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Using the Brain

By Peter Shepherd

I received this email the other day:

While web surfing, I saw one of your PDFs and it said that we only use about 4 to 10 percent of our mental abilities. By "mental abilities" I'm assuming you're referring to our brains. For a long time I thought this was true also, but then later learned it was junk science. Have you ever heard a doctor say, "Yes, he was shot in the head with a .44 Magnum but he'll be okay because luckily the bullet only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn't use"?

These are valid criticisms of a cliché that's glibly made about 'brain power'. Certainly all the brain cells are normally in use, at varying degrees of arousal. However, I was referring to mental abilities, not just to brain cells. In our culture with a typical upbringing and psychological development, we only normally use a small proportion of our potential mental abilities - those such as memory, speed-reading, intuition, psychic, creativity, rationality, awareness, and so on.

These are skills that can be learned rather than neurons magically coming to life. And in terms of the whole person, the mind is more than the brain and the spirit is more than the mind. However, there are indeed nervous system changes that accompany development of mental skills, such as increased development of the (normally under-used) corpus callosum (L/R communication), corresponding neural interconnections, changes in balance of brain-wavelength arousal, changes in ability to arouse particular brain centers consciously, changes in stress level (sympathetic vs parasympathetic arousal), and in neurotransmitter chemistry. Nutrition affects these factors too. There is a great deal of room for positive development!

Peter Shepherd is the founder and producer of the Trans4mind personal development website, producer of the Mind Development website, and author of 'Daring to be Yourself.' He is also developer and supervisor of The Insight Project. Read Peter's biography page and send a message.

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