How much of your life — your health, your achievements, your skills — is influenced by the sheer power of your mind?
As it turns out, the answer is a lot. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, journalist and professor at Emory University's School of Medicine recently appeared as a guest on Deepak Chopra's new podcast series, "Infinite Potential," where the two discussed how we can rewire our brains to achieve great success in life.
"Our brain is its own galaxy. We've only begun to understand what it is capable of," said Dr. Gupta. "It's quite possible that combinations of neurochemicals can stimulate what we think of as consciousness and thought awareness." (Neurochemicals are small organic molecules that participates in neural activity.)
As a neurosurgeon, Dr. Gupta spent years training his hands and mind to say calm under pressure. In his field of work, getting nervous during a procedure can lead to many disasters.
Just by changing your thoughts, he explains, you can modulate your heart rate, blood pressure and immune system. That said, if you want to be a high achiever, you must train your brain to think in a way that sets you up for success.
The rewiring of your brain is a result of neuroplasticity, which includes two things: Neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and synaptogeneis (new connections between between neurons). You can enhance the growth of those two things through meditation, reflective self-inquiry, mindfulness and asking meaningful questions and visualization.
Through visualization, you can turn an abstract hope into a picture that not only inspires you, but also guides you. According to a study called "The Future of Memory: Remembering, Imagining and the Brain," the human brain can't always distinguish between a memory and a vision of the future.
In other words, when you envision your end goal, you — and your brain — can work towards recreating it real life.
Many athletes have successfully used visualization to increase their performance on the field.
Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka once said in an interview: "The day before the game, I visualize the stadium I'm going to be playing at. I visualize what the wind's likely going to be doing and what the field's like and what the fans are like."
In order to rewire your brain for the long term, you must practice visualization for at least six weeks for just five to 10 minutes a day.
If you're busy during the day, try doing the practice before going to bed or first thing in the morning. Before you start the visualization process, ask yourself the questions below:
- What is my unique talent?
- Who will benefit?
- What is my passion?
- What is my higher calling?
- What are my goals?
It's important to imagine who you want to be or what you want to accomplish. For example, you might want to deliver an amazing presentation that will impress your boss. Think about yourself walking up to the front of the office and speaking with confidence, and then receiving a standing ovation.
Now that you have this image in mind, you simply must match your "memory" or "vision" of it happening. If you want to get a stellar year-end review from your manager, write down that goal on a sticky note and then read it every morning. You'll then move throughout your day with this intention in mind.
Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.
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