01.10.2016 Yoga

Being on Path

Yoga teacher and practitioner Jen Kaz helps us find a sense of calm purpose

In life we are either growing or moving forward, learning as we progress, or we’re in survival mode, protecting ourselves or maybe even stagnating doing very little. We cannot be in protection mode and grow at the same time.

Why is this important to being on path, living with integrity and following your passion?

When we learn how to maintain the state of growth and do our best to stay out of survival mode, we’re able to utilise more of our brain. It’s time to get a little bit science here as I mention sections of the brain. There are three sections to the human brain and each is responsible for different functions:

  • The reptilian brain controls the body’s vital functions including heart rate, body temperature, balance, etc. It is also very rigid and we’re unable to think creatively when we’re functioning from the reptilian brain;
  • The limbic brain is responsible for emotions and has a strong influence over our behaviours; and
  • The neocortex is responsible for abstract thought, imagination, decision making, remembering and consciousness. It is flexible and has unlimited learning abilities.

When we are functioning from a state of stress, in fight or flight mode, we operate from the reptilian brain. When we operate from the reptilian brain we are unable to think creatively and therefore unable to make the optimal decision for whatever situation we’re in at the time.In turn, when we’re operating from the reptilian brain we also cannot make optimal decisions that could be key to keeping us on path and living our life’s purpose!

The key is to stay operating from the neocortex.

To do that, we must stay out of stress and fear mode when it’s not essential to save our life. A great challenge of our modern life is that we’re continuously placed under large amounts of stress, through what we see on TV, hear on the radio, or feel through the constant presence of social media. Even simple tasks such as driving can be stressful on the body.

Exercising, running, yoga, pilates and retreats are ways to help live a less stressful life.

The fight or flight response is great if you have an immediate threat to avoid, such as running from a sabre-toothed tiger. In our life today, this isn’t such a common situation, but the fight or flight response is triggered more than ever because of our hectic lifestyles.

This, in turn, brings stress to the body creating a haven for illness to begin.

How to operate from the neocortex

Now that we know that the aim is to function from a place of growth and operate from our neocortex, how do we do that?

  • Avoid stressful stimuli - this includes the fear mongering perpetrated by the media, stressful relationships, and unrealistic work deadlines.
  • Embrace calming activities - yoga, meditation, walking in nature or along the beach have each been proven to lower stress levels and therefore improving your health and wellbeing.
  • Have more FUN - chat with a good friend who is a positive influence, avoid the Negative Neds and Nancys, and laugh, play, sing, dance and be joyful.
  • Stop gossiping - focusing on negativity and the flaws of others creates greater negativity within you and also creates stress. That which you fault in others is just a mirror of what you see within yourself. Next time you feel like talking about someone else, ask yourself what it is in you that you identify with as the flaw you’re projecting onto him or her.
  • Get off the coffee - coffee is a stimulant, it puts your body into protection mode and therefore you operate from the lower levels of your brain. Ever notice how after a cup of coffee you feel wired and scattered. Like you have more energy but it’s misdirected and that could be because you’re not operating from your neocortex.

Action steps

It’s all well and good reading about this, but unless you actually take action NOW to make a change in your life, you’re going to continue operating from your reptilian brain and staying off path. Wandering aimlessly through life and not living your life full of excitement.

If you’re ready to live a life of fulfilment and get on path to be living your purpose, take out a piece of paper and note down three things that you can do TODAY to reduce stressful stimuli in your life, and then GO AND DO IT!

Jen Kaz

Jen Kaz trained and taught yoga in London in 2008. In early 2010 she returned to Perth and began teaching QiYoga. www.qiyoga.org