Shapeshifting. Time travel. Invulnerability. Precognition. Mind reading. Telekinesis.
As a teenager, I was fascinated by the superpowers that comic-book characters possessed. Haven’t you imagined how awesome your life would be if you could know the future, read minds, change your body, move objects with your intentions, and manifest whatever you wanted?
Such flights of fancy were a diversion from my daily reality. I felt miserable and powerless, stuck in a family and situation I could not change. My parents divided their time between the US, the UK, and South Africa. They were missionaries, carrying all the baggage of fundamentalist religion. Superpowers were not part of the equation.
The science I learned in school was similarly static. Biology taught that our brains grew till the age of around 17, at which point they’d attained their adult size and shape and didn’t change much for the rest of our lives.
Science also had concepts of what the mind was. As evolution created progressively complex neural networks, going from the simple ganglia of nematode worms to the large prefrontal cortex that crowns the human head, something called “mind” arose. Scientists regarded the mind as an “epiphenomenon” of the brain’s increasing intricacy. Human beings could compose poetry, record history, make music, and execute calculus due to the mental activity arising from the brain embedded in the bony skull.
Fast forward to today. Neuroscience now understands that brains aren’t static. Cellular activity constantly roils the brain, destroying molecules and creating new ones (Stoll & Müller, 1999).
Even the structure of each nerve cell changes constantly. Microtubules are the scaffolding that provides cells with their rigidity, similar to the ways girders give a building its shape. Between creation and destruction, brain microtubules have a shelf life of just 10 minutes (Kim & Coulombe, 2010). Your brain isn’t like jelly that’s been set in a mold. It’s more like soup on the boil.
Microtubules are the stiff skeletal structures that shape a cell.
In this seething mass of activity, the most active neural circuits grow. Just the way the muscles of a bodybuilder get bigger as he practices lifting heavier weights, our neural circuits grow when we exercise them.
The great news here is that we can choose which circuits to develop. Boost emotions like love, compassion, awe, and joy, and you’re sending signals through those parts of the brain. Make practices like time in nature, mindful eating, heartfelt conversation, EcoMeditation, EFT acupressure tapping, conscious breathing, and other forms of stress-reduction part of your day.
As you fire those neural circuits repeatedly, they grow. You then have the neural hardware for superpowers like love, peace, joy, and wisdom!
Kim, S., & Coulombe, P. A. (2010). Emerging role for the cytoskeleton as an organizer and regulator of translation. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 11(1), 75-81.
Stoll, G., & Müller, H. W. (1999). Nerve injury, axonal degeneration and neural regeneration: Basic insights. Brain Pathology, 9(2), 313-325.