As promised for my #stuntwriting project, I have been reading and meditating on the book, Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen, PHD and Richard Mendius, MD. One quote that has stuck we me thus far is, “Inhibition from the prefrontal cortex and arousal from the limbic system must balance each other: too much inhibition and you feel numb inside, too much arousal and you feel overwhelmed.”
Basically, within my body, two systems – the prefrontal cortex (brain) and the limbic system (body) are trying to figure out what is the right state for me to be in, in any given moment. So, my feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious are where my prefrontal cortex is uninhibited, while my limbic system is aroused. Or in short, too much thought and too much physical arousal (and by arousal then don’t mean sexual, they mean synaptic arousal). :p
I find it to be very ironic that during activities where I am trying to be focused on one part of myself – the body or mind – the other lights up, sending out fireworks, begging for attention.
While I am in Pilates class, I get great ideas and all I want to do is jump up and write them down. But when I am trying to hard to think and focus many times all I want to do is sleep.
I see news of a dead lion in Africa and a dead girl in California and I avert my eyes. I can’t physically bring myself to look at the news beyond the headline. Physically I can not deal with the images and reading the headline alone puts me into sadness overdrive.
I should be getting dressed for a meeting and I open my laptop again. And again….
I am attempting to tell students how to use their own computers, in their homes, in far-flung locales such as Bhutan or Amsterdam but I can’t be there to truly show them. I want to be able to download my knowledge but can not across physical restraints.
I need my body to be stronger so that I can accomplish more with my mind and all of the creative thoughts and projects I aspire to. Without strong posture, endurance, and strength it is hard to work 14 hours a day.
One positive comment and my soul flits and flights. A negative one and my blood pressure rises. It is all connected and the connections are beyond my control, according to many experts. So what am I to do?
The Buddha’s Brain has a system for getting the two systems into an improved state of equilibrium… but the truth is that it’s a life long task. In order to change your mind/body connection you need to improve your body and mind trusting that you can take on the unknowable synaptic connections between the two. It is a theory – that by being aware of your conscious choices and attempting to change them – you are also changing yourself on the synaptic level. That the neural circuitry for being in balance, calm, and able are enhanced through use.
It is a leap of faith in my opinion, but one worth taking when you consider the everyday quality of your life. It turns out that just as you must take care of your body by staying fit, and feed your mind by exposing it to new and curious ideas, you must also work on the connection between the two so that they have a happy, healthy working relationship; or in other words a sense of equanimity.
I promise to read more and see what I can find out about increasing my sense of equanimity in this world.
© Erin Jourdan, 2013-2015