In 2012 Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka published mBraining: Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff. This book studies in depth the scientific knowledge that is finally catching up with esoteric and spiritual traditions (ancient wisdom) that are, in many cases, thousands of years old, introducing a new coaching style called mBIT: multiple Brain Integration Techniques.
This book and the techniques that they introduced answered a fundamental dilemma that most of us are faced with at one moment or another:
- Should I follow my heart?
- No, I should use my head.
- Perhaps I should trust my gut.
Which inner wisdom should you choose?
So many guides now are telling us to just flow with life – to live from the inside-out, but if only this were easy! I get it – I need to listen to my inner wisdom – but how do I choose which one?
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. — Aristotle
So, today I want to explore what this ancient wisdom is, before diving into the alignment that we find in mBraining – aligning all the parts of our being around our life purpose, so that we can move ahead coherently.
The three intelligence centers
Many aspects of the ancient wisdom point to three – or more – intelligence centers. You will hear many talk about “aligning your chakras” or energy centers, as well as other philosophies which recommend that we not allow one to rule another. The greatest power and wisdom is when we go within and allow ourselves to work from a place of inner coherence and authenticity.
Chinese Taoist philosophy
The Three Tan Tiens are identified as being the three minds or “intelligences” or “energy centers”:
- Upper Tan Tien = head brain
- Middle Tan Tien = heart
- Lower Tan Tien = abdomen
In practicing Qigong (also known as chi kung or chi gung), you will usually start with the lower center and return to this center at the end, to store your chi (life energy). The heart center, on the other hand, turns chi into spiritual energy, and this is often considered to be the main energy center for women. Activating the heart center is considered to ensure that you are able to come from a place of deep love and compassion in your life. The upper tan tien, is the last one which is activated, and is considered to be the spiritual enlightenment.
4,700 years of the Tao practice recommends to us: “Train all the organs; train them how to do different things.” You can rest the head brain when you’re not using it – and use the brain in the gut instead. With the simple practice of alignment – smiling with compassion to all the organs – you learn to integrate body, mind & spirit. They are no longer separate.
The purpose, of course, is to reach a place of balance between all of these centers – where one of them does not produce or store too much energy, but rather each are allowing energy to flow.
Enneagram & Gurdjieff
Another ancient wisdom, the enneagram is a model of the human psyche, understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. It is generally thought to be based on the work of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, as influenced by Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff – philosopher and mystic from the 1800s – was convinced that we had three brains:
- body-ruling of movement/instinct
We can see this partially reflected in Ichazo’s description of ego-fixation in the enneagram. In ego-fixation, as with some of Gurdjieff’s thoughts, we are not in alignment, fixated only on one intelligence center, to the exclusion of the rest.
We also find in Gurdjieff’s thoughts the idea that until we are in complete alignment, we are not fully human:
“partial functioning — the investment of function in one particular brain without referring to the others — is not what it means to be human.”
— The Three Brains
Hawaiian Philosophy of Huna
Even in the Huna ancient wisdom we find the idea of the three “minds” or selfs, although somewhat different from those described above. These are particularly of interest to me, as a student of Ho’oponopono.
Here, we identify the three levels as being:
- the “low self” – Unihipili – the subconscious. Resting in the solar plexus.
- the “middle self” – Uhane – the conscious mind – logic, free will. Head.
- the “high self” – Aumakua – the mind. This is the part of us that expresses all the divine qualities such as compassion, patience, love, forgiveness. Aumakua is not within the body, but rather connected to the Unihipili by means of a silver energy cord.
It is this high self that brings us into the Oneness with all living things – because while we have here our individual identity, it is also the interconnected consciousness and blending of all other high selves at the same time.
In a similar way, Kabbalah speaks about the three levels of the soul. As you can see, different ancient wisdoms present the intelligence centers from different perspectives and different ways.
Nonetheless, all of them tend to agree on one thing – bringing them into alignment is essential. And there is one common practice and thread throughout them: forms of meditation and mindfulness.
Studies on meditation
We now know, from multiple studies, that meditation literally changes the structure of the brain (well, the head brain – more on that later). It is able to change how we pay attention and focus, how we process our emotions, and even the control of the Autonomic Nervous System. Through the practice of mindfulness, compassion and loving-kindness, we see consistent results of changes in behaviour, mood and even the structure of neural pathways.
As Aliston Walton points out in a 2015 Forbes article:
The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation.
Among the benefits discovered, meditation helps to:
- preserve the aging brain
- quieten the monkey mind
- reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain
- increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory
- improve attention and focus
- reduce stress
- even help in recovery from addiction.
The principal areas of the brain that are impacted by meditation, for example, are:
- the left hippocampus – cognitive ability and memory; emotional regulators associated with self-awareness and empathy
- posterior cingulate – linked to wandering thoughts and self-relevance – the stronger this part of the brain is, the less your thoughts wander
- pons – part of the brain where many of the neurotransmitters that help regulate brain activity are produced; it is also involved in sleep, facial expressions, processing sensory input, and basic physical functioning
- temporoparietal junction (often referred to as the TPJ) – used for empathy and compassion – putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
mBraining focuses not so much on meditative practices, but rather on balanced breathing – often associated with mindfulness and also with intentional relaxation and focusing of the attention. The balanced breathing assists us to bring the autonomic nervous system into balance, as well as impacting the heart (cardiac brain).
All of this allows us to bring ourselves back into a coherent state, one where we can quietly listen to our inner thoughts and connect with our inner wisdom, without the noise of the monkey mind, as well as working to improve sleep patterns, processing messages from our different senses and practicing greater empathy and compassion.
With MRI technology and scanners that were not available for earlier generations of researchers, neuroscientists today are able to study neural pathways not only in our heads, but in our hearts, our guts and every our ANS (autonomic nervous system). This has even resulted in new specialisations:
- neurocardiology – the overlap of cardiology and neurology.
- Neurogastroenterology – the overlap of gastroenterology and neurology.
With 500 million neurons the enteric nervous system – the gut brain – can affect your mood, decisions and behavior! More importantly, the connection from the gut to the brain is not simply one through hormonal changes and chemical changes, but actual electrical synapses – like other senses of sight, smell, sound, touch or taste. This means that the gut is constantly communicating to the head brain information, and even making decisions and responses, perhaps before you are even aware of the them!
Even when the vagus nerve (connecting the gut to the head brain) is severed, the enteric brain is capable of continuing to function independently. So, while valuable communication may be lost, it does not render the gut useless or unable to independently function.
Similarly, the heart has it’s own “brain” – a system of neural networks that are able to work independently from what we traditionally would call our “brain”. One of the most interesting parts of what was presented by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka in mBraining, is the studies of patients whose personalities (even memories) were changed following heart transplants. How is possible that emotional or thinking parts of a person are changed from “a change of heart”?
“The behaviors and emotions acquired by the recipient from the original donor are due to the combinatorial memories stored in the neurons of the organ donated. Heart transplants are said to be the most susceptible to cell memory where organ transplant recipients experienced a change of heart.”
—Can An Organ Transplant Change A Recipient’s Personality? Cell Memory Theory Affirms ‘Yes’
The more we know, the less we know.
But, what is becoming apparent is that the human body is the sum of many parts, all of which need to work together harmoniously and coherently for health and happiness.
The benefits of mBraining
The problem for most of us is that we are taught in school and throughout life:
- be rational
- you’re thinking about this all wrong
- you just need to change your mindset
- you just need to think positive
- use your head
Thinking (a function of the head brain) and doing (a function of the gut brain) are highly prized. But what is the meaning of life we aren’t loving what we do? And if there is no love and compassion guiding our choices?
And yet, when we follow our heart, we are the happiest – until we make terrible mistakes that were not thought through very well.
But somehow, we are lead to believe that it’s one or another. You can’t have it all. If you follow your heart, you are not being rational or thinking things through properly. If you use your gut instinct, you need to stop wearing your heart on your sleeve.
In our world today, we are paying the price for simply being logical and rational, taking action without using our hearts and compassion:
- trashing the environment
- consumerism & greed
- stress and lack of self-care
- imbalance of priorities
- social breakdown and disintegration
- unethical corporate behaviour & greed
Through the multiple brain integration techniques offered by mBraining, it’s possible to align all the intelligence centers – leading from the heart with compassion, using creativity to come up with new solutions, and courageously moving forward, acting on those goals and dreams.
There’s no need to lay aside rational thinking or reason in order to be compassionate. There is a better way, where inner wisdom emerges from a place of coherence – feeling, thinking, speaking and doing with mind, body & soul.
Other articles that you might find informative:
- Three minds into one
- The Three Brains
- Ego Fixation according to the Enneagram
- Enneagram of personality
- The gut-brain connection
- Brain-gut link may be way faster than we thought
- Can An Organ Transplant Change A Recipient’s Personality? Cell Memory Theory Affirms ‘Yes’