Our Brains Are Lazy

Let’s face it, our brains are lazy.

Given the option of stopping and thinking about how to respond to a particular situation, or doing what we have done for decades, our brains are going to opt for the easy way out: autopilot. But another way of stating that is to say we are being mindless, that is the exact opposite of being mindful.

Now to be fair, there are times when being mindless are actually life-saving, say for example when you are being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. In those situations you don’t have time to ponder the details of your circumstances, or have an in-depth internal conversation about “hey I thought saber-toothed tigers were extinct!”. Here is where your brain is programmed to survive, so you just run, without consulting your prefrontal cortex. That’s life saving autopilot that truly helped our species survive.

But for most of us today, we see dangers that activate the limbic center of our brain that aren’t remotely life-threatening. Yet we have developed reactions to all sorts of fears, real and imagined, that have significant negative impact on our self-esteem, relationships and work productivity. We have developed reactions that cause us to lose our focus, make mistakes- big and small, say things without thinking, eat too much, drink too much and inject ourselves with things that are more dangerous than a long extinct tiger. We are stressed.

So you have a choice. Keep doing what you’ve been doing all of your life, hoping miraculously for a different result (the definition of insanity), or you can choose to change the way your brain responds to its external and internal environment. Dr. Victor Frankle said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that spaces lies the potential for growth and freedom.” Widen that space and you are no longer imprisoned by the emotional part of your brain.

How do you widen that space?  By developing meditation skills to become mindful throughout your day.  You go to the gym to build your muscles and/or lose weight.   And that’s wonderful.  But what about exercise for your brain?  You know, THE most important organ in your body.   That’s what meditation is–exercise for the brain.    Yes I know, most people don’t love exercise.   This is one is worth learning and sticking to it.   In other blogs I’ll talk more about meditation and how to build your practice.   See you on the cushion!

With peace,