The Importance of a Brain Roadmap

Everyone even vaguely interested in anything from self-improvement, procrastination, and healthy living has come across some metaphor mentioning how the mind and body are like cars that run on gas and need to be refueled from time to time. Whether that be fuel or sleep, or healthy dieting, or smart organizational strategies to prevent you from falling into a cycle of avoiding responsibilities until they pile up to extraordinary quantities, you know the drill. But fuel isn’t the only thing a car needs to run properly.

It needs a good driver. It needs someone that knows the rules of the road, that knows the machine and how to operate it, and most importantly, someone that knows where they are going. It’s fine and dandy to be going 60 miles per hour down the highway, until you realized you missed your exit two hours ago. Your brain, body, life, goals, need a compass.

Which is where good introspective time can benefit. Not just as a student, in providing your brain with some rest and clarity, but also as a human, trying to make it in a human world.

Personally? I meditate.  Not necessarily in the old Buddhist monk or American hippie way, but in a more convenient one. I’ll meditate while walking. Actively think while I step, let the rhythms of everyday life hit me in a way that is conducive to good thinking. I’ll stand in the shower sometimes, and just look at the wall, and think for five, or ten minutes. More importantly, I journal. One page, every day. I’ve kept it up, pretty regularly, for almost 3 months now, and I see the progress I am making towards my goals. I’ve finished two full notebooks of dense writing, and at the very least my handwriting has gotten really, really good. But also, I have a creative, and meditative outlet for any emotions I might be holding in, any worries that might be resting on my shoulders. There have been times where I sit down angry and get up calm, or start writing with frustrations and despair creeping in behind my shoulders, only to walk away calm and collected, ready to tackle my day.

My own experiences might not be the most convincing, but the proof is there. Mindfulness and meditation improve not only your physical health, like decreasing your risk of heart disease over time, but also your mental stability by decreasing cortisol levels in both short term and long term practitioners. In fact, mindfulness is one of the key treatment options for patients with depression or anxiety. It is often the first strategy used to try and combat both illnesses. Obviously, it’s not a cure-all, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

As for the journals I keep? The University of Rochester has done extensive studies showing that journals help you prioritize your problems, fears, and objectives, and thus manage your anxiety, or stress levels. They help you focus on what you want, whether that be your life’s ambition, or something as simple as sticking to a healthier diet.

You may already be taking every step you can think of to make your brain and body operate at a higher level. You may be going faster, and stronger than ever before. But if you still feel directionless, lost in the wind? Spend some time mapping out your brain. It could work, you never know.


By Victor Galov

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