It has long been known that whatever we focus on, repeat day after day and habitually do creates more of the same thoughts, beliefs and patterns in the brain. The brain wraps itself around whatever our strongest focus is. Norman Doidge in How the Brain Heals Itself, writes about competitive plasticity and the brains ability to rewire itself.
The good news in this is that we can change our brain by exposing it to what we need or want it to believe or perceive in the process healing. It also confirms that doing activities like showing up to meditate and doing the practice, even when it seems hopeless and unfruitful, still helps rewire the brain and deepen and strengthen the networks in the brain that will allow better and more focused meditation in the future. So practice does pay off.
I work with children who habitually wrap their brain around video games such as “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto.” That is the realty that is being reinforced and absorbed by their brains. These types of games normalize the violence and abuse that some of these children have lived through and help program the children to display behaviours that support violence.
I have also witnessed children who have come from abusive homes and foster homes who have been moved to nurturing and safe foster homes whom have changed so dramatically that I can hardly believe it. Their brains rewire to the new environment and as a result the child looks cared for, act like they matter, develop empathy, and start to like themselves.
I also feel that in coming to Art Therapy and being exposed to the arts, they get another healthy piece of reality in learning that they are creative and they can create. I do therapy with my clients, but if I only did art, that alone would expand and heal the children whom I work with brain networks. It opens out a whole new world to explore for some of my clients who have never picked up a paint brush, touched clay or made a toy from scratch.
Brain research is fascinating and confirms for me that I picked the right profession.