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The Power of Attention: ReWilding the Self #6
…profound observations about how neuroplasticity, which promotes change, can also lead to rigidity and repetition in the brain and these insights help solve this paradox: if our brains are so plastic and changeable, why do we so often get stuck in rigid repetition? The answer lies in understanding, first, how remarkably plastic the brain is.
Plasticina…is the musical Spanish word for “plasticity,” and it captures something the English word does not. “Plasticina, in Spanish is also the word for “Play-Doh” or “plasticine” and describes a substance that is fundamentally impressionable…
…the brain activity is like Play-Doh one is playing with all the time…. “If you start out with a package of Play-Doh that is a square, and then you make a ball of it, it is possible to get back to a square. But it won’t be the same square as you had to begin with.” Outcomes that appear similar are not identical. The molecules in the new square are arranged differently than in the old one….
“The system is plastic, not elastic… An elastic band can be stretched, but it always reverts to its former shape, and the molecules are not rearranged in the process. The plastic brain is perpetually altered by every encounter, every interaction. — The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D., pgs. 208-209
Finally some environmentally good news about plastic! And intimately personal news as well, for us humans anyway.
The bad news it seems is that our ‘inherited’ and self-created patterns of behavior and feeling and thinking…, of attention, create neural superhighways of loyalty and familiarity, of habits difficult to change. The good news is that these patterns of loyalty and comfort are ‘plastic,’ changeable.
The patterns become changeable when we bring the powers of intention and attention to focus, when our need becomes great enough.
The process of our domestication tells us what is permissible for us to pay attention to, literally shaping what we can perceive in the world, what we can consciously experience. To rewild our self is to re-claim this power of where we place our consciousness, of what we attend to. ReWilding is thus… to become our own person, to claim our authenticity, to become comfortable in our own skin and flesh, knowing this flesh of the earth, her waters and soil and forests… are our flesh too.
So it is we can allow ourselves to fall into despair at the pollution of this intimate flesh, which we must not turn our eyes from in fear, or we can learn to perceive the creation and new world that is seeking to be born. We can become midwives of our own creation and consciousness, of a future of thrivability for all our relations.
Here is Michael Mead, a deep resource for this journey of rewilding the self. Check out his web site and resources.
“Creation, in almost all stories and mythologies comes from emptiness and darkness. So culturally speaking, when things get dark and difficult a time of creation is also happening if we can recognize it. In a culture that has been saying for so long that it is the most powerful and most abundant of all, it is hard to get the notion of how a fall from that height could be a creative circumstance. We now have ourselves in one of those places where the Second Hand of Creation enters… and the way that things will be created will be through the losses and from the broken parts.” (The Light Inside Dark Times)
He then added: “We might also add from the broken oil pipes and the cracking institutions and even from the broken hearts of those who witness the pollution of the oceans and the destruction of the marshes and the breeding grounds of nature.”
On this only ‘today’ of your life, ReWild your Self! Be a testament to your own innate wholeness and to the Earth. Choose to listen to the song of your own plasticina. Notice where you place your attention, and how you attend to your own self-care. Love yourself. It is the most radical political and spiritual act of our time.
And stop thinking of your Self as an object! It’s not true, and it rigidifies your self. Your body is 70% plus water. It knows how to flow and accommodate to the times we are in… should we choose to rewild, should we choose to listen… should we choose to unlearn, learn anew and transform….