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Mindful Neuroscience: The Importance of Inner Intelligence

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Editor's Note: This article was authored by Stefanie Faye, for the Institute for Organizational Mindfulness (IOM). Thanks, Stefanie!

Self-directed neuroplasticity is one of the first topics that drew me in to study neuroscience.

One of the most important aspects of it is ‘self-directed’.

We can’t help that our brains get built through our experiences and relationships. We can’t help that others’ reactions and signals will play a major part in the formation of our beliefs and behaviors as we grow up.

But as our brains mature, so does our ability to self-direct and self-regulate.

We will always need relationships with others for our own physical and neurological health.

Each Brain is Completely Unique

Our individual mind-brain-body system has an intelligence to it that is reserved only for us - as a person. Only our mind-brain-body has experienced what it has experienced and built up the neural and behavioral architecture to integrate our past with what’s happening now. No single other person will have ever have the exact, precise same data to inform our most accurate decisions that align with precisely what we as an individual need.

What I see happen a lot in the clients and patients I work with is they have lost touch with that self-directed knowing. They've stopped listening to their inner guidance. They have been so in search of others' approval, that they no longer even know how to trust the signals their body is sending them.

Yesterday, I published a video about going inward. The main point of it is to help us find ways to go back to ‘us’... to stop looking to other people for direction in our life.

But what I hear from people as I offer this idea is that turning inward and ‘listening’ to their body’s messages just makes them feel even more confused or distressed. They can’t tell what is just anxiety about what someone else thinks, or what is ‘intuition’.

They’re highlighting one of the biggest challenges a lot of us face. Much of what we think, believe and feel is influenced by others from our past and who we are surrounded by (including online).. And it makes it hard to know what is our actual thought about something and what is part of just trying to be accepted by a group and the ‘masses’.

In fact, that was exactly what happened to me yesterday - I felt 'off' about what I was writing. So I took time in the evening to listen to those signals. And the result is this post I'm writing today.

The only way we can start to tease apart these signals is to spend time noticing them, and to have some understanding of how our thought patterns and beliefs get formed.

This video is just a surface level first step… it’s simply about the idea that we may have a lot of our attention focused on external things. I want to see more of us turning inward, to our inner guidance - to those very individual-based signals that come from the highest-level intelligence of our mind-brain-body.

Self-Regulating Complex Patterns of the Brain

This intelligence is tailored to help us achieve our desired state. That’s the nature of a self-regulating, complex system - which is what we are.

By getting more clear about what our desired state is, we can start to recognize patterns of these internal, physiological sensations that give us clues. They tell us when we feel aligned and on track , or when something is ‘off’. By gathering more data about these internal sensations, we can get better at noticing what thoughts and actions trigger which sensations.

I want us to start trusting ourselves more. My best work comes when i am in the flow of simply speaking, writing, moving in ways where i don’t care what another person thinks or how they are perceiving me. I’m guided by an internal compass of what ‘feels right’ in those moments. When i trust that, things flow.


There are so many ways to start turning inward to that internal guidance. My idea in this video is to close our eyes, but there so many others (including looking at a flame from a candle or fire, mantras, even walking, movement). It’s about how present are we with ourselves and tuning into what our signals feel like to us so we can learn more about what feels right for us, versus what we think we ‘should do’ based on someone else’s opinion.

In upcoming articles and videos, we’ll keep going into these deeper layers so that we can start deciphering the signals that come from our mind-brain-body’s highest intelligence that helps us create new trajectories, rather than staying stuck in cycles from our past.


Stefanie Faye is a neuroscience researcher and clinician. She has been consulting in countries across the globe and works to bridge the gap between complex research and practicable application. Through group training, development seminars, and lectures Stefanie helps individuals find new ways of using their talents, discomforts, failures, and challenges as pathways to growth and evolution.

Institute for Organizational Mindfulness (IOM) is a membership association of researchers, educators and executives, with a shared mission to bring science-based neural training into the mainstream of business, healthcare, education and government. We're working to create a global community of shared experience, conduct research, define standards and practices, develop educational programs, and determine the measures, metrics and analytics for organizational mindfulness.


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