Monday, June 14, 2010

Putting your Reticular Activating System to work

Have you been given special tasks to your RAS lately? The RAS is an automatic mechanism inside your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious and subconscious mind bringing relevant information to your attention and it plays a vital role in your ability to achieve goals.

RAS stands for reticular activating system. It is the part of your brain, at the back of your head where the spine meets the skull. It works as a group of brain cells that sorts through all the incoming data and stimuli you encounter and gives you notice of the important things. It is like a secretary which makes you aware of all the stuff you believe are significant to you.

Do you like a red sports car? Every time you see a red sports car, your RAS will help you turn your head toward that red car.

You walk in the mall and suddenly you smell cinnamon, it reminds you of the yummy cinnamon rolls your mom used to bake for your breakfast. You start thinking of your mom.

You hear a song on the radio, a silly tune which you can’t get out of your mind. Your RAS reminds you of a time you listened to that song with a friend and immediately some emotions come up again.

The RAS filters out zillions of messages your five senses are constantly passing along and decides which ones are essential to you. Your RAS works based on the Law of Attraction, what you focus on will come to you.

Now the RAS does not distinguish between positive or negative memories. Your inborn secretary is only attached to deep felt emotions and focuses on events or stuff that is important to you.

Basically, the reticular activating system is part of the brain stem. It is believed that ADD/ADHD is caused by a problem in the reticular activating system.

1) Goals

In his classic 1960 self-help book Psychocybernetics, Dr Maxwell Maltz discusses our automatic goal seeking 'servo-mechanism'. He doesn't use the words reticular activating system, but it is the same process.

Your Reticular Activating System acts as a heat seeking missile which allows your subconscious mind to work on your goal whether you realize it or not.

"Don't concern yourself too much with how you are going to achieve your goal - leave that completely to a power greater than yourself. All you have to do is know where you're going. The answers will come to you of their own accord, and at the right time."

Earl Nightingale ~ 1921-1989, Syndicated Radio Announcer and Author

Write your goals on paper. It is not only the fact that you move your hand according to your thoughts but it also helps you visualize your goals. The RAS is connected to the subconscious mind and that subconscious mind works in pictures. Believing is seeing. The RAS works best with emotion charged expectancy.

Napoleon Hill writes in Think and Grow Rich: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe he can achieve”.

The RAS does not distinguish between “real” and “imaginary.” That’s why it is crucial to be specific and clear with your goals.

Basically the Reticular Activation System is how the Law of Attraction works. We get what we focus on; we create what we think about and the RAS system of our brains just helps this process along.

“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” ~ Proverbs 23:7

What if the goal writing does not work? Then we have to check our core values. If there is a discrepancy between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, e.g. if your desires and values are not congruent with your beliefs, then the RAS does not have the clear goal to shoot for. That’s probably the greatest disappointment for many who constantly sabotage themselves. Check with your beliefs and find that clear target and you’ll achieve your goals.


It helps to reassure the RAS with affirmations  which means you repeat certain phrases over and over again. That keeps your mind focused on positive things. Affirmation can be formulated in many different ways. Try “I am healthy, happy and whole” statements or “You are beautiful” or just positive statements like: “Let go and let God” or “One day at a time.”


It is also crucial to visualize your goals continuously. The subconscious mind responds to pictures. Use all your five senses to reinforce the picture and do it in the morning and before going to sleep when the mind is most receptive to new imprints.

2) Pay Attention

Indeed, learning to live in the "now" may be critical to your success. As change expert Price Pritchett puts it, "Fast growth requires ... a strong sense of 'now-ness.'" You have to maximize the value of the moment.

Price Pritchett: "Pay attention. Consciously watch how you're spending the fleeting now, and consider the payback you'll get. Are you making a good investment of your hours and minutes? Or are you wasting these scarce resources ... spending time on stuff that offers little return ... fumbling the opportunity for fast growth?"

You need to show great respect for the now. If you fill it with right behaviors, you'll be rewarded with fast results.

Another key point is focus. In our communication oriented society with media and electronics blaring at us, it is most important to understand that paying attention sometimes needs a sacrifice. We need to shut down some or all of the channels of influences and just be quiet to have enough energy to “pay attention.”

Humans have a limited ability to cope with stimuli. When we reach that limit (about 100,000 words or 34 gigabytes), any other input results in stress. Multitasking may get you done a lot but it may be at the risk of your health and wellbeing. The other aspect is that you may not get done anything at all. Rather than staying busy all the time, take breaks or as Katy Read in a recent article in the AARP magazine suggests, “Tame your information appetite.”. In her article, she quotes: Study your habits and limit your inputs. Exercise your concentration muscles by reading books or meditating. Write a list of important tasks to yourself rather than doing all the tasks right away. Best is to take a break at times, take a walk, have a cup of coffee with a friend or play with your dog. And last but not least she suggests, let go of the impulse to knowing the answers or names of things you just can’t figure out at the moment. Relax – things will come to you naturally later.

3) Law of Attraction 

Since the movie "The Secret" came out more people are talking about the law of attraction.  Sometimes this law is also called the law of sewing and reaping.  We attract what we put out.  Everything flows out from us, if we want to be happy, we have "to be happy" first.  It comes from a state of mind.  Unfortunately, we are taught to want and get rather "to be" first.  We are human "beings" not human doings.  We are spiritual and energy not only a mechanic machine.  We attract what we focus on.

4) How Media uses RAS’s functions for advertising.

They use the law of repetition. By the very fact that commercials are repeatedly send to our televisions, will eventually make us buy the desired products. To establish any new habit or to retrain your body takes between 21-60 days. Repetition works in all aspects and we need to use some willpower to avoid being “talked” into something we don’t want to do.

The human brain evolved 500,000 years ago and in many ways is ill equipped for today’s challenges. Nonetheless, the RAS can help us focus on important tasks or desired goals. It can also help us to avoid overload, overwork and overwhelm. Because the RAS dips deep into our subconscious mind which is the storage place of all of your life’s experiences, emotions, memories, and beliefs. Let the RAS help you access this deep reservoir for your own good.

1 comment:

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