Dr Tara Swart: Finding The Source of Creativity
The Notebook | 28th June 2019
The author of the best-selling book about neuroplasticity, The Source, on tapping into creativity to rewire consciousness
In an environment where we are bombarded daily by a relentless avalanche of digital media, it is easy for any individual to feel so overwhelmed and disorientated that they lose sight of their identity and purpose. In a digital wilderness of mirrors, Dr Tara Swart is something of a modern-day Virgil. Swart is s a neuroscientist, leadership coach, medical doctor, award-winning author of the celebrated theoretical self-help guide The Source, which explores contemporary thinking about neuroplasticity, and how we can actively re-wire our own consciousness in the dizzying maelstrom of the zeitgeist, to achieve success, abundance, and, perhaps most importantly, peace of mind. Dr Swart, was recently a guest speaker at our regular monthly club Untroubled, hosted at Mortimer House by Joy lo Dico, where she shared with members and guests the ideas and research that led her to author a book that has been described by The Evening Stanadard as "a book that might just change your life". Here, she talks to Maslow’s Notebook about the laws of attraction, diving into the unified field and making a vision board, to manifest your best of all possible futures.
Tell us about the fundamentals of The Source and talk to us about neuroplasticity in terms of how it is affected by the cognitive rewiring of digital media?
The Source ’is a practical guide, based on science that seeks to help people create the life they wish for by leveraging neuroplasticity, the laws of attraction (primarily an abundant mindset and manifestation), as well as the practice of visualisation and creation of an action board. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change throughout life. Just as we may learn a new language, we can build stronger pathways in our brain for mastering our emotions, trusting our intuition, building resilience and making good decisions. At the end of the day we are the sum of the choices we have made in our life and we create our happiness, relationships and wealth (material and otherwise) through the power of our brain. Emotional mastery helps create a mind that is like our dream home–filled with beauty and positivity, nurtured and not trashed or compromised on. Having an abundant outlook means we are more likely to take healthy risks and grasp opportunities that may otherwise pass us by.
How does it do that, in a practical sense?
The Source uses rigorous cognitive science to show that the way we think manifests real world outcomes. If we visualise the outcomes we desire then our brain will selectively filter and bring to our attention the data that we need to achieve our dreams. Additionally, actually creating a vision board that you act on has a powerful effect on our brains because imagery tracks to our sub-conscious and primes us to notice themes in life related to what is on our board. It’s not about sitting around waiting for the images to come true, it’s about taking positive action on a regular basis to make things happen. There is an entire chapter of the book dedicated to making and using an action board. A collage made by hand is the ideal but it can also be created digitally. However, digital media has its pros and cons. I believe it can be used for good but we need to be very mindful of the potentially damaging effects on our brains such as altered memory and concentration ability, comparison and self-denigration and social isolation. In a modern world where logic and consumerism are valued above emotion and intuition, it’s important to do regular digital detoxes and introspection or journaling to hone our intuition.
I’m wondering for you what is the definition of a truly evolved or switched on mind?
The evolution of the mind is a constant journey. The more you become enlightened the more you realise how much there is to learn. Truly knowing yourself includes listening to messages from your body (interoception is the sense of the physiological state of your body), trusting your gut, mastering your emotions, staying motivated even during adversity, and blossoming from the wisdom of spiritual, philosophical and psychological literature and culture. To me, art is mindfulness. It is like a massage for your brain. A “switched on” person is fully integrated physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The latter being about meaning and purpose in life, gratitude, forgiveness and kindness. If we are able to regularly practice these good intentions then chances are that we have the basics right. When it is difficult to forgive, when we don’t have the bandwidth to care for others or be humane, and if we do not deeply feel filled with gratitude most of the time, there is a lot of potential for life to be better.
How does getting to grips with notions surrounding neuro-plasticity help us to attain our very best selves?
The neuroscience research shows a moral centre in the brain but, to some extent, it is a social construct to create harmony in large tribes. We non-consciously tag every new person that we meet immediately on up to 150 identified stereotypes including social status, intelligence, wealth, political affiliation and even physical attractiveness. We also apply these biases to ourselves. Our brain is being constantly shaped and moulded by everything that we experience, every smell, emotion, person etc, and this can be constructive or to our detriment. Neuroplasticity gives us the power to get back in the driving seat rather than letting life happen to us and feeling powerless to guide it. Neuroplasticity is both about creating changes in our brain but also about adapting well to change that is thrown at us.
How does meditation help us to connect to the opportunities and ideas that we may be allowing to slip by us each day?
I do believe in a collective or universal consciousness but this has not yet been corroborated by science! Meditation helps us connect to ourselves and to the everything around us. This means we are more likely to pay attention and notice things in life that our brain tends to naturally filter out because we are bombarded with so much information through all our senses. We are more likely to become intuitive and understand how everything is connected. This has a powerful effect in reducing ego. In my opinion, monks that meditate daily for huge amounts of time can probably achieve what seems impossible for some, but regular transcendental meditation can boost many of us along that journey. I am a big fan of flotation tanks and I have heard anecdotally that this is slower, but achieves similar outcomes to Ayahuasca over time.
Do you believe in a random sequential universe or one of infinite potential that can be moulded and guided as we wish or have the ability to perceive it?
I believe in a universe of infinite potential that can be moulded and guided, and I have gone further to demonstrate the science that supports the premise of The Source, that this is guided by the power of our thoughts. The power of neuroplasticity, combined with an abundant mindset leads to emotional mastery, honed intuition and the motivation to create the life we want. Creating a vision board that we act on holds us accountable to making this real in the outside world (see section above on vision boards). The psychological phenomenon known as the ‘Tetris effect’ means that something we look at often, and especially during the hypnogogic state as we are falling asleep, creates an imprint on our brain. Of course, there are exception such as extreme poverty or severe physical and mental impediments. I do not believe that anyone deserves that and my hope is that The Sourcewill create a movement where individuals who can make their own life better can also contribute to making the world a fairer and more unified place. Given the geo-political and psych-social crises all over the world at the moment, I feel that this is much needed.