“Neurons that fire together, wire together,” Dr. Max Cynader puts it, and it’s difficult to come across a more pertinent adage in today’s era. Discussion of neurons firing and wiring draws implications so vast that it impacts everything from positive and negative emotional spectrums, to the difference between being handicapped, and a genius – or life and death. Modern science has now begun to steer away from the traditional ideology of fixated neurology and is instead coming to find that a person’s given neurological state can very largely be conceptualized as a transitory state that is dictated by a person’s subconscious drives and instincts.
The waking, alert thought-formations that people call “thoughts” are merely periods at the end of a sentence of cognitive process, and while it may be a tricky thing to pinpoint, understanding the full spectrum of thought process can often be the difference between a healthy and unhealthy outlook on life. After all, how can one operate a piece of machinery when they have not been taught how? They could try to deduce its proper usage, but this often will lead to steps missing and/or the overall process being poorly elaborated. Yet it could also lead to new and novel ways of using the machinery, given that the person has been meticulous and empirical enough to properly deduce the fundamental processes of the machinery. This difference between the two methods, which can be considered “Trauma” and “Transcendence,” is neuroplasticity.
Scientists are coming to find that neurological “thought complexes” (neuronal activity that assimilates a memory, or an idea, et cetera; the syntax of the neuron) that are configured by a child from their parent during its developmental years will play an instrumental role in their genetic expression throughout life. A field that attempts to study this is “epigenetics,” “epi” meaning “on top of,” implying that all genes must be allowed an activation protocol in order to express themselves. This activation protocol can be considered part of the thought-complex “sentence” that the waking-alert thought punctuates the end of.
From a philosophical perspective, life can very much be considered a hand of cards in poker, with each card being a neuron. The player only has what they’ve been given, but that doesn’t inhibit the variety of possibilities that they are able to produce with their cards at hand, nor does it inhibit the possibilities that the other players will unlock around them, or the original player’s potential to acquire new or different cards to utilize. In this regard, neuroplasticity is the representation of the Observer Effect within the physical state of a person’s own conscious experience. Without observation, the “particle” will continue to embody a waveform, and only when it is accentuated by intention/attention will it take its particle form. Similarly, when a thought-complex is not given any sort of intention/attention, it will continue to ripple outward and “wave” throughout the cognitive experience, until it is given its proper attention and guided in a direction intended by the user.
Not surprisingly, meditation has become known as the center point component in neuroplasticity. Other similar forms of cognitive therapy that help with neuroplasticity (that can all be considered different aspects of meditation) are BioFeedback, Hypnosis, Psychedelic therapy, empirical dream analysis, and even traditional psychotherapy. Scientists are also finding that mental discrepancies like Borderline Personality Disorder are due to a dysregulation of reward processes in the brain, resulting in more internal drive for reward, with too little control to actually handle it, thus resulting in the tumultuous imbalance of a person with BPD’s mental state at any given time.
This can be a perfect example of thought complexes running amuck that have not been given the proper attention, almost always to very little fault of the individual, because these thought complexes were often bestowed upon them at very early ages. However, if there is any objective truth to life, it is that with any past traumas in mind, the poor decisions of the individual, due to their own thought-complexes, fall squarely on their own shoulders. Following this thread of thought, in comparative ancient shamanism, it was typical for the shaman of the people to be a person that had survived a near-death experience as a child, or some type of illness. They had to experience a trauma that jostled them from their fixated mindset of waking life and cause them to activate fresh neuronal activity in order to survive.
Logistically speaking, when this fresh neuronal activity has been excavated, it often is considered “excess baggage” because it is something that has been incorporated into a person’s thought process without receiving some sort of diachronic cognitive attention from the individual. It’s an outlier plot point on the graph, so to speak. Invoking neuroplasticity however, through extensive cognitive therapies guided with intention and attention, can bring about the assimilation of these outlier thought-complexes, and thus the “excess baggage” becomes more “internal computing RAM” (random access memory; a computer term for those unaware.)
Through an elasticity of thought-complex, something that all humans have the capacity for whether it is utilized or not, it is quite possible and usual for someone to transcend the given thought-complexes of their personal traumas, and reconfigure them to their advantage. This was the way of the ancient shaman, and the true nature of ancient healing. Used in an anthropological context, the word “fetish” characterizes the idea of investing a certain amount of power into something through intention that would not otherwise have any power.
In ancient cultures, the people knew that a stick, a feather, some sinew and some beads were all respectively nothing particularly important, yet when a person utilized their intentions and attention to combine all these ingredients, it was suddenly agreed to be medicine. This is not to say that this definition of medicine was ill-founded either, but rather that these medicines were not of the body–they were of the mind. A true medicine man knows that he cannot fix the body until he fixes the mind, and because of this, the shaman is the man who understands the rehabilitative process of neuroplasticity. As he used this plasticity to regain his own health, so can he learn to understand the empirical process of the human brain, so as to catalyze these changes within the other individuals looking for it.