Soothe Your Lizard Brain

Choosing your response to what happens in life is your greatest freedom. Learn more in this video: “Soothe Your Lizard Brain”.

Full Video Transcript(Transcript by Victoria Barkely)

You would think that after 25 or 30 years of meditation and spiritual studies that I would never feel irritated or annoyed, or sad, but it just doesn’t happen—it does not happen!

When you are raised in a certain way and you are exposed to stuff, you learn on a deep level a way of reacting…and the key though is being aware of it. And what do you do about it? That’s my next point: Practice responding, rather than reacting.

Practice Responding, rather than reacting.

This little alarm going off gives you that opportunity to choose your response, right? What can we do? We can, first of all, pause…pause…Something happens and there is a stimulus, before you respond — you can pause.

Here is the thing, ladies and gentlemen: Scientists talk about when you are feeling angry or annoyed, you go through what is called a refractory period—during that time, you do not have a clear thought. You are not in your wisdom state. You are not clear. It is better not to respond or react when you are in that state. The lizard brain is flying the plane at that moment. The fight-or-flight is flying the plane. It is better to pause.

Have you ever, or known someone who, read an email and reacted immediately? How many of you have done that before? I have done that before. You read an email and you were bothered by it—you were annoyed by it, and you reacted and wrote a response, right away—and later, regretted your response. Have you ever done that? It is so easy to do; all you have to do is hit reply. And you just read it…you got all these other emails to read…you have a whole in-box of emails…and so, oh well, I’ll just respond NOW, even though I am annoyed or irritated…And then you look back and go, “oh, I wish I hadn’t said that…”

Pause…pause…take a deep breath. Soothe that old brain that’s within you. Soothe it. Take a deep breath. There is something called even count breathing: breathe in to a count of ten, hold for ten, exhale for ten. Let that bring you to a place of calmness. And then ask your inner wisdom, “How shall I respond to this?” “What choice shall I make to this?” That way we feel a lot better and it has a better result.

I told the story before about this man who had his own company and he was offered three million dollars for his company. And things were going well. They offered him three million dollars and they were going to employ him as part of their company, after they bought his company. He got into an argument on the phone about one week of vacation. He was used to having an additional week of vacation. He got into an argument on the phone about one week of vacation. They emailed him later that day, telling him the whole deal was off. The guy spent years in therapy after that, trying to figure out what happened. It was much deeper…he sabotaged himself…but the point is that he made a choice in that conversation…And man, did it have an impact.

You and I have a choice. People change their lives by the choices they make—by how they react, rather than responding. Pause…pause…take a deep breath. Ask your inner wisdom, “How shall I respond?” “What is the best way to respond in this situation?” And then be guided from that place…