Insights: The Power of the Brain

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Most of us do not realize the power of the brain and how much influence it has on our lives.

At last month’s Newport Beach Film Festival, I watched a documentary called “My Tourette’s.” This film followed five people through a new form of treatment for Tourette’s, which has long been considered an incurable neurological disorder. These people with Tourette’s all attended Executive Success Programs (ESP), which is all about how the mind has power over the body and working with the idea of human potential.

It was truly remarkable to see all five people transform over a seven-day period to where their tourette’s were pretty much non-existent.

At the movie itself, I met a man who had had tourette’s for fifty years and now sees himself as cured because he went through this program.

After watching this documentary, I thought about how much our mind affects our body and our emotional state. I have always believed this, yet had not seen the research to back this up.

Now there are many studies that prove this concept to be correct.

We now understand how much our thoughts, and stress, affects our body. Thoughts and stress both come from how we perceive our experiences.

As a therapist, I believe that 80 percent of our energy should be spent in the now—what we are doing right in this moment. Ten percent needs to be spent planning and looking at the future. Then, the last ten percent learning from the past.

You may have ten tasks to complete one day. Instead of stressing about getting them all done, slow down, breathe, and complete each task with all your focus. This will use less emotional and physical energy and allow ease in getting your tasks done. This does not mean you will get all the tasks completed; however, you are likely to get through more of them with less stress.

We average 70,000 thoughts every day, so you want to be careful what you think. Whatever you think you are reinforcing in the brain and you will get more of.

Our conscious mind controls the brain only five percent of the day, whereas the subconscious is in control 95 percent of the time. You see how important it is that we pay attention to what we store in our subconscious and conscious. This means paying attention to what and whom we have in our lives.

What is important to remember is that our thoughts are real. They truly affect our biological and physiological body. In other words. our body is going to react to what the brain has been fed. Even the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelious from 161 to 180 believed “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

We need to make sure we nurture our brain. It just takes simple things: listening to music, meditation and prayer, exercise, intimacy, being around positive people, and learning something new, just to name a few.

Ruth Fishel, an acclaimed author of inspirational books, says “brain wave tests prove that when we use positive words, our ‘feel good’ hormones flow.  Positive self-talk releases endorphins and serotonin in our brain, which then flow throughout our body, making us feel good. These neurotransmitters stop flowing when we use negative words.”

What we allow ourselves to think, affects how we feel.

Teacher and author Elizabeth Thornton says, “Because of the power of neuroplasticity, you can, in fact, reframe your world and rewire your brain so that you are more objective. You have the power to see things as they are so that you can respond thoughtfully, deliberately, and effectively to everything you experience.”

If this subject matter is intriguing to you, here are some of my favorite books on the brain and its ability to affect our body and mind: “Brainstorm,” “The Whole-Brained Child” and “Mindsight” by Daniel Siegel; “The Brain that Changes Itself” and “The Brain’s Way of Healing” by Norman Doidge; “Incognito” by David Eagleman; “The Stress-Proof Brain” by Melanie Greenberg; “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van der Kolk; “Hardwiring Happiness” and “Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson.

And for information on the documentary about Tourette’s, visit

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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