By Michael Cotton
We all want to have a deeper understanding of how our brains work; after all, the brain we are born with is the brain we must use. So it behooves us to understand what this thing in our head does and exactly how it does it. Let’s take a look at some revolutionary understandings surrounding the brain.
Our brain has developed over time in layers — nature never abandons something that works. The first and oldest structure is the reptilian-survival brain. When born into a world full of threats (think sabre-tooth tigers), it makes sense that this part of our brain developed first in order to help us survive these threats and perpetuate our species. Therefore, this part of your brain, having had hundreds of thousands of years of practice, has become extremely adept at fight, flight or freeze responses that keep you alive. This is good because the alternative is death.
The only problem with this is that 99 percent of all of our sensory experience is first filtered through the lower, reptilian survival brain. It receives all sensory information below the conscious threshold, which means we are not consciously aware of what this part of the brain is thinking or doing until it makes a decision (think instincts). This part of the brain is also responsible for the stress response, dictating when it’s used and where vital blood flow, oxygen and metabolism are routed. We all know how harmful stress can be. If we’re in a constant state of hyper-vigilance for threats in the environment, the reptilian brain makes biological choices for us without our awareness. And the kicker to this is that the logic governing these choices is sameness equals safety.
That’s right, a part of your brain constantly tries to make you do the same things over and over and over again because they resulted in survival in the past. This part of your brain is not responsible for — nor does it care about — your happiness, reaching your goals, finding out who you are or what you are meant to do. It literally only cares if you survive until the next day.
Any pattern that keeps playing out in your life over and over is linked into a dead-end neuro-synaptic loop by the reptilian part of your brain. So the question is, how do we release the lower, survival brain’s hold on our behavior?
The answer lies in the other higher structures of our brain, primarily the prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is the newest evolutionary part of our brains, and has been said to be the brain’s executive center or “CEO.” It is responsible for our highest states of being, including the classical enlightenment experience. Since discovering that the vast majority of people use their prefrontal cortex less than other portions of their brain, researchers have been plumbing the depths of what it’s responsible for and what are its potentials.
Through this research Dr. Andrew Newberg discovered that, “Awakening is primarily due to a fundamental change in brain function with a shift in brain dominance to the prefrontal area. There is a shift of the brain’s command center and the individual wakes up to a higher level of consciousness and to a new reality which seems to be even more real than the old one.”
This tells us that states of consciousness and views of reality permanently change and expand when different, more-evolved portions of our brain become activated for extended periods of time.
Much has been written about neuroplasticity, and the fact is, we can all rewire our brains. Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself, says, “The brain can change [rewire] itself. It is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, even into old age.”
With this new knowledge of the function of the different structures of the brain, we come to a quandary. In order for the most evolved structure of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) to fully come online and become humanity’s default brain state, it needs three things – energy, blood flow and oxygen.
The lower reptilian survival brain is currently hijacking these three things to feed its own structures and patterns. In the past this was good because it led to the survival of our species, but times have changed; there are fewer threats to immediate survival in our modern world than there were hundreds of thousands of years ago.
It’s time for our lower brains to stop being our default-brain state and unconsciously running our lives in circles of sameness. Enough is enough.
With the vastly complex issues facing us as a culture and as a civilization, we are quickly reaching a cognitive threshold. Rebecca Costa, author of The Watchman’s Rattle, offers a solution to this cognitive overload: “Insight is a spontaneous, effortless organization of chaos. There may be millions of facts and possibilities, but the brain is capable of producing a single, and often the only, correct answer.”
Insight is unpredictable, non-linear thinking that breaks the mold and solves the problem. Insight is a biological function of the prefrontal cortex that can be cultivated. Metabolizing the structures of the prefrontal cortex affords us permanent new levels of consciousness and cognition that create the conditions for the insightful emergence of solutions to our personal, familial, cultural and worldwide problems. In short, we must learn how to shift out of the lower brain into the higher brain.
Chiropractor Dr. Michael Cotton is a leading Evolutionary Theorist and the Creator of the revolutionary Higher Brain Living® Technique, which helps shift energy into the prefrontal cortex, awakening human potential. Register for Higher Brain Living’s marquee event, Monday, Nov. 24 at the Marriott Hotel – Denver West, 6:30–8:30pm (FREE if pre-registered, $97 at the door) To pre-register visit: www.higherbrainlivingevents.com/golden