Modern-day life often causes people to live in a constant state of stress taxing the sympathetic nervous system and eroding the parasympathetic one. For the employee in the workplace, long-term elevated levels of stress can suppress his or her parasympathetic activity, which can lead to burnout. When stress is in the extreme, due to trauma, resultant PTSD, or chronic anxiety, the overworked sympathetic system can result in panic attacks.
If you are stressed, a simple tool to bring you back into balance is to take deep breaths with a longer exhalation. When your stress levels are rising, start by taking a deep breath with a four second inhalation, followed by an exhalation of six seconds. This remedy is effective in as little as three breaths, so it’s worth incorporating this practice into your day as often as possible, particularly if you are spending an inordinate amount of your time in a high-stress setting. This easy
technique will give you the desired result of balance, in which both systems move towards harmony.
An alternative way to return to your baseline by using mindful breathing is to count how many breaths you take in a minute. Then compare this to the next minute and the minute after that. Typically, the number of breaths per minute reduces because of the improved awareness of your breathing patterns.
Once balance has been achieved, the second step to integrating the three brains happens at the level of communication through a set of specific questions for each brain. With clients, I’m listening for a potential constraint in his or her decision-making process. For example, a client of mine who is a workaholic desires to invest in a well-deserved, much needed holiday in a place that he’s always dreamed of going. However, he isn’t sure whether it’s practical to take time off work, in part because he never does, and instead worries about the loss of productivity in his absence, even if only for a few days. This is a textbook example of the saying, “The heart says yes, but the head says no.”
To elicit a wise decision, I use multiple brain integration as the principal technique. To do this yourself, place your hand on your heart. Recall a time when you were feeling gratitude, compassion, and love. Once you’ve connected with this feeling, begin by asking your heart, “What does my heart TRULY desire?” Follow up with the question, “What does my heart TRULY want?” Listen and write down your responses. After you’ve asked these questions of the heart brain, check in with what your head brain is thinking and perceiving by asking, “What does my head REALLY think?” Follow up with the question, “What does my head REALLY perceive?” Once again, listen and write down your responses.
Finally, move your hands over your belly and take a few deep breaths to associate into the gut brain. Ask your gut, “What does my gut DEEPLY need? What is my gut DEEPLY moved to do?”
These questions prompt continuous communication between the three brains. There will be feedback from all three, an interrelated dialogue, which ultimately brings about the desired outcome of congruence. This multiple brain integration technique fosters the highest expression of wisdom.
With the wise decision now realised, do a quick ecology check, is it good for me, good for others, and good for the greater good? My client above successfully tapped into his highest wisdom. By being really creative, truly compassionate, and deeply courageous, he REALLY, TRULY, DEEPLY decided that taking the time off work to go to his dream destination was possible. It would be restful for him, nourishing for his family, and would ultimately benefit the company’s overall productivity through the sound delegation of leadership.
His decision opened the possibility to train managerial supervisors which allowed him to work smarter not harder. Now he has planned periods of rest and rejuvenation in place for his health, directly benefiting his family’s relationships and the long-term, sustainable development of his company. What began as a seemingly trivial unanswered question of “Should I go on a holiday?” resulted in transformational change for both his personal and professional spheres, resulting in an overall lifestyle shift for the better. For each of us, the multiple brain integration process will yield varied results, as our head, heart, and gut brains are highly individualised. The technique empowers you to create aligned decisions in your life. With daily practice, you’ll become really truly deeply connected to your innermost wisdom.
Chapter seven of my book - “The Busy Professional’s Toolkit for Self-Mastery & Courageous Living,” covers "Really Truly Deeply" in more depth. Buy my Book now!