The Three Brains

Did you know that you actually have three brains, and not just one? We have even more brain cells (neurons) in our heart complex and in our gut than we do in our head brain. The research is finally coming out to confirm what our innate intelligence knew all along:  we actually have three brains that, working together, share resources and handle different aspects of our bodymind. But, you say, how do you think I knew that?  I’m about to tell you.

Head Brain

We know a lot about our head brain. However, the head brain has been elevated in Western culture to be the be all and end all. Our head brain is in charge of our autonomic nervous system, or all the things that seem to run automatically in our bodies. Our head brain is also in charge of making sense of things, and of strategizing.

Our head brains are amazing, and can achieve spectacular things, but they are actually more limited than we’ve been led to believe. Here is what the head brain is not good at:  it cannot feel for us – although it often tries. How many of you have tried to think your feelings?

The head brain is also not good at taking in the unknown. It cannot learn something completely new – it needs the heart brain for that. You see, the head brain will take any new information coming in and compare it to all the other information it has to make sense of it. It’s kind of like a hard drive on a computer in this way. And if the file for this information isn’t there, without the heart brain’s involvement, the head brain would have you rejecting the information or knowledge or “aha” that we sometimes get from an entirely new experience, or from an insight that the way things have been just aren’t working any more.

Heart Brain

Here is where the heart comes in. Remember I said you knew you have a heart brain? We actually have some idioms around this; “learning by heart” is one of them. New learning actually takes place in the heart. When the head and heart brain are working together, the heart brain is the one who takes in new information, ruminates with it, and gains the insight from it. Then the heart brain sends that back to the head brain as a new file, and now the head brain has a place to place that new information or knowledge or insight, make sense of it, and then strategize from it.

The heart brain is really the center, as it’s the seat of consciousness. It should be the one in charge of our three brains, just as it’s the center point of our bodies. It actually anchors the other two brains and anchors all our interactions in life.

The heart brain not only takes in and processes entirely new information, but it is where we feel and process our emotions. Many of us who have been very head-brain centered, were taught to think our emotions. But did you ever notice that never worked too well? That’s because we were trying to do it from the wrong part of the body!

The heart brain is also in charge of our values and relationships. And it’s where we do our personal and spiritual growth. The head brain can’t do that for us either, although it often tries. When we need to move out of an old pattern of thinking or old habit, no amount of head brain thinking will do it. The heart brain does this work, and it’s holistic work, as it involves our emotions and attachments around it. Here the gut brain also gets involved.

Gut Brain

The fact that we have a gut brain is often the most surprising for people, but innately you have known you have a gut brain. How many of you have ever said, “my gut told me,” or “I have a gut feeling?” That was the gut brain working, even though you didn’t know it.

So what does the gut brain do? The gut brain is responsible for our sense of identity, and self protection. It oversees the immune system as part of that self-protection function. The gut brain is also responsible for digestion at all levels:  physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Finally, it’s the decision maker. How many of you have finally in the end “followed” your gut? Or made a decision because “my gut told me?”

Together the three brains are mighty indeed, but we’ve tended to think that the head brain does it all. That makes it a tyrant, and so learning to work with and involve the heart brain and gut brain is crucial, as is the heart brain taking the lead and anchoring the other brains. I’ve been doing work realigning and anchoring all three brains for a few years now. If you haven’t been in for a session, you may want to come in, because I’m finding that this work is often one of the body’s first priorities. You see, once they’re working together, with all of them in charge of their proper sphere, they work far more effectively to deal with dis-ease of any kind:  physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual.


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