About Us      Contact Us

Train Your Brain
Change Your Life

Many Problems, One Cause

          Most of us struggle – at least to some extent – with difficult emotions, tense bodies, overactive minds, problematic relationships, and a host of other challenges. We generally believe that it’s something in the external world that’s causing our problems – lack of time, lack of money, pressures at work, difficult people, and so on.  

          Though it may be hard to believe, neuroscientific research indicates that the ultimate source of stress and emotional suffering is something more internal – the functioning of your own brain.  When the parts of your brain are out of balance, even if your life were relatively easy, you would experience it as stressful.  On the other hand, even if your life is very difficult, when the various parts of your brain are in harmony, you can remain inwardly calm and at ease. 

          This is actually good news because neuroscience also tells us that you can train your brain in a way that will restore balance to both your brain and your life. There are many ways to train your brain, but whatever method or technique you choose, real and lasting change depends on something else – what we’re calling “remember to breathe.”

          “Remember to breathe” means remembering, again and again, to pause for a moment in the midst of whatever activity you’re engaged in, to allow the various parts of your brain to come into harmony with each other.  When they begin to come into balance – even a little bit – you will begin to feel very different.

          So what does it feel like when your brain comes into balance?

Balanced Brain, Balanced Life

          Did you ever have a moment – maybe while engaged in sports . . . working on a challenging project . . . or having an intimate conversation – when the sense of strain just seemed to melt away? You have a sudden feeling of ease . . . and things seem to flow almost effortlessly. You feel calm, content, and deeply connected to the people around you.  

             It may seem as if these moments come out of the blue and disappear just as mysteriously, leaving you wishing for more.       

          But the latest brain research shows that these experiences may not be so mysterious after all - and that you have far more power to create them than you think.  In fact, the more you bring your brain into balance, the more often this feeling of calm and contentment, ease and effortlessness, will be with you. Eventually, you'll begin to feel like there's a core of calm contentment always there inside you. Like the eye of a hurricane, it remains undisturbed no matter what may be happening around you. 

What Makes Our Brains Unbalanced?

          Our brains can become out of balance when the different parts of our brain interfere with each other’s functioning, which happens almost constantly.  The drives of our instinctive brain tend to be at odds with the needs of our emotional brain, and both can interfere with the carefully laid out plans of our thinking brain.

          This imbalance between the various parts of our brain happens largely because our brains are out of sync with the modern world in which we live.  Thousands of years ago, our brain functioned according to “rules” that kept us alive and safe in a very different, much simpler world.  But those same rules, when applied in this far more complex environment, tend to do the opposite – they create physical and mental imbalance, leading to addictive behaviors, reactive emotions, and thinking that is distracted and confused.  

          What seems to be needed is something that can get the different parts of our brain to listen to and collaborate with each other so that they can respond to people and events in a more balanced way.  Our brain needs a good manager or coach that can honor the strengths and talents of all its parts, and inspire them to work together as a team.

The MPFC to the Rescue

          Fortunately, our brains come equipped with such a coach, a good manager who knows how to get all the members of the “team” to work and play together.  It resides in the middle of the newest, most complex part of the brain called the mid-prefrontal cortex, or MPFC for short.

          Our MPFC has the capacity to listen to the signals from our instinctive brain and to regulate its survival mechanisms so that they don’t create havoc in our bodies.  It can calm the tides of our emotional brain, and still honor the valuable information that those emotions provide.  By making us conscious of our automatic instinctive drives and emotional reactions, it offers us the possibility of freedom from their rigid ways of reacting to the world.  It gives us the option to reflect and respond more flexibly, creatively, and wisely to the kinds of situations we encounter in the modern world.

          The problem is that our MPFC, being a relatively young part of our brain, is not as strong or well-developed, nor as quick to respond as are the older parts of our brain (which have had over 100 million years of practice).  So we could just wait another million years or so for it to evolve on its own, or we can choose to train it to become stronger and faster today. 

The MPFC- Heart Brain Partnership

          In order to do its job well, our MPFC needs to collaborate with an older organ – what some neuroscientists now refer to as the “heart brain”.  Our heart brain, like our MPFC, can have a harmonizing and integrative influence on our head brain. When our MPFC and heart brain are both doing their jobs well, they’re able to harmonize our instinctive brain, emotional brain, and thinking brain.

          As the different parts of your brain become more balanced, you’ll find you’re able to respond more appropriately to people and events in your life. No matter what you’re dealing with – whether it’s severe physical pain, a painful relationship, intense pressure at work, or compulsive habits and addictions – you’ll find that the experience of having a calm, easeful center within you becomes stronger and more easily accessible. 

Remembering to Breathe

          The act of “returning” to that center of calm is what we’re calling "remember to breathe".  Returning to your center means pausing inwardly for a moment, and letting your MPFC and heart brain take control of your attention.

          As your MPFC and heart brain gain control, it becomes easier to unhook your attention from whatever struggles and dramas you’ve been caught up in and let it come to rest in that center of ease, calm, and contentment.

          It may be hard to believe that such an experience is within reach. That’s why we offer a variety of techniques that train your brain to make the experience more accessible.  These techniques include breathing exercises, relaxation, imagery, and meditation, among others.  But the essential technique for contacting that inner core, is training your attention. 

          As you practice training your attention, you’ll find you’re able to view whatever’s happening with great simplicity.  You can be calmly aware of what things look, sound, or feel like, without any added commentary or judgment.  And when your heart brain comes into play, you'll also have a sense of softness or kindness toward whatever’s happening. 

     When you attend to your experience this way, it may feel as though clouds of mental and emotional heaviness have been lifted and you can suddenly breathe more freely, see more clearly.  In that state, you’ll naturally be able to respond more wisely and effectively to whatever you’re dealing with – whether it’s a severe physical pain, a difficult relationship, a challenging work assignment, or a compulsive habit or addiction.

          This shift in how you attend to your experience has the potential to radically transform your life. It can give you the sense that you have at your core, a “place” that, by its very nature, is calm, kind, and contented.


          You may wonder how just a moment of looking calmly at your experience can make much of a difference in your life.  And you’re right, an occasional moment won’t do it.  It takes repeated practice. That’s why the “remember” part of “remember to breathe” is so important.

          Each time you shift to a calmer, kinder way of relating to your experience, you activate your heart brain and MPFC.  If you remember to do that periodically throughout the day, you start to build strength in those brain structures – just as you would strengthen a muscle with repeated use.  Over time, as they get stronger, it becomes easier for you to make the shift – and eventually, it starts to happen on its own.

Taking an Actual Breath

           If making that shift is not immediately accessible to you, one of the simplest, fastest, and easiest ways to get a taste of it is to take a slow, full, conscious breath – gently breathing in . . . and slowly breathing out fully.  

          As we said above, "remember to breathe" is our shorthand way of saying, "pause for a moment to activate your MPFC-heart brain and connect to your core of calm, ease, and contentment."  But it can also simply mean

b    r    e    a    t    h    e

          Taking a conscious breath or two will calm your autonomic nervous system, soothe your agitated lower brain, activate your MPFC, and if you imagine you’re breathing into your heart, it will activate the nerve cells in your heart brain as well.

          Just remembering to stop and take a few slow, deep breaths in the midst of your day will help to balance your brain, give you a taste of that inner calm, and help you to be more effective in whatever you’re doing.  

Try a Breathing Video

        If you have a few moments, we’d like to invite you to do a little conscious breathing in time with the music and images in these breathing videos.  

          There are just a few things you need to know first:        

  • Be in a comfortable, relaxed position, and let your breathing be smooth and gentle.  
  • It's best to listen through headphones or earbuds.
  • Watch in full screen.
  • Use "ocean breathing"

          And here are the breathing videos:


With Music Only:

For a full explanation of how to use these videos, and to see other 
breathing videos,