From courses, research and my own experience, I have encountered a number of models or ways in which we can break the mental whirring, the repetitive unhelpful thought patterns, create new positive habits or just be happy in the moment.
All of these involve creative thought, which would indicate a change is required to a well know quote of Henry Ford:
If you always think what you have always thought, then you will always do the same things you have always done, then you will always get what you have always got.
The question I have been pondering is what is the link between a number of activities that have positive impacts within the lives of those who practice them. These include REM sleep, hypnotherapy using trance and visualisation, groups such as Landmark Worldwide, NLP, meditation, gratitude and talk therapy? What is the link between these activities and disciplines?
All these engage the parts of the brain described previously that allow us to review our thoughts objectively, create new habits, possibilities and new ways of thinking, being and acting.
What is happening in all of these? It would appear that all of these allow us to move out of our amygdala through recognising the thoughts, feelings or emotional and redirecting or dissipating the energy built up in the associated mental whirring and consistent chatter. They engage with the pre-frontal cortex to create new ideas, solutions, something funny or artistic to change the pattern. In addition to this, engaging with our creative brain and doing, creating or solving problems also gives us a positive chemical hit of dopamine as a reward for solving problems. The very regions of the brain responsible for the feeling of happiness also reside here too. So why is it difficult to hang out using the pre-frontal cortex all the time?
Firstly, the emotional energy held in the amygdala has a powerful effect on us. It keeps us vigilant, on the look out for trouble and, metaphorically speaking, hanging on for dear life to the emotion and therefore triggering templates we believe work for us in the given scenario. Worry and anger are powerful energies that empower us to initiate flight or fight action incredibly quickly, through templated responses time and time again.
An example of the power of the emotional energy stored through fear, anxiety or anger that I find facinating is in an example of a bear that has been chased by an environmental team. Their reason for chasing the bear is to capture it for specific health checks as well as tagging to better monitor it and the other bears in it’s location. Obviously the bear does not know that it is being chased for a reason that could help it’s and other bears survival. It is therefore frightened for its life and it’s instinctual templated response is to run.
Whilst the bear is running, the team shoot the bear with a tranquilliser dart. When this takers effect it goes into a medically induced sleep. When the bear wakes, although it’s on the ground lying on it’s side, it’s still panicked and it’s legs can visibly be seen to move all four legs as if it was still actually running. This takes place until it realises it’s safe and that things have changed. The bear can then be seen to physically shake off the emotional feeling and stop itself from running. This mental energy, emotion or templated response existed long after the animal was caught and sedated. It appears that on waking in a new environment and being forced to review the scenario, it was able to adapt to the new scenario and discharge the mental and physical energy on recognisition of its relative safety.
For human beings, this mental energy within our primative brains is similar. We can be entirely engrossed within our own thinking. We can follow the same old templates and remain in a negative emotional mood. We can feel trapped without the release of the introduction of a change. Either we change ourselves or our environment presents us with something we cannot deal with using our set patterns.
Our mind will worry over things that potentially do not make a difference. LIving in 2018 without the threat of not having water, food or shelter means that often the anxiety of living is relating to scenarios where are thinking doesn’t solve the problem. We can like with the mental energy of these negative emotions and without the right outlets for the energy and the self perpetuating negative thoughts caught up in a loop, we can exhaust ourselves will leads to depression.
Consequently, if we don’t create or solve problems, take positive action or have positive interaction, we won’t feel great. If we don’t engage with our creative, higher self then we are not rewarded with that hit of dopamine.
So what are the practical ways of realising this energy?
Sleep is great for us. Good sleep will always help us be at our best and particularly sleep with a REM period. Great sleep is very positive for us and our well being, it’s a mode of sleep that occurs towards the end of a sleep cycle and assists in releasing this emotional energy for us. Part of the process of REM is bevlived to be that it catelogues the emotions, thoughts and events that occur during the day and orders these within the brain for later recall. Doing so outside of the amygdala and therefore processing without the emotional energy associated. It therefore could be seen to move the thoughts and memories from the primitive part of the brain into grey matter storage for future use. Trimming and clearing the unnecessary from your mental RAM. A series of good nights sleep will assist greatly in feeling rested, mentally clear and free from the emotions associate with the events of the days and weeks before.
Hypnotherapy is another mechanism used to help clear the mental energy stored when caught up in the amygdala. Hypnotherapy uses trance to put individuals into a state very similar to sleep. During this time, individuals show an increased response to suggestions, mental focus and ability to visualise. Hypnotherapy has been shown to actively help individuals clear their mental energy and move into the creative pre-frontal cortex.
Meditation, as a discussed previously, is about strengthening the minds ability to focus and be present. Through focussing the mind on a particular action, thought, object or activity and achieving a calm state. This helps us not to react to the emotions and thoughts that activate the amygdala and our templated responses. A useful metaphor for this, is watch the water flow in a river in a single spot. You are aware the water is running and it just happens, the moment you watch something flow downstream, you’ve interacted with that item and taken your focus away.
Visualisation is the process in which we form a mental image of something, a practice that can either support meditation, support hypnotherapy, problem solving or just being creative. When visualising a mental image, you are engaged with your pre-frontal cortex to create and objectively be able to look at something within your mind. The very act of this focus takes us deep into our creative brain. It is difficult to focus here if you are engaged with your amygdala. According to Charles F Handel (The Master Key System), this is key to making any change or bringing anything into manifestation. It can be particularly effective when coupled with another of these activities.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a programme based around understanding the language of our own minds. Very popular in recent years, however much of the supporting evidence behind some of its principles have been discredited. There are however plenty of models and tools used within NLP that have helped many people and many of these use either visualisation, trance (hypnotherapy) or positive language which, as we know, helps us get into our pre-frontal cortex and therefore, be objective, creative and choose a different option.
The Landmark Forum is a group based approach to seeing the world in as different light that allows you more choice in your actions. Having experienced the Landmark Forum, it is an approach that not only allows you to see and feel what it is like to be in your amygdala, but it also shows you vis the medium of c.150 people all sharing their own experiences, how we all follow our set templated patterns. When we discuss the things that we want, it is likely that our sort routines and behaviours are holding us back from bringing the very things that we want into our lives.
One of the powerful distinctions of the Landmark Forum is the concept of “already always listening” and that the little voice in your mind is always evaluating and judging. When you can recognise this and some of the set routines that exist, you can identify the impact they have on your life and choose a different way of being that will bring you a more positive result into your life.
The other very powerful concept that the Landmark Forum has given me is “it’s all empty and meaningless, and it’s empty and meaningless that it’s empty and meaningless”, which means that the very concept of meaning is in the human conscious. We as human beings are meaning making machines, we look at anything and give it a meaning. Think about it, we have mental discussions with ourselves about what things mean. The very concepts of modest things only exist in language and that language is within us, driving our thoughts and actions. The very concept of ‘right and wrong’ or ‘positive and negative’ are human descriptions in language. They do not exist in the non-human world.
This is a very astute concept, as removing the meaning from something, whether it’s good, bad, right or wrong, means we can objectively look at something. If you can objectively look at something, you can get creative too with that part of the brain. If we can get creative, we can visualise something different and we can choose a different path.
Ultimately, creation is the key to dissipating the energy when caught in the emotional energy centre that is the amygdala. Creating something, a new path, a new idea, different choices, new possibilities, designing something that did not exist before, seeing the funny side of something, making a story out of what has happened, visualising what you want, what you want that’s different.
It is this process that will allow to take the next step… positive action or positive interaction. Choosing to create something different for your life is a very powerful tool and it’s the one thing that links all these activities together.
Creativity and creation can also start with us. Creating something for ourselves, all too often we are caught up because the self perpetuating emotional loops that look for meaning come to a single cause. Us. Often we can get caught up thinking we’re not good enough, we will never get things right, we are at fault and cannot live up to our own or others expectations. The answer to this is mental self care. Should you find that your little voice is tough on you, then create the opposite. Create the possibility that you are good enough, that you can get things done and that you will come out of things the other side victorious because creating love for yourself s creating love for others. Being compassionate for yourself will make you compassionate for others.
Stepping outside of these thoughts and creating this new way of being, allows you to be present. Not distracted, but present. Being present is about being in a state that will allow you to enjoy the world you are in for exactly what is in front of you. Now if you create a world in which you can enjoy yourself, guess what…. It just so happens that others will enjoy the world that bit more too.