It has been a while since I posted, so I decided to post this article on neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is what allows change in our brain and thus in the rest of our lives. Neurons that fire together, wire together is the old adage. Because our brain can change, through new neuronal connections and through neurogenesis, we are able to learn and develop. Here are some ways to make neuroplasticity work for you.
"You are suffering from depth deprivation." -James Finely, contemplative retreat, Tucson, AZ 2016
According to Finley, depth deprivation is the essence of addiction. Addiction is an attempt to create a sense of connection and depth, to escape the void inside ourselves. Depth deprivation is also the essence of most of our troubles. Trauma separates us from ourselves and others. In the depths of depression and anxiety we are disconnected from the world around us. The busyness of our daily lives keeps us from pausing. A pause which would allow for a qualitatively deeper awareness of the world and our connection to the world. Our busyness, too, is a symptom. We want to avoid the pain we feel, the anger, the loneliness, and unconsciously everything we do is a distraction from ourselves. And of course! The unconscious does a great job at protecting us from pain. Who wants to be uncomfortable? Who wants to feel the pain? Conversely, when we dig deep, we may realize we even fear the joy. The discomfort of "Who am I without this pain?" The uneasiness of the unknown. Yet, if we can be curious about ourselves, without judgment, and find a companion to help us through our Dark Night, we can fulfill our desire for connection and depth.
To do so we have to pause "in a sustained, heartfelt manner" (Finley). Naturally we do this when we are in nature, admiring art, when in solitude, in moments of intimacy, in prayer, and in meditation. The challenge is to develop the stance of least resistance, as this connection can not be forced, but comes about through our sustained presence to ourselves and the word (Finley). It need not be perfect. Through our contemplative stance, our being with ourselves, this sustained presence builds upon itself. There is no spiritual bypassing, no glossing over the hurt by focusing on the positive. The gift of the process is the love and understanding of ourselves, which without even realize it we express in the world. We must have the courage to explore our depths, our pain and joys, in order to fulfill our deepest longing.
Jami Parrish, LPC, CSAT, CMC is a therapist and coach whose aim is to help others live fully and find true freedom. She is currently practicing in Tucson, AZ.