“Use your head.”
“Get your head in the game.”
“Think it through before you lose your head over it.”
You’ve probably heard these expressions. As you read them, did your mind’s eye focus on images or thoughts of the non-emotional, rational, strategic, problem-solving functions of the head brain? You’re not alone.
For hundreds of years it’s been believed that emotions and heart sensations as well as gut instincts are inferior to rational thinking. Good old Rene’ Descartes set that up for us in the early 1600’s. Dubbed as the “Father of Western Philosophy,” this mathematician/philosopher is famous for saying Cogito ergo sum (I think; therefore I am.).
Today, science shows the value and wisdom of connecting with the other neural systems within our bodies. Let me share samples of what some researchers are saying about these scientific breakthroughs:
“Emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking.” —Antonio R. Damasio, Professor of Neurology and author of Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
“The enteric nervous system (gut brain) is an independent site of neural integration and processing. That is what makes it the second brain.” —Michael D. Gershon, M.D., The Second Brain: The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct
“The heart sends signals to the brain that can influence perception, emotional experience and higher mental processes.” —The HeartMath® Institute
In short, we now know we have a brain in our head, heart and gut. And we also know that they each play a role in supporting us. When we are at our most innovative, strong, focused (when we are at our best) all three brains are active and participating in decision-making and behavior.
Instead of being the boss, the head brain is part of an inner board of directors. It only has one seat at the table. You and I can consult our inner B.O.D. at will. Based on the groundbreaking Multiple Brain Integration Techniques (mBIT) brought forward by Marvin Oka and Grant Soosalu, here’s one way to do just that:
Step One—Preparation for this exercise could include:
- Download the worksheet from this blog or get a journal and pen to record your answers.
- Identify a situation you’d like to use for this exercise.
Step Two—Spend two minutes in stillness and breath work. Typically a method of balanced breathing (equal counts per inhale as per exhale) will put you in a mindful state for this exercise.
Step Three—Start by asking your heart a question. Placing a hand on your heart can often enhance the line of communication between you and the 40K to 120K neurons in the heart brain. Formulate your question to the heart by including at least one of these heart-activating words:
- What is important______?
- What is the relationship_____?
- How am I feeling_____?
- What do I value about_____?
Step Four—Move to asking the brain in your head a few questions: Formulate these questions using some of the following head-activating words:
- What do I know about_____?
- What can I imagine happening in the future regarding_____?
- What does this mean?
- How can I imagine having this work out?
Step Five—Move back to asking the heart a question. Refer to Step Three as needed.
Step Six—Ask a question of the enteric or gut brain. Here are samples of questions that will activate gut responses. Feel free to place your hands on your solar plexus as you engage the gut with a question or two:
- What is my motivation in this situation?
- What is stopping me?
- How secure do I feel at this time?
- What is my gut sense about_____?
Step Seven—Return to the heart and ask a wrap-up question such as:
- How do I relate all the wisdom I’ve just witnessed into a coherent message?
- How do I connect the bits of wisdom I’ve just captured into an important message for myself?
- What is the quiet small voice inside my wisdom centers telling me?
You may repeat steps two through six if you sense you need more information before moving to step seven.
At this point, I hope you can see how your head is NOT the boss. In fact, when you listen to all three brains or wisdom centers, you can become more balanced, wise, more successful and at ease.
If you have further questions, or would like a free mBIT Discovery session, please fill out an intake form found here.