• Erin DiMaggio

What's going on in there?



B.K.S Iyengar, a famous Yogi, said, "The Brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in asanas." It's easy to change the form of the body through adjustments, massage, diet and exercise in comparison to changing our thoughts about our physical reality. Our thoughts are wired inside of our brains through a complex set of neural connections that even the most brilliant neuroscientists have difficulty unraveling.

The good news is we know for sure that the brain is plastic. It can be molded and changed at any age. It may be challenging to change our thoughts but it is possible. With the right tools, support, desire and perserverance, anyone can change their mind.

The Brain is by far the most complex organism in the human body. The cerebral cortex, the largest area of the brain contains between 15 to 33 billion neurons. I picture them like microscopic, soft electrical wires firing up all inside of my head. The neurons fire at insaneley fast rates and then send electrical impulses to the whole body. It is nothing short of amazing!

At birth, we are born with about 100 billion neurons inside our adorable baby head and with age the ones that are no longer needed or used get pruned away. 100 BILLION neurons, that is as many stars as their are in the milky way!

If we want to understand our child's behavior then a great place to start is by learning about how the brain works. So much of what we see as "bad" behavior is in reality a matter of how the neural networks are firing together. Today, neuroscience has started to bridge the gap between the new-age wisdom of mindfulness, yoga, meditation and psychology by developing technology that allows us to see inside the human brain. Though there are still many connections that need to be made. Scientists are doing a brilliant job at shedding light on what was once a very gray matter.

When a Baby is born healthy, the very first thing they will do is cry to clear the amniotic fluid from their lungs. This is their way of finding their breath. And once the fluid is cleared, then they cry as a means to communicate their needs. Sigmund Freud explained that our entire nature is based on attempting to find pleasure and avoid pain. It is pleasurable for a baby to be held, rocked and attended to. It is painful to be left in isolation, yelled at or spanked.

Our brains are wired at birth with a primal instinct to meet basic needs for food, fluid and comfort. As a baby turns into a toddler their needs become more complex. They have a need to play, to have autonomy and a hundred other needs. When a child yells, screams or throws a fit, it is not because they are a "bad kid." It is because, they are wired to be noisy. They are looking for ways to connect but are psychologically not mature enough to get their needs met in a way that may be considered by some as "appropriate behavior."

We have to stop labeling children as "bad" or "naughty" and wake up to the reality that they are only doing what they have been genetically wired to do. And most of the time, we grown-ups are doing the same!

Everything we say and do, does have a profound and lasting impact on the development of our children's brains and the world around us. We can influence our children's brains most profoundly by modeling the behavior that we want them to have. To do this, we must become more mindful of our own thoughts and actions and show Mr. Iyengar that we can adjust our brains, too.


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