Imagine a company which fires its CEO every day.
It’s insane, right? If we think of the loss of the company direction, the internal fights and confusion, the loss of clients and business partners trust, it’s an absurd thing to do. But what if I told you that almost each of us is doing the same thing not once, but even several times every day? Yes, each of us is firing daily the most responsible, balanced, informed part of ourselves, the CEO of our decisions, actions and results: our prefrontal cortex.
Who is responsible for such a decision? Well, in our case it’s more like a program, coded in our instinctual, reptilian brain and called “FFF” or “fight-flight-freeze”. Don’t imagine that you need to see a bear in your office or a lion at your dinner table to activate this program. It takes much less than that: a colleague undermining your expertise or highjacking your meeting, a car cutting in front of you, higher targets than last month. It’s enough for your Amygdala, the emergency task force, to raise the alarm and cut the CEO’s (aka prefrontal cortex’s) links with your action parts of the brain.
The good news is that the state of alarm will pass soon and the CEO will come back. The bad news is that your actions in the meantime are … well, let’s just say not the smartest ones – what can we expect for our reptilian brain. So someone needs now to clean the mess, the CEO of course. Why have I yelled at my colleague or said those mean words in front of everybody or why did I honk back and swear in front of my kids? And the story can go on, with multiple neuro-mechanisms which explain scientifically our most stupid actions.
Now let’s focus on solutions. The science also proved that after only 100 min of training your self-awareness and meditation measurable changes are produced in the brain: Amygdala shrinks and it becomes less connected with the prefrontal cortex, therefore it can not fire the CEO that easily. This means that in stressful situations, only after 100 minutes of training your mind to meditate and be aware of the body, we will be able to take better decisions and do less stupid actions under stress.
So don’t think that “zen” is only for Buddhist monks, you can also invite a needed zen dose in your daily life not after 100 days but after 100 minutes of mindful practices.