DAY 19: Steady the breath. Steady the Mind
Day 19 Self Reflection:
On Day 19 of your workbook fill out the exercise examining your lifetime to see where you came from and hopefully where you will be going.
Day 19 Micro-Science: Cognitive Bias
When the mind is working correctly it filters information to conform to your previous held beliefs, alters how you see others in order to protect your self-esteem, and distorts reality to make sure you stay as the hero of your own story. In short, your brain isn’t naturally programmed to see reality clearly its engrained certain patterns in order to help you make assumptions quickly and efficiently. However, some of these software designs that were once adaptive for our species are now more of a hindrance than a help. These cognitive biases helped our ancestors to make quick decisions and lessen the workload for our brains, but in todays world this coping skills have become largely maladaptive. Take for instance, the brains natural tendency to accept as true any piece of information it hears repeatedly. Research has shown that subjects can be told before hand that a piece of information is false, but if they are told the information enough times, eventually they will rate it as true on questionnaires at a later date. You can start to see why this cognitive bias is so troubling if you imagine people’s ability to abuse this knowledge, politicians per se.
FACT: When presented with conflicting information to a person’s previous held beliefs the brains prefrontal cortex area (critical thinking) of the brain will light up, but not to incorporate the new information but to find a reason why it is not accurate. Once the brain comes up with an adequate reason why the other person is wrong the brain’s pleasure pathway will give the person a hit of dopamine to reward them for their rationalization.
TAKEAWAY: The brain will reward you for confirming your old beliefs, even if the information presented in very convincing. Basically, your brain will reward you for deluding yourself in order to keep your beliefs consistent, therefore causing less work for your brain.
Day 19 Meditation: 4-7-8 Breathing
If there were a thing called “arousal addiction” I’m pretty sure everyone, at least in the U.S. would have it. We’re always so focused on the next thing and “hopefully” that thing is brighter and more stimulating then the thing that came before for. We rush from point A to point B and quickly move on to point C, all the while complaining we wish he knew a good way to relax. Well… we do… at its free… but hardly any of us breathe correctly. We always hear and read about how great breathing is and then we rush through that as well, looking for a quick fix. An intentional “good breathe” is one where actively try to “find your breathe” where you can hear, feel, or even see (when its cold out). The evolution gods have given us this amazing tool to quickly and efficiently calm us down its just a shame we never use it.
FACT: The parasympathetic nervous “rest and digest” system is only activated on the out breathe. The sympathetic nervous “fight or flight” system is activated on the in breathe.
TAKEAWAY: The “brake” in your body is activated when you breathe out, even though most of the time when people think of “taking a deep breathe” to relax and they dramatically take an in-breathe, which potentially could make them more anxious
Day 19 Meditation: The goal for today’s meditation is to be able to better control your breathing, mainly making sure that your out breathe is longer than your in breathe. So set the timer for three minutes and practice breathing in to the count of 4, holding your breath for the count of 7 and then breathing out to the count of 8. Do this on repeat for three minutes!
Day 19 Movement Task: Unfinished Business
We all know what it feels like to put down a heavy piece of baggage at the airport and the immediately relief that follows. From a physical standpoint we’re all ready to put down our burdens and move on, but from an emotional standpoint it just feels so much harder. However, your mind doesn’t necessary want you to “fix” the problem, it mainly just wants you to “release” it so you don’t have to keep it inside anymore. Soured relationships are what the mind likes to hold onto most so reaching out or at least putting down on paper your past resentments, apologies, or hurts if the best way to leave the baggage behind you.
FACT: Research has shown that just speaking your issue’s into a tape recorder initially increased cortisol (stress) levels in your body but then drastically reduces cortisol by up to 40% in the long run.
TAKEAWAY: Releasing your unfinished business out into the world, even if its to a machine, is super helpful for your mental and physical health.
Day 19 Movement Task: For today’s action task your going to write a short letter or note to someone that you have “unfinished business” with. This letter can explain your side of the story, ask questions, apologize or even explain why you were hurt. You don’t have to send the letter, if you don’t want to, but maybe just writing it will help you to heal an old wound.
Day 19 Bonus Material:
#1) Ted Talk: Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals
Check out this Ted Talk by Tim Freiss the author of the book “4 hour workweek” as he explains the necessity to define your fears instead of your goals.
#2) Ted Talk: What Fear Can Teach Us
Check out this Ted Talk by Karen Thompson who insightful explains that fear and other “negative” emotions are actually very useful and our emotions that we shouldn’t wish away.