Our Three Brains
Did you know we have three brains? Actually, we have one brain made up of three integrated parts. The first brain is the Brain Stem or Reptile Brain. This is the Survival Brain. It controls all functions responsible for our survival – as an individual and as a species. It controls such things as hunger, thirst, heart beat, breathing, digestion, immunity, and sexual drive. It is the basic, primal part of us that is in all animals – Give Me Food…Give Me Shelter…Give Me Sex! Most importantly in regards to this article, it initiates the Fight-or-Flight Stress Response.
Our second brain is the Limbic System or Mammal Brain. It is in all mammals and is composed of such interestingly named parts such as the amygdala, hippocampus and thalamus. This is our Emotional Brain. It controls all functions related to emotional aspects of survival. It controls such things as memory, behavior, pleasure and pain responses, and experience of all emotions. Most importantly in regards to this article, it maintains the Fight-or-Flight Stress Response and initiates the Defense Posture.
The third brain is the Cerebral Cortex or Human Brain. It is in “most” humans and is evident in other mammals, especially apes, dolphins and whales. This is the convoluted part we see in monster movies sitting in a jar. It is our Thinking Brain. It controls all functions related to higher thought. It controls such things as decision making, attention, awareness, language, judgment, reading, writing, etc. It is the center of higher thought. Most importantly in regards to this article, it is impaired by the Fight-or-Flight Stress Response and Defense Posture.
The Fight-or-Flight Stress Response
Every moment, our brain is assessing the world around us and asking one question: “Am I Safe?” This question is asked on all three levels: Intellectually, Emotionally and Survival. If at any moment the brain determines you are in danger on any of these three levels, it sends out an alert to the body and the Fight-or-Flight Stress Response occurs. Mechanisms of survival are activated by the Brain Stem to prepare you to face the situation or run away. This occurs whether we are being chased by a lion, taking a final exam, seeing flashing lights in our rear view mirror, or touched in an inappropriate way by clergy. It occurs any time the brain determines, “Danger!”
Here is the Stress Response in a Nutshell:
- Adrenalin is Released (Provides More Energy)
- Blood Sugar Elevates (Provides More Energy)
- Blood Pressure Rises (Provides More Oxygen to Muscles)
- Pulse Increases (Provides More Oxygen to Muscles)
- Muscles Tense (Provides Readiness for Action)
- Pupils Dilate (See More In Less Light)
- Immunity turns off (These three functions use a lot
- Digestion turns off of energy and are not necessary
- Sexual Function turns off for our immediate survival.)
This quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions” described the process well:
“My mind sent a message to my hypothalamus, told it to release the hormone CRFinto the short vessels connecting my hypothalamus and my pituitary gland. The CRF inspired my pituitary gland to dump the hormone ACTH into my bloodstream. My pituitary had been making and storing ACTH for just such an occasion. And nearer and nearer the zeppelin came.
And some of the ACTH in my bloodstream reached the outer shell of my adrenal gland, which had been making and storing glucocorticoids for emergencies. My adrenal gland added the glucocorticoids to my bloodstream. They went all over my body changing glycogen into glucose. Glucose was muscle food. It would help me fight like a wild cat or run like a deer. And nearer and nearer the zeppelin came.
My adrenal gland gave me a shot of adrenaline, too. I turned purple as my blood pressure skyrocketed. The adrenaline made my heart go like a burglar alarm. It also stood my hair on end. It also caused coagulants to pour into my bloodstream, so, in case I was wounded, my vital juices wouldn’t drain away. Everything my body had done so far fell within normal operating procedures for a human machine.
But my body took one defensive measure which I am told was without precedent in medical history. It may have happened because some wire short-circuited or some gasket blew. At any rate, I also retracted my testicles into my abdominal cavity pulled them into my fuselage like the landing gear of an airplane. And now they tell me that only surgery will bring them down again.”
These are all appropriate responses to survive an attack from a lion or any other danger. However, once the danger is gone and the stress is over, these body functions should return to a state of balance and the body should move into a state of safety.
This paragraph is the most important in this article…so pay attention: If during these stressful events, the Emotional Brain or Limbic System is involved (we feel fear, anger, resentment, etc.), it then sends a message to the Brain Stem to maintain the Stress Response to keep us safe, just in case such a situation ever happens again. Over time, this develops into what is called Defense Posture.
According to the Center for Disease Control, this is the cause of 95% of all disease and is directly what Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) addresses. NSA helps people move from Stress Physiology and Defense Posture to a state of Safety and Growth.
The Cause of 95% of Disease?
If you look at the list of responses in Stress Physiology, it is immediately apparent that long term these are our most common chronic ailments:
- Adrenalin is Released (Anxiety/Depression)
- Blood Sugar Elevates (Diabetes)
- Blood Pressure Rises (Hypertension)
- Pulse Increases (Cardiac Arrhythmia)
- Muscles Tense (Fibromyalgia, Neck and Back Pain, etc.)
- Pupils Dilate (Far-vision)
- Immunity turns off (All immune related diseases)
- Digestion turns off (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion, etc.)
- Sexual Function turns off (Impotency, Infertility)
When the body and brain are locked in stress physiology and defense posture, we react as if the stress that caused it is still occurring, even though it may be decades in our past. In this state, health and healing are impossible, and our quality of life and degree of wellness greatly diminishes.
Not only does this effect us physically, it effects us emotionally and mentally as well.
A Brain is a Terrible Thing to Waste
When our brain and body are locked in Defense, blood supply to the Cerebral Cortex is diminished. Our ability to experience higher thought, make decisions and place our attention on those things that are important to us is impaired.
When our Limbic System is locked in Defense, we are more apt to experience fear, anger and sadness than we are to feel joy, peace and love. We experience a higher degree of separation from ourselves and those around us. We become numb to what we are feeling in our bodies and our hearts.
Since we are still reacting to stresses and events from the past, we lose our ability to respond and adapt appropriately to changes in the present. We feel stressed out all the time and we get sick often and easily. We may feel locked in a job, relationship or other circumstance that we can not change. As Thoreau wrote so eloquently, we begin living lives of “quiet desperation.”
Help the brain and body develop new strategies to self-assess and regulate its own tension, move from defense into safety, and more effectively adapt to stresses and change so as to cause growth instead of defense.
Enter the Spinal Gateway
If you’re working on my spine, why do you always look at my feet and feel my ankles? Why do you always want me to turn my head left and right? Why do you ask me to tuck my chin? All of these actions are part of Network Spinal Analysis to find a very special point on your spine called the Spinal Gateway.
Hey…do you mind if I talk a little R-rated with you for a moment. Have you ever been in a room with someone you were sexually attracted to, when suddenly they touch you on a special place on your body, or Errogenous Zone, that made all the days worries disappear. Your mind suddenly blanks and your body begins to melt into a big pile of mush?
The Spinal Gateway is a “Heal-ogenous” Zone and has a similar effect on your brain, spine and nervous system. In a body that is stuck in the Stress Response and Defense Posture, NSA helps us to find the one or two tiny spots (Spinal Gateways) amidst the tension on the spine that are free, in safety, and most important, possess energy available for healing and growth.
When an area of the spine is locked in defense, we feel tense and tight in this area. The energy is locked up and not available. It is invested in defending us from DANGER!
So…how does such a gentle touch make such a giant change in our health and wellness? By placing a gentle force exactly at the Spinal Gateway, for just a moment, the Higher Brain (Cerebral Cortex) is alerted to a place in the body that has been forgotten, but safe, and has a lot of free energy to share. As we gently touch the Spinal Gateway (like the Errogenous Zone), the body drops its defenses and realizes we are safe. The areas in defense actually learn from the Spinal Gateway. Suddenly, we may take a deep breath or feel tension release from our shoulders or low back. We may feel tingly or electrical sensations. We may feel a desire to move or take a bi-i-i-i-g stretch.
Over time, with guidance from the NSA practitioner through the Three Levels of Care, your brain and body develop strategies of breath and movement to self-assess and regulate its own tension, move from defense into safety, and adapt more effectively to stresses and change, causing growth instead of defense.
Everything that I have shared with you in this article, is documented by a team of researchers at the University of California Medical School in Irvine. Headed by Dr. Robert Blank, they have found that Network Spinal Analysis Care…
- Doubles our Experience of Wellness.
- Triples our ability to make healthier choices.
- Helps our Brain and Nervous System self-organize to higher levels of Complexity with each Level of Care…in other words, EVOLVE.