It's been a bit since I have added to this blog! It’s not that I haven’t had anything to discuss; it’s actually quite the opposite. I took this last year to delve into client care, and education to further my knowledge base and hands on work. Our mind/body relationship and our nervous systems is still my main jam!
I took a mind blowing course on our familial, inherited trauma. Expanding out from our actual situational trauma our families can bring, we dove into the inherited belief systems that we carry on with or without actual trauma. Let me get science-y for a minute. Our nervous systems, our computer mother boards, come out of the gate as pretty much blank slates. I.e. we are born with this system that depends on the outside world to develop. As newborns, scans of our brains look like a blank canvas, with a few squiggly lines here and there. By the time we are 3 years old, the scans look like that same 3 year old scribbled on the whole thing- its filled with neurological connections that have been built essentially by our homes and caregivers. So if our homes or caregivers lead with fear, real or imagined, we will also begin to experience the world in this way.
Let me add another wrinkle to this. I’m sure you have heard that “we only use 10% of our brains.” This is not true. We use 100% of our brains. 10% of it is reserved for our executive functioning, i.e our rational brains or frontal cortex. The other 90% is our unconscious processes. SO- our rational or adult brain is delegated only 10% of the duties when we are processing the outside world. The other 90% is out of our conscious control, taken care of by old wiring that was set up during our formative years. Are ya with me so far? If not, read the last part again. It’s important to understand how we rock and roll thru our days in the present moment.
How do these 2 concepts relate? Well, much of our unconscious processes, the neural connections that are involved in how we process the world, are created before we are 4 years of age. Our wiring is essentially is set up by our external experiences during that time. If our early world is populated by people who have experienced trauma, and/or who mistrust the world, our nervous systems will be set up to do same.
When we perceive the world, and external info is received, only 10% of this processing is done by our trusty rational mind- you know, the voice that can crush us under heavy judgement when we screw up, or tell us we should “know better.” The info is quickly passed on to that other 90%, in which old wiring takes over without us having much input. To add insult to injury, this 90% has a blind spot. Much like our side view mirrors on our cars. When info enters this blind spot, which has zero facts to gather from BTW, it quickly sends it to familiar wiring to be processed efficiently, to keep us as safe as possible. What the hell does this mean?? It means that much of how we process the world comes from a place outside our conscious reasoning, that was set up without our input. So we can read all the self-help books, go to talk therapy, do ALL of the things recommended in the real world and Tik Tok, and still have not made the kind of meaningful progress that makes our daily lives more comfortable.
OK so what do we do with this info? First let this all sink in. Be curious about your own wiring, and its relationship to your childhood familial lessons and environment. Examine how and why you do what you do, with purpose and without judgement. Notice how much of this feels like how your primary caregivers did it. And if you are privileged to know them, how your caregiver’s caregivers did it. Get to know your relationship with fear. Does it color every decision you make? Take the time to let this unconscious information break down the wall into your conscious processes. Once you do this, you begin to create new neural pathways in which to perceive the world around you. As I always say, any mindfulness activities, like yoga, mediation, and therapies that incorporate the mind/body relationship will assist you in this journey.
Know this: our brains MAIN job is to keep us safe. All of this wiring was created in an effort to accomplish this all day, every day. What we want to do is check in to see if our wiring is making us feel unsafe much of our waking moments. If it is, take a curious journey into what may have created these reactions. Cut yourself some slack if you are stuck in patterns that do not serve your well-being anymore. Just the very action of observing will be your first step into rewiring. And the most amazing thing is that our nerves are plastic. This means they can be redirected or rewired at any time! THIS is what that trending concept of mindfulness means.