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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Light Up Your Brain: The Secret is in Your Seat

Sometimes the storms of life can throw us off balance and even threaten to uproot us. Worries, anxieties and fears can sap us of the very joy for living that we seek. You might be a young person worried about being accepted or fearful of the future. You might be someone caring for patients, clients, or even family members. You might be busy taking care of customers. And rather than feeling fulfilled or excited about this you experience a feeling of dread or even impending doom that sidelines you. The more this kind of feeling goes unrecognized the more debilitating it becomes until you begin to believe that life is more of a sentence than a gift. Dr. Eric Gentry in his work with people who have experienced terrible trauma in their lives has uncovered some practices that can help us reclaim our lives, our energy, and our joy for life. I am going to tell you about one of them. So get ready because the practice I am going to show you might just change your life. But first a little refresher on human anatomy and the brain. Our primitive fight or flight function from prehistoric days is still alive and well. If our brain senses danger, real or imagined, it sends a signal through the nerve pipeline called the Vegas nerve basically putting every muscle, organ, and nerve on alert. This happens regardless of whether there is someone pointing a gun at your head or waggling a finger in your direction. Your brain goes into action shutting down some higher functions and preparing others. And the same thing happens just remembering or imagining danger, triggering a physical response that darkens large portions of your brain. So no wonder you feel exhausted. You are ready to attack or run all the time. And as a result your higher functioning brain gets shut down in service to this more primitive survival mode brain. There’s an easy way to calm things down so that you light up your brain – literally. You just relax your core muscles sending a message to your brain that there is no danger, everything is safe. And here’s how you do it. First: Locate the top of your hip bones at your waist – you can feel them on either side of your body. Then locate your “sit bones” by putting your hands under your seat and feeling the bones on either side. The core muscle group is right between your hip bones and your sit bones. This is the target of your focus. Second: Now consciously focus your attention on this area and intentionally relax that muscle. Just repeat to yourself: “I am perfectly safe. There is no danger,” and then take a long slow breath. Just do this for a minute. Your Vegas nerve wraps around this muscle and is now sending a message to your brain that it is safe to resume higher more creative functions. Your muscles relax. Your organs are now being fueled with rich blood flow. Your brain lights up. The goal at first is to do this a few times a day – start with five times. Then as you begin to enjoy more energy and vigor, increase this to ten times a day, eventually increasing to once an hour and then once every 15 minutes. Slowly you will begin to recognize this calmer and more relaxed state as your natural state. You will feel more creative. You may even find that with more of your brain at work, solutions to what you once thought were unsolvable problems now come easily and effortlessly. All of this because you are allowing your brain to work the way it was meant to function. I know this sounds too easy. So why not give it a whirl.

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