The Power of Stories

Brainpickings.org is one of my favorite websites because of things like this:

The Neurochemistry of Empathy, Storytelling, and the Dramatic Arc, Animated. 

I’ve just happened to read or listen to a lot of things recently about brain plasticity. I was particularly struck by a quote from the post on Brainpickings:

 “Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry — and that’s what it means to be a social creature.”

Our brains are constantly rewiring themselves based on what we consume and what we experience. The stories we read, the stories we listen to, and the stories we tell … all of these have the potential to affect the wiring of our brains. The implications of this are huge.

B0007846 Pyramidal neuronsYogis talk a lot about self-talk, and how the things we tell ourselves can either promote or inhibit our spiritual growth. Is our self-talk damaging or nourishing, critical or compassionate? And are we surrounding ourselves with ideas and images and people who are wiring our brains for love and connection or for separateness and competition?  How are the stories we tell ourselves about our past, our present, our future, our abilities, our successes and our failures affecting the development of our brains?

Big questions worth asking, I think.

Namaste, yogis.

Be 여기 Now

So, guess how you say here in Korea?

Yogi!

I’m not kidding. The word for here is yogi. Well, I should say, it is pronounced yogi, since the word is actually 여기. How great is that? Could there be any better coincidence for this yoga geek? I don’t think so!

If there were ever a yogi who needed a constant reminder to “be here now”, it’s this one. Motherhood has made my efforts to be present easier in some ways and more difficult in others. On the one hand, my son is the ultimate example of what it means to be present. He is always completely attuned to the moment and as we move through our day together, I very often find myself in the flow, completely present to our experiences. Other times I find myself going over the laundry list of things I have to get done when he takes a nap or the list of things I didn’t get done when I had free time the day before. While sometimes I catch myself doing this and am able to notice without judgement and bring myself back to the moment at hand, other times when I catch myself I immediately begin the negative self-talk. This inner dialogue is full of  shaming talk and accusations of failure. I convince myself in these moments that I am not only completely useless in terms of productivity but am also a terrible mother for worrying about these things when I should be in the moment, wholly and completely present to my son.

I’m working very hard on banning the word should from my self-talk. In that context, it is completely useless. Any energy I spend thinking about what I should be doing or thinking or feeling is energy wasted not actually doing, thinking or feeling. Essentially, not living Life. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ” Life is only available in the present moment”.

So, being yogi now, is what I’m working on.

An easy moment to be present

How about you? What are your challenges to being present and how are you overcoming them?