When most of us think of our brain we think of the one in our head – it’s the only one, right? Wrong. In the East there has been a longstanding awareness of two parts of the brain (the one located inside our head) – these are the ‘Thinking Mind’ and the ‘Observing Mind’. The Thinking Mind really does have a mind of its own and unfortunately it doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. In fact, it chatters incessantly and sometimes convinces us to believe horrible untruths (particularly about ourselves!) It can caste seeds of doubt, catastrophise and put the fear of god into us. The Observing Mind, on the other hand, is always consistent, impartial and knows the perfect response to every situation. We simply have to know how to find and tap into its wisdom! And this is where a regular meditation practice comes in.
Have you every grappled with a problem for what seems like hours, only for the solution to ‘drop in’ when you’re doing something meditative, like jogging, walking, swimming, yoga or meditating? By redirecting our focus away from our thoughts to our breath or the rhythmic movement of our body walking or swimming, we are allowing ‘space’ between our thoughts for our higher selves, our Observing Mind, to send us messages. These are often called ‘aha’ moments and feel like mini-breakthroughs. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us but it takes a quiet mind to be able to interpret them.
But it doesn’t end there! New research has uncovered a second brain in the gut and a third brain in our heart. So when we talk about making decisions based on gut reactions or because the heart tells us to there is certainly truth to it! So now we have the quandary of potentially 4 brains all telling us different things… so who to listen to??
The answer is as you would expect; a combination. With the benefit of time I will put a question out to the universe when I meditate and then allow myself to become receptive to the answers. This simply means being open and observant – the answers can appear in a multitude of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Next, I check in with my heart’s desire. This usually shows up as the first reaction – the key is then ignoring the chatter of the Thinking Mind (that will inevitably challenge your heart and play out the worst case scenario in your head).
I then tune in to my ‘gut feeling’ to get a read. If it doesn’t come easily perhaps tell yourself you’ve made a decision and see how that feels in your body. This can take some practice and obviously the more in tune you are with your body the easier this becomes. Try this exercise:
Lie down and become aware of the sensations in your body. Notice the feeling of the breath moving through you, any muscle tension, predominant emotions, areas of constriction etc. Then think about your problem and again notice all the sensations in your body. Notice any differences? You may notice a sensation in your tummy or chest – follow it and explore it – How big is it? What shape? Colour? Texture? Allow the space to become larger to house this sensation. Does it change again? What happens when you breathe into and around it? Answering these questions will give you some insights into your answer. Try it again with an alternate solution. You’ll be amazed how your answer will manifest itself in the body.
In the beginning you might find that all 3 brains are telling you different things, but in time and with practice you will start to discern between the different brains messages. Unfortunately, the one that I try not to listen to (the Thinking Mind) is the one that is the most dominant, but through consistent mindfulness practices such as meditation and the technique describes above, we can start to ‘quieten’ our Monkey Mind to make way for the other brains to work their magic!
Want to know more? Here are a few of my favourite resources;
- The Happiness Trap: Russ Harris (book)
- The Connection – Mind your body: Shannon Harvey (documentary) https://theconnection.tv/
Nikki is in clinic Thursdays by appointment