Do you know what The Knowledge is?

I was chatting to the Farmdrop delivery guy back in spring while he was filling up my bags outside his van. A London Black Cab Driver who during lockdown was delivering food, as not many people were taking cabs.

— ME: Have you passed The Knowledge?
— HIM: Yes!
— ME: You have bigger hippocampi than anyone else! Do you know it? 

While completely in owe about knowing somebody who moulded his brain through the test, I told him about me being a mind nerd.

To get the licence, Black Cab drivers need to pass a series of tests called The Knowledge.

They memorise:

– around 26,000 streets,
– more than 320 routes
– about 20,000 landmarks and places like museums, churches, theatres and schools.


It’s having an atlas of London implanted in your brain. 

It takes years to learn all that. But all that effort not only makes them getting the licence,  it also shapes their brain.

Black Cab drivers’ brains have larger hippocampi* than anyone else.
* (One of their functions is memory. Also spatial memory.)

And so what? 
You may ask.

Our brain is plastic. It changes all the time. 
The shape it takes depends on how we use it. 

If the effect of memorising this London atlas is making this part of the brain larger, it’s a proof that we can shape our brain.

But we need to take action in that. Or our brain will keep being shaped by our own habitual ways of reacting to things.

This is why I meditate: to have an active role in how my brain (and so my mind) gets shaped.

I want a mind that knows when it goes into assumptions or regrets. A mind that is able to:

– recognise when it assumes or regrets,
– accept it,
– let it go and return to the present.

This gives me more chances to TRULY live my life, without dismissing moments (or assuming things) because I kept training it to be not-in-the-present.

The present is the only slice of time we own. When we’re present, we’re in power.

Are you using the opportunity to shape your brain so that it behaves as you want?

To a life to enjoy,

PS: A journalist asked a cabbie what was like to map something that complex in their brain.
“Well, right when the person asks where to go, it’s like an explosion in your brain. You see it instantly.” (It seems a superpower to me!!😉)