Neurones & River Beds

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I was working with a group recently that got a lot out of the analogy of neurones in the mind being similar to river beds. River beds channel the flow of water within them as neurones channel the flow of thoughts. Just as water in rivers can alter the shape and flow of the river itself, so too can thoughts alter the physical structures of the neurones that carry those thoughts.

Just as water in rivers can alter the shape and flow of the river itself, so too can thoughts alter the physical structures of the neurones that carry those thoughts. When we try to learn a new skill or develop a new way of perspective, thinking or behaving, the focused attention we give to operating in this new or slightly altered way will be stimulating neurones to fire in new sequences or to fuse with other neurones to help increase the speed and efficiency of the the newly emerging action. If we keep up the focussed attention and practice again and again, the brain will put resources into ensuring the brain supports this new action until it becomes embedded at a neuronal level and requires far less if any conscious effort and thought. This is neural plasticity in action and is a key mechanism the brain uses to continually update itself to ensure you are bet equipped to deal with the environment you are currently in. We could add to the analogy further by considering how water flows down the river along the path of least resistance. So do thoughts so that the easiest route is the one used or chosen by the brain. The easiest route tends to be the one that is most used, practised and habituated. When we want to alter ourselves to cope with change or change others in change programmes we need to unlock old habits and create new ones to have any chance of the new perceptions, thinking and behaviours being used over pre-existing habits. Not always easy but certainly possible.