Jill Bolte Taylor
I have a theory, and I have begun to write them down, that we speak the truth more often than we realize. And in speaking the truth, in being re-minded of the world of wisdom we possess, we are uniquely and effortlessly guided as to where to put our attention. And I am going a step further and say that, not only are we being guided as to where to put our attention, but for how long.
Let me break this down.
We have not one mind, but two or two hundred for that matter. To keep it simple, let's just start with two minds or as they are referred to in many scientific journals, our two brains. Now, for the last six years, my right brain has had my undivided attention. More about undivided in a moment. Because, the undivided brain is an empowered brain.
Many people think they have, what I will call for the purpose of this discussion, a competitive mind. The perception is having a mind that is in constant conflict. Not surprisingly, we see a great deal of competition and consternation in our day-to-day lives. It is literally how one of our minds is wired. Imagine a team playing tug-of-war inside your head, pulling towards some imaginary goal line, to score a point, or capture the flag. Now, stack that team with the biggest, strongest and fastest and you have an idea how your left mind can dominate if it thinks it's a competition. Here is an amazing illustration of the minds as imaged by a new Mercedes Benz campaign. It illustrates the point beautifully...and literally.
Notice the differences in the image below. See how many more words are associated with the left brain image than the right. Now, remember the tug-of-war analogy? Notice the contrast, in almost every way, between the left and right brain. Wow, I believe the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words is apt here. Note how many more words were used on the left side. Here's why.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his insight-filled book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, describes the two minds in action. The experiential right mind doesn't 'think' in words, but in pictures. For example, facial recognition is an automatic and what Gladwell calls an example of unconscious cognition. We don't think in words about recognizing a face. We process that information in a visual, symbolic way. Actually, the act of describing the face lowers our ability to recognize the face again, and here's why.
"The psychologist Jonathan W. Schooler, who pioneered research on this effect, calls it verbal overshadowing. Your brain has a part, the left hemisphere, that thinks in words and a part, the right hemisphere, that thinks in pictures. What happens when you described the face in words was that your actual visual memory was displaced. Your thinking was bumped from the right to the left. By forcing you to verbalize that memory, to explain yourself, I separate you from those instincts.
There is substantial research to show that the part of our brain that thinks in words does this so much faster than the part that thinks in pictures. Biologist Bruce Lipton says that some researchers estimate that the subconscious mind is processing about 40 million bits of information in the same time frame that the conscious mind can process only 40.
Therefore, it is first vital that we pay attention to all the ways the brain, especially the RIGHT brain, gives us clues to what is important. The right brain is cooperative, not competitive and the pictures, symbols, emotions, feelings, connections and associations made there can be of vital use to our word processing left brain. However, it is first important to have what I call the cooperative mind.
Yes, cooperative, not competitive is how to tap in and harness the power of the whole brain or as Daniel Pink asserts in his book of the same name, A Whole New Mind. The subtitle for this book is 'why right-brained thinking will rule the world.' And we have a great bridge already in place to create the connection for our two brains. Meet the corpus callosum.
The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. It's job, like all great facilitators, is to hold the space in between so that the two minds are able to communicate. Ah, sigh, relief, brain detente. Houston, we have contact.
So, the next time you are having that tug-of-war, hot-tempered brain argument, stop, look and listen. (A bit like stop, drop and roll, but this one keeps your mind from burning up.) Imagine that bridge between your brains trading information like bubble gum cards. Relax, a whole new collection of insights and information is on its way.
Now, having this information is vital to understanding and appreciating how your mind, your WHOLE CORPUS CALLOSUM CONNECTED MIND works and plays. So, now that you understand this, you can understand how the unconscious mind sends 40 million bits of information out your mouth every second. My contention is this: that is a lot of un-examined truth.
So, let's examine it.
As I shared at the start of the article, I said the phrase, not for a minute do I believe. Research now shows that I have spoken the absolute truth whether I meant too or not. Now, given that 88% of what is being process is from our sub-conscious mind, it makes a lot of sense to me to listen to what I say. And what I find is that I speak truthfully, intuitively, and wisely more often than not. And so do YOU.
Now, here is the second part of my theory at the start of the post. There is significant research that shows that if you can or can't sustain a belief for 60 to 90 seconds, it will be harder to activate or suppress that thought. Think the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (I do believe, I do believe, I do, I do, I do believe). It is likely that there was sound scientific reasoning that he took his time to create his courage.
One of my top mind-flexing, green-thinking ready to read books is My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. I read this book at a time when I was going through a powerful transformation myself and the similarities in our experiences under vastly different circumstances was striking. I use Jill's book as a primer for all the ways spiritually transformative experiences are happening here in the West. And the power of sixty little seconds (and 90 seconds) are written about in Bolte-Taylor's memoir. Here is an excerpt that highlights the way we are guided to believe or not believe it for a minute. Here is Jill's 90 second rule.
“We can all learn that we can take full responsibility for what thoughts we are thinking and what emotional circuitry we are feeling. Knowing this and acting on this can lead us into feeling a wonderful sense of well-being and peacefulness. Whether it is my fear circuitry or my anger circuitry or even my joy circuitry – it is really hard to hold a good belly laugh for more than 90 seconds naturally. The 90-second rule is totally empowering. That means for 90 seconds, I can watch this happen, I can feel this happen and I can watch it go away. After that, if I continue to feel that fear or feel that anger, I need to look at the thoughts I am thinking that are re-stimulating that circuitry that is resulting in me having this physiology over and over again."
This idea of the power of sixty little seconds can be found in many practices, exercises and ideas in the work of other teachers. Abraham-Hicks highlights this principle in some of their brilliant tools and techniques. No matter how you are inspired or what you believe or don't believe, try it yourself. Experiential learning is the most empowering tool in our evolutionary toolbox.
Begin to notice what you say, listen to yourself when you speak. Your words have the power to change the way you think...the way you see your world.
In as little as sixty seconds.