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You Are What You Think

We literally change the landscape of our brain with our thoughts.



Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together


This is a fun rhyme to meditate on neuroplasticity.  We can change our thoughts and change our brains.


Neurons are brain cells.  Neurons wire to other neurons to create neural pathways.  These pathways are our thoughts, ideas, memories, etc.  


If we have a repetitive thought of something from our past that comes up and makes us angry, every time that thought comes up, the neural pathway that creates that thought is strengthened.


If we notice that thought arise, and then try to think of something else instead–like a happy memory that gives us a mood boost–we can weaken the angry neural pathway and strengthen the happy one.


This is not to say that we should never be sad, and we should be happy all the time.  This is not to say that depression isn’t real, or that we shouldn’t be angry over injustice.  


This is just to say, sometimes the mind thinks thoughts out of habit.  Sometimes, if we have suffered trauma, our brains bring up intrusive thoughts repetitively. And when we have the energy, we might be able to change some habits and rewire our thoughts to keep our moods happier and suffer less.  Many people find it helpful to imagine their neurons wiring together to create new pathways.


Here is a video of actual neurons wiring together!




Interestingly, the Buddha described the way the mind works as “Monkey Mind.”  Thoughts link to other thoughts like monkeys swinging from branch to branch in the forest canopy.  How interesting that this metaphor is mirrored literally in the neural pathways!





Excerpt from The Twin Verses

A famous verse from the Dhammapada, a primary Buddhist text:


All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  It is founded on our thoughts.  It is made up of our thoughts.  When a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him:  as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that drags the carriage.


All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts.  It is made up of our thoughts. When a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him:  like a shadow that never leaves him.


“He beat me.  He abused me.  He defeated me.  He robbed me.”  –In those who harbor such thoughts, hatred will never cease.


“He beat me.  He abused me.  He defeated me.  He robbed me.” --In those who do not harbor such thoughts, hatred will cease


For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time.  Hatred ceases by love.  This is an eternal law.


The world does not know that we must all come to an end here.  But those who know it–their quarrels cease at once.


May this offering serve for our awakening, and the awakening of all beings.



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