“Everything we think and everything we choose to do alters our brain and fundamentally changes who we are.” – Richard Restak, M.D., author of Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot
Welcome to Week 3 of our “How Einstein Would Get Pregnant” series, a fun and educational way to shine a light on the role of the mind over our bodies and ultimately our fertility.
Last week we gained a better understanding of our subconscious and how it can impact your health and well being. This week, I would like to share with you an amazing story about a group of people who changed their subconscious thoughts and also give you easy to follow steps to begin to take more control of your subconscious thoughts.
First lets do a quick recap of what the heck our subconscious has to do with our fertility? If we believe in the mind-body connection (hopefully we’ve convinced you of this already!) then any negative thoughts – influenced by our subconscious – will have a subsequent reaction on a physical basis within our bodies.
I also want to mention that there should be no judgment against our negative thoughts – we all have them! I would go as far to argue that it would be consider abnormal to NOT have negative thoughts from time to time. But we have an opportunity to turn them around through a reprogramming of our subconscious.
Let me share with you an example of where a group of people had a change in their subconscious thoughts which lead to unbelievable results. Hotel cleaning professionals participated in a study over the course of 8 – 10 weeks. The people participating did no active exercising outside of their jobs and as a group were considered out of shape. The cleaning professionals were broken into two groups. The first group was told that by virtue of their jobs, they essentially exercised all day long – that they were “exercisers.” The second group was told nothing. At the end of the study, the group that was told they were getting a great workout while the did their jobs lost weight, and were more fit. There was no other change other than their subconscious making a change from “I do not exercise” to “I exercise all day”. The group that was not told anything did not experience weight loss or improved health.
Two groups working side by side, two very different results.
How was this possible? They started to think of themselves as “exercisers” – their thoughts grew more positive about their actions every moment and how it was positively influencing their bodies, and their bodies followed suit. Their bodies literally changed by virtue of changing their thoughts about their jobs and how their physical activity was impacting their health in a dramatic and positive way.
In the book Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential, Richard Restak, M.D. talks about how we can turn our feelings and emotions into an advantage. He used a similar example we used last week regarding seeing a red car drive down the street – and your reaction to that seemingly neutral event if you had been a serious accident with a red car and the physical response your body would have.
He talks specifically about that part of your brain that stores and remembers emotions – otherwise known as the amygdala. The amygdala becomes stimulated as old emotions and memory react to seeing the car and subconsciously reacting on a physical level with increased heart rate, sweaty palms and that sinking feeling in your stomach.
He says that “fortunately, the influence of the amygdala can be moderated in most instances by the consciousness. We can internally talk it out and adopt a positive attitude about the experience: “I’ve never had a prior accident and there’s no reason to expect another. I should be glad I survived and get on with my life.”
What he is referring to are essentially intentions or affirmations. Ways we can “talk” to our mind and take greater control over our emotions and reactions to situations. This leads to a more healthy and positive attitude towards life in general.
Restak goes on to say that when we are feeling down or have distressing emotional responses, it doesn’t help much to try to seek the “why” behind those negative feelings. He says that the best philosophy is to “put a happy face on it and smile, smile, smile.” Easier said than done, I know!
On a personal note, until recently I did not understand the idea of using affirmations. It seemed a little too “self-help-y” to me. But I tried an experiment. While exercising on my elliptical machine and hating every minute, I decided to begin to repeat the words “I love this. I love exercising. I love how my body feels when I exercise.” I repeated these words over and over again. There has been a dramatic change in my life since then…I have since become much more happy about the prospect of exercise, spend much more time exercising and love how I feel while I am exercising. I get it now! I reprogrammed my subconscious negative reaction to exercise with a much more positive feeling about it.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
1. Feel the emotion. It has been said that emotions are held in the body. Remembering a time that you have been nervous – that you could literally feel that in your body by those butterflies in your stomach. Or if you are down or depressed, maybe it’s a feeling of being weighted, tired, and lethargic. Become more aware of the physical sensation of your emotions as this will help you become conscious of them as well.
2. Try not to analyze it. As Restak states, trying to find the reason why you feel the way you do is like trying to find a non-existence buried treasure. Accept your feelings as they are. Keep them there and let your body experience them. Learn from it.
3. Talk to your subconscious. Like I did with my experiment on exercising on the elliptical, I didn’t try to analyze or berate myself (you’re so lazy!). I just started talking. Out loud and silently – over and over again. In the context of fertility and becoming pregnant, you could have a whole host of affirmations and intentions that you say every single day to begin to reprogram this downward spiral of despair. We have created this daily intentions chart as a PDF to help you get started.
Next week we will have a special guest – our esteemed Advisory Board member, Dr. Bernie Siegel talk about “Power and Potential.”