What is the Reticular Activating System and how can I use it to improve my life?
Our brains are incredibly complex. We can sift through billions of bits of data at any given time. And somehow, we don’t short circuit, we have to organize that information. The Reticular Activating System helps with that.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through. In fact, all sensory organs must pass through the reticular formation before moving to the cerebral cortex.
Have you ever been shopping for a car and you suddenly see that car everywhere you go?
The RAS is the reason you learn a new word and then start hearing it everywhere. It’s why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people, yet immediately snap to attention when someone says your name or something that at least sounds like it.
Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favor without you actively doing anything. Pretty awesome, right?
In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.
You can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. We call it “setting your intent.” This basically means that if you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.
If you care about positivity, for example, you will become more aware of and seek positivity. If you really want a pet turtle and set your intent on getting one, you’ll tune in to the right information that helps you do that.
When you look at it this way, the Law of Attraction doesn’t seem so mystical. While this is not the primary reason the Law of Attraction exists, it is an essential part of understanding it and it highlights the way our brains are filter based on our intention and focus. Focus on the bad things and you will invite negativity into your life. Focus on the good things and they will come to you, because your brain is seeking them out. It’s not magic, it’s your Reticular Activating System influencing the world you see around you.
There are many ways to train your RAS to get what you want, for beginners I find this method to be the most practical:
1. First, think of the goal or situation you want to influence.
2. Now think about the experience or result you want to reach in regards to that goal/situation.
3. Create a mental movie of how you picture that goal/situation ideally turning out in the future. Notice the sounds, conversations, visuals and details of that mental movie. Replay it often in your head.
Of course, in reality these things aren’t as easy as they sound, but we do believe that your Reticular Activating System (RAS) can be trained. It’s about visualizing what you want, and then letting your subconscious and conscious work together to make it happen.
The idea is: If you can hear your own name in a crowd of thousands, you can also tune your brain to focus and attract the things that matter to you. This is why you should keep a list of your goals with you wherever you go, and reread it often. This is one of the reasons you continually repeat affirmations to yourself You have to continually refocus and remind your brain what matters and what doesn’t.