Our Brains Were Designed to Learn – Intellectual Wellness

At The Banyans, one of the models we are proud to use is the Integrated Wellness Approach of the National Wellness Institute co-founder Dr. Bill Hettler. As outlined in our previous blog post, the dimensions of wellness according to this model are physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, financial, protectoral, and nutritional wellness. We have so far discussed the three of these dimensions, physical wellness, emotional wellness, and environmental wellness. The focus of this blog post is intellectual wellness.

The human brain is one of the most incredible structures in the known universe. It is undeniably central to our functioning as human beings, and yet we know surprisingly little about how it works! Containing approximately 86 billion neurons, and over 1,000 connections per neuron, the brain is so vastly complex that research into how the brain functions is considered by many to be delving into the unknown.

Scientists do know one principle that guides the brain, however: use it or lose it. Simply put, the more we use our brains, the stronger it gets. Parts of our brain that go underutilized, on the other hand, will degenerate over time. This principle is called neuroplasticity; it is the inherent ability that our brain possesses to change in response to experience. Research into neuroplasticity is relatively new, however the results have been compelling. Dr. Michael Merzenich , professor emeritus at the University of California, has learned the following through his decades of research on the plasticity of the brain:

“The brain changes physically, functionally, and chemically, as you acquire an ability or as you improve an ability. You know this instinctively. Something must be changing as your brain advances, as it progresses.

Actually what it is doing is changing the local wiring, changing the details of how it’s connected. It’s also changing itself in other ways, physically, functionally, and those changes account for that improvement, or account for the acquisition of an ability.

You don’t realize it but as you acquire an ability – let’s say, the ability to read – you actually create a system in the brain that does not exist, or that’s not in place, in the non-reader. It [the ability] actually evolves in the brain.”

The neuroplasticity of the brain suggests that our brains have been designed to learn. It is not surprising, then, that we need to learn and engage our minds as a part of our wellness. This is the focus of the domain of intellectual wellness, which focuses on “the process of learning, and must include the ability to apply what we’ve learned” according to The National Wellness Institute (http://www.nationalwellness.org/). This process of learning has been broken down into a five dimensional model, which includes:

  • Readiness – an individual’s state of readiness to learn
  • Stimulus – a piece of information that we engage with in our minds; it may be controversial, alarming, or simply interesting
  • Discovery – Engaging with new information leads to new discoveries and the absorption of new information
  • Response – If we engage with the information, an individual learning response will occur within our minds
  • Application – If new learning is not applied and utilized, it will likely be forgotten quickly

The Banyans provides an ideal environment to foster your intellectual wellness. With the guidance and support of an expert team of therapists, health practitioners and wellness coaches, every guest will have opportunities to learn and discover new things about themselves crucial to their recovery journey. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to participate in energising outdoor activities where they can cultivate new skills, designed in conjunction with their interests. This can include golf, such as rock climbing, surfing, and kayaking.

 

Designed for integrated restoration, and with an expert team of addiction medicine specialists, therapists, health practitioners and wellness coaches, The Banyans Health and Wellness Residence is a place where body and soul prosper in an environment of rest, wellness, and inspired living.

Call us now on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or email welcome@thebanyans.com.au for a confidential discussion about how you or someone you care about can benefit from The Banyans.