I was lucky enough to have a conversation with brilliant neuroscientist Dr. Rachel Taylor this week, about the science behind how we can heal our bodies and change our lives with the power of the mind. I’ve posted it as a podcast over on my Patreon page and it’s well worth a listen, even if I say so myself. For those of you not into audio, here are the key takeouts from our chat:
- Take responsibility – the first thing Dr. Rachel does when she works with people or organisations, is to urge them to take ownership of who they are. “If you are constantly absolving yourself of responsibility and blaming others for the things that aren’t going right in your life, then you are never going to be able to take control of your circumstances.”
- Be you – you have to realise that you can be whoever you want to be. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t fit into social norms or etiquettes. That is nobody’s business. You can be whoever you want to be. Most people feel wrong because they believe they aren’t allowed to be who they want to be. The more we recognise that individuality is important, the better.”
- It takes 8-weeks to create new neural pathways – the brain doesn’t want to change. Its job is to keep you alive and so far, its methods have worked. “You’re going to have to convince it if you want something different to happen. This is because the brain uses more energy to create change. It takes 8 weeks or 56 days to create a new pathway and for that to happen you are going to have to communicate with the brain and let it know that this is what needs to happen.”
- Keep doing it – your neural pathways get pruned – the brain only keeps things that it uses, so it is possible to eradicate habits that are holding you back and create new ones. “Whenever we do something different, it sparks new communications channels within our brain.”
- Singing – along with humming or chanting is a great way to elevate your emotions. “It stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from underneath your ear to the gut. It causes so much ill health when it is not working properly. In addition to singing, humming, or chanting, hugging helps too. Incidentally, people don’t realise that we produce more serotonin (the feel-good hormone) in our gut than we do in our brain.”
- Change your environment – the brain likes familiarity, so if you want things to change, you are going to have to alter your whole environment. Introduce new tastes, smells, activities, and surroundings. “If you create a better environment, you are going to make it easier for yourself. The power of the mind will astonish you. It’s going to be filtering your environment and noticing the things that are good for you.”
- Don’t ignore your feelings – The law of attraction tells us to transcend our feelings and experience the emotion of the future we long for. Dr. Rachel explains that first, you need to feel your emotions and understand what it is they are trying to tell you. “I think it is a bit disingenuous when people read a self-help book and think they should be able to transcend an emotion in an instant and be at peace with the world. Some of these books have a get-out clause that says if it isn’t working, you’re not doing it right. Well, if it were that simple, everyone would be doing it!”
- Actions + thoughts = change – you are going to have to do more than think your way to a bright future. The brain will only be convinced when your thinking is coupled with actions.
- Don’t take on the pain of others – “Sometimes we can be processing somebody else’s pain and then we have wasted all this time on something that isn’t even ours,” says Dr. Rachel. “When I was doing research for my Ph.D. and trying to develop the first theory of well-being for autistic adults, I realised that the best gift you can give is to be able to sit next to somebody in pain and not do anything about it. When people are expressing their pain, they want to be seen and not fixed. A lot of people in Western society get sick because they don’t allow themselves to fully feel their pain, to let it be in all its glory. Sometimes the pain is so bad, it makes you stop in your tracks and you want to sit on the floor and cry for days, but you have to feel it, you have to acknowledge it.”
- Follow natural rhythms – Dr. Rachel explains that the majority of what is wrong with people in the 21st century is caused by lifestyle. It’s not normal to be ill. We should be protesting at having to live a lifestyle that is so wrong for us. For example, she says that punishing ourselves in January with diets and giving stuff up is counterintuitive: “January is a time for hibernating, we’re not even meant to be sat around the campfire telling stories, that’s for December. January is a month where you need to get your energy back on an even keel.”
Finally, Dr. Rachel emphasies that there is no magic pill. “People are their own magic pill. That is what science needs to understand,” she says.
To hear the interview in full, visit my Patreon page. It costs the price of a coffee and a cookie per month to be a member (and you can cancel at any time). This keeps Patreon ad-free, and enables me to invest time and funds into creating more and better content.