The Amazing Brain – Dr McQuaid Lakeport Podiatrist

Today I will continue the series of articles about the wonders of the human body. My intention in these articles is to explore the human experience from the perspective of amazement and awe. Human beings are truly miraculous creatures.  To be human is a gift, one in which we don’t want to take for granted.

Did you know that the human brain is capable of processing 400 billion bits of information per second? Despite the enormous amount of information that the brain can potentiate, we are only aware of 2000 bits of information per second. Humans typically are only aware of one percent of potential awareness.

Science has discovered that the brain is changeable. Research is discovering that the brain is like a muscle. If you lift weights your muscles will get stronger. Likewise with the brain, if we do the right exercises we can become smarter, faster, and healthier.

This discovery is called neuro-plasticity. It is the study of how the brain can change its structure and function. The key to improving your brain is through focus and concentration. There are several ways focused concentration can be practiced. Learning something new creates new connections and circuits in the brain.

For instance, learning a foreign language or playing a musical instrument leads to improved brain capabilities. Challenging new activities are like lifting weights making the brain stronger and stronger.

This key element of paying attention can also be practiced through the process of engagement. A great example of engagement in my own life is my practice of meditation. The brain is the relay center for the nervous system. When you practice meditation, the nervous system relaxes, reducing blood pressure and heart rate and stress. Meditation teaches the brain and the body to calm down.

For my wife, engagement is found in her garden.  My wife tells me that in her garden, she is unaware of time. She will say that she becomes so engaged with her flowers that normal concepts of time no longer apply. Minutes become hours and hours become minutes in her garden. This type of engagement where time stands still changes the neurochemistry and even the neuroanatomy of your brain.

Do you have a hobby? Becoming engaged with a hobby is where to start lifting weights for your brain. If you start a new hobby, new connections are made. If it is a hobby you already are doing, become engaged in it. Either way you’re exercising your brain. You don’t have to learn French; you can do what you already love to do, just do it with engagement.

Recently I went to the Grand Canyon. When I saw it for the first time, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and tears poured out of my eyes. I didn’t need to do anything except look at it. Because it was new and of amazing beauty my brain will never be the same.

My advice to you is to put down the smart phone, turn off the computer and watch the sun rise on Clearlake. It is always new, and always beautiful. Your brain will thank you and the weights are easy to lift.

When it comes to paying attention to the present moment my favorite quote is from T.S. Eliot. He wrote, “A condition of complete simplicity, costing not less, than everything.”

Matthew McQuaid, DPM is a board certified foot surgeon practicing in Lakeport. He has a particular interest in Mind/Body medicine and its impact on healing. He is an award winning author and teacher. Please share this article with a friend. For more information please call 707-263-3727 and visit

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