On Oprah today, regular guest and cardiologist Dr. Mehmet Oz and neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor will be talking about what a stroke feels like and what’s happening in your brain when you have a stroke. Taylor’s book about her stroke is My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (2008). You can watch her TED talk about her stroke online.
Dr. Taylor offers a few exercises to help us make the choice to be peaceful and joyful. Here are two:
>> Pay attention to the energy that other people bring to you. Realize that you can observe other people and interact with them without engaging with their energy. Write about a time when someone else’s energy affected you in a negative way. Consider how different the situation might have turned out if you had chosen to observe rather than be engaged and swept away by their energy. How might you approach the exact same situation in the future?
>> Brain circuits are very predictable and consistent entities. The more time you spend thinking a thought, then the stronger that circuit becomes and the less outside energy it takes for that circuit to run. As a result, for many of us, our brains run constantly with brain chatter, and loops of thoughts go around and around in our minds. Pay attention to what is going on inside your brain. Journal about the thoughts that seem to go around and around that make you unhappy, angry or uncomfortable. Recognize that you have the power to choose not to think these thoughts by choosing to think about other things.
Identify something that your mind obsesses about that you would rather not spend so much time thinking about and document three different things that you can purposefully choose to replace in your mind when those thoughts come up. Create this list for yourself so you can arm yourself with alternative circuits to run in your mind when the time arises. Learn to ‘tend the garden’ of your mind in this way.