Meat and Two Veg... and Neuroplasticity

Did you live in a family where meat and two veg was a recurring theme?

I certainly did, although my own interpretations of food were already 

creeping stealthily towards five vegetables and wine-based gravy.

However, as we islanders travelled, absorbed the imaginative practices

of foreigners, seduction by cuisine was inevitable; we embraced a new habit.

Gastronomy exploded and became part of the theatre of our daily life. In fact

it turned out to be a pretty good thing: we’re more adventurous, gastronomes

and food writers have been coining it in, as is television. Hopefully we’ve become

more tuned in to what we consume, to the quality and value of food, and the

ethical complexities of its production.


Of course, habit can be a very necessary thing, as long as intelligent parameters

are in place, in other words, awareness. Indeed everyday life would be confusing

and rather hazardous without intelligent management. Parents have to guide,

students need to study and children must clean their teeth: two minutes twice a day.

And let’s not forget the most fruitful and liberating of habits - being still and Listening.


HOWEVER, habit, when determinedly resistant to change, can so easily become our

very worst enemy, holding us to ransom. How, then, to control this? The simple answer

is that we can’t, unless we work on it, diligently.


In case this seems like speculation, let’s look at the facts provided by science.

‘Neuroplasticity’ sounds new but it really isn’t if you are already living super

consciously. What is new is the scientific evidence of the brain’s extraordinary

ability to re-organise itself, to heal and, in the process, to affect the physical body

too. This is not so very difficult to grasp when we accept that every cell in our

physical system has its own consciousness - even our skin is sensitised enough

to be part of the neurological exchange. More impressive still is how we respond

to emotions, since strong emotions have the power to embed themselves into our

subconscious and fix themselves there, subsequently to manifest as insecurity,

nagging anxiety or even self loathing.


At the moment there is alarming evidence that what needs to be happening

in the limbic system, that part of the brain where necessary human contact and

emotional exchange have to be registered, can be hindered by addictive habit,

significantly noticeable among the young and their obsession with mobile

phones. It’s really discomforting to learn that systems are now having to be set

up to counteract this tendency and reverse it’s de-humanising possibilities, given

that prolonged dis-engagement from human interaction will eventually have

negative effects on even basic emotional connections.


 But it isn’t only the young. We must all ask ourselves the question: are we

realising  our potential or are we limiting our possibilities by entrenched

thinking? If the latter is true, how do we re-work our awareness to correct

the balance? As any psychologist will tell us, this is not achievable unless

a persistent habit is replaced by something healthier. This takes work, but

the mental freedom  and empowerment resulting from debilitating, embedded

habit have to be worth it.


 There is a caveat: we need to decide what we can achieve, not what is always

going to be beyond our reach; that secures defeat before we even begin.

On the other hand, we CAN all change our thinking if we really want to - it just

takes recognition, desire and determination. Didn’t someone somewhere say

that God’s greatest joy is a human being becoming what he/she was always

meant to be?



EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RESULT                                           Albert Einstein


 Evasion is so human, but it is self-sabotage.[1]  We’ve all heard it: “This is who I am,

take it or leave it”.  “ I’ve tried but it’s hopeless” or “too difficult”, or “What’s  the point?

“God loves me just as I am.” Indisputable, but the question is “Do We? And if we

still have years to live, is this half-hearted consciousness going to be enough?


Whichever way we look at it, entrenched habit is resistant to movement, without

radical interference. But if we want mastery over our thinking (and wellbeing)

undesirable habits have to be replaced, particularly where deep emotional shock,

injury, and all those other assaults on our sensibilities have left heavy wounds.

Not easy, it takes determination and discipline, but it will be rewarding tenfold,

and in the process the brain will have acquired a more athletic habit of

discrimination. Since the physical follows the  mental impulse, the body too will

achieve better health in this interrelationship. Science now can visibly verify this

process, so that redundant neurons can actually be observed shrivelling and

dying along with their defunct neurological pathways, thus making way for brand

new creative connections. What a gift!




 People with open, elastic minds are not vacuous, they’re just energised by a

‘bring it on!’ spirit. But every one of us can afford to be adventurous if we value

ourselves enough. Some enrichment is inevitable, of course it is. Every time we do

something new, go somewhere for the first time, or learn a new skill, we are creating

brand new neurological connections, enlivening and broadening mental capacity.

And the physical body will respond because it can’t help itself. What is alarming is

that persistent clinging to acquired, negative convictions can ultimately also have

deleterious responses in the physical body, so that we may actively, if not consciously,

be contributing to our own dis-ease. I say this through personal experience, many

years of counselling and healing practice.   And NO, I haven’t mastered all of it -

yet! Perhaps it’s a good idea to remember that we are co-creators with God, so

help is always on hand.  And who, in their right mind, relishes the prospect of that

dying wish - ‘if only......’?

Patricia Smith












Hamblin Office