, the better. Find the time of day that resonates with you most and stick to it. Want to complement your practice even more? Restorative yoga is incredibly beneficial for relaxation.

Accessing your subconscious can help change your harmful thought patterns and take you out of feeling like you’re living life on autopilot. With a regular practice, you’ll enjoy a new sense of well-being, passion and purpose.

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