The concept of neuroplasticity offers hope for a variety of
brain related disorders ranging from ADD or ADHD, to individuals recovering from stroke and a variety of other disorders. It is a concept that is not only helpful (but even essential) for all of us to keep in mind as we approach any type of learning for ourselves, our children, our students, and our clients who are struggling with emotional and physical challenges. That our experience can be converted into a physical structure with volume weight and mass, is almost unimaginable to me. How could a thought manifest itself into physical presence? How is is possible that thinking about something can actually change the physical structure of our brain? Not only can we train our mind, but changing thought patterns can change and generate new neural pathways in our brain. This almost seems to be mystical, and clearly supports the concept of evolution. In fact we are evolving not only from thousands of years ago, but from moment to moment. This definitely demonstrates that there is an intelligence within us which is far superior to the limited intelligence that we ordinarily believe we possess. That what "appears" to be nothing, such as an idea or thought, can be converted into a physical structure in the body, to me is completely mind blowing. We have the potential to change almost anything within us, and certainly the way we learn and relate to others. As stated by Dr. Shauna Shapiro "What we practice grows stronger, this called "cortical thickening". The concept of neuroplasticity is not only an idea, but it is a measurable reality. Dr. Richard Davidson reports that there are observable changes in the brain after only seven hours of compassion meditation practice. What does this mean from the standpoint of learning? What does this mean for children struggling with ADD, or some other learning disability? To follow up on my last blog, children with learning challenges are often avoidant of academics, and much of this avoidance is because of shame. The avoidance is often disguised in problematic behavior. Of course the shame is hidden in their behavior, why would anyone want to admit to the universal shame that we all experience, but dare not share. These children don't need less exposure to academics. they need more exposure to those academic areas which are particularly problematic for them. They need gentle, compassionate structure, and loving presence. We can't be the perfect anything, but we can practice being more patient, more present, and more compassionate and forgiving, with our children and with ourselves.