Saturday, October 3, 2015

#274: Buddha's Brain

Someone recommended Buddha's Brain to me as a way to understand the physiology of emotions to help me counter anxiety. It is super interesting! I'm only on chapter 7, but so far my take home messages are:
  • I am not in control of as much as I thought when it comes to my emotions. Lots of times, like for most of my life, I'd say, I thought I was getting anxious because there was something I was doing wrong and if I corrected the "bad" behavior I would stop being afraid. Turns out that while that is true sometimes, many, many times my body was just doing it's natural reaction thing and my brain came up with thoughts to explain it.
  • I am in control of more than I thought I was when it comes to my emotions. One time in a professional development the instructor taught up to take a big breath before confronting a student to calm down our adrenal glands. Now I understand what this is about. It occurred to me while reading this that this very thing is why I have been super tired and a little reluctant to go to work--I've been stressing my body out by trying to make my students learn [see a few days ago post] rather then create situations where they can do the learning. So not only can I change my behavior and my lesson plans to help my body out, there are physical things I can do, too, like meditation, breathing, good sleep, etc. [detailed in the book].
  • My emotions are not only closely tied to my physiology, they are interconnected to it. Thus, when I get anxious over, say, showing up to a new place by myself, my body believes there is danger and sets off a serious of physical reactions that were originally designed to help us survive in the "wild".  I read this to mean it goes both ways, like in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I have some control over my body which can reduce the amount of anxiety that comes up and I can also do some training with my mind to calm my body down when anxiety does arise.
  • What we think creates pathways in our brains; when we think it again, those pathways grow stronger.
  • We can change the physiology of our brains!  Woohoo!!  I thought I was stuck with the negative opinions of myself I started with.  WRONG!  I can change my thoughts and actions and this will actually change the physiology of my brain!

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