Soft Wired from Dr. Michael Merzenich is an excellent guide to plasticity in the brain – it describes how the brain benefits from new challenges.
This model, I believe, is one of the keys to breaking cycles of pain. How can you creatively stimulate your control and communicating systems (mostly your nervous and immune systems) to work differently? Pain usually involves fixed stereotyped responses. These responses worked in the initial acute phases of healing (protecting the damaged tissues) but in chronic pain become entrenched habits. The brain needs new stimulation to feel safe to turn down the volume of the protective responses. There is no one way to do this that works for everyone. It is about your brain and its habits. The message from Dr. Michael Merzenich is that the more variety and creativity the better. Explore new ways of how you think about your body, how you feel your body, how you imagine your body, how you move your body.
‘One of the lessons from this research is that stereotyping is the enemy and that you really want to exercise the brain with a variety of movements, with the variety of action and with a variety of challenge that is presented to the brain.’
‘The feelings, the thoughts about movements are inseparable from the movement itself.’