Sometimes we want change, but most of the time we want comfort and stability. When is the right time for change? What can we do to make it less scary? Is there anything we can do health-wise to give our system the strength to cope?
Change. It can be frightening. We can spend whole lifetimes avoiding it. Some wait until they get sick, or even on their deathbed. It is not surprising really —after all we are actually wired to avoid change.
Did you know that the limbic/paleo-mammalian brain, the mid brain, maintains our beliefs, our sense of identity, and our sense of safety? And it does it all subconsciously, without our neo-cortex (which thinks it’s in control) knowing about it. When I first found out about this I was blown away.
Suddenly it all made sense. The action of the limbic brain is much faster than our neo-cortex processing speeds; so the neo-cortex is unaware (unconscious) to what’s going on in the limbic/paleo-mammalian brain.
‘Subconscious’ really means it’s happening beneath (sub) our normal level of consciousness. ‘Unconscious’ is when we’re not aware of it at all.
Can you see what this means?
It means that if there’s a conflict between what we want consciously and what we want subconsciously, then our subconscious-self always wins out, because its action is so fast that our conscious processes are unaware and remain unconscious to what’s going on. Bam! Why aren’t we taught that at school?
But why would our conscious-self want something different from our subconscious-self? We’re on the same team, right? I know, it sounds a bit like we’re possessed by different entities, but the answer is far simpler than that really. It seems odd at first, but our conscious-self and subconscious-self have different values and beliefs.
Simply speaking, our subconscious-self acts based on a belief-system and set of values that has been inherited, mimicked and learned involuntarily on a subconscious level, whereas our conscious-self draws conclusions based on freewill and what we would really like for ourselves.
You’ve probably noticed —it’s instinctual to seek and maintain comfort, and to avoid discomfort —right? Makes sense. It maximises the chances of survival, of tribal harmony, and minimises the danger of being hurt. This is inherited, mimicked and learned behaviour. This is subconscious behaviour.
Then there’s the part of us that would love to break free of the norm. It has observed and knows it has choices and can choose to live differently. So it is conscious. However as it makes moves towards change, the subconscious finds some way to put the brakes on, or finds a way to sabotage the plan.
According to research, the limbic brain assumes that, for the best chance of survival, we must ‘maintain our position’, and with it, our identity and corresponding beliefs.To this end, it dispenses neuropeptides ensuring we maintain beliefs and patterns that keep us ‘in position’.
Neuropeptides are key signalling chemicals that influence the activity of the brain and body. You won’t believe what this really means. The consequences are profound, even on the most basic level.
Candace Pert, PhD, famously linked the release of neuropeptides with emotions, beliefs and the way these interact with our body’s cells. This means that we are rewarded chemically when we maintain our beliefs, behaviour, and our sense of self(ego/identity).In other words, we are chemically addicted to keeping things as they are, even when we’d rather prefer change.
No wonder it seems like we are up against some kind of invisible force whenever we wish or plan for change! We keep coming up against psychological barriers. Normally our conscious selves are unaware of the brain’s wiring and ignorant of our subconscious processes.
It would come as news to most that we are addicted to our own internally-dispensed brain-chemicals; so that we maintain our patterns. No wonder we may feel powerless to effect meaningful change in our lives! No wonder good people often make bad choices, and no wonder so many of us end up depressed and potentially on anti-depressives.
So what can we do when we DO want change?
How can we bring the subconscious-self around to cooperating with the conscious-self?
How can we cultivate the required awareness to know when there’s an internal conflict of interest?
Here are some ways to support your body, your brain, your mood and cognitive function during times of change.
9 supplements to support positive change
DHA omega 3
DHA is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is a major building block of the brain. It is crucial for the brain’s function and for proper function of the nervous system. Deficiency is linked to psychiatric disorders and brain-nervous system dysfunction.
According to Harvard School of Public Health, 99% of the U.S. population is omega-3 deficient, and, as Australian habits closely mimic American trends, it is likely we have the same issues.
It’s unlikely the average person gets enough DHA through their diet alone (it’s found mainly in wild salmon, krill, deep sea calamari and in some nut/seed oils). So it is well advised to consider taking a supplement.
Ginkgo biloba (a.k.a. maidenhair tree)
Ginkgo is one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world, specifically to treat brain-related problems, such as poor concentration, forgetfulness, mental confusion, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Your brain uses huge amounts of oxygen, around 20% of the body’s total. This makes it highly susceptible to oxidisation/free radical damage. Antioxidants are therefore powerful brain protectors and brain-function boosters.They neutralise free radical damage and prevent premature brain cell die-off or ageing.
Antioxidants are almost exclusively found in plant foods, with deeply coloured berries at the top of the list.
There is an excellent reason to take an antioxidant as a supplement to a balanced diet. Unless you’re eating the recommended seven to nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily, you almost certainly aren’t getting enough antioxidants to support brain health. In addition, if these are not organic, then their nutritional and antioxidant content will be reduced.
Talk to your health food shop staff or naturopath. There are many powerful antioxidants on the market, and there is sure to be one or a mix just right for you, including ones containing resveratrol, astaxanthin, or polyphenols. Anthocyanins are antioxidants found in berries, and have been found to be particularly protective for the brain.
Hydroxytyrosol is a powerful antioxidant found in olive leaf extract.
Vinpocetine, derived from the periwinkle plant, is a herbal extract that increases blood flow to the brain. It may improve memory and brain function and European studies claim it is more effective than ginkgo biloba, which is widely promoted as one of the best brain supplements, improving memory, reaction time, and overall mental well-being.
It is purported to increase blood flow to the brain, enhancing the brain’s use of oxygen; thereby also protecting the brain from free radical damage.
Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) aka Brahmi or Brahmi bacopa, and Indian coastal waterhyssop
Bacopahas a bittersweet cooling effect, and is said to support the brain function, harmonise the nervous system, improve clarity, concentration, alertness, cognitive function, awareness and memory.It is also said to be a rejuvenative to the brain and nervous system.
Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) aka Brahmi gotu kola, Luei gong gen and Asiatic pennywort
According to legend, this herb has been taken for millennia, by yogis to assist in meditation. It is a renowned mental rejuvenative claimed to not only support healthy nervous system function, but to significantly enhance mental performance.
Withania (Withania somnifera) aka Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng
This root is known to support the necessary concentration required for mindfulness practice, as well as helping learning and memory function, and reducing braincell degeneration. But it doesn’t end there. Besides reportedly being anti-malarial, it supports the body’s ability to cultivate and store strong vital energy throughout the day, and promotes restful sleep at night. Furthermore, it aids proper nourishment of muscles and bones, and supports rejuvenation and healthy functioning of the adrenals. It is said that it maximises the body’s ability to avoid or withstand stress.
Ashwagandha promotes neurological health, imbuing a calming effect on the mind, promoting better mood, focus and memory.
Polygala Siberica (Radix polygalae) aka milkwort
The ancient name for this root is ‘the will strengthener’, perfect for times of change. It is known for supporting a tranquil mind.It is claimed it has the ability to connect kidney (sexual) energy, with heart (love) energy, thereby opening what the Taoists refer to as ‘the psychic channel’, which deepens our experience and feelings, aiding an opening of our awareness to love and joy.
It comes as no surprise then, that besides the additional claimed benefits such as relief from mental distress, easing forgetfulness, and countering insomnia, this medicine supposedly supports the process of spiritual awakening.
COQ10 provides you with increased energy levels while reducing ageing effects. It is claimed to assist overall mental clarity by boosting cell activity and ridding the body of toxic materials.
8 positive habits to make change stick
Tired of wanting change but coming up against hurdles? Here are some hints to make change stick.
Cultivating mindfulness is a powerful aid to assist you in making lasting change. Mindfulness is really quite misleading as a term, and I prefer whole-mindedness, which helps you expand your mind to become more aware of your subconscious and unconscious beliefs and processes.
Explore your unconscious
Try hypnotherapy to access unconsciously held beliefs or trauma.
Hypnosis is safe, and, contrary to popular belief, you are always in control. Choose a practitioner who holds at least a certificate IV, ideally a diploma.
Get into nature
Connect with the life in all and everything. It is deeply related with our subconscious, superconscious and unity consciousness, and a great way to connect with our greater self.
Get some sun
Winter is a brilliant time to get some vitamin D without the need for sunscreen. Vitamin D is close to being Nature’s cure-all. It can lift your mood, banish depression, improve memory, and increase problem-solving ability. Find a wind-shaded spot and strip off. You’d be amazed how good you feel after 20 minutes.
Expand your mind
Change sticks best when combined with the change in other habits—so push your comfort zone and explore activities you wouldn’t ordinarily partake in.
Try acting, art classes, singing, or pick up a musical instrument.
Eat as if your life depends on it
Eat as well as you would if you had terminal cancer, and with as much gratitude and appreciation for every mouthful.
Be a kid. They don’t know what exercise is. They have fun. American army personnel took part in a famous experiment in which they had to mimic the actions of a group of children as they went about their normal play. The soldiers experienced challenging workouts while having a ball.
Tap into your dreams by keeping a journal next to your bed. Ask your greater self to guide you and to give you answers and insights to your questions.
Carl Jung’s work on archetypes is very interesting too. Consider an archetype workshop.
There are times when we want change, but we aren’t ready. How can we tell?
Easy. When things fall into place and we feel good, our subconscious-self and conscious-self are in alignment, but when it feels like we’re pushing sh*t up hill, that’s a signal that we have not reached alignment and that a blockage needs to be unearthed, honoured and healed.
If we push at the wrong time, then, no matter what we do, we seem to slip into old habits, feelings or patterns.
When you’re ready you just know.
Although Boris has a professional holistic health background, the advice given is general advice only, from one consumer to another. No warranties are made or responsibilities taken. Listen to your body, do your own research. Even good herbs can be dangerous in large doses or for extended period of time or in combination with other herbs.It is always advisable to consult your naturopath, herbalist, local health food store, pharmacist or doctor. The views expressed are not necessarily the views of LivingNow magazine.
Boris von Rechenberg, DoCH, is a transformational energy healer, coach and educator; combining holistic psychology and transpersonal hypnotherapy with quantum source energetics. Based in Melbourne, he helps others rediscover true self, life purpose, ease, abundance, radical forgiveness, peace of mind, youth and wellness through whole being.
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