by Dr. Caroline Leaf
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If our minds are messy, we mess up our lifestyles, and when our lifestyles are messed up, our mental and physical health suffer. The 5 Steps are a way to harness our thinking power—any task that requires thinking can use a neurocycle, which means everything can use a neurocycle because we are always thinking! So, are you ready to begin cleaning up your mental mess?
The brain is not hard-wired or stuck; it’s soft-wired, which essentially means it responds to what we think, feel, and choose—and what we eat, what we put into and onto our body, and how we move our body.
When our thinking is toxic, it can mess up the stress response, which then starts working against us instead of for us. This, in turn, can make us more vulnerable to disease, which is why many researchers now believe that toxic stress is responsible for up to approximately 90 percent of illness, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Only 5–10 percent of disease is said to come from genetic factors alone.
First, you prep that amazing brain of yours, and this is where mindfulness, meditation, breathwork, tapping, and so on are essential. You can do some breathwork (my favorite, because of its scientific base and effectiveness, is the Wim Hof method)3 or something similar. This is a simple, mind-driven action that prepares your mind and optimizes your brain and body, allowing you to calm down enough to react in the most favorable way. Next, you go beyond the mindfulness your preparation has created into directed neuroplasticity through the 5 Steps:
“The goal of the Gather step is straightforward: to understand what you’re hearing, reading, and experiencing, and to get the information into the brain properly. As you go through this step, it’s important to remember we are thinking beings; we think all day long.”
The aim of this focused thinking step is to learn how to think deeply and intentionally, which will develop your phenomenal capacity to build effective, long-term memory into your dendrites. The Golden Rule of the 5 Steps is to think to understand the information you’re trying to remember, which involves three steps: asking, answering, and discussing.
“This step involves writing down the information you selected in the analytical thinking step above. I recommend you use the “brain-friendly” way of writing I have created, called the Metacog (see appendix B). It’s really important to write concepts down as you do the ask/answer/discuss process, because this reinforces healthy dendrite growth and really forces you to think about your thinking. Remember, the brain operates like a quantum computer.”
“helps build useful long-term memory into the dendrites. It’s a very simple yet extremely powerful process. All you have to do is deliberately and intentionally go through what you’ve written, either in your journal or on your Metacog, to see if it makes sense, and if it has all the necessary information on it. It goes without saying that you can’t learn from something that doesn’t make sense to you, and the Recheck step helps with this. It involves a cross-evaluation of the content of your written work.”
“In this step, you play “teacher” and sequentially reteach all the information that’s on your Metacog. Teach it to your dog, your cat, or whoever will listen to you! You can even reteach yourself in the mirror. Explain what you’re learning out loud. Using all of your senses will make your brain work harder and build the memory more effectively. Test yourself in some way; perhaps create some questions you think may be asked by your boss or teacher. Ask yourself questions that will help you apply the information to your life in a real and tangible way.”
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32, Internet Marketer from Bangladesh
I completed reading this awesome book about “Cleaning up your Mental Mess” last night by Dr. Caroline Leaf. This book is really good and very informative to train your brain and mind. I tried to give some summary here.
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