Retraining Brains

Now that I am back in the role of minister I am finding that I have a much different approach to ministry than I had ever imagined. While I have much more insight and understanding regarding the dynamics of ministry (thanks to having an integral context) and how to take a ministry to the next level, my way of being with people and how I show up in the ministerial role is less ministerial and more as a corporate trainer or martial arts instructor.

I have also noticed that I am very aware that not everyone comes to church every Sunday. Obviously, this is just the way it is. But in the context of discovering that my ministerial style is now one of a trainer or instructor, and not as the typical pulpit minister, I find that it is much more difficult to develop a concept or build upon previous topics when some people miss services. I even mentioned this fact early on during my Center Updates, explaining that it is difficult to build a conceptual foundation regarding a principle or spiritual practice when some people have missed what I shared the previous Sunday.

Consequently, I now provide a bit of a review, so folks who missed an Update or a particular Sunday talk can be brought back up to speed. This has worked very well. People have reported that they appreciate hearing new concepts and principles multiple times. They like having the review as it helps them track new ideas more completely.

As I think more deeply into the challenge of attendance fluctuations, I can now see how difficult it is to evolve a ministry–to take it to the next level, when you only have 20 minutes or so a week to impact peoples consciousness. By impacting people’s consciousness, what I really mean is helping them create new brain maps. The key to getting to the next level, for either the individual or the organization is creating new brain maps or neural pathways congruent with Principle. This video illustrates how important it is to retrain our brains in order to evolve, loose weight, or learn a new language.

I am planning to show this video ( during my next Sunday talk and say this is what it is going to take for us to embody the art and practice of living with nothing and no one against us (our theme for the entire year). We are going to retrain our brains, create new brain maps and neural pathways consistent with the Principle that there is just God going on. Our current brain maps are hard wired for a dualistic context for meaning making. In other words, our current default self operating-system is portraying reality upside-down and backwards.

For example: It seems as if the source of our discomfort and well-being is “out there” in the realm of what happening. This is why we are compelled to have things be a certain way. But, let’s say that you hear me say, there is really no such thing as “out there.” The source of your well-being or discomfort is not external to you. You are a localized point of Source. Yet, to have access to the resourcefulness of this context (I am Source), I will need to retrain my brain to out picture a reality consistent with this Principle. I will need to learn how to ride the backwards bicycle (metaphorically speaking) because my brain can’t flip what is real to me until it acquires the map or the neural pathways to construct that reality. (If this is difficult to get you head around, read Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Dr. Joe Dispenza.) This is why spiritual practice and shadow work are so integral to emotional and spiritual development. We have to retrain how our brain constructs our reality. It take at least 21 days of continuous practice for the brain to commit to a new sequence of neural pathways.

So now each Sunday, there is a 5 – 10 minute organizational training segment that I call Center Update with Dr. Gary followed by a Sunday lesson that is linked to previous lessons. Each lesson is likely to contain a review of a previous talk. And, people are encouraged to listen to the Updates and lessons they missed online. The worship service has become a blend of celebration, fellowship, leadership training, prayer, spiritual practice and emotional & spiritual development.

According to the survey I mentioned in the last blog that was conducted as a part of the search process, only 25% of the congregation indicated participation in classes and workshops. That percentage is now closer to 50%. I believe that we are making progress with helping people understand that the spiritual journey is not a passive assimilation of ideas and doctrine, but an intentional and systematic process of remapping how our brain constructs its representation of reality.

Blessings, Gary


One thought on “Retraining Brains”

  1. Thanks for this. It is fascinating and holds so many possibilities for making deep changes in our lives. Last year I did a series at our center on this topic using Newberg and Waldman’s book – How God Changes Your Brain – along with Rick Hanson’s great work. You are right – without consistent attendance at the services – the teachings can’t stick. It was also interesting to note how some people were wary of this kind of material – “not Unity” – “not spiritual.” Those old neural pathways run deep. Yet on pg. 118 of How God Changes Your Brain, the authors cite Unity School of Christianity as an example of a philosophy that can actually change our brains and shape our lives for the better. So exciting! Perhaps I wasn’t able to share this material in the way I had hoped, but studying it myself – it has definitely changed me. It is such a great fit with the Art & Practice. Thanks!

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