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Our Balanced Brains

 The Key to Balancing Your Brain:
Mindful, Heartful Attention

          The key to balancing your brain, and to helping it cope with the modern world, is a strong, well-developed mid-prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and heart-brain.  

          And the key to a strong, well-developed MPFC and heart-brain is developing the  capacity for mindful, heartful attention.

          Mindful, heartful attention means being able to relate to your experience
                                      and compassionately,
without judging it, reacting to it, or trying to make it other than it is.  When you can see people and events clearly, for what they are - without reacting to them based on habit or impulse - you're then able to respond to them more wisely and in ways that are more effective and constructive.  
It’s also possible to relate in this way to your own thoughts, memories, emotions, and desires.  

          The more you take this calm, non-judgmental stance toward your experience, the stronger your MPFC will become, and the more they will bring your brain, body, and life into balance.  What starts out as a conscious effort to shift your attitude becomes increasingly - with practice over time - your natural way of being.

          Developing mindful, heartful attention will make widespread and profound changes in your life:

  • Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) will be better able to balance your energy.  That means you’ll have plenty of energy when you need it, and you’ll be able to relax and let go when you need to rest.

  • Your instinctive and emotional brains will not be as consumed with protecting you from psychological threats.  Instead, they can give their energy to supporting healthy eating, exercise, and other habits. 

  • Rather than being controlled by your emotional brain, you’ll be able step back into your core, and calmly recognize an emotion without being compelled to act on it.

  • Your thinking brain will become good at identifying the kinds of things that stimulate your emotional and instinctive brains, without being compelled to follow their urges.

  • Your left hemisphere will have less need to control your environment or insist that your instinctive and emotional brain follow its rigid rules.

  • Instead of being pushed and pulled by things in your environment or your desires and fears, you’ll be freer to choose how and where to direct your energy and attention.

  • Instead of reacting on automatic pilot, you'll be able to respond to people and events with greater wisdom and effectiveness.

          As your MPFC and heart-brain develop, your brain and body will come into greater balance with each other and the world, and the  experience of having a calm, peaceful, stable core at the center of your awareness will become more familiar and more readily accessible.

Living From the Core

           If there were one thing that was the ultimate cause of all of our problems, it would be that, to large extent, we're cut off from that core, from the "hub" of our "wheel of awareness".  

          The more our attention gets absorbed or caught up in the various objects of our awareness – whether they're internal objects like thoughts, feelings, and memories, or external objects like people and events – we lose touch with our calm center of awareness.  We lose touch with who we are and become overly identified with the roles we play  These roles often have goals, needs, and desires that conflict with each other. When we're being pulled by conflicting goals and desires, we feel fragmented, out of balance, and lacking a clear sense of direction, meaning, or purpose.

          But when we attend to the objects of our awareness from that calm inner center, our MPFC and heart-brain can go about their job of balancing all the parts of our brain - helping us fulfill our responsibilities in ways that are heartful and effective, and helping us relate harmoniously to other people.

          The more we live from this inner center, the more we have the feeling of being in "the flow", the sense that things are "just working out", an overall experience of ease and happiness, and a deep sense of freedom.  

          And, as we say on The Most Important Page, these feelings become even more powerful when we encourage and support others in strengthening their MPFC, so that ultimately we can live a balanced, compassionate, and creatively effective life in harmony with each other.