Thursday, August 18, 2016

Transcend the Reptilian Brain

fight or flight I'm pretty sure, that for most of us, when we observe animals, either wild in Nature, or in captivity at a zoo, we are struck with how instinctual they are, how "automatic" their responses are, and when a threat is perceived (whether there is an actual one or not), they either flee, or make a stand to fight.

We notice this in animals because we have the same mechanism brought to us by our ancient reptilian brain. Located at the base of the skull, this is the first part of the brain to develop, and is the oldest evolutionary part of the overall organ we call the brain. Every "knee-jerk reaction", or automatic, unthinking response we have to our perceived experiences has been expressed by the reptilian "fight or flight" brain.

What switches us over to that ancient part of our brain is stress. True stress creates automatic responses, feelings, impulses, urges, that are seemingly out of our control. This is by design, apparently, as it is hard-wired into our endocrine and nervous systems, and can cause a myriad of changes in our body--all with the purpose of fighting or getting out of the way.

fight or flight The thing is that although the body is hard-wired into the reptilian brain, it is not designed to remain in a fight-or-flight state. Constant stress, such as conflict in relationship, or at our jobs, or in active military combat, wears down the body's ability to repair itself, and makes it susceptible to disease and breakdown.

"To transcend those physical limitations (of the reptilian brain), we must find within ourselves that place that is not limited, not physical--which is not programmed in reaction-response that keeps us in fight or flight. In order to transcend that, we want to transcend the reptilian brain, which is the hindbrain, the oldest brain--which is programmed to respond to fear, pain, negative expectations, sense of loss, betrayal, anger--survival-based programs. When we can transcend the limitations of our survival-based programming, we can begin to expand our consciousness beyond the expectations set, and still achieve our dreams. To achieve our dreams it is helpful to let go of the need for them to show up in a certain way." --Dr. Richard Bartlett, Matrix Energetics

Finding that "clear space", that space of no thought that finds us floating in a sea of enfolding love and support, is the skill of transcendence. It is also the space of repair and healing after the reptilian brain has "blown out the energetic fuses" of the body, leaving it weak and exhausted. Bodies were never intended to live exclusively on adrenalin and cortisol, and when they are forced to, misalignment, dysfunction, disease and early death follow.

It is imperative, therefore, to find that transcendent place. The comforting part is that it is always available to us--always there waiting to enfold us in loving warmth. Call it angelic, god, higher self--this place is within all of us, yet we tend to discount its value. The stresses of our experiences seem so real, so immediate, so demanding of action, that we forget the damage prolonged exposure to that reptilian state causes.

inner peace It is absolutely vital and required that we do everything we can to re-access our inner transcendent place when we become aware of stress responses. This allows the body to recover from the nitro-endocrine chemicals that act like jet fuel throughout the body, burning up reserves at a severe cost.

Establish a time during the day or night when you can sit in silence and comfort and access that inner peace place. It usually takes some time to get there, depending on stress levels, but know that the more often this peaceful state is accessed, the faster and more easily it shows up--just like any skill--the more you use it, the more accessible it is.

Find out what your personal "gateway" to this state is, whether it be through meditation, music, breathing, bathing, or all. Your body will thank you, and that stressful life you keep living will start to become less and less stressful.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mindfulness and Habituated Thought

thought My friend and consciousness coach, Janet Barrett, recently wrote an essay about "habituated thought," and how we so naturally and easily lay down in a thought groove and then solidify that with justifications and conclusions and use those to not be afraid, insecure or powerless.

Habituated thought is how we cope with the infiniteness of ourselves. We narrow down the bandwidth using judgments of right or wrong; we then justify those judgments by tying our experiences to them. We then leave it there--a nice comfortable little rut of unconsciousness.

We then continue packing these ruts around every facet of our lives until we can barely make out how we actually fit into all this. We lose ourselves in our own choices, judgments and conclusions.

It's not really our fault. We're trained in this way of thinking from the moment we learn the language, and from the role models of our parents who pass down various modules of habituated thought from their ancestors--and so it goes.

Humans are really good at spotting patterns, assigning meaning to them, and then encapsulating those meanings into definitions and ramifications. The problem with this innate genius is that we so rarely turn it in upon our own thinking. We get fleeting glimpses of patterns of behavior in ourselves and others, but once spotted, we rarely follow up because the illusion is that it really doesn't matter that much.

patterns News flash: It does matter. Mindfulness of oneself does matter. By simply being aware of how we are thinking and feeling, and being able to catch ourselves at those moments where past conclusions and judgments take over, we can, by using this as a tool, completely transform our lives beyond what we now think is possible.

Here are some easy-peasy, split second practices from Access Consciousness you can use that short-circuit habituated thinking and feeling patterns. By applying these tools, you free up creative energies and unburden yourself from heavy conclusions and judgments that just don't serve you.

Recently, I had an occasion to experience some pretty significantly deep self-doubt. It came in the form of a habituated thought pattern that was something like "Nothing is going to change / I don't see it changing / Maybe it will never change", and then the accompanying feeling was a knot in my solar plexus and a deep flash of discouragement and fear.

As soon as I became aware of the thinking pattern, I chanted to myself several dozen times (sometimes out loud). "Interesting point of view I have that point of view." I did this with the feelings, too.

I also asked, "Is this mine? Whose is this? Return to sender!"

Then, I topped off this series with the statement, "All of life comes to me with ease, joy and glory."

At first, it took about an hour of doing this to finally notice that the thoughts were beginning to lose their impact, and those feelings of discouragement and fear were fading. I continued with the series every time I spotted the thinking pattern start up again, or the feelings begin again.

wake up After about three days of this, I woke up one morning and felt much lighter and actually hopeful, and usually the waking up hour or two are the most filled with this hopeless thinking and feeling. Yay!

As the day progressed, I continued with these processes, and then added the question, "How does it get any better than this?" and "What else is possible?", along with creating feelings of gratitude. By the end of the day, my strength returned, the knot in the stomach was gone and I found myself saying, "I've got this. No problem."

Using these mindfulness tools is a matter of making them a priority in your life. Since you create your life with your awareness, choices, thoughts and feelings, it makes sense that making sure those activities are in good working order is a top priority.

We want to be able to spend our lives as the highest and the best creators we can be, and that takes the mindfulness necessary to keep the crud and crap cleaned off those creative jets. Who knows what amazing creations we are capable of?