USING ALL 3 BRAINS: HEAD, GUT, HEART
In 1995 Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence. It was an instant hit and on the New York Times Best Seller list for 18 months. In this great piece of work he posited that intelligence is both cognitive and emotional. He challenged us all to see that there are different kinds of intelligence that can be useful as well as predictive of "success." In The Second Brain (1999), Michael Gershon introduced his gastrointestinal research over a thirty year period that suggested that a neuronal mass within the gut "acts as a brain." He further suggested that the two brains must "cooperate" and communicate with one another for each of them to be "happy." Over the last decade or so scientific evidence coming from the field of neuro-cardiology also suggests that the intrinsic nervous system within the heart communicates with the head brain and the rest of the body.
So we have at least three brains within us: 1) The Head; 2) The Gut & 3) The Heart!
Why do I bring this up? Well, mostly because I make reference to this concept on my main home page and so for those interested, I thought I would share a little more about it here.
I have been speaking with my clients for years about the importance of utilizing and tapping into all three of these intelligences to make decisions in their lives; that each of these intelligences have different abilities, competencies and talent sets which can be informative, instructive and must be allowed to speak together, in a chorus, if you will. I began calling it Multi-brain Alignment.
By 2010 I became so interested in the usefulness of this concept to my work that I grazed the internet looking for mention of the 3 brains working together. After a year of looking, I could only find one paper that someone published that began to explore the concept of all three brains. Everything else I found was only about 2 of the 3 communicating. I began doing some writing about the concept, naively thinking I had something original... and perhaps a book. Every few months I conducted internet searches on the topic because in my gut I thought "how could I be the only one with this idea?" Fast forward two years to a rainy winter evening in April 2012 and sure enough, to my chagrin, I finally had confirmation that I was not alone.
In April 2012, mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains To Do Cool Stuff hit the press. I was initially somewhat crushed. I'd spent many weekend and late night hours writing about my Multi-Brain Alignment concept and here these two very brainy guys, Grant Soosalu, Marvin Oka decided they would be the creators of this "new field" they called "mBraining" - a name I find somewhat peculiar and perhaps just unfortunate because it feels a bit awkward and uncreative. Still, truth be told, they did a pretty good job of capturing the basic multi-brain concept. They also did the hefty science-based lifting of presenting the research showing the underpinning evidence that supports the concept of each of us having multiple brains. After reading mBraining I actually felt very grateful for their work and their scientific insight. The challenging task they undertook in the book only served to validate the concept. I would certainly recommend giving it a read, notwithstanding some things that I think did not quite work for me in the book.
The mBraining writers discussed methods and some practices for integrating the three brains but I believe there is still a great deal more to be said about how to apply this concept. While I think they made a good start of it in their book, I conceptualize the application of the model with my clients a little differently. Personally, I find the applications in the book somewhat confining and canned and also perhaps a bit too fluffy for my taste. Ironically, the authors of the book have developed and presented some techniques that feel too narrowly cerebral. I believe that when the change approach becomes too technique-based that the process for folks becomes too head-focused. It interferes with tuning into the other voices of intelligence within. Thus, to a certain extent, the flavor of their application approach actually contrasts some with the earlier arguments they present in the book. I also think they tried a little too hard and agreed with one AMAZON book reviewer who stated,
"the writing style will not appeal to everyone. For my taste, it is too chatty and just a bit too `cool' and that made it more difficult to read (for me) and detracted from the profound implications of the message."
Another reviewer stated,
"I'm not totally against the content. I agree we SEEM to 'think with our heart and gut' sometimes. I agree it's helpful when they are aligned. But I'm not sure the idea of sitting still, breathing, then 'smiling' into your saliva that you've collected in your mouth, then filling that saliva with a feeling of passion from your heart, then SWALLOWING it, will really send a message of passion to your gut. In fact, really all you've done is followed a meditation/visualisation whilst spitting inside yourself."
I agree with this last review and believe there are other more effective and accessible ways of querying the internal information available to us. I also conceptualize additional elements that are missing from the book that I view as essential to the model and its application toward self-change. I wish it were as simple as just tuning into the voices of and listening to all three brains. But there are other factors at work that develop over the years as thinking habits per se. My process with clients involves conducting a deeper exploration of the relationships between the three intellectual competencies, utilizing significant client history and exploring those experiences to gain greater understanding of what I have termed the Intellectual Power Imbalances that exist between the three brains. The understanding of these power imbalances in and of themselves direct us toward areas that need repair and strengthening. Without utilizing this important component to the process, one cannot possess a full understanding of how to actually integrate and weight the "data" available. One cannot identify and repair the roadblocks that interfere with our voices being granted full inclusion to the wisdom available to us. I have more to say but this post is already long enough.
I will later present these ideas in more detail perhaps here on this blog, perhaps in a more formal way. I'm not sure which format it will take yet but I will be sure to share it when the writing is done. In some more recent posts (look to the right column) I begin to flush these ideas out even further.