This photo of Julee on an obviously old Roman era bridge was taken in October 2010 as we walked the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago.
To “increase our Virtues bandwidth,” we must spend some time contemplating and practicing the virtues. The following is a piece I found in my files from way back, unfortunately not credited to the person who wrote it, may he/she forgive me!
“Brain studies have shown that we may be hardwired to focus on problems at the expense of a positive vision. The human brain wraps around fear and problems like Velcro. We dwell on bad experiences long after the fact, and spend vast amounts of energy anticipating what might go wrong in the future.”
“Conversely, positivity and gratitude and simple happiness slide away like cheese on hot Teflon. Studies like the ones done by the neuroscientist Rick Hanson show that we must consciously hold on to a positive thought or feeling for a minimum of fifteen seconds before it leaves any imprint in the neurons. The whole dynamic, in fact, is called the Velcro/ Teflon theory of the mind. We are more attracted to the problem than to the solution, you might say.”
“I encourage you not to simply take me at my word. Watch your own brain and emotions. You will quickly see there is a toxic attraction to the “negative,” whether it’s a situation at work, a bit of incriminating gossip you overheard, or a sad development in the life of a friend. True freedom from this tendency is exceedingly rare, since we are ruled by automatic responses most of the time.”
“The only way, then, to increase authentic spirituality is to deliberately practice actually enjoying a positive response and a grateful heart. And the benefits are very real. By following through on conscious choices, we can rewire our responses toward love, trust, and patience. Neuroscience calls this “neuroplasticity.” This is how we increase our bandwidth of freedom, and it is surely the heartbeat of any authentic spirituality.”
The Velcro/Teflon theory makes so much sense, especially as it’s easy to relate to our “fight or flight” instincts.
The way our brains are wired – and the ways in which we can attempt to “re-wire” them – are endlessly fascinating.