How does Mindfulness work, how can it help you improve your life and build resiliency? Whether it’s big, little, voluntary, crisis, opportunity or adversity, change is a part of your Hero’s Journey. When we understand how our “Reptilian Brain” works, embracing mindfulness becomes a “no-brainer” (excuse the pun) because of how it frees us from irrational fears, thoughts and habits!
Things you must know about your Reptilian Brain
(from Shawn Smith’s book The User’s Guide to the Human Mind…. amazing book….. a “must have”:
1. In its effort to solve problems, the human mind can create the very thing we fear – like an over zealous body guard/worry machine, it never stops looking for problems!
2. An anxious mind does not defer to logic and tends to remember events with a lot of emotion attached to them, making us respond as if the past is about to reoccur.
3. Emotions have a way of sneaking under our radar and driving our behavior without our awareness so we train ourselves to avoid what we “think” is coming.
4. The mind creates a “false dilemma” – either I can have the thoughts and feelings OR I can live my life (example: I must get rid of these self-critical thoughts before I can…”)
5. We attach emotional content to thoughts, symbols and memories… sometimes the memory of a painful event (or fear of something we’ve never done) evokes more distress than the actual event.
6. The primitive mind’s response to pain and fear is: avoid, avoid, avoid… it persuades us to avoid things by giving us the pain of anxiety and sadness. (geez, thanks)
7. When we approach something dangerous, the mind tries to smack us with one form of pain or the other – systems like the amygdalae are regularly dishing out punishment to keep us safe!
8. Our limbic (emotional) system and flawless recall can keep us focused on that one single fender-bender, ignoring thousands of times we’ve driven without a problem.
9. The mind’s only job is to protect us and if we’re not careful, we can start to believe what it says…. the more we allow the mind to control our behavior, the more entrenched we become in the kind of thoughts that are dominated by fear, anxiety and depression. We can begin to see all of this like a frantic dog barking at squirrels… all of these thoughts, feelings and sensations are not threats!
So here’s the juicy part! Once we understand the reptilian brain is just trying to do its job, we can free ourselves from the death grip it has on our ideas, creativity, dreams, goals, communications, desire for authenticity and greater success and happiness in life. In understanding how and why it does what it does, we build awareness…. in that awareness we stop limiting ourselves and free ourselves from irrational fears and unhealthy, reactive outbursts. Through Mindfulness we “pop ourselves out” and even if it’s just for a few moments, done over time, even just 10 minutes a day, the effects of mindfulness are profound!
Definitions of Mindfulness:
1. Mindfulness is the ability to know what’s in your head without getting carried away by it! (Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier)
2. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, non-judgmentally (Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living)
3. Mindfulness is me living an authentic life, being present and okay in the transition of uncertainty and shadow as I evolve and grow (Me… Cheryl Brewster)
Benefits of Mindfulness:
1. It’s simple, can be done anywhere and is scientifically validated to improve cognitive functioning, emotional intelligence, health and wellness, decision making and a whole lot more!
2. Mindfulness is breaking a lifetime habit of unconscious repetitive thoughts and fears – it brings us to choice and the ability to take necessary action
3. It drops regret, guilt, perfectionism, self-sabotage and stress and builds up self-awareness, self-esteem making us better communicators and healthier members of society
4. Measurable on brain-scans, mindfulness helps to create new neuro-pathways which means you are evolving your actual physical brain, let alone your ability to enjoy life more!
How it works:
1. It’s simple, can be done anywhere – – just sit straight, notice the feeling of your breath coming in and going out and focus your full attention on the feeling of the breath – that’s it!
2. Notice when thoughts come in and just keep starting over when they do
3. By withdrawing just minutes a day from the chatter of the mind and the incessant worry machine of the reptilian brain, we “harmonize” to the greater wisdom within
4. This “super power” frees us from past conditioning and can bring clarity and focus even in the transition of uncertainty by helping us stay “in the present” not the past or the future which is where the reptilian brain is accustomed to taking us.
The “empowerment” muscles that are formed are priceless…. imagine the possibilities of your Hero’s Life! It’s as simple as ABC – Aware, Breathe, Connect to the solutions, peace and prosperity that are always present. The reptilian brain may not feel that way, but the truth is, our greatest potential can only be accessed through mindfulness. While this “sounds” easy, it takes commitment, courage and grit to ride the waves of emotion that may come up in befriending that reptilian brain and making it our ally, but it’s so worth the effort…. If you enjoyed this blog, let us know! Cheryl Brewster’s mission with TheIntuitiveLife.com is to support Conscious Changemakers in their Hero’s Journey to clarity, peace, empowerment and confidence through the ABCs of Intuition and Mindfulness. To book your intuitive consultation, coaching mindfulness training for you or your organization, contact us!