Neuro-Chemical Activity of Thinking

Why you want to be aware of your thoughts and their effects on your wellbeing.
"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought again." Peace Pilgrim

What we habitually think and do become hardwired into our brains, which contribute to defining who we are.

As humans we are blessed with the ability to build on our past experiences and future opportunities, whether negative or positive ones. Especially today, with science providing us with so much information regarding how our brains function and how our thought-life can affect our health and wellbeing positively or adversely. Toxic thoughts are like poison, but the good news is, you can break the cycle of toxic thoughts. And once that cycle of toxic thinking has been broken, your thoughts can actually start to improve in every area of your life – your relationships, your health and your personal/professional accomplishments. (Who Switched Off My Brain-Dr. Leaf Ph.D.). You are not doomed to your current thought life if you are not happy with it. As long as you can think, you can make better thought choices.

Stress:  That word has certainly become part of our daily vocabulary and way of life. It’s connotation has come to mean something negative and toxic. But stress is not all bad. In fact, it does have benefits when used in moderation and for only short periods at a time.

When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.

Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength, stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight, flee from the danger at hand or meet a deadline to complete a school or work related task. At the end of the emergency situation, whether life threatening, or racing to meet the deadline to complete an important project, the body will bounce back to a normal state. You feel relieved and calmer.

So stress is necessary for your well being and survival, in short doses. It’s when it spills over into our everyday life and becomes chronic that it’s a problem. Our bodies weren’t meant to be under constant attack. That’s when your health and well being become threatened. (Article- Understanding Stress from

Cortisol regulates and supports functions in your heart, immune system and metabolism. But high levels through the brain can cause impaired memory and dendrites to shrink and fall off. (Who Switched off My Brain?-Dr. Caroline Leaf, Ph.D.) Can you recall taking an important test and not able to remember the answer? It wasn't until later, after you calmed down, the answer came to you.

The most dangerous thing about stress is that it can sneak up on you without you realizing it. In a sense it has become a new normal for many people, but nevertheless, it still wreaks havoc on your body. Your body is paying a price for it, whether you realize it or not. That stress can turn into depression, anxiety, high blood pressure (the silent killer), angina, coronary artery disease and other health issues that may necessitate the need for medications and/or render you less efficient to perform your daily tasks, whatever they may be.


Stress wears different faces. It could be as obvious as a life threatening situation such as a predator chasing you, or it could wear the face of trying to fit in a days worth of errands into one hour. A less obvious look would be worrying about making ends meet while sitting in your easy chair. Stress could be based on fact or fiction. The brain doesn’t know the difference, and will respond to both in the same manner.

Your thoughts create changes right down to the genetic levels, restructuring the cells’ make up. Stress is the direct result of toxic thinking. This is more than an increased heart rate and an uneasy feeling. I’m talking about chronic stress and a habituated toxic thought life – worry, anger, jealousy, resentment, etc. Frequent quantities of chemicals released into your body can distort the DNA of the immune cells, which renders them less effective in killing cancer cells. This may be an extreme example, but your body is being taxed in negative and harmful ways.

Habitual thinking patterns that cause intense feelings of fear, anger, shame or guilt are not only toxic, but also addictive in nature. (Toxic Thinking Patterns – How Pseudo “Feel-Goods” Put a Hold On Your Brain (1 of 2) By Athena Staik, PH.D.)
As your thoughts become habituated, they eventually become hardwired. As I stated in my previous article, “neurons that fire together, wire together” and at that point you’re pretty much on autopilot (which is your subconscious behavior- a conditioned response).  If you’re addicted to something, you seek it out. You want more of it – like a drug addict seeking out more drugs or needing that cup(s) of coffee in the morning. Our body and mind get used to something and want more of it and in some cases seek it out on a subconscious level (Who consciously wants turmoil in their life?).

When a thought has been developed over time – months, years – it’s easier to activate that neuro-net without really thinking about it – it’s on “autopilot,” unless you make a conscious decision to shut it down. I liken it to the app programs that run in the background sucking up of the battery life on your phone and iPad, until you go back and deliberately shut them off. Your toxic thoughts are always running in the background sucking up your energy and precious cerebral real estate that could otherwise be used for a more productive thought life.

Every time you have a thought such as for anxiety, stress, worry, or compassion, the brain fires in the same sequence, pattern and in the same combinations for that thought.  So overtime as you continue to produce the same type of thoughts, your neurons fire in the same ways creating a network, a stronghold of thinking, so to speak. When you make a thought a chemical is being released in another part of your brain to match the way you think. The brain is in constant communication with the body. Now you think the way you feel and feel the way you think. As a feeling pops up somewhere in your body (for me it may be in the pit of my stomach, chest or neck, when I’m worried, stressed or experiencing fear) it will trigger the thought to match that feeling. It’s the same in reverse – a thought will trigger the feeling. And so the cycle goes. (Dr. Joe Dispenza – “The Science of Changing Your Mind”).

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat or what you drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these". Mathew 6:25-34.

Toxic thinking wreaks havoc on your body, health, wellbeing, and spiritually. It robs you of peace, happiness and forming healthy and loving relationships and much more. It’s never too late to change your thought life, if you want to, no matter your age. I’m 65 and still learning and evolving. Think good thoughts, learn to let go and let God- control is an illusion anyway. We only think we’re in control. The only thing we can control is our thought life and how we decide to respond to our circumstances. Have a blessed week.
One more thing. Please read the “Just a few more facts” below.     Peace.  Out.

Just a few more facts:

  • The average person has over 30,000 thoughts a day.
  • Through an uncontrolled thought life we create the conditions for illness – we can make ourself sick!.
  • Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.
  • Neurologically, your heart is sensitive to what you think and feel. Your thoughts directly affect your heart.
  • The signals your heart sends to your brain influence not just perception and emotional processing, but higher cognitive functions as well.
  • Toxic thoughts and the emotions they generate interfere with the body’s natural healing process. They compound the effects of illness and disease by adding new negative biochemical processes that the body must struggle to overcome.
  • When your body faces toxic thoughts and emotions, it cannot discern its true enemy and attacks healthy cells and tissue, losing its ability to fight the true invaders.
  • A sudden burst of stress lowers immunity (one way to catch a cold).
  • Researchers show that 87% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life.
  • What we think affects us physically and emotionally.
  • Resentment, bitterness, lack of forgiveness and self-hatred are just a few of the toxic thoughts and emotions that can also trigger immune system disorders.
  • There is intellectual and medical reasons to forgive!


The Nuts and Bolts of Neuroplasticity

4 Principles to Make Positive Changes In Your Life

"A Transformed Mind Comes Before a Transformed Life." Joyce Meyer

Hello again. Overall it’s been a great week, other than the fact I fractured my ankle in two places. Way to go! Now I’m sportin’ an orthopedic boot and scootin’ around on a scooter. That scooter is a life-saver. I hope you had a great week too. I must admit that I had a few moments where I needed to really focus on some of these principles. Some old negative thought patterns popped up affecting my emotions, attitude and confidence, out of nowhere. I believe the ankle thing had something to do with that (being laid up and not being active – I am a very active person). But nonetheless, I was feeling a bit icky and down again (nothing to the degree I had experienced in previous times), though I was feeling out of sorts. The awesome thing was that it didn’t take me as long to rebound.  In the past, it could have taken me days or weeks to get over something because I would allow those thoughts to marinate in their juices. One of the issues I had was shame/regrets.  Oh the dangers of allowing shame to overshadow your thoughts. I was feeling bad about past “things” that I couldn’t do anything about anyway. That will be another blog.

I can’t stress enough about my excitement for neuroplasticity and how science and faith intersect. Keeping God’s design and faith engaged in every situation and remembering that His Word never fails, has been my saving grace. This whole process of learning how the brain works has led me to understand God is always in control. He gave us the tools to become what we were created to be, and to be over-comers. I believe it is our job to learn what these tools are and then USE them.

You don’t really need to understand how the brain works in order to overcome your issues. Your brain knows what to do with whatever you throw at it, negative or positive, unhealthy or healthy. It obeys your every command. This just helped me and I thought it might help you too. The key is to be consistent and intentional in your efforts. As a Christian, knowing God’s Word is the first and most important thing. But knowing how He designed us has let me see and understand just how awesome, wonderful and ever-present He is in our lives. He wants us to rely on Him for everything.

Recap from my last blog. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire and create new circuits at any age as the result of input from your environment and your conscious intentions – we can create a new level of mind at any age.

I would like to touch on two ideas today. 1. Hebb’s axiom. 2. Four principles of neuroplasticity. There are 10, but I will be discussing 4 of them.

Hebb’s axiom: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Each experience we encounter, whether a feeling, a thought, a sensation—and especially those that we are not aware of—is embedded in thousands of neurons that form a network (“net”). Repeated experiences become increasingly embedded in this net, making it easier for the neurons to fire (in response to the experience/thought), and more difficult to unwire or rewire them to respond differently. (Article: Being Known – Rewiring Your Mind: Insights for Practical Living: Neurons that fire together wire together by Curt Thompson, July 14, 2010). That’s how habits, skills, behaviors and personalities are formed.

This holds true for the opposite-“neurons that don’t fire together-don’t wire together.” (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Dr. Joe Dispenza). This piece of information is important to remember, because when you want to undo a habit, it takes time to unwire a neural net. When you don’t allow a thought or an emotion to “marinate in its juices”, or stop practicing a skill, those neural nets begin to break apart overtime. Those neurons can now be repurposed for another neural net- hopefully one can that will better serve you.

Principles of neuroplasticity: These principles are not new ideas. In fact we say some of them frequently. They are really common sense ideas. How they create neural patterns and other factors like neurochemicals released during a thought may not be commonly known or understood. That’s were things get interesting.
(In my next blog I will be discussing – neuro-chemical activity of thinking and why you want to be aware of your thoughts and their effects on your wellbeing.

I have applied these principles to train myself to be mindful of my thoughts and to be in the moment as well of other skills I want to improve in. Being mindful is a learned skill and is very effective in letting go of unwanted thoughts by learning how to release them as they enter my mind and focusing on the moment. When I do that, negative thinking is kept at bay and positive ones take their place. A big part of my mindful practice involves praying, reading and meditating on scripture dealing with a particular issue such as anxiety, fear, pride, love, compassion and humility. As negative thoughts pop up I immediately let them go and focus on praying, scripture, asking God for assistance to guide my thought life or being in the moment of whatever I’m doing. This week I slacked off with this practice of proper mindfulness. But I got back on the horse.

All of these principles tie in with each other as you will see.

Four Principles of Neuroplasticity

1. Use it or lose it – Failure to drive specific brain functions can lead to functional degradation.

If you stop practicing or using a particular skill, over time it can become rusty or you could lose it. Remember playing the piano as a kid? If you didn't stick with it, you probably can't play the piano now. The neuropathway for that ability diminished. That's what happened to me anyway. I lost that pathway. But most likely it wasn't very developed to begin with. Not enough neurons wired together for playing the piano. Currently for me, this principle involved taking time to practice mindfulness (anywhere from 10-30 minutes a day) and incorporating it throughout the day. I had slacked off doing this practice daily and old thoughts crept back in. This is a needed habit for me to maintain so old thoughts won't take over again, like weeds in your garden. Everything begins with a thought.

2. Use it and improve it – Training that drives a specific brain function can lead to an enhancement of that function.

If you want to be good at something, for example, playing the piano, speaking another language or excelling at something in your profession you need to use that skill regularly in order to get better at it. The more I practice mindfulness the better I will be at it.

3. Repetition Matters – Induction of plasticity requires sufficient repetition.

Do whatever it is you're learning over and over again. It takes time to build strong neuropathways. Practice, practice, practice.

4. Intensity Matters – Induction of plasticity requires sufficient training.

Focused training/learning over multiple hours. Think of someone training for a Cirque de Soleil performance or the Olympics. Now that's intense training. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Making neuroplastic changes requires intense training over time.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (English Standard Version).

In other words, changes occur overtime. It takes time to undo old habits and to make new neuro-connections. So be patient with yourself and know that God is ALWAYS working behind the scenes. You are never alone.

Whatever you want to accomplish, becoming a happier, more compassionate, loving, confident or productive person you need to be purposeful in your intentions and give yourself time and always be kind to yourself while renewing your mind. I won’t sugarcoat it, the road will be bumpy with ups and downs. Old “stuff” will raise it’s ugly head, but if you persist, I promise you better days are ahead. Neuroplastic changes are no respector of person. Your brain just responds to your every command. This is a journey well worth the effort.  I am now seeing the fruits of my labor, but I have not yet fully arrived. I may never fully arrive, but I have left the place where I once saw little hope to a place where I now see possibilities for real positive changes.

God’s blessings to you. Peace. Out.

God’s Handiwork-The Brain and Neuroplasticity

How It Can Transform Your Life
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Romans 12:2

In my first blog post I stated that I am a Christian. I believe that science can explain how the mechanics of neuroplasticity can alter our thinking but God is the architect of those mechanics. So for me as a Christian, if I truly believe that then wouldn’t it make sense that as Christians we should ask for God’s assistance in the “renewal of our minds”? This is where, for me as a Christian, science and faith intersect. At one time I tried to change my way of thinking by just applying the principles of neuroplasticity, (just positive thinking) but there were always components missing – true contentment, joy and peace. It all become complete and made more sense when I turned to God for assistance and allowed His Will to work in my life.

I ended by first blog by identifying the next topic regarding God’s handiwork – the brain. I want to begin by discussing neuroplasticity. I’m not trying to come across as an expert in this field. I am not a neuroscientist. I just learned the principles of neuroplasticity, then applied them to my life. I love this word and what it means, because it gives me hope. It means I am not stuck with “stinkin’ thinkin'” and old learned negative behaviors. Just because I’ve experienced things I didn’t like in my past, I don’t have to continue on that path. I don’t have to continue to be that person if I don’t want to. I am not doomed to an unhappy, depressed, or unproductive life. And the same goes for you too.

Your brain was marvelously designed. God installed a “built-in-system,” so to speak, to enable you to change, grow and become the person you were created to be, no matter what situation or circumstance you were born into. Some of you may not have been dealt the most optimal hand and have suffered hardships in one form or another. But there is hope.

It was once believed that the brain was a static organ after a certain age – an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Science has found this is NOT true. Your brain changes throughout your lifespan – no matter what your age. Neuroplasticity will not change your eye color or height, but it can change aspects of your personality, abilities, evolve you into a happier and more productive person and so much more. When the bible says we are to renew our minds, (Romans 12:2) we really can on a cellular level. (Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions – Dr. Caroline Leaf). I love science, but it is only discovering what God has already made. I want to always keep that point in the forefront and in perspective. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8. In other words, think more positive, grateful and loving thoughts on a consistent basis. I realize that sounds easier said than done. True, but that’s where neuroplasticity and faith come in to play. Consistency is the key.

What is Neuroplasticity?

You may have heard that the brain is plastic.  You know that it is not “plastic.”  It means the brain has the ability to change and is malleable like plastic.  Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire and create new circuits at any age as the result of input from the environment and our conscious intentions – we can create a new level of mind.  This is why what you think, say and do are so important.

“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  Luke 6:45

Is it really possible to change old ingrained habits, learn new things or change the way we think and behave? The answer is a resounding YES. Research has given us insight into how we can change our brains. With advanced technology, science knows the mechanics of how your thinking can affect you and the goings on behind the cellular scene that bond your thoughts into hardwired behaviors that have been passed down from generation to generation. It demonstrates how those nasty little habits are formed (those things about yourself that drive you or your loved ones crazy) or made you into the wonderful person that you are.

Old habits are hard to break, but the key is that the power to break an undesired habit, make a decision to learn something new, or expand your horizons, belongs to you. Whatever, your mission, YOU have to change something you’re doing. The turnaround amounts to giving up unconscious behavior and adopting conscious new patterns to get you out of undesired behavior(s)/thinking. This is called meta-cognition – thinking about what you are thinking about.

Once your mind begins to pay attention, your brain can build new neural pathways to reinforce what you learn. Applying awareness in any form, through such things as resolve, discipline, good intentions, and mindfulness, has the power to create neuroplastic changes. Now things are shaking, moving and evolving in you. The practical dilemma is how to use your strengths, motivation and faith to help yourself remain committed to wellness as a lifetime pattern.

“We are what we repeatedly do – excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

I hope this has been of some value to you. I know it has been for me. I can feel neuroplastic changes evolving in me, but the changes have been slow, over a long period of time – years. But don’t despair, the rate of change varies from person to person and when it happens, you will be glad you took the effort to evolve your brain. It took time to get you where you are today, so it stands to reason it will take some time to develop new thoughts/behaviors, which in turn will transform your mind, attitude and life. It’s been an uphill journey for me, and one that I am still on. I used to say that I had a good day every now and then. I now can say that I had a bad day every now and then. God is amazing and how He designed us.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce my friend Dan Dendrite who will show up in some of my other blogs. I created him a few years ago when I was still working.

The human brain has approximately 100 billion neurons.  They communicate with each other via dendrites creating neural pathways.  Each neuron grows dendrites, similar to branches on a tree.  The more dendrites the healthier the neuron is and the more connections they can make. Dendrites receive information from other neurons and have the ability to grow and shrink. Learning and engaging in challenging activities stimulates their growth, while stress, diseases, and substance abuse, for example, can cause them to shrink back.

In my next blog I will discuss some of the principles of neuroplasticity that you can apply to efforts in making any changes in your life.  In the meanwhile, think about what you are thinking about.  If your thoughts/actions don’t line up with your new vision of yourself, change them till they do.  Be consistent, persistent and insistent in your resolve.


—-Blessings to you. Peace. Out.


My First Blog Post

Hello, my name is Anna.  This is my first blog and I would like to introduce myself to the blogging world.  I have a variety of interests and my blogs will reflect some of those.  But what I’m most interested in is spiritual and personal growth to learn how to love myself, others and the world in a more healthy way: letting go and becoming the real person I was meant to be.

I’ve been semi-retired for about three years now.  It’s been an interesting time and some getting used to.  Going from 100 miles per hour to 5 was an adjustment to say the least.  I’ve worked steadily since I was in my early 30’s and now 65.  My highest aspiration in life was to be a housewife and raise a family.  I still think being a mother is one of the highest callings in life.  But life had other plans for me.  Sorry to say after 8 years, my marriage didn’t work out, but I got a wonderful son out of the deal.  My second marriage is great! We’ve been together for 21 awesome years – married 19 of those.

When I was in my late 20’s I decided to go back to school to get a degree in Speech Language Pathology.  It was a marvelous career.  I’m still a therapist but only practice now and then.  It was being a therapist that I learned how the brain works.  This will be a big part of my initial blogs.

Though I have an awesome husband, son, granddaughter and had a great career, I have suffered from low grade depression for as long as I can remember.  I really can’t complain, I’ve had a fairly good life, but there was always an undercurrent of sadness, insecurity and self-consciousness that hovered over me.  I never really felt comfortable in my own skin which led to unhealthy thinking, often ruminating on negative and toxic thoughts – “woe is me” type of thoughts.  As most of you know, nothing good comes from a self-absorbed, pity-me, down-in-the-dumps mentality.  Over the years I developed a habit of toxic thinking.

Sad to say, I carried this into middle age.  But it’s true.  I got to the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I went to therapy, which helped, but didn’t completely cure me of negative thinking.  I bought umpteen self-help, spiritual and many other types of books to fix me.  They were also of some help, but those undercurrents of sadness and depression continued to loom over me.  I never really felt that I fit in, though I knew the right social things to say and do.  It’s funny because many people thought I had the perfect life.  Little did they know that inside of me was an insecure person who wished could connect with others in a more real and sincere way.

One day I decided to understand the anatomy of a thought.  I had had enough.  I needed to understand why in the world I couldn’t move out of this dreary space.  It’s been a long journey, one that is still in progress.  But I have to say that I love it (the journey) and looking back on my life, I am grateful for the challenge of turning my thinking around.  Why? Because it all brought me closer to God, a place where I find daily comfort, peace, courage and more.

I bought several books like Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, by Dr. Joe Dispenza; The Brain that Changes Itself, by Dr. Norman Doidge; Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, by Dr. Joe Dispenza; Who Switched Off My Brain: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, by Dr. Caroline Leaf and more.  I just didn’t read books, I also read articles, listened to TED Talks and the list goes on.  In addition, I’ve soul searched using the Bible.  I am a Christian.  I’ve gone full circle with secular research and back to God, who I now fully rely on.  There was a time when I stopped going to church for almost two years.  But that’s another story.

Some of you may click me off because God is brought into the discussion.  I hope you don’t, but if you do that’s okay.  This is where I am and there’s no turning back.  I have finally found peace of mind and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  What I’ve learned about the brain and how it was marvelously designed helped me over a great hump, but that in itself couldn’t keep me there.  The brain really is a marvel.  There has to be a bigger brain behind our smaller brains.  There is – God.  Call Him what you like, but there is a higher source.  Man could never design anything so spectacular.

So science gave me some of the nuts and bolts of how we work, but God gives me what I need to live on a daily basis.  Science may have figured some things out, for which I am grateful, but it’s God who designed it all and sustains me-us.  We are truly marvelous creatures – with a brilliant design for function and purpose on this earth.

I would like to briefly discuss some of God’s mighty handiwork – the brain.  I will start with neuroplasticity in my next blog, which will be following soon.

Thank you.  I hope this will be the beginning of a good and blessed relationship with you, my readers.  Life is good.  We’re only here for a short time.  Use your time wisely.  We’re here for a reason.  I believe it’s to bless one another and with that we need healthy thinking.  Everything begins with a thought.  Peace.  Out.