Thoughts really do create our lives.
New research by Fred Travis, Maharishi University of Management in the US, Harald Harung, Oslo University College in Norway, and Yvonne Lagrosen, University West in Sweden on the brains of musicians demonstrates the potentially for highly developed brains that are open, curious, learning, playful and holistic in their thinking.
The study findings were reported in Consciousness and Cognition and Science Daily. The research compared the brains of professional and amateur musicians matched for age, gender and education on a number of brain tests: the Stroop color-word test which measures the ability to direct attention, brainwaves during a variety of paired reaction-time tasks, responses on the Gibbs Socio- moral Reflection questionnaire, and the subjects’ self-reported description of the frequencies of peak experiences.
The study, which evaluated the brains of musicians who were at the top of their profession vs. the brains of amateur musicians, defined success as combination of talent and practice or experience. They found that those who practiced the most had the most success.
As Dr. Fred Travis writes in his report, “The relation of practice to top performance is consistent with what is known with how the brain learns. The term neuroplasticity is used to describe the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life. Through repeated experience we create neural circuits that support smooth, automatic flow of behavior.”
Interestingly, moral reasoning skills were better developed in the more skilled musicians. Our brains are apparently improved by our working at something over the long term. When we acquire advanced skills in a subject like music, we have developed brain functionong that we can then apply to other areas of our lives with the expected superior results. What you do with your time and thinking becomes strengthened in the brain.
As Dr. Travis says, “If you are a very envious, angry, mean person and that’s the way you think about people that’s what’s going to be strengthened in your brain. But if you are very expanded and open and supportive of others, there will be different connections,” says Fred Travis.
This is very optimistic news for all of us. It suggests that work is good for our brains and supports higher performance and moral reasoning.
I suspect that we need to become very mindful about what we are doing with our brains. What is the point of using our brains poorly, and then doing affirmations? Better just to learn how to use our brains well.