Renewing My Brain Cells

I have spent much of my lifetime drowning in an ocean of toxic core beliefs.

Nowadays, I’m investing a lot of effort into swimming toward the beach.  I am working to change my core beliefs.  This has been difficult, because my most toxic beliefs are so deeply embedded in my psyche, they are sub-conscious and seemingly immovable.

A little brain science: Each time a connection between neurons fires, that connection gets thicker.

Although thoughts/beliefs are complex and involve many factors, one of the biggest factors is repetition.  The strength of a belief is partly determined by how often that belief/thought is repeated in the mind.

Physiologically speaking, my toxic beliefs are among the first neural connections ever made in my brain, and those connections have been firing (and therefore strengthening) several times a day for decades.  They are the physically thickest connections in my brain.  My new, healthy beliefs (which come from my new, healthy theology) are composed of neural connections that are unthinkably thin and fragile.

Through my union with the incarnate Christ, I have been given a share in the Holy Spirit’s multi-layered task of transforming me by renewing my mind.

At the cellular level, this means wearing down and eventually breaking the thick neural connections (the toxic core beliefs), and thickening and strengthening the new connections (the healthy core beliefs).

A large part of this task is, again, repetition. The Christian spiritual formation tradition is full of varied ways to work gospel repetition into your life.  Prayer, Meditation, Study, Fellowship, Confession, Thanksgiving, Preaching, Fasting, Acts of Mercy, Submission, Celebration—At the cellular level, these are all simple ways for your mind and body to repeatedly think and act the truth of the gospel.

When viewed this way, I think spiritual disciplines actually start to make sense.

~ John Stonecypher

3 comments so far

  1. tjbrassell on

    This is the most excellent and convincing biological case I have ever heard regarding our distinct participation in the repetitious acts of the ancient spiritual practices as shared with us by Jesus! Ha-Ha! I love it! Thanks for this wonderful and enlightening observation and conversation! Keep it coming!

  2. John Geerlings on

    Thanks John

    This a great post about the battle between the spirit and the flesh. It is about sin in our bodies, which is not us anymore, the renewal of our minds and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. (Romans 6:12&13, 7:14&20, and 12:1&2)

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