The Power of the Mind Body Connection
As many of you know, I have created a system for accessing the best of who we are by accessing a specific part of the brain… and avoiding the stress, frustration, and anxiety that get in the way of our clarity, confidence, and creativity by avoiding a specific part of the brain. I call the system, “Life from the Top of the Mind,” and I have the pleasure of going around the world teaching this to individuals and organizations who are wanting to have more influence in their lives and the lives of others.
In this post, however, I want to expand the application of this scientific perspective on life to include the body, as well as, the brain… specifically, the role something called the vagus nerve plays in the process. If you haven’t heard of the vagus nerve, you soon will because scientists and practitioners are increasingly discovering how understanding and influencing this important cranial nerve can have a significant impact on our state of mind and experience of life.
Basically, the vagus nerve connects the brain to many areas of the body (the heart, lungs, stomach, skin, etc.) and influences how our two nervous systems (the sympathetic and parasympathetic) regulate our blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, as well as our fight-or-flight response. In other words, when the “alarm bell” part of the brain (the amygdala/limbic system) signals the lower 20% of the brain to leap into action, this lower brain (the brainstem) signals the vagus nerve to activate the sympathetic nervous system, and we become prepared to either strike out, or run away.
This is a perfect response when either fighting or fleeing is what is called for to stay safe. However, when these knee jerk reactions only make the original trigger seem worse, the amygdala/limbic system is triggered again, and the brainstem/vagus nerve reaction only serves to trap us in an ever escalating cycle of stress, frustration, and anxiety.
This is why it is so important to have the neocortex (what I call the “Top of the Mind”) influence how the lower brain and vagus nerve are reacting. In other words, when we raise our awareness of what is truly happening, we can influence this process by having the Top of the Mind send a signal to our lungs to breathe deeply, our muscles to relax, and our parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, bringing us back to normal.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and requires that we be in the upper 80% of the brain in order to influence this process. This is what I teach…how to shift to the clear, confident, creative part of the brain when stressed, and how to stay or live in this more purposeful brain so that we go into challenging situations influencing not only how the brain is responding, but the body, as well.
If you would like those in your organization and/or your life to have this information/skill, I suggest that you contact me. Until we truly understand this mind-body connection and have the skill to influence it, we will forever be at the mercy of old, knee jerk reactions that may have helped us survive in the distant past, but now will only keep us from thriving in the present and future.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill