Building any skill or habit in 30 days with myelin

30 daysDo you want to build a new skill or habit? That’s scientifically proved possible and it takes only 30 days (not 21 days, that’s too short). The reason why it takes at least around 30 days to form a new skill or habit is a process in the brain called “myelination”.

Myelination is the process of your mind forming a certain kind of sheathing around the neurons (exons, to be more specific) involved in a habitual thought or behavior, which acts in a way like electrical insulating tape: It makes the electrical impulses travel faster, thereby speeding up the functioning of the entire neural network involved.

Myelin is a whitish substance that actually gives the brain its typical color. Now before your eyes glaze over about this Brain Biology 101 stuff, think about why this is so important for all manner of changing old behaviors into new ones:

When a mental block of any kind is released, or an old way of doing things is unhinged, the new neural network connections that formed to make this happen are extremely tender at first. “Green shoots” are rock solid by comparison.

This is why a new behavior feels so difficult at first: It isn’t ingrained yet.

Due to the lack of the myelin the signals are traveling slowly and precariously. But if you keep at it and thereby keep tracing the new path, your mind will get the message and “grease the groove” of that neural network. Until the speeds are up to 200 times faster!

Only problem is, it takes at least 30 days to complete myelination to the extent that the new habit is really starting to become a habit. Anytime before then there is the danger of the new habit formation being abandoned. And of course, the myelination process may continue for quite some time after the first 30 days.

So to be successful, you absolutely need to tough out those first 30 days. Set yourself up to practice the new habit during that time, despite the fact that it will seem too hard.

One of the strategies for doing so is to create physical changes in your environment that make it nearly impossible to ignore the new situation. Also, your Unconscious Mind is typically most impressed with actual, physical changes in the environment. No amount of lists, affirmations, or even visualizations will have as much of an impact as the new thing staring you straight in the face.

Put it in your own way. Make it impossible to ignore.

Get over that first 30 day hump, and you are basically home free. It’s like a rocket launch, most of the fuel is burned up to reach escape velocity. After that you’re cruising.

Simply knowing that this is the case should increase your chances of success, because now you can plan for it. New habit formation resistance is to be expected.

Beat it to the punch. By understanding the myelin between your ears.


What is myelin?

myelinAccording to Wikipedia, myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the myelin sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is an outgrowth of a type of glial cell. The production of the myelin sheath is called myelination. In humans, the production of myelin begins in the 14th week of fetal development, although little myelin exists in the brain at the time of birth. During infancy, myelination occurs quickly and continues through the adolescent stages of life.

Schwann cells supply the myelin for peripheral neurons, whereas oligodendrocytes, specifically of the interfascicular type, myelinate the axons of the central nervous system. Myelin is considered a defining characteristic of the (gnathostome) vertebrates, but myelin-like sheaths have also arisen by parallel evolution in some invertebrates, although they are quite different from vertebrate myelin at the molecular level. Myelin was discovered in 1854 by Rudolf Virchow.

Composition of myelin

Myelin is made up by different cell types, and varies in chemical composition and configuration, but performs the same insulating function. Myelinated axons are white in appearance, hence the “white matter” of the brain. The fat helps to insulate the axons from electrically charged atoms and molecules. These charged particles (ions) are found in the fluid surrounding the entire nervous system. Under a microscope, myelin looks like strings of sausages. Myelin is also a part of the maturation process leading to a child’s fast development, including crawling and walking in the first year.

Myelin is about 40% water; the dry mass is about 70 – 85% lipids and about 15 – 30% proteins. Some of the proteins are myelin basic protein, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, and proteolipid protein. The primary lipid of myelin is a glycolipid called galactocerebroside. The intertwining hydrocarbon chains of sphingomyelin serve to strengthen the myelin sheath.

Function of myelin layer

The main purpose of a myelin layer (or sheath) is to increase the speed at which impulses propagate along the myelinated fiber. Along unmyelinated fibers, impulses move continuously as waves, but in myelinated fibers, they hop or “propagate by saltation.” Myelin decreases capacitance across the cell membrane, and increases electrical resistance. Thus, myelination helps prevent the electrical current from leaving the axon.

When a peripheral fiber is severed, the myelin sheath provides a track along which regrowth can occur. Unfortunately, the myelin layer does not ensure a perfect regeneration of the nerve fiber. Some regenerated nerve fibers do not find the correct muscle fibers and some damaged motor neurons of the peripheral nervous system die without regrowth. Damage to the myelin sheath and nerve fiber is often associated with increased functional insufficiency.

Unmyelinated fibers and myelinated axons of the mammalian central nervous system do not regenerate. Some studies have revealed optic nerve fibers can be regenerated in postnatal rats. This regeneration depends upon two conditions: axonal die-back has to be prevented with appropriate neurotrophic factors, and neurite growth inhibitory components have to be inactivated. These studies may lead to further understanding of nerve fiber regeneration in the central nervous system.

Creative Visualization

Creative Visualization - CoverI come across creative visualization many years ago, but only today that I realized how important it is. I’m listening to “Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain” while laying down on my bed in Kabul, Afghanistan. I get up and immediately update my profile in this blog and said to myself, this is me!

I am a meditator, writer, investor, trillionaire & master of creative visualization. I committed to this new profile and will never change it again. You can be my witness, my dear reader. Please remind me if you see my profile different from what I wrote in this article. Thank you!