Friday, August 21, 2009

That’s Why I’m Often in Inner Conflict! – Triune Brain Theory

One of the major tenets of our healing practice, Renaissance of the Heart, is that we exist on multiple levels. This concept is known as the Triune Brain Theory.
Expanding on the work of James Papez, Dr. Paul MacLean who worked at NIH in the 1960s, called it the “triune brain model”, and associated his discoveries with the different parts of the anatomical brain. For us, the three major parts of our being are composed of the Mind, Heart, and Body consciousnesses. The Mind consciousness, or primate part of our brain, is located in our physical brain. It’s involved in understanding and uses the language of thoughts usually composed of words to get those ideas across to others. Our Heart consciousness, located in our physical heart, is part of our mammalian brain. It’s “job” is connecting with others and uses the language of emotion to convey its information. The third consciousness, our Body brain, is derived from the reptilian part of our physical brain. Its metaphysical location is in our lower belly, and has the job of maintaining our survival. This part of our consciousness communicates its concerns to us with body sensations such as headaches, body aches and pains, nausea, and limited range of motion. To complicate matters further, the Body or reptilian brain, has the rational capability of a two year old, so it wants what it wants when it wants it. NOW! Just like many two year olds, when your body consciousness isn’t heard, it ramps up the volume of the body sensations until it may be “screaming” at you with debilitating pain or other bodily afflictions to get your attention.
Notice that each of these parts of our being communicates in a different language…thoughts, emotions, or body sensations. These differing communication styles often result in our assorted brains “talking past each other” with their different languages. To complicate matters further, in western society, the language of rational thought is given priority status by many educational disciplines, with any other means of communication being demeaned. Most of us also haven’t been taught to interpret the languages of emotions and body sensations, so we’re often unaware that any information is trying to access our awareness. The result is often like dealing with a dysfunctional family within ourselves. An example would be that someone might be interested in another person who really isn’t in their best interests. The Body brain may have unconsciously associated that other person with some primitive survival need. The Heart consciousness might be trying to communicate its fears, joys, guilt, or sadness about that other person. Meanwhile, the rational Mind brain is saying to yourself that you’re crazy to be interested in that other person, so no wonder many of us wander around in inner conflict.
Learning about Triune Brain Theory and how each of these parts of our consciousness
operates was a real eye opener for me, as I had ignored my Body brain so much that it only knew how to get my attention by screaming at me. The various physical ailments that resulted from ignoring these unconscious messages led to many surgeries for myself. These procedures would alleviate my symptoms for awhile, but they’d return often in the same place where various organs had been removed, since I had not healed the issue that my Body brain had been trying to tell me.

Nancy Smeltzer

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