These Ted Talks are as informational as they are inspirational and shed light on an aspect of wellness that sometimes gets forgotten. Everyone knows wellness has much to do with diet, exercise, ergonomics and stress reduction, but it also has to do with deeper parts of our minds that might be difficult to access directly. These Ted Talks will give you some insight into how to tap into the subconscious and make this important part of your being healthier and more at peace.
Let Go of Control and Listen
Eleanor Longden, a research psychologist with schizophrenia who shared her experience on TED, spoke of how she used a disciplined courageousness to face the demonic voices in her mind. She learned from her psychologists that she needed to ask these voices what they needed and stop fearfully running away from them because they were parts of herself that she was unable to reach consciously. These voices came from being deeply hurt and they needed to know that no one is out to get them and they were not alone. Coming from this place of feeling compassionate for what makes you afraid or uncomfortable is the same for panic disorder, anxiety, pain and many other mental and physical health challenges. It’s a special type of discipline to let go of control. McGonigal said in a TED Q&A about willpower, “When you try to control the things that aren’t really under your control, you get to feeling more out of control.” Being focused gives you the courage to drop the rope, end the fight or flight response, face the scary place with the same compassion you would give anyone you care about, even yourself.
McGonigal, K. (2014, January 8). The science of willpower: Kelly McGonigal on why it’s so dang hard to stick to a resolutions
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Communicate Nonverbally with the Subconscious
We are surrounded by subtle suggestions. We are constantly copying other people’s behaviors, intonations and body language subconsciously via mirror neurons, but we also influence our own subconscious. The way we practice body language, facial expressions, handwriting, vocal tones and self-talk creates a self-perpetuating loop between our conscious and unconscious selves. These modalities are avenues to express the language of the limbic system. If you talk to yourself with slumping shoulders and frowns, it’s going to make you feel like slumping and frowning. However, if you interrupt the loop by physically contradicting your internal state by initiating a conversation with yourself with a fake smile, your subconscious will slowly return the gesture with a polite smile of its own accord, almost accidentally. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist on TED, stated how having a power stance with your hands on your hips for two minutes can dramatically lower your cortisol levels. An external physical suggestion can create a different message in the body. Being able to challenge the loop and keep persistent awareness of how one is constantly interplaying with his or her state of mind can help make choices and build internal and external habits that impact your efforts long term.
Can nurture change the nature of the subconscious?
Alanna Shaikh, a global health and development specialist, shared on TED how she was preparing for her own future with Alzheimer’s. She described how she is trying to make a long term impact on her unconscious so her future self will be a better person than she is now without her conscious mind. She said that with Alzheimer’s the heart becomes naked without the mind. Nature and nurture both play a role in developing the naked subconscious mind but it is questionable whether someone can change their fundamental temperament. There is research however that shows how the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for empathy and emotion) and other parts of the brain in mice grew when the mice were placed in stimulating and social environments. Daniel Reisel, a neuroscientist, explained on TED that this research could also potentially impact our justice system by giving prisoners who are sociopaths the opportunity to be in an environment that may physically change how their brains are wired to prevent them from reoffending. It is not quite certain the extent nurture has on nature but it is known that it does have an effect. Overcoming one’s nature is something that needs to be done with compassion and diligence. It’s not about fighting who you are but strengthening something that you already are and becoming more authentic to that part of yourself.
Reisel, D. (2013, February). Daniel Reisel: The neuroscience of restorative justice
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