Living thoughts from A.A.
Let Go and Let God
One Day at a Time
Gratitude is the Attitude
The Serenity Prayer
Live and Let Live
From Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead "Too much of everything is just enough." From a song titled "I Need a Miracle Every Day."
I threw that last thought in as it reminds me of the excesses of my youth, and it was created, I think, as a tongue in cheek send up of the rock and roll life style of the 1970's and 1980's by the authors.
There is a place for irony and humor in any series of living thoughts.
A short prayer I have used thousands of times is; "May this work be for the good of all, seen and unseen."
I use living thoughts as a steering adjustment to remind me of the direction I want to be heading cognitively, physically, and emotionally.
If I am not attending to my thinking I will find myself wandering off on some tangent usually about fear and desire, and the physiology that follows is usually not as pleasant as a prayerful physiology, an alpha brain wave or a HeartMath physiology which follows a prayer or exercise or conscious deep breathing which I think keeps me attuned to a philosophy of service embodied in the 12 Steps.
There are Buddhist and Muslim and Christian living thoughts, and philosophical living thoughts, and scientific living thoughts which guide our behavior, and change our brains.
And that is the wonderful thing about practicing a series of living thoughts.
They change the structure of our brains.
Sharon Begley wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal.
"...Through attention, UCSF's Michael Merzenich and a colleague wrote, "We choose and sculpt how our ever-changing minds will work, we choose who we will be the next moment in a very real sense, and these choices are left embossed in physical form on our material selves."
The discovery that neuroplasticity cannot occur without attention has important implications. If a skill becomes so routine you can do it on autopilot, practicing it will no longer change the brain. And if you take up mental exercises to keep your brain young, they will not be as effective if you become able to do them without paying much attention..."This positive state is a skill that can be trained," Prof. Davidson says. "Our findings clearly indicate that meditation can change the function of the brain in an enduring way."
So living thoughts practiced consciously literally change the structure of the brain.
Can you imagine yourself practicing your favorite living thought every five minutes for two heart beats?
Can you imagine the space around your living thoughts?
That last question was taken from the Open Focus model of Les Fehmi,Ph.D. the originator of Open Focus work, an excellent series of increasingly more sophisticated thoughts which he has developed from his Zen Buddhist meditation practice.
In other words, there are living thoughts all around us, in counseling we call those automatic thoughts, which is one kind of living thought done without much consciousness.
Each spiritual tradition has its own living thoughts, whether it is an icon to Christ or Buddha or a Zen koan.
They are joined now by technological tools which enhance neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
In other words, I can prepare the brain to change a bit faster using computerized brain fitness programs.
In the Begley quote above, notice she references the need for continued challenge and that is perhaps the best aspect of computerized brain fitness programs like the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program created by Michael Merzenich, Ph.D.
Preparing Your Brain to Maximize Living Thoughts
Perhaps 10 to 12 years ago, no one knew that the brain grew new neurons daily. We had not seen how plastic the brain is in terms of creating new connections between neurons depending on what we are paying attention to.
According to Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan and authors of an interesting book titled Brainfit for Life those neuroplastic connections can be formed in minutes. The benefits of living thoughts occur much sooner than we thought.
I do not know about you, but in the tradition of the Grateful Dead, I am using all three of the programs linked to in the right side bar and quite pleased with the impact they are having on my living brain and my living thoughts.
Please join me.