Evolve Your Brain: The Science Of Changing Your Mind (Part 1)
The Science of Changing Your Mind, Part 1 of an Interview with Joe Dispenza, DC
Dr. Joseph Dispenza studied biochemistry at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. He went on to receive his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree at Life University in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating magna cum laude. He is the recipient of a Clinical Proficiency Citation for clinical excellence in doctor-patient relationships from Life University and a member of the International Chiropractic Honor Society.
Dr Dispenza’s postgraduate training and continuing education has been in neurology, neurophysiology and brain function. He has authored several scientific articles on the close relationship between brain chemistry, neurophysiology and biology, and their roles in physical health. He has authored the book: Evolve Your Brain: the Science of Changing Your Mind. Dr. Dispenza was also one of the scientists, researchers and teachers featured in the multi-award winning hit movie, “What the BLEEP Do We Know!?” ™ .
Joseph Dispenza is known by his ability to translate scientific concepts of physics and biology into every day comprehensible language.
Pathways: What inspired and motivated you to write this book?
Dr. Dispenza: An experience I had 20 years ago inspired me to investigate the power of the brain to alter our life. Much of my spine was crushed in a bike accident, and four surgeons said my only option to avoid paralysis was a type of surgery that would have left me with a permanent disability and possibly, lifelong pain. I had to make the toughest decision of my life, but I turned down the surgery and turned instead to the innate intelligence that constantly gives life to every one of us. Ten weeks later, without surgery, I was back at work, completely healed and pain-free. In the book, I give credit to many factors that contributed to my healing.
Because of that experience, I promised myself to spend a major portion of my life studying the phenomenon of mind over matter and spontaneous healing, meaning how the body repairs itself or rids itself of disease without traditional medical interventions such as surgery or drugs. And so I’ve spent many years studying human potential, our ability to transcend or be greater than our personal limitations, and the interconnectedness of the brain, the mind, the body, and consciousness.
Until just a few decades ago, science led us to believe that we were doomed by genetics, hobbled by conditioning, and should resign ourselves to the idea that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. However, what I’ve discovered in studying the brain and its effects on behavior for the last 20 years has made me enormously hopeful about human beings and our ability to change. We just needed to know how to change, and today, neuroscience has a very solid explanation for how mind over matter works; it’s no longer a pie-in-the-sky concept. The science of changing our mind is now available, and I wrote Evolve Your Brain to help make this science accessible to everyone.
Pathways: Is Evolve Your Brain a self-help book? How is its message from other books that concern human potential?
Dr. Dispenza: Helping us understand and accept that we truly can modify our brain and change our life is a major focus of this book’s message. My approach is to unify the most helpful new findings from neuroscience, neurophysiology, biology, and genetics, and build the reader’s knowledge in a systematic, easily understandable, and hopefully engaging way. Yet as the book makes clear, knowledge must be experienced before it can become wisdom. Evolve Your Brain is designed to serve as a practical tool to guide us as we experience the processes that we can use to change our mind and evolve our brain.
Most self-help or human potential books focus on the mind, the emotions, or the body but place little attention on the brain. This message in this book embraces the structure and function of this crown of our evolution. Everything that we do takes place through the brain—how we think, how we act, how we feel, our relationships, our perceptions of the world around us—because our “self,” as a sentient being, is immersed and truly exists in the electrical web of our cellular brain tissue. Since we can’t hope to evolve our brain without changing our mind and understanding the role of our feelings, Evolve Your Brain explores how they all interact with the body to create our life.
Pathways: Many of us learned in school that once we become adults, the brain is static and rigid. How much potential do we have to change our brain?
Dr. Dispenza: Those of us who went to school 20 or 30 years ago were taught that the brain is hardwired, meaning that by the time we’re adults, we have a certain number of brain cells that are arranged in fixed patterns or neural circuits, and that as we get older, we lose some of those circuits. We thought that we would inevitably turn out like our parents in many ways, because we could only use the same neural patterns that we genetically inherited from them.
Neuroscientists now say that was a mistake. The great news is each of us is a work in progress throughout our life. Every time we have a thought, different areas of our brain surge with electrical current and release a mob of neurochemicals that are too numerous to name. Thanks to functional brain scanning technology, we can now see that our every thought and experience causes our brain cells, or neurons, to connect and disconnect in ever-changing patterns and sequences. In fact, we have a natural ability called neuroplasticity, which means that if we learn new knowledge and have new experiences, we can develop new networks or circuits of neurons, and literally change our mind.
Pathways: So why is it hard for us to change?
Dr. Dispenza: In my practice as well as my personal life, I have seen that change isn’t easy. When people want to commit to a goal, they start out with good intentions and ideas, but quite often they go back to their unwanted habits. The concept of change means that we are going to do something differently within the same environment; we’re not going to respond to our environment with our customary thoughts and reactions. That, however, is easier said than done. Many of us tend to think the same thoughts, have the same feelings, and follow the same routines in our life. The rub is, this causes us to keep using the same patterns and combinations of neural circuits in our brain, and they tend to become hardwired. This is how we create habits of thinking, feeling, and doing.
Don’t get me wrong, hardwiring isn’t a bad thing. Thanks to hardwiring, when we learn a new skill such as driving a car, the more we practice, the more we hardwire what we learn into our brain’s circuits, and eventually we can operate a car automatically. But if we want to change something in our life, we have to cause the brain to no longer fire in the same old sequences and combinations. We have to create a new level of mind by disconnecting the old neural circuits and rewiring our brain in new patterns of nerve cell connections.
The good news we’re learning from the latest brain research is that we can change the brain and thus change ourselves, if we take just a few simple steps. One purpose of Evolve Your Brain is to take the reader step by step through the knowledge and “how-to” steps needed to change any area of our life.
Pathways: What does stress do to the body? Can the processes you discuss in Evolve Your Brain help people to overcome stress?
Dr. Dispenza: As a doctor of chiropractic, I’ve seen first-hand the effects of stress on my patients. It is not short episodes of acute stress, but chronic, long-term stress that most weakens the body. Most of us rarely face the immediate threats to physical survival that our ancestors had to deal with, so we may fail to realize the impact on us of years spent worrying about job security, credit card debt, whether our kids will experiment with drugs, and so on. When we chronically live in high-stress mode, or when we are constantly looking for problems that may affect us at some future moment, we engage the body’s emergency response to stress all the time.
Why is this such a problem? The chemicals that continually flood our body when we are under long-term stress are the culprits that begin to alter our internal state and pull the trigger of cellular breakdown. Moreover, when we’re always on high alert or in emergency mode, our body doesn’t have the time or the resources necessary to repair and regenerate itself. The body can even become addicted to the chemical state of being under stress.
But as we will demonstrate, the ability to overcome stress lies right between our ears. Most stress ends up as emotional or psychological stress, and that means it’s the autosuggestions of our own thinking that affect the body so intensely. In other words, we can turn on the stress response by our thoughts alone, and they can have the same measurable effects as any threatening stressor in our environment. In Evolve Your Brain, you will learn how to overcome the thoughts that initiate stress responses.
Pathways: Can evolving the brain help people to overcome emotional addictions?
Dr. Dispenza: Aside from dealing with physical ailments, the processes outlined in the book are also intended to address another kind of affliction—emotional addiction, which always accompanies high stress levels in our life. We’ve all experienced emotional addiction at some point in our life. Among its symptoms are lethargy, a lack of ability to focus, a tremendous desire to maintain routine in our daily life, the inability to complete cycles of action, a lack of new experiences and emotional responses, and the persistent feeling that one day is the same as the next.
What was once scientific theory now has practical applications for us to heal our own self-inflicted emotional wounds. The methods I suggest are not a wouldn’t-it-bewonderful, self-help miracle cure. Be assured, this book is grounded in cutting edge science. How is it possible to end this cycle of negativity? The answer, of course, lies in you. And in this case, in a very specific part of you. Through an understanding of the various subjects we will explore in this book and a willingness to apply some specific principles, you can heal yourself emotionally by altering the neural networks in your brain.