We now know that in this complex dynamic universe, everything is always changing. So too our brain is in constant adaptation to stimulus and events in our lives. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the connections in the neurons of the brain to change. Our brain is constantly remodelling itself based on the choices we make, our thoughts, emotions and our reactions to the things that happen to us.
Sometimes that is a very good thing - like when we learn something new or learn not to automatically do the same behaviours again and again. Sometimes that is not good for example when the brain which is exposed to the same traumatic situation again and again also imprints that. Whether we like it or not our brain and the connections between brain and body are always changing. If you don't use it you lose it - AND - you can build it though thoughtful repetition of good habits and thoughts. Now that we know that our brain is not carved in stone like we used to think, we know we can be in the driver's seat for positive change.
Health can be described as flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Flexibility implies that we can roll with change while adaptability is about being good at changing in the service of our goals and health. Resilience is more about being able to rebound or recover when events and emotional reactions destabilize us. All three of these attributes require healthy physiology as well as the optimum balance between stability and change.
It sometimes feels like our own natural equilibrium between stability and change gets stuck towards one side or the other of that equation. Either we feel that our brain is out of control with too much going on or we feel stuck in the same old behavioural ruts. We might feel overstimulated and unable to sleep or tired all the time and feel foggy and slow.
There are many things which can help return us and our brains to a better balance. Healthy whole foods, for example is universally beneficial to our mind and body. Many people find benefit to their mood and brain function through only this lifestyle change. Similarly, exercise is known to increase neuroplasticity and facilitate flexibility and resilience.
Healthy aging has a lot to do with guiding this neuroplasticity. Healthy aging is more about habits, social connection and willingness to change and adapt to each new situation without feeling stuck.
Many people will at this point be saying "I know what I "should" be doing but I just can't seem to do it." That is where Neurofeedback can really help people do something new and follow what is truly best for them. With the addition of facilitated brain change - either through gently interrupting old patterns or helping the brain form new ones, people find they not only know what they need but can do it too.
For more information on neuroplasticity itself, check out Dr, Norman Doidge's books "The Brain that Changes Itself" and "The Brain's Way of Healing"