New Brain Technology

There is a lot of discussion and debate going on in the halls of science at present about the pros and cons and ethics of new breakthroughs in neuroscience in particular. Up to the present the many questions neuroscientists have about how the brain communicates could only be discussed in theory. New tools are constantly being developed which may help to answer existing questions and any new questions which are likely to be raised as barriers are broken down and new frontiers opened up.

Some important discoveries relate specifically to disabled people, giving them more freedom and a better quality of life. They include brain controlled computers leading to artificial limbs and brain implants that enable a person’s thoughts to operate computer programs such as email and internet as well as write with word processors that can\ predict which word or sentence they want to type. One quadriplegic man has been able\ to teach himself to play video games using his brain as a controller after having a brain implant. Already a device has been developed that enables disabled people to communicate by reading their brain waves through the skin without implants. All this is expected to be followed in the future by thought-controlled wheelchairs and artificial limbs that respond when a person imagines moving.

With the dramatic pace at which neuroscience is progressing researchers are already devising various ways of reading and understanding thought patterns. The key to brain pattern analysis at present seems to be the functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI). Already scientists can predict with near-perfect accuracy the last thing you saw just by analysing your brain activity from scans taken from this machine. It is hoped that one area of this work will help doctors understand the inner world of people with mental disorders. The fMRI can already be used to map the brain’s responses to images, words and emotions and also understand pictures in the brain. This is an impressive feat but the bigger challenge is working out the actual thoughts associated with the images because thoughts, unlike pictures, are not neatly recorded at the back of the brain. Scientists believe, however, they could be decoding thoughts as well as pictures, within the decade.

There is a great deal more on the neuroscience ‘drawing board’ that I will not go into here. Suffice to say, enough discoveries are so close to a breakthrough with dramatic and far-reaching effects that calls for debate into the ethical issues raised by the studies are growing around the world. The ability to probe people’s minds, read another’s thoughts and the possibility of thought control bring to the surface controversial questions about their use or misuse in the future.

Companies are already jumping on the band-wagon, working on turning the latest discoveries into real products. Neuro devices – medical devices that compensate for damage to the brain, nerves and spinal column – are growing rapidly. The greatest growth, however, is in the area of video games. Already game controls have advanced to where we can control figures on the screen by waving our hands, dancing and pointing at it and devices in which the user’s virtual self will smile and blink when the user does will soon be available. Soon we will need only one muscle to control the action – the brain.

In Conclusion

The 1990’s were declared “The Decade of the Brain” by George Bush. Perhaps we could call this decade (2010-2020), ‘The Decade of the Mind’ because of the huge amount of scientific interest and research being carried out on the brain, the mind and thought resulting in new, and in some ways, invasive technologies opening up the workings of the brain and the mind. It is hoped that the above information will enlighten you and form a solid basis for studies on the mind and thoughts that follow.

The brain is the physical instrument through which the mind works. It is important, therefore, that we all have some basic knowledge of the way our brain is set up and how it works in co-ordinating our metabolic life processes as well as its functions in processing information from the mind. Where once people thought very little at all about the workings of the brain, now in all parts of the world, scientists are putting great emphasis on solving the mysteries of this intricate data processing system called the brain.


Our Belief System

Our beliefs are a very powerful directing force in human behaviour because they define and shape who we are and determine our potential. The distinction between a fact and our attitude towards that fact is our belief system and so it is the single most important influence that controls the direction and destiny of our life. Our beliefs determine and guide our thoughts, our actions, our goals and even our relationships with other people so they are not easily changed.

The source of our personal belief system lies in our childhood and although as children our belief systems are quite open and therefore, non-limiting and non-judgemental, our beliefs are built up in ever-growing layers as we grow to adulthood. They are absorbed from the teachings and actions of those closest to us as we grow and mature – our parents, family, friends, and authority figures and also by our culture and environment. The belief system thus created determines what we value, how we live and the levels of success we are likely to achieve in our life through the amount of our potential we are able to tap into.

No belief is right or wrong – it is either empowering or limiting; however, our beliefs become habits and we all know how difficult it is to change a habit. Limiting beliefs cause us to act and react in ways which limit our potential. If a limiting belief says you are a failure, then you will fail. If, however, you believe you are capable of being a successful person, you will succeed. We can do or be anything if we will let go of our limiting beliefs. Yet many people never try to reach the goal of what they should do and be in life –of capacity living – reaching their full potential. Why don’t they just “go for it”? Often it is not, unfortunately, because they are afraid they may fail. Instead they fear success. Don’t allow fear of anything to take hold – it will limit what you can do with your life. Instead, be courageous and take advantage of opportunities to change your circumstances and habits and you will add new and positive perspectives to your life. There is a saying that is worth remembering, “You change your circumstances when you change your habits; you change your habits when you change your beliefs”.

Our subconscious mind is a powerful tool but it is not capable of determining what is good or bad for us. For instance, the mind cannot tell the difference between something real (fact) and something unreal (imagined). It will just accept what our imagination tells it and then it will search for the facts to support this decision. For example, if my imagination says “If I step on that swaying bridge I will fall into the water” my subconscious will say, “There is no way that I will step on to that bridge” even though you have been assured it is safe. Thus my belief in the possibility or impossibility of a situation determines the outcome.

A paradigm is a pattern or example that forms a basis for something. For the purpose of this subject I am using the word in relation to our belief systems which are patterns bedded down into our subconscious mind from birth. These belief systems act as perception filters through which we discern our world. By their nature our paradigms limit our field of perception. This is not necessarily a bad thing as our conscious mind is unable to handle a plethora of information all at once. It will bring to mind the necessary amount of information that is needed for that moment in time and it is our paradigms that direct what that information will be. There is much going on in the world that we do not notice unless, for one reason or another, it is brought to our attention. You may visit a seafood restaurant; you really enjoy it and it makes a positive impression on your mind. Suddenly you begin to notice a lot of seafood restaurants you had never known to exist before. You may decide to buy a particular make and colour car. You may not have noticed many such vehicles around before but suddenly you seem to be seeing them everywhere. These are your paradigms in action. They are often called paradigm shifts because each time you make a change in your view of life new information that you had previously not noticed, will come to the fore and become quite obvious. There can be a radical change in your basic assumption or approach to something and even to your level of belief. Such changes can give you a new perspective on a particular subject.

Note that everything you see, hear, learn and come into contact with in life from birth to death is absorbed and imprinted on your subconscious mind and will only surface if and when needed. These include sounds and smells in the background that we may be unaware of consciously. As an adult we may smell something that reminds us of our childhood. All these things affect us in ways we still don’t understand.

Change is a matter of choice. You can accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing those conditions. If you are willing to change, start by believing in yourself and your potential and give yourself time to make the changes. Change must, of course, be made at the subconscious level and carried out at the creative level of your mind; just thinking a few positive thoughts will not make the depth of change necessary for a major paradigm shift. You need to change from a negative state of mind to a positive state of mind and consciously remain that way until you fully
believe that is the only way to live.

Too often we react to life rather than living life in a creative, positive and spontaneous way. We are not normally conscious of our paradigms but they influence our thinking, decision-making and actions. To have everything you want, you need to stimulate a positive mindset and your attitude to success will determine your degree of success. In other words, your success is measured by the strength of your belief; therefore, get your mind and your mental images on the present and the future.

Negative Thoughts and Emotions

What predominates in your thoughts? Do you think about your problems incessantly or do you concentrate your thinking on finding a solution?

Too often we serve our thoughts. How do we do that? By allowing our thoughts to run rampant; to allow them to roam wherever they will. Unrestrained thoughts bring unrestrained actions so train your thoughts to obey you. Like children, your thoughts need parameters so don’t allow your thoughts to take charge of your life. When they get out of hand they will immediately move to the negative side of any situation and cause you to worry and give way to fear. When your mind is in this realm you cannot think clearly and your reality becomes clouded.

Our thoughts will always reflect how we see ourselves as a person. For example, if your childhood was a challenging time you may have low self-esteem and lack confidence in yourself. You may look at the world from a depressed perspective, making excuses about your actions or lack of action and blaming others for your own mistakes. Then again, you may have a mentality which says the world owes you something.

Much of your thought life may be involuntary and what you say is a result of that thought process. You may say things you didn’t mean to say in the heat of the moment during an argument and then later stop to think why you reacted so quickly. Your thoughts would have been on automatic pilot and if hurt by something someone else said your negative frame of mind would have reacted immediately, possibly inflaming the situation. Conflict never resolves issues; it merely agitates and polarizes them. If you had had your thoughts under control you would have dealt very differently with the situation and most likely there would have been peace. There is a saying, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger”.

A negative attitude of mind will always bring you misery and can be the beginning of a stressful life. Negative thoughts will always breed strife which raises stress levels and can lead to depression and bitterness. When negative thoughts drop to this level, reasonable thinking cannot exist and the person becomes more and more introverted, wallowing in a world of self-pity. All this dysfunctional thinking will cause chemical reactions in the physical body and illness can be the result.

It is vital to switch off the negative charge and train the mind to convert its thoughts to a more positive and happy level of thinking. As thoughts change there will be better health, less stress and a more balanced lifestyle. Listen to your thoughts and if any of the above examples resonate with you make an effort to lift yourself out of the mire of negativity and make positive changes to your thinking.

Our thought patterns have a tremendous impact on our lives. If you are thinking your world is no good and that you have no hope for the future, you are allowing your thoughts to control who you are. If, however, your thinking is positive and creative you will be aware that your actions are a result of your thoughts and you will remain in control. There will be a clear pattern running through your life – nothing is by chance. Listen to what you are thinking and saying and see if there is a negative or positive pattern to your thinking. Whatever pattern you observe you will also see the results you are creating for yourself. A negative pattern forms negative results and a positive pattern forms positive results. It cannot be any different. Whatever thoughts you have will have corresponding actions.

Knowing Your Brain

This heading is actually a misnomer because in so many ways, the more we learn about our brain the more questions arise. Although we have learned more about the brain in the past 20 years than in previous history, and although there are many ground-breaking experiments going on, there are many aspects of the workings of the brain that scientists have yet to unravel. Some questions include how our brain processes information, how memories are stored, how the brain develops and grows and how we consciously think. Neuroscientists all over the world are working on the ‘neural decoding’ of the brain and many mysteries have been unlocked over the past decade. It is expected that with technology constantly improving many more questions will be answered over the next 10-20 years.

An adult brain weighs about 2 per cent of a person’s body weight – about 1-2kg – and it is made up of billions of nerve cells, called neurons, packed into the limited space of the skull (about 1400 cubic centimetres of space). As your brain grows it folds in on itself and develops ever deeper folds creating fissures so that it begins to look like a wrinkled walnut. This makes the brain more efficient because these foldings increase the surface area of the cortex and although the foldings may seem to be haphazard, they are quite uniform and are useful landmarks for working out the general location of functional areas of the brain, such as hearing, vision and speech.

Our brain controls and checks the life processes that continue without our being conscious of them. These include breathing and heart rate and the co-ordination of most of our voluntary movement.

Although our brain works as an interconnected whole, there are roughly three main areas which have different functions and produce different aspects of the mind. These anatomical structures are the central core, the limbic system and the cerebral cortex.

The central core (which includes the brain stem) regulates, amongst other things, breathing, heart rate and digestion as well as movement, balance and sleep. These are the basic life processes.

The limbic system is often called the “emotional brain”. It regulates body temperature and blood pressure, etc. and is linked to hormones and emotion and also memory processes.

The cerebral cortex (ie the cerebrum or forebrain along with its covering, the cortex) is the area that takes charge of high-level functions including our cognitive and emotional areas. The cerebrum is divided into two fairly equally sized hemispheres known as the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. They look after all forms of our conscious and unconscious processes which include planning and decisions and our judgement and problem-solving abilities, including complex calculations and our ability to communicate. Although they look very much the same, each hemisphere has a different job to do. The left hemisphere manages the right side of the body. In most people it tends to be the most dominant and is important in communication, controlling language and playing a central role in the complex task of reading. It is also logical and systematic, specialising in detailed analysis. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and specialises in holistic processing, analysing and processing information from the outside world such as understanding what we hear, making sense of patterns of sight such as face recognition, understanding geometric shapes and appreciating music. It is imaginative and intuitive and concerned with emotions and feelings. Although the two hemispheres have different functions they are continually communicating through a thick band of nerve cells, co-operating with and supplementing one another, working as a team rather than separately.

Research has shown that people’s brains are very much the same but there are some minor differences. One of the most obvious is that over 80 per cent of the population are right-handed and others are predominantly left-handed. As just mentioned, the ability for communication is mainly localised in the left hemisphere. Although the right hemisphere can understand written and spoken language to some extent, it is not now thought that left-handed people are merely mirror-images of right-handed people. Scientists know that hand movements depend on the left hemisphere of the brain but they are still exploring the question of how the brain of a person who is left-handed is different from a right-handed person.

It is also well-known that the brain of a male works differently in some ways to that of a female. It is the subject of many a light-hearted conversation in mixed company. There are differences in size of some areas of the brain between the sexes and overall a male brain is about ten per cent larger than that of a female reflecting a difference in body size. The female brain, however, contains more cells in certain areas. Other differences between male and female brains seem to relate to brain organisation as some processes are carried out in different parts of the cerebrum For example, with speech, the frontal area seems to be more important in women and in men, if anything, the back part is more important. Generally, women perform a little better with words and men slightly better at spatial skills.

How the Mind Works

The mind is often likened to a computer because it records and processes information but no computer has the creative ability of our mind.

It is well accepted that our mind can be divided into the conscious and the subconscious and that part of the subconscious forms the creative level of mind. Sigmund Freud once likened the mind to an iceberg saying it floats with only 17% of its bulk above water. This iceberg metaphor represents the various parts of the mind with the tip of the iceberg representing our conscious mind (our awareness) and the largest part of the iceberg which is below the waterline, representing our subconscious mind. The waterline itself is often used to represent the creative part of our mind. Although each part works independently of the other they do liaise and co-operate when necessary.

The conscious mind generates thoughts and ideas and is associated with our waking, thinking state. It gathers knowledge, judges, remembers and compares, evaluates and analyses what it perceives as reality through the five senses, observing labelling and experiencing the present moment. The conscious mind has a wonderful gift called choice, but it is limited in its wisdom and can make mistakes. People who are aware of how the mind works realise their judgements may sometimes be hindered because they know they perceive the world through filters of perception with their own preconceived ideas, beliefs and prejudices colouring their decisions. They recognise it is necessary to listen to the opinions of others which may be just as valid as their own.

The subconscious mind (sometimes called the unconscious mind) is vastly larger than the conscious mind and far more powerful. It is a reservoir of extraordinary intelligence, responsible for everything we do; controlling the way we live by creating everything in our lives according to the instructions we give it. It is the centre of our feelings, intuition and perceptions and it is the storehouse for all our memories as well as processing our beliefs.

The subconscious carries out our wishes and acts on our beliefs, prejudices and perceptions without our being aware of it because it operates below the level of our conscious recognition. It never analyses, judges or rationalises; it simply acts in response to suggestions given it by our conscious mind and works to bring about the exact conditions we believe in. The messages we send to our subconscious from our conscious mind are our thoughts, beliefs and actions. If we send positive messages of success to our subconscious mind it will produce success. If we send negative messages it will produce failure. For example, if we constantly worry and speak about lack in our household, there will always be lack because our subconscious mind will receive that message and set about creating the situation based on our message. However, if we send a positive message that we believe we can accomplish the goals we have set for ourselves the subconscious mind will set about connecting us with the people and events that will help create the positive environment to attain those goals. Everything we do, say and believe is picked up by our subconscious mind not just our thoughts. The works of many authors confirm that whatever we focus on constantly will be created in the physical world; that whatever we desire (good or bad, meant or not meant) will come into our lives and will change our reality. We must, therefore, focus on the positive so that we can move in the direction we want.

Most people remain unaware of how to use their subconscious mind. Instead they concentrate their mental efforts in the area of the conscious – the intellectual, rational part of the mind. They analyse ideas and interpret those ideas in line with their own preconceptions. It is through these preconceptions (or belief systems) that we all develop a view of the world which supports our existing point of view. It keeps us secure.

To use our usually hidden subconscious to full advantage we need to expand our conscious mind beyond the intellect and become aware of our intuitive side. It is that innate, instinctive part of our being that knows something without having to think about it or without it being consciously perceived. It is often our intuition that draws our attention to concepts and ideas that are foreign to our conscious thinking and contrary to our usual beliefs. The female mind seems to be naturally more intuitive than the male mind but it can be used to advantage by both sexes.

“What you say is what you get” is a well-known adage and very true. Countless people limit their happiness and success in life because they don’t realise the importance of their words. The mouth speaks what is in the heart, i.e. our subconscious – our belief system. Our attitude makes our life and we will always get exactly what we say and expect – good or bad. It is important, therefore, that we understand that nothing happens by chance – there is no such thing as coincidence. That is why our subconscious is the most powerful part of our mind.

How the Brain Communicates

Every time we have a thought, our brain surges with electrical activity, using up to ten times more energy than the average cell and neurons connect with one another across a tiny gap called a synapse so that various parts of the brain can communicate. At the junction where they connect, the electrical impulses within the neurons change into chemical reactions. Various experiences of life can change these neuronal connections causing them to connect and disconnect in continually changing cycles. Whenever we learn something new the brain makes new connections. This means new knowledge and experiences can develop new networks or pathways which change, develop and extend the patterns in the brain. When we think the same thoughts and perform the same actions over and over again we are stimulating certain parts of the brain which build strong connections in that area. Something practiced many times becomes hard-wired into the brain to the extent that that action no longer has to be thought about but becomes automatic and carried out subconsciously.

Controlling your Mind and Thoughts

You now know that you are much more than your mind; you are very much the product of your thoughts. Everything begins with a thought and action transforms your thoughts into reality. So focus on training your mind to think the way you want to think. Remember, you cannot think negative thoughts and bring about positive action. It follows, therefore, that you will need to train yourself to think positively about yourself and others and about what you want to attain in life if you want to see positive action and the achievement of your dreams.

Things are created in the mental or spiritual world before they appear outwardly. By the simple process of controlling our thought forces today we help create the events which will come into our lives in the future. Therefore, if you desire wisdom, power or permanent success of any kind, you must first find it within you.

The control of every thought, of course, is unrealistic; however, it lets us begin to realise just how important it is to at least slow down the thinking processes enough to know where those thoughts will lead. The more aware you become of the type of thoughts you are thinking the more you will be able to choose what you think. Listen to what you have to say to yourself. The goal is to become aware of every negative thought and change it into a constructive and solution-based positive thought. This must be done by choosing your thoughts and words carefully because it is possible to think of good things in a negative way which will negate all the good you wish to do and be. For example, one person ‘loves the good’ and the other ‘hates the bad’. Both are intent upon achieving the same ideal, but one makes use of constructive thought and has peace and harmony in his life and the other makes use of destructive thought and brings discord into his life. Whatever you say to yourself creates a chemical in your brain that is distributed through your body and you feel exactly how you tell yourself you feel. So, keep your thought life from hating anything because hatred is destructive not so much to the other person, but to you; concentrate instead on constructive, positive thinking and you will feel the difference.

As we are the sum total of our thoughts how do we entertain only the good thoughts and reject the bad? First we must understand that we cannot keep the bad thoughts from rising up within us, but we can keep from entertaining them. This is where awareness becomes so important. As soon as the bad, or negative, thought comes we must consciously throw it aside and forget it then – and this is very important – deliberately replace it with a good or positive thought. Some people use positive affirmations to help them do this. When anger, jealousy, fear or worry creeps in either say a positive affirmation or just put the thought out of your head and replace it with a positive thought about the person or situation you are negative about.

Refuse also to accommodate thoughts of feeling sorry for yourself; such thoughts can lead to depression. Refuse to think badly of others; instead find something good in every person and in any situation. Don’t entertain negative thoughts of any kind because once those thoughts are spoken they become set in concrete and are much harder to change.

Changing the Thought Process

As we have already mentioned, most people run around on automatic pilot the vast majority of the time doing the same things in the same way over and over again. Why? Because, if you continue to think the way you have always thought, you will continue to do what you have always done. That means, most of the thoughts you have today are the same thoughts you had yesterday and these same recurring thoughts keep creating the same experiences for you. If you want to change your actions you must first change your thoughts. Your possibilities and potential are truly limitless, so if you wish to stop recreating the same negative experiences, you must choose to change who you are by thinking differently.

You can change who you are by changing what you put into your mind; for example, don’t allow your thoughts to ponder on the toxic waste the media would like to dump on you. There is a saying, “garbage in, garbage out” and it proves only too true with your thought life. Beware the rubbish coming at you from so many different directions in society which will try to mould you to its shape and have you ingest its pollution.

Don’t allow problems and difficulties to overwhelm you and consume your thought life and don’t wait until circumstances change. Instead, realise that circumstances won’t ever change until you make the switch from a negative to a positive form of thinking. Do you speak the words, “I am all right, under the circumstances”? It is preferable that you always see yourself above the circumstances and controlling them; don’t allow them to control you. Certainly it’s not easy to do, especially in the midst of dark times and trials. So what can you do?

First, you can take your thoughts captive. You can only think one thought at a time, so determine to keep your thoughts in the positive realm by concentrating on your assets and focusing on your strengths. Make an effort to free your mind from distracting thoughts and restless thinking. The negatives will try to intrude but stay aware of them and deliberately concentrate on the good that can come out of a situation. Second, be confident in yourself that you can win. Stay around people who have faith in your abilities to overcome the situation and who will help strengthen your resolve. Third, take action and work towards resolving your difficulties. There are many paths you can take to a solution and if you keep your thoughts harnessed in that direction and take the necessary action, you will be free.

It is also important to make an effort to free yourself from your past. Don’t wallow in it; instead leave it where it should be – behind you. Face toward your hope for the future and enjoy the ‘now’. Recognise that you do have the power to change your self-talk from the depressive to the enthusiastic. Just make sure you don’t leave a void when you get rid of polluted thinking; fill the void with positive and constructive thoughts and make an effort to think well of everyone.

One of the main problems with changing from one kind of thinking to another is “habit”. It is so easy to get into the habit of thinking a certain way and when it becomes automatic one rarely questions why things are as they are. Many habits of thought begin in our childhood when we learn to keep things to ourselves to keep out of trouble. Keeping our worries to ourself or blaming outside forces for every negative situation that happens to us becomes the safe thing to do and as we grow into adults it becomes automatic. This can mean that we become poor communicators with our family and friends and instead of keeping us safe these habits can, instead, cause distress.

When you decide you need to change your thoughts your mind will take time to come to terms with these changes so be gentle with yourself. Attitudes and thoughts do not change overnight; work and training are required. Make a conscious effort to change and as you become aware of your thought patterns you will start to question why you think and act the way you do. Building new habits takes time. It may take a while before your mind feels it is safe to change but by being aware of your thoughts your results will eventually be all that you could wish for.

Finally, learn from others. When you have decided on and are happy with the thought processes you want to build into your belief system, find the people who best mirror what you want and interact with them on a regular basis. The goal is not to become a carbon copy of those people but to learn from the experts, listen to new ideas, observe different ways of thinking and then try to amalgamate those ideas with your own beliefs.

Be Careful What You Think About

Thought is the reasoning of the mind; a mental depiction of what we sense. Our power to think is almost unlimited; it is the most potent way to understand knowledge and principles and when concentrated meaningfully on a subject will solve any problem. Thoughts must, however, be properly harnessed if success is to follow.

We have the choice to think whatever we wish but the results of our thoughts will culminate in some kind of action. If thoughts are negative, reactive and critical of others the results will be destructive. If thoughts are positive and creative the results will be constructive, strong and harmonious. This is a natural, immutable law and will produce its result in the character, health and circumstances of that person. It is important, therefore, to understand that weak, negative, reactive thoughts can never bring about positive growth or creative activity. Very few people, in fact only those who are prepared to become aware of how their mind works, understand the causes by which those effects are brought into being.

I have used the words ‘creative’ and ‘reactive’ before now. The creative/reactive part of the subconscious mind is made up of two polarised systems of thought. The creative mind is the centre for our innovative and creative thinking. It sees the big picture and thinks in terms of values and creating value. It works on a positive, three-dimensional, plane. The reactive mind, on the other hand, thinks two-dimensionally in terms of winning or losing or good or bad. It is the basis for limited thinking and works on the negative plane.

Be aware that each of us is a magnet. If your thoughts produce a tense, critical, anxious and unforgiving reactive state of mind then you will be a magnet for all kinds of trouble and failure. Instead, through your thoughts, develop a positively expectant and creative state of mind that is flexible and open and will be a magnet for good things to be attracted to you. The most unhappy people are the ones who are stuck in their narrow ways. Don’t go around reacting to life, it’s too short to be filled with conflict and negative thoughts. Rather, be prepared to live life in a more creative and spontaneous way.

Someone once said, “Thought is the fire that creates the steam that turns the wheel of fortune upon which your experiences depend”. So learn to control your thoughts to create positive mental habits that will blossom into action and create the conditions you are seeking to give you love, happiness and success.

When you understand how the mind works it brings the realisation that whatever you centre your attention upon steadily, constantly and deliberately in your conscious thoughts and feelings, will form the experiences of your life. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully the thoughts that are sent to it; whether your thoughts are of fear and failure or of confidence and success your actions will mirror your thoughts. It is wise, therefore, to go to work on your thinking to mentally choose what you wish to experience in life and to follow that with appropriate action.

Aspects of the Mind

Wisdom, knowledge, imagination and emotional intelligence are all aspects of a mind that is open to great possibilities; they are qualities needed to enable us to succeed in life. If we are to gain and use these four powers of the mind to our full potential we must first start with our self-image and remove any blockages that a limiting and inward-looking mind has set up.

Our self-image is a reflection of the way our mind works. It is a key to our personality and behaviours and sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment. Low self-esteem is rampant in our society and is often a result of building wrong belief systems into someone’s mind from a young age. Words are powerful and when repeated often move from our conscious to our subconscious. When someone repeatedly tells us we are worthless eventually, if it is repeated often enough, we will believe it even though it is not true. It then becomes a major task to remove the scab that has grown across our reality. That is why it is so important to understand how our mind works and become aware of all the traps that would limit our potential.

Those who have a closed mind to new and exciting possibilities essentially tell themselves they are not willing to make the extra effort – that they are not prepared to grow and experience new things. Such a mind shuts off the power and there can be no change and no progress so things will never improve.

We must develop our emotional intelligence so that we can learn to strengthen our mind. It has nothing to do with pride but it has everything to do with a healthy mature love for oneself and an understanding of how special and unique we are. When we develop a positive self-image within ourself we open up new capabilities and new talents and we can literally turn failure into success.

What is emotional intelligence? It is the ability to recognise, evaluate and manage our own emotions and to be able to handle our relationships with others in an effective way. Some thinking says that it is an inherited trait and so we either have it or not. More advanced thinking says that we can build our own emotional intelligence as we become more aware of how we think and as we learn to manage the use of our mind.

We need to look at ourselves dispassionately and recognise how we use our emotions and learn our strengths and weaknesses. As we do this we can develop within ourselves a strong sense of our own self-worth and capabilities as well as being sensitive to the feelings and emotional needs of others. It also means taking responsibility for our own actions and being honest with ourselves, learning to be flexible so we can change when necessary and persisting in pursuing our goals despite setbacks. In our interaction with others it means being prepared to listen as well as building on our social skills by using understanding and being respectful of others’ ideas.

Knowledge must include action to be of any use and it must be used wisely without arrogance. We build knowledge from the time we are born and for the rest of our life. The kind of knowledge we consciously allow to be established in our mind and how we use that knowledge is crucial to succeeding in all aspects of life. Knowledge is more than just facts and information gained. It is the result of perception and reasoning and the skills built up through experiences.

What is wisdom? It is knowledge guided by understanding, discernment and discretion; the ability to make sensible decisions and judgements based on personal experience. The wisdom of an open mind sees possibilities and new ideas everywhere and allows the mind to attract and follow up on opportunities that constantly present themselves. A closed mind is blind to those opportunities because it constantly looks inward and sees only the negative in every situation. An open mind is creative and understanding of others while developing a genuine appreciation for people. It has a greater sense of awareness and leaves the door open for the expansion of ideas. Limitations imprison the mind so if you can throw off the chains of a closed mind and open your mind to new and exciting ideas, your possibilities become limitless.

The mind has been described as “the brain in action”; it has exceptional power and produces substantial energy. It is divided into the conscious area, which is associated with our waking, thinking state and which perceives reality through the five senses and the larger subconscious which is the centre of our feelings, intuition and perceptions, the storehouse for our memories and the processor of our beliefs. Make an effort to gain a thorough understanding of how your mind works, in its entirety, so that you can be empowered to use it to its full potential.