Flynn e Buddha e

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Transcript of Flynn e Buddha e

BUDDHA VERSUS PAUL: NEUROPLASTICITY AND THE RENEWING OF THE MIND By: Elodia Flynn, MSW Presented at: NACSW Convention 2011 October, 2011 Pittsburgh, PA Buddha versus Paul:Neuroplasticity and the Renewing of the Mind Elodia Flynn, L.C.S.W Elizabeth G. Lamberson Presented at NASCW Convention 2011 October 2011 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Abstract Mindfulness and neuroplasticity is the hottest discovery in neuroscience, yet Buddha doesn't have the corner on transformation of the mind. By understanding Romans 12:2, the development of a belief system and Schwartz's Four-Step method, social workers learn a practical tool for transformation. Buddha versus Paul:Neuroplasticity and the Renewing of the Mind Mindful attention and neuroplasticity of the brain are the hottest discoveries in neuroscience; yet, many of the pioneering researchers of mindful attention and neuroplasticity are Buddhist followers. Nonetheless Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned the words of Romans 12:2 close to 2000 years ago, saying be transformed by the renewing of your mind (New American Standard Bible).This transformation of the mind comes not through the Buddhist religion, but through focused attention on taking every thought captive, and challenging lie-based beliefs until neural connections to the truth of Gods Word, the Gospel and the Lord Himself brings about true transformation of the mind. Sadly, Christians, like the rest of society, have reserved these sacred truths for Sunday mornings and seem to consider them irrelevant for daily living.Neuroscience, however, not only validates these biblical teachings but shows that these commands impact each persons daily life. The Development of a Belief System and Its Impact on the Physiology of the Brain One of the problems with beliefs is that often a client is unaware of what he or she really believes.An individual will proclaim an official story of what he believes from the logical, left-brained, rational mind, while in reality what he believes about who he is and Who God is to him in the felt sense of his heart is quite different from his stated beliefs.In order to reconcile the discrepancy presented by the I believe it in my head but not in my heart, statement so often heard in practice, it is necessary to understand what a belief system is, how it develops and how it affects the way an individual lives. To believe something is not mere agreement with what someone has said. It is a deep sense of conviction that guides the individuals actions, feelings and perceptions (Flynn, 2010, pp. 24-2). The story of a persons life is directly impacted by relationships with parents and others. These relationships are the mirrors that convey to the individual a sense of value or lack thereof as a person.As Bowlby (1969), Ainsworth (1978) and Mains (1996) work on attachment has shown, the childs relationship to his parents or caretaker, is probably the most influential force of how he makes senses of his world and therefore of himself. Siegel (2011) states, The mind we first see in our development is the internal state of our caregiver.We coo and she smiles, we laugh and his face lights up.So we first know ourselves as reflected in the other....[O]ur resonance with others may actually precede our awareness of ourselves (p. 62).He (2008) goes on to say thatResearchers have found that the most powerful predictor of a childs development, basically how they come to thrive, was the nature of the parents story. In particular, not what the parent said, but how does this parent makes sense of his or her life? (Siegel, 2008)From earliest babyhood, the primary caretakers interaction with the infant forms the way he/she manages relationships.Bowlby (1969), Ainsworth (1978) and Main (1996), in observing parent/child interactions, describe four different attachment styles: secure, resistant-ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized-disoriented (Main, 1996, p. 238). Each of these attachment patterns is the babys response to exchanges with the mother or another close primary caregiver who becomes the babys attachment figure.From these experiences, the baby builds an internal working model of how relationships function that often persists throughout the lifespan (Bowlby, Attachment and loss, 1969). In secure attachments, the primary caregiver is tender, provides carefully paced face-to-face interactions with the baby and is sensitive to the infants signals for care, assistance and companionship (Main, 1996, p. 238).The attachment figure becomes a childs secure base from which he/she can explore the world.This is the experience of being the sparkle in someones eye (Friesen, Wilder, Bierling, Koepcke, & Poole, 2000, p. 11) that is essential for a childs well-being. As adults, these babies, having seen themselves in the eyes of their caretaker (Siegel, 2011, p. 180), know who they are and are able to become securely attached to their spouses as well as their own children (Main, 1996, p. 238). When an infants mother is inconsistent in her interaction with the baby, sometimes responding with touch, soothing words and care, and at other times not, the babys response is one of resistance or ambivalence.These infants seem preoccupied with their mothers while expressing either anger or passivity during stress and are not comforted by the mothers presence.When resistant-ambivalent children grow up, their attachment style becomes preoccupied (Main, 1996, pp. 237-238). The preoccupied adult lives from the belief that I need others, but I cant depend on them (Siegel, 2011, p. 180).This belief system is the basis for relationships that become emotionally entangled (Siegel, 2011, p. 180). Attachment figures who fail to respond to their babies cries of distress, have an aversion to physical contact, are often angry and show little face-to-face interaction, develop infants with avoidant attachment (Ainsworth, 1979).In stressful situations, the infant either ignores or avoids the mother since he has learned that she offers no response to his cries for help.In adulthood, these babies will relate to significant others in their lives by dismissing them (Main, 1996).The life theme of a dismissing adult is I am alone and on my own (Siegel, 2011, p. 177). The final attachment style, disorganized-disoriented, results from cases of abuse, extreme neglect and when to the infant the caregiver is frightening.In the first three styles of attachment, the infant finds a way to cope with the responses he receives from his attachment figure.In this style, because God wired the infant to seek security in his attachment figure during times of distress and because the attachment figure is the source of distress, the infant is in what Main (1996) calls a behavioral paradox (p. 236).In this situation, the attachment mechanism in the baby draws the baby toward the mother, yet fear drives him away.This is a fear without resolution. The resulting attachment pattern is called disorganized-disoriented.Main (1996) reports that these infants are most at risk for developing an emotional disorder (p. 236).This childs view of self becomes fragmented and in adulthood lives from a life story that says, At times I fall apart, so I cant depend on myself (Siegel, 2011, p. 186). While these are the internal working models of how the child makes sense of his world they are not his destiny.Neuroscientists now know that neuroplasticity occurs through the entire life cycle (Buonomano & Merzenich, 1998, p. 150; Merzenich, Tallal, Peterson, Miller, & J enkins, 1999). This discovery is the promise of hope for both the practitioner and the client.A compassionate therapeutic approach that provides a secure attachment to the individual and also supplies skills that promote neural transformation promises to be a source of positive change that will move the client toward greater well-being.Attachment and neurobiology do not work independently, but in concert with each other.Research has shown that experiences in infants and children do have an impact in the architecture of the brain and the developing persons well-being (Trevarthen, 2001).Schores (2001)amazing work, integrating Bowlby, Ainsworth and Mains attachment theories with neuroscience, provides an internal picture of how the brain changes through attachment formations, especially in the prefrontal cortex.He (1994) says, There is now no doubt that... the dendritic growth and synaptogenesis of the postnatally developing brain is experience-sensitive (Greenough, 1987) and experience-dependent (Aoki & Siekevitz, 1988) (p. 12). Schore (2000) goes on to suggest that the neurobiological equivalent of what Bowlbly referred to as the control system is now identified as a part of the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex.The orbitofrontal cortex has been shown to manage the control of behavior, especially emotional behavior (p. 29). Siegel (2011; Kornfield & Siegel, 2010) has identified nine functions that the prefrontal cortex provides as well as their impact on an individuals life.These are as follows: Body regulation (2011, p. 26):The prefrontal cortex regulates sympathetic and parasympathetic branches the autonomic nervous system.When an individual feels safe, both branches of the autonomic nervous system pulsate together causing the system to be balanced and relaxed.When the individual feels unsafe, one branch or the other can become either over- or under-activated causing anxiety, hypervigilance, depression and an overwhelming sense of being unbalanced (Siegel, 2011, 2008, 2001). Attuned communication (2011, p. 27):Attunement is the ability to synchronize internal states with another, allowing the individual to resonate with the inner world of another.This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of feeling felt that emerges in close relationships (2011, p. 27). Empathy (2011, p. 27):Empathy allows an individual to Rejoice with those who rejoice, and