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Open the Reticular

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

“It doesn't start with our minds; it starts with what we allow into our minds.” Anonymous

An X-ray chart of a human skull with a red circle showing the approximate location of the Reticular Activating Section of the brain.
"What you value gets through. What you devalue gets filtered out." Mark Andre Alexander

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a powerful brain filter that sits where the top of our spines meet the bottom of our brains. It's designed to protect us from this simple fact: our minds take in millions of pieces of information every second, but we can only process around 40 of those at a time.

“Without the Reticular Activating System filtering out unimportant things, our brains would literally explode.”

A young mother living in the flight path of an airport will easily sleep through the sound of an airplane landing; the RAS tells her there's nothing to worry about. But if her newborn child in the next room even whimpers, she wakes immediately because the RAS lets that important sound through.

The Reticular Activating System makes it seem like a new thing never existed before

Another kind of example that many of us will relate to is situations where we have become aware of a close relative who's pregnant or we're looking to buy a new red car. Suddenly we see pregnant women and red cars everywhere. We react as if these things have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, for it seems that way. In fact, the RAS filtered them out until our newfound interest brought them to the fore.

Every single time we focus on something of interest to us, we suddenly see those things everywhere. While it seems like they were never there before, our Reticular Activating System essentially instructed our brains to ignore that new input.

We can train the Reticular Activating System to help us be more creative

With this knowledge in mind, we can trick the Reticular, knowing that the system allows through the things that we concentrate on, we should focus more on them!

If you want to write more, then listening to podcasts or reading articles about the writing process of others will make you hyper-aware of the intricacies of putting words on paper.

If you want to learn to write better songs, then watching documentaries or interviews about how singers put an album together will bring those practices front and center in your mind.

Simply put, we need to consume what we create. The more we concentrate on the 'thing' that we want to make, the more it becomes a deeper part of our psyche.

Why not give it a try?

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