"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19
I had computer problems yesterday and most of today, so I'm posting yesterday's reflection "Mind vs. Brain" as Day 14, and today's reflection as Day 15.
This weekend I had the privilege to attend Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Perfectly You Switch On Your Brain Conference in Dallas. Dr. Leaf is not only an amazing woman of God, but she is the first person who has helped me understand the link between science and God. She believed that the mind could change the brain long before neuroplasticity was conceptualized, researched and validated as a scientific fact. If the mind were merely a construct of the physical brain, then the notion of free will and the ability to think would be negated. She is also the first person who has explained what the soul is in a way that makes perfect sense. The soul is the mind, emotions and will of man. The soul is separate from, but intertwined with our spirit and body. We are three part beings, made in the image of our creator. The spirit of man is the part of humanity that connects with the Spirit of God. Both the spirit and soul aspects of ourselves exist in the non-physical realm, therefore, many people don’t pay attention to or believe in them. Many people only believe in the physical domain, and because of this, miss the larger, more complex picture of who we really are. Dr. Leaf likens this approach to an iceberg. When we observe and address only the tip of the iceberg, that which is visibly seen, we miss the depth and width of the true dimensions of the iceberg.
When we connect our spirit to the Spirit of God, we are able to operate in the realm of love. We will naturally want to direct our mind, will and emotions to the Spirit of God and will then make choices that play out through our behaviors. Our physical will change as a result of the non-physical. Here’s the kicker – there is scientific evidence that backs this up! In her book, Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf illustrates how our thoughts are real physical things that develop in our brains. You can see that a new thought transforms from what looks like a bump to a lollipop to a mushroom over a period of 21-days. If the new thought is given energy by the power of attention and intention, then the thought, which is actually a memory, will become rooted and automatic over three cycles of 21 days. Most people have fantastic intention, however, if the intention is not practiced on a regular basis, then the “bump” evaporates into heat and is burned off. It no longer exists.
Dr. Leaf reminded us that what we pay attention to grows. That means that if I am paying attention to negative thoughts, then negative thoughts will grow. As negative thoughts grow, negative feelings grow. As negative feelings grow, negative behaviors grow. The same is true for positive healthy thoughts. She also reminded us that we should only pay attention to one or two things at a time, and that we should practice the new way of thinking, feeling and choosing for approximately 7-10 minutes per day. She calls this process, “The 21 Day Brain Detox.” Dr. Leaf recommends three rounds of 21 days to create a new habit and new way of thinking.
There are so many other concepts that Dr. Leaf unpacked during the conference. Attending her conference reconfirmed my desire to see my clients as whole, complex beings who need love and support. It is not my job to fix my clients. It is my job to love and accept my clients, where they are, and join them on their journey to health. It is my job to teach them skills, when they ask, and to help them see the brilliant, beautiful beings that God created them to be. It is my job to see myself and treat myself in the same manner.
Attending Dr. Leaf’s conference reaffirmed the approach I am taking to losing weight and breaking free from food/sugar addiction. She stated that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is a harder addiction to break free from than cocaine and heroin. There is no magic pill, or any other quick fix that will change my addiction. Dr. Leaf offered the “Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship” exercise as a way of putting God first before working on whatever it is you want to change. When you thank God, your brain changes. Your brain releases neurotransmitters, becomes primed for learning, has increased beta activity and there is a heart release that mimics a feeling of peace. Once we have honored our God and tapped into His Spirit, we are ready to begin the 5 Step Brain Detox (Gather, Focused Thinking, Metacognition and Writing, Re-Visit, and Active Reach).