If your brain was a garden, would you take the time to pull out the weeds? Because scientists are now finding that’s exactly what your brain is. Knowing this can transform your potential right now.
Neuroscientist, Andrew Koob, studied why 90% of your brain cells aren’t neurons, but strange cells called ‘glial cells’. Andrew says “Originally, scientists didn’t think they did anything.”
“In the mid-19th century, glia were just being discovered, and researchers figured the glial cells simply held the neurons together (glia is Greek for glue). They were so focused on neurons that they concluded the new cell was worthless.”
Scientists figured that neurons were the basis of our thought, and because they only made up 10% of our brain cells, we were only “thinking with 10% of our brains.”
But Andrew wondered why it was that the most intelligent and creative animals had the most glial cells. He asked himself “Without input from our senses through neurons, how is it that we have such vivid thoughts? How is it that when we are deep in thought we seemingly shut off everything in the environment around us?”
He ended up writing an entire book on glial cells, called “The Root of Thought”, on how these cells were the triggers to our imagination, dreams, wisdom and self-healing.
This month, Judith Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane wrote an article on these strange cells, saying “Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you grow synaptic connections between neurons.”
“‘Glial cells’ are the gardeners of your brain – they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, pulling up weeds, killing pests, raking up dead leaves.”
“Researchers are just starting to unravel this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells detect that mark, they bond to the protein and destroy—or prune—the synapse.”
That means while your neurons fill your brain with thoughts and memories, your glial cells clear your brain, making space for potential. How?
“Your brain cleans itself out when you sleep—your brain cells shrinking by up to 60% to create space for your glial gardeners to come in take away the waste and prune the synapses.”
Have you ever woken up thinking sharper than when you went to bed? Have you ever ‘slept on it’ and woken with the answer? This is your glial cells at work. It’s your glial cells that make you dream.
10% of your brain works when you’re awake, and 90% is working when you’re not. Meditation, day-dreaming, automatic tasks like driving or taking a shower and even short power-naps are the same as sleep. That’s when your brain is clearing the way for new potential and possibility. That’s why we have so many ‘aha’ moments during these times. Make more moments, get more ‘aha’s’.
What thoughts grow? Whatever you’re focused at. What thoughts get cleared? What you’re not: “If you spend too much time reading theories about the end of Game of Thrones and very little on your job, guess which synapses are going to get marked for recycling?”
All the greatest leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators swapped full minds with mindfulness. They focused at what NOT to think about, to give space for what to think about.
So – ready to harness the other 90% of your brain?
What thoughts are you going to mark as weeds, ready to be pruned? What potential are you going to achieve by opening up the space and sunshine to grow?
You can decide, right now.
Then sleep on it.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set her free.” ~ Michelangelo