According to international educator Vija Rogozina, our brains are not the rigid mechanisms we tell ourselves, in fact our minds are tremendously flexible—something she means to explore in her upcoming CE class, Neuroplasticity and the Eights Senses of Awareness. “Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change throughout our lifetime,” says Rogozina. “More specifically, neuroplasticity adapts neurons and networks to the changing sensory environment.”
Taking it a step further, Neurosculpting is the means by which one reworks and reshapes their thinking. “Neurosculpting modality is based on the principle of Neuroplasticity. It is self-directed and intentional,” says Rogozina. “It involves the theory of Hebbian learning (‘Neurons that fire together, wire together.’), the skill of imagining and mindfulness principles. The process of Neurosculpting always includes a theoretical part and an experiential part consisting of a 5-Step guided meditation.”
Rogozina says that in her experience, Neurosculpting has been the most effective way to rewire one’s brain. “We know from the research that long-term meditators have a shrunken amygdala, a brain region associated with anxiety or fear, and an enlarged prefrontal cortex, associated with our executive function. Neurosculpting addresses entire lifestyle adjustments and brings meditation out of the classroom into the everyday life, 24/7. As a result, practice leads to a change of both brain structure and its functionality.”
For Rogozina, learning the process of Neurosculpting was the fulmination of a lifetime spent exploring meditative arts. “I was born in Latvia and was introduced to meditation in my teens,” she recalls. “I began with Transcendental Meditation, passionately endorsed and practiced by film director David Lynch. Since then I have lived, studied and worked in Riga, Amsterdam, Leeds, Bangkok, New Delhi, and Denver, CO, practicing meditation on and off. After a snowboarding accident in Colorado, I started taking yoga classes and later underwent Buddhist study with Sakyong Mipham at the Shambhala Buddhist Center. I have also studied in depth with a few international teachers of the Yoga Nidra school, covering yogic philosophy, bodywork, and meditation.”
Rogozina says her own discovery of Neurosculpting came at crisis point in her life. What she discovered through it was transformative beyond her expectations. “I was in a place where my emotions and daily actions were self-deprecating and psychologically self-destructive, despite my yoga and meditation practice,” she recalls. “On a physical level, I developed hives and I knew it was of psychosomatic origin. My family life and failing relationships had triggered a host of recurring narratives, including unaddressed PTSD from the past. I was looking for psychological help. I was also diagnosed with ADHD. I had a few sessions of psychotherapy after which I still felt powerless and fragmented. I began attending Neurosculpting classes and after only a few sessions felt great changes. I finally started understanding the mind-body connection on both levels: spiritual and biological. As I was seeing results I kept recommitting to classes and eventually got certified in 2013 so I could help others in the same way.”
As for the aforementioned Eight Senses of Awareness, Rogozina says they are based on Dr. Daniel Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness meditation. “I have combined Dr. Siegel's meditation approach with the Neurosculpting modality. It was born of my desire to demystify meditation and mindfulness, make it simple, practical and effective. Occasionally I refer to it as an ‘Embodied Awareness’ meditation and as the name suggests, it involves the eight senses regular five plus interoception, thinking and relational aspect.”
For her part, Rogozina says she prefers to steer clear of rigid beliefs and dogmas, which is precisely why she feels Neuroplasticity is so approachable. “(It) offers a grounded, practical approach to optimizing mind-body connection and healing emotional trauma. It helps with down-regulating stress response, with empowerment, and with reclaiming one's sovereignty as a human being. In my case, it helped me to understand the 'why' along with the 'how'.
Rogozina says neuroplasticity is unique from other meditative approaches because it allows one to choose a response to particular stimuli, instead of being stuck in a potentially negative or detrimental default mode. “Just as Viktor Frankl said: ‘Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.’ I couldn't agree more and exploring neuroplasticity comes down to this. Plus it is about health; what is healthy for the brain is healthy for the body.”
In an age in which we have become deeply dependent on pharmaceuticals to help us cope with anxiety and depression, Rogozina sees Neurosculpting as beneficial alternative. “I believe it works best for those preferring meditation over medication,” she says. “It is important to understand that Neurosculpting isn't a quick fix or a magic bullet. By practicing self-directed Neuroplasticity, we start writing a new story as if making new footsteps in the snow. The more we walk this path, the more prominent the pathways become. Hebbian learning works in reverse as well, ‘What doesn't fire together, doesn't wire together’. I've worked with clients suffering from depression and anxiety in the past and this approach works especially well since they learn how to exercise mental self-regulation.”
“I always had deep passion for learning and am in constant awe of our unlimited human potential,” says Rogozina. "I hope to inspire others to understand that we are never stuck and it's never too late to claim ownership of our lives. My greatest wish is that everyone can start truly befriending their brain and heal their minds, and treat them as a cherished gift!”
Learn more about Neuroplasticity and the Eight Senses of Awareness.