"Thinking. The talking of the soul with itself." - Plato
Talking about Thinking
What is the soul saying when thinking goes round and round and round?
Those looping thoughts that rehash, revisit, replay, relive, rehearse or re-imagine a past event or an anticipated future event can be both a sign and a symptom of stress. If you are like I was, you're caught up in that hamster wheel of thinking; unaware of just how much you're doing it. As I discovered, the more you do it, the more you do it. It becomes a habit - one that triggers the stress response, robbing you of sleep and contributing to an unsavoury smorgasbord of symptoms ranging from the physical to emotional and mental ones. Not only is it exhausting, but it is also non-productive - a waste of energy and brain power.
Cortical Facilitation versus Cortical Inhibition
Think of a radio that is attuned to the station. The signal is strong and the sound is clear. When you have successfully transformed your stress, the signal that is sent to the brain from the heart is like that accurately tuned radio - clear and powerful. Cortical facilitation occurs when you operate from your prefrontal cortex (PFC), otherwise known as the brain's executive centre. These are just a few of the things your brain's CEO is responsible for: decision-making, planning, problem-solving, predicting, sorting, synthesizing and moderating social behaviour. These functions can improve as you improve your HRV.
How much do you enjoy listening to the radio when it is slightly off the station? Not much, I would bet. Stress has a role in cortical inhibition - think of it as a weak radio signal, which results in less-than-optimal performance. When you are stressed, you are primed for survival - it's as if there is a well-lit runway in your brain that initiates the stress response and bypasses the PFC.
Who is in charge?
Is it the manager or assistant manager? This is one of the many techniques I use to get out of that place called Stinkin' Thinkin'. The heart is the manager. When it sends a clear job description to the assistant manager - the brain - the brain can get on with performing all those wonderful brain functions we know and love.
"Fear grows out of the things we think; it lives in our minds. Compassion grows out of the things we are, and lives in our hearts." - Barbara Garrison