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Susan Ann Darley: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Scientific research reveals the power of our thoughts

Current trends in neuroscience continue to offer evidence that we can consciously improve our health, well-being and lifestyle by simply changing our minds. Science is on the cutting edge of discovery regarding the power of the mind. We now know that the brain is not hardwired — it is malleable and modifiable. This opens up a world of possibilities.

Noted scientist and author Richard Davidson and a host other scientists have determined through research that our thoughts can physically change how the brain functions. We are standing at the threshold of proving the science of the power of our thoughts.

Here are just a few ways scientists are exploring new ideas about the power of our thoughts:

» Research subjects with obsessive-compulsive disorder were taught to quiet the OCD “worry circuit” by recognizing and relabeling the arrival of an obsessive thought. This resulted in a reduction of the impact of the disease on their lives. Plus, PET scans revealed marked physical changes in the activity of their brains.

» Improvements in brain imaging technology are allowing scientists to see how brain activity correlates with certain kinds of thoughts and emotions and to measure how a shift in thinking can improve mood and well-being.

» Increased knowledge about the physiology of age-related cognitive decline is assisting scientists in developing specific mental training strategies to counteract the changes of aging.

People who are paralyzed can now operate prosthetic arms by directing their thoughts. A young man, Matthew Nagle, who became paralyzed in high school participated in a clinical trial through BrainGate, being the first person to use a brain-computer interface to restore functionality. After the implant, Nagle could control a computer mouse, using it to press buttons that could control TV, check e-mail and send commands to a prosthetic hand to open and close.

“I can’t put it into words,” he said. “It’s just, I use my brain. I just thought it. I said, ‘Cursor go up to the top right,’ and it did.”

Nagle died in 2007 but leaves a legacy of hope and cutting-edge possibilities as to the power of our thoughts. And if such phenomenal results are being achieved through science with extreme conditions, then what can the everyday person accomplish through the power of their thoughts?

The recent events in Egypt bring to mind how the single thought of one person can influence the collective thinking of many. Of course, I’m referring to Wael Ghonim, the 30-year-old Google executive who created a Facebook site called “We are all Khaled Said” after the young Egyptian was dragged from a café in Alexandria and beaten to death by the police in June. Then anonymously, from his site, Ghonim sparked the first public protest against the regime on Jan. 25. One man, one thought changing the face of the Middle East.

Change begins with a single thought. Creativity is expressed and expanded from a single idea. Perhaps making a better world is as simple as that.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach, arts writer and author. Through coaching and writing, she motivates people to use their talents and market their creative projects. For more information, click here, e-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.845.3036.

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