I’ve been reading a book over the last several months called, “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus and working smarter all day long” by David Rock.
ABOUT THE BRAIN
From extensive research and study, Rock contends the brain creates and recreates the mind. He focuses on the part of the brain known as the pre frontal cortex, the part of the brain that where priorities are established. This part of the brain consumes an inordinate amount of energy to do its work. He compares the prefrontal cortex to a very small stage and the problem is constantly switching the actors around. When we start off checking email and then move over to making a list of the priorities of the day and try to throw in some focused thinking about a problem and top it all off with an attempted blog post we diminish our brain’s potential to function in any kind of optimal fashion. In short, multi-tasking is the worst possible thing for the human brain.
The leading science of today is teaching us that it is attention itself that changes the brain.
“At rest, the brain is noisy and chaotic, like an orchestra warming up, a cacophony of sound. When you pay close attention to something, it’s like bringing the orchestra together to play a piece of music. Many neuroscientists now think of attention as being a type of synchrony, of the brain getting in tune and working as a unit. Synchrony is a technical word, which means that different neurons fire in similar ways at the same times.
An orchestra playing is a good metaphor for attention, as in both cases you have individual units now doing things in synch with other units. When you pay close attention to something, different maps across the brain start working together, copying from one another, forming a pattern as a unit.” (p.224)
Neuroplasticity, the study of how the brain changes, is showing us the way we pay attention can change the very circuitry of the brain in a very short period of time. With patterned repetition of focus, profound change is possible.
The Apostle Paul was onto this. When he says things like, “Have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus,” I think he’s calling for a focused attention of the brain which leads to a transformation of the mind. The verses following literally tell the story through painting a picture of the life, death, resurrection, ascension and second coming of the Son of God. Even better, the original hearers would have known this as a song. Paul calls us to make this the central consuming focus of our attention.
Later to the Hebrews he says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. . .” (see ch. 11-12) To the Corinthian church he says, “For we who with unveiled faces all behold the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, are being transformed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to the next and this is from the Lord, the Spirit.” (see 2 cor 3)
I’m beginning to think the field of neuroplasticity essentially says what Scripture seems to say, “We become what we behold.” This has tremendous implications for worship. What if the essence of discipleship is training the brain to serve the mind of Christ.
There’s a lot more to say along these lines and I will pick it back up next Saturday. Until then, I’d love to see the connections you are making from these thoughts. Let’s discuss in the comments.