Follow your heart, use your head, trust your gut. Which is a person to do?
The neuroscience behind mBraining and Multiple Brain Integration Techniques (mBiT) tells us to do them all. A discussion with Lisa Blackett, certified mBIT coach and trainer, tells us how.
Lisa Blackett 0:07
But the more you learn to breathe in appreciation and gratitude, you sort of build a steel. So not only are you feeling good, but you're less likely to absorb other inputs of negativity.
Terri Novacek 0:26
If humans are naturally eager learners, why do so many people dread school? If work is vital to our health and soul? Why are so many people miserable with the work they do, or avoid work altogether? I'm Terri Novacek. And the purpose of this podcast is to shed light and insight into the importance of discovering, defining and developing your element. That place where interests and talents collide, and the heart, mind and body work together. Where work and learning bring joy, where you come to realize your element is everything.
Terri Novacek 1:14
Compassion, cognition, creativity, and courage. How can we have them all? Well, you already do. All those characteristics are within you right now. And through brain integration, you can get them all going at optimal speed. Today, we chat with Lisa Blackett, a certified mBit coach who shows us how removing the burdens in our heart and the distractions in our mind, help us to see more clearly, to make what she refers to as authentic decisions. Our nervous system is always trying to help. But like my Labrador retriever, who was always front and center on any project, just trying to help you sometimes think, please stop, you are only making things worse. Our nervous system is what controls our anxiety and relaxation, both of which can be a value in small doses, but detrimental if we have too much. When we feel overwhelmed, it may not be because the situation is inherently overwhelming. It may be because our brains are reeling with contradictory insight. We are in essence, overthinking things. Let's see what Lisa has to say. And let's just dive right in with what is mBit and a little bit of you know, the science behind it. And I know in the book it talks about neuroscience, which sounds very futuristic, but then they talk about ancient wisdom.
Lisa Blackett 2:55
Yeah, so mBraining is accessing our multiple brains. So I guess to kind of explain the premise behind it is that we have a brain or intelligence in our head, and in our heart and in our gut. And that has come about the understanding of this has come about through a synthesis really, of extensive research in neuroscience or neurology, cognitive science, positive psychology, behavioral modeling. And so there's an extensive body of research behind this and and why we say, you know, neuroscience meet ancient wisdom is because a lot of the techniques a lot of the understanding of, of the body and the brain actually was known hundreds and 1000s of years ago, really. And then a lot of traditions that we are, you know, somewhat aware of like the yogic traditions, or Taoism, Buddhism, reference, you know, having a wisdom in our gut or wisdom in our hearts. So yeah, so that's kind of the idea behind neuroscience meets, ancient wisdom. But there is an extensive body of research behind it now.
Terri Novacek 4:21
And so why should I care? As a human being? What do I do with this information? What how does? How does it help me out is a
Lisa Blackett 4:31
Great question.So how often do you make decisions?
Terri Novacek 4:35
Constantly making decisions and sometimes you're making more than one decision at a time.
Terri Novacek 4:41
Well, exactly. So think about a decision that you you recently made that you were really happy with. What you know what was going on with that decision to to just, you know, really want something and kind of listen to your heart or, you know, is it just a gut reaction you just That's it. Or, you know, did you carefully think and plan it through?
Terri Novacek 5:04
Well, so I, what comes to mind for me was the decision yesterday, do we stay here at the house, or we put the bikes in the truck and take them down and do a beach ride. And we did a beach ride. And of course, it took a look, you know, the energy up front, but we were glad we did it. And so a little bit of everything, I guess, I mean, a little bit of planning, but it was really kind of a spur of the moment decision. It's not like we had planned two weeks ago to do that bike ride on Sunday afternoon.
Terri Novacek 5:34
Okay, so you used a bit of all of those, you really wanted to do the bike ride, you thought about how you could actually do it, you know, use some creativity. And then you made the decision and took the action to do it. So you used all three intelligence, the heart, the head and the gut. With that decision, I think of a decision that didn't go so well. And you don't have to share what it was. But just think briefly about a decision that didn't go so well. And think about did you listen to all of your intelligence?
Terri Novacek 6:05
No, usually, those are decisions that are made very quickly.
Terri Novacek 6:11
So in a way, and it might be an easier way to connect, you know, because I know that the idea of an intelligence and the heart and the gut, as well as the heads a little bit of a leap, some people, but I think we're getting a much greater acceptance broadly of, you know, you know, our cognitive intelligence, our emotional intelligence, I mean, there's a lot about EQ now, as well as our physical or somatic intelligence. And that's another way of looking at it really. So the head, heart and the gut also link with, you know, how we feel, the actions we take, and what we think. And if you think about those things, it's really easy to see how one has an impact on another. So just imagine the strength if those three systems or parts of your own system are actually aligned. So that's what we do with MBraining. Or, or mBit which has multiple brain integration techniques, we actually guide and, and teach people how to really listen to their inner wisdom. So listen, you know, your heart, for example, is the part of you that has, you know, it's kind of holds your values, what's really important to you, you know, the relationships, what has meaning for you, your purpose, all of that, your iki guy, I don't know how popular that phrase is now in the States. But you know, your your, you know, what's really important, what gets you out of bed in the morning, what's really important to you. And your your head is not just logic, but it's also creativity, you know, problem solving, if this is what I really want to do now, how do I go about doing it. And then your gut is about your your identity and your action taking. And, you know, if we put a label on all three of those who would say your heart is the center of compassion in your head, creativity in your gut courage, so you need all three of those really, if you think about it, to make a line, holistic decisions, take action, and that compassion is for yourself and for others. So you're not only you know, aligned and congruent with yourself, so you're being kind to yourself, and you make good decisions, but also with the greater world.
Terri Novacek 8:35
Now, you talk about inner wisdom, and you're mentioning the head, heart, and gut, and a lot of people, even though we use that phrase all the time, follow your gut. We don't like to think of our gut as being our wise part of our body. Can you tell me a little bit more about that forgotten gut?
Lisa Blackett 8:55
Yeah, so the gut to the enteric brain is actually what was discovered as a, I mean, another word for brain might be a complex neural networks that was discovered as such over 100 years ago. And we know that it has, you know, half a billion neurons in a complex neural neural network form. And it actually has an intelligence. So if you think about it, when, you know, when we just kind of have a feeling, we know something's just not right, or something feels good. Conversely, you know, we might really notice it in our gut. And there was a book written last century by The Second Brain by Michael Gershon, which shows a lot of the science behind that and there are several books written since. But the gut is actually the first part of our bodies that formed you know, before our head brain and before our heart when we're in the embryonic state. So, you know, it's really sort of the core of of being and there's The number of different, you know, creatures out there that basically are just guts like, like the sea cucumber, for example. So it's really an intuitive sort of base primal intelligence that we have. And it wouldn't be the first place that we go. Although sometimes if you're in danger, it is the first place we go. And it's the system that, you know, sends signals up to the brain rather than back down.
Terri Novacek 10:27
So, you know, there's that saying, You are what you eat. And I bet that kind of plays into that. And that's, that's another episode.
Terri Novacek 10:35
Yeah. And there's a lot of research behind that as well, and how it affects your brain and your gut brain intelligence.
Terri Novacek 10:42
So neuroplasticity, I used to think I was so smart, because I knew neuroplasticity, but now it's really becoming a common everyday word, which is very exciting to me. Because yeah, it helps people know, you know, you can change things. Can you tell us a little bit about how that plays into your head? Heart and gut?
Lisa Blackett 11:04
Yeah, so yes, the idea is that, you know, you can change what you do by learning a new pattern and creating a new pattern, getting rid of old patterns, it kind of fits in with that whole growth mindset, doesn't it? And how, how it plays a role in you know, the mBraining is, it means that we can kind of change our way of being so the, you know, as, as I was saying that gut has, you know, half a billion neurons and is a complex neural neural network. And the heart also is a complex neural network. And we can actually influence those. So for example, there's research to show that people with really positive, happy outlooks have considerably more neurons in their heart when they when they die than those who might have been described as, you know, unhappy or grumpy, or really, you know, an unkind person. So it shows that with positive reinforcement, and you know, positive engagement, you can increase the number of neurons is the neural network in your heart. And same with a gut, you know, the gut has memory it has, can have the same sorts of neural patterns. And again, if you repeat behaviors, and learn new ways of being it contains, so instead of being sort of a place where the fear sits in and you freeze, it can be, it can learn to be more courageous. And, you know, with the support of your heart and your your head brain, take more courageous action, for example,
Terri Novacek 12:45
you know, you just made me think of something that we all feel more comfortable. And we feel like we have a team and we're not operating alone. And when you talk about your head, heart and gut, don't forget heart. You've got two other buddies here. No, forget gut. Yeah, you know?
Lisa Blackett 13:00
Terri Novacek 13:02
Now I know that breathing becomes very important when you're doing your sessions with people tell me why
Lisa Blackett 13:12
excellent questions, breathing, if I can do nothing else, for somebody breathing, it's the first thing that I will, I will share with them. Because if you learn to breathe in a balanced or coherent way, you're able to tap into your heart and your gut as well as your head brain better. And the reason for that is because by balancing your breathing, you actually are able to tap into your autonomic nervous system. So our autonomic nervous system, of course, is what keeps everything going. So we don't have to think about breathing or our heart beating or kidneys functioning. It's all done automatically. But we can actually influence it by breathing. And there are other ways to influence the autonomic nervous system that breathing is, is the one that I work with. And I think it's the easiest to understand. So there's a considerable body of research out there about breathing, coherent breathing, the Heart Math site, and they've got a lot of research around it. James Nestor just came out with an exquisite book on called breath. And where this ties in with embracing is by accessing the autonomic nervous system balancing it so we're not in sympathetic which people would associate like with fight flight freeze, you know, sort of the more anxious tense state and the other side of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic, which is more the rest and repose in a relaxed state. In order to access the autonomic nervous system you want to balance between those two and you are able to do that by diaphragmatic breathing. So that's actually it's a muscle, you can intentionally engage that it's just above the tummy and below the ribcage, just in that space there. But using the diaphragm to breathe rather than the chest muscles in the shoulders, which is what so many of us do, using the diaphragm and breathing slowly, more slowly than we're used to, I think a lot of us will probably, you know, take at least, you know, 18 breaths in and out in a minute, at least, you know, it's slowing it down to 12 as possible, and even even longer skirt. So it would be having equal breaths in and back out through the diaphragm and through the nose, until you get this sort of really even wave like pattern. And what that actually does is creates a coherent heart rate variability, which is basically this space between the heartbeat, so it's not your overall count, but it's the variability between the beats and the more even that is, the more coherent or balanced you are, and the more you're able to listen to the wisdom inside your body. So you can, you know, you could even do this breathing and put your hand on your heart and just say, hey, heart, you know, what do you have to share about this decision. And it's something also that can help you, you know, just be less stress generally, to, you know, cope with a difficult meeting coming up, you could breathe like that for a few minutes. So the breathing is, is is key. And that's how we learned that's how we're able to tap into our head, heart and the gut,
Terri Novacek 16:41
I guess you could kind of equate that to trying to have a conversation between three people in a very noisy environment.
Lisa Blackett 16:49
Excellent. Yeah, really good analogy. Yeah.
Terri Novacek 16:52
The breathing helps shut out the noise. Yeah, I know, you've worked with teens, I've heard you talking about working with teens with test anxiety, parents with child challenges, or just even balancing their own lives, professionals struggling at work, unemployed, they're looking for work. Are there any stories that kind of rise to the top for you, as far as feeling like, this was a real game changer for somebody that you've worked with?
Lisa Blackett 17:23
Quite a few times, actually. I mean, the most recent was somebody I was working with, and and it came later, actually, not even during our sessions, that we had done the technique. So that and we were working on quite a few things. And a couple weeks later, I heard from this person, and they said, Well, you know, I listened to my head, heart and gut and I left that job. You know, so it had been a process and it because it doesn't always happen overnight, naturally, the gut, because it's the center courage, you know, can can take longer to make that decision. You know, I think during our sessions, we knew it was clear that that this person wasn't happy that that, you know, that wasn't her calling as it were. But there's a lot of considerations, obviously, financial considerations and all these things. But listening to herself over and over and over, she just came back and said, you know, what? I lost? And then conversely, I've also had people who've taken jobs.
Terri Novacek 18:23
Well, so then that same person, was there a chance to follow up later to? Was that really the best thing to do? And things went in a better direction for her overall?
Lisa Blackett 18:35
Yes, actually, she's was looking for work after that, but had, you know, a background now that she knew exactly what she wanted, she wasn't going to settle for something that was going to make her inherently, you know, unhappy or stressed every day at work. And yeah, it was, it was absolutely the right decision, that's just costing her quite a bit. I work a lot in health care, and work with health care professionals who are quite often often stressed. And, you know, it may be that they, they need to change jobs, or that there's something else they can do within that realm. And this idea of actually listening to what's important to and, and learning that self compassion can be quite a new thing. You know, and I'm sure it's the same in in education as well, you know, we're so used to looking after the pupils and the families or looking after the patience, or, you know, all of these people are the focus and you've kind of gone into these careers because you care, but lost your own, you know, self compassion along the way. So being able to go back to your heart and going, you know, what's really, really important to me, what's my purpose? Why am I doing I can give you a chance to either refresh what you're doing or change what you're doing and with the students. I often will just run workshops a whole lot Just on the breathing. And the reason is because the, the breathing in balancing the autonomic nervous system means that this that the student is able to take themselves out of that anxious state, which, when we're when we're feeling anxious when we're stressed like that we go into fight or flight, but what happens to is we get this flood of cortisol and adrenaline. And the cortisol kind of stops the prefrontal cortex or the logical brain from working. And so whatever knowledge they've accumulated in the last, you know, six months before the exam, goes out the window, because the body thinks they have to run away from the saber toothed Tiger, you know, so well, that cortisol means Oh, I'm in danger. And we haven't evolved to the state of humanity that we can really differentiate between real and perceived danger. So the cortisol releases and go into the state of not being able to recall information of being confused or being, you know, just that whole brain fog thing. So if you can get people to understand the physiology behind it, that's not to say that, you know, take an exam is going to be fun, but the autonomic nervous system balance allows you to get out of that fight or flight, and recall your information. So it's a hugely beneficial,
Terri Novacek 21:21
so we're talking about things, you know, like taking a test that type of stress and quitting a job of a teenager going on a first date, or meeting a group of friends for the first time, you know, going to a new school, what would be a process that would help me psych myself up or prepare myself for that?
Lisa Blackett 21:42
Well, personally, I would do the breathing on a regular basis. So your, your baseline resilience improves. So you don't get stressed as quickly or as easily. So if you did the breathing, five to 20 minutes a day, or, you know, five minutes, two or three times a day, you'd build up that resilience, so your baseline would be better. And then before, you know, you go to any sort of either day, to a group meeting, or whatever, to practice that breathing. And, you know, you can enhance it with, you know, sort of compassionate breathing or heart breathing, really breathing into the heart space, putting your hands on your heart, and really thinking about positive things like appreciation, learn to breathe in appreciation and gratitude. When I when I explained it to young people, I often use the Harry Potter metaphor, but of the thoroughness. You're not only, you know, building that resilience and balance yourself. But the more you learn to, to breathe in appreciation and gratitude, you sort of build a steel. So not only are you feeling good, but you're less likely to absorb other inputs of negativity. And actually, that's another, you know, science based physiological fact that that the heart has the greatest electromagnetic field. And the more positive we feel, the higher that resonance, and the more it influences. So even though, you know, we feel like oh, maybe we can catch bad moods and negative attitudes, actually, if we work on really strengthening our own positive feelings, we can deflect them, and have more of a positive influence on others to it's a really positive practice. And I guess the other thing too, about really learning to tap into your heart, as well as your head in your gut is to become more authentic, you're aligned, they're congruent, and your decisions and your actions become more authentic, you know, so I mean, how often have we done something that our heart wanted to do at the moment, but later in, regretted on one level or another? Or conversely, I mean, you could take this organizationally to how often do organizations make headspace decisions, which would be the financial without tapping into values, compassion, ethics, and so on? It's not just individually I mean, organization should be embracing as well. You know, starting with the Y starting with the values and then going to what's possible, and then taking compassionate action.
Terri Novacek 24:12
Well, we've been talking about generations of people.
Lisa Blackett 24:15
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, if you think about it, you know, we're all a system, whether we're there an individual or whether we're at an organization or a family, or if we all take into account our heart, our values, what's important, and compassion for ourselves and others. And then with that knowledge, think about what problem-solving or logic can be used for creativity. And then taking that wisdom from both the heart and the head and, you know, checking in with a dataset, okay, does that work? You know, you're ready to do it and taking courageous action.
Terri Novacek 24:52
Are there the certified coaches, are they able to do it virtually? These days.
Lisa Blackett 25:02
Yeah. So if people were interested to learn a bit more, I mean, the first thing I would do is pick up a copy of the mBraining book. There's a lot of, you know, techniques in there that people can use for themselves a lot of learning. There's also, you know, a website and mbraining.com website, which ties into the book. So there are some guided exercises on there
Terri Novacek 25:27
really great. Anything else that you feel would be really valuable for listeners to know.
Lisa Blackett 25:33
And really, you know, when you've got a decision or a challenge, or a difficult conversation coming up, do take the time and get yourself into balance, breathing, you know, it can change everything. I know, we talked about neuroplasticity a little bit, but I don't breathe any other way anymore. I only breathe by, you know, my diaphragm through my nose all the time. So it just becomes a way of being is and we really can change our way of being and listen to all this incredible wisdom we haven't inside ourselves.
Terri Novacek 26:11
I love that Lisa, thank you very much. It was great to chat with you.
Lisa Blackett 26:16
My pleasure, Terri. Thank you.
Terri Novacek 26:20
When I think of brain integration, decision making, I think of one of my favorite sayings. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day Teach a man to fish and he eats for lifetime. Decision-making is the same. Making decisions for others or having others make decisions for you only gets you through that one decision. But the more you make your own decisions, the better you get at it. And by integrating your brains in the process, you find you're making more sound decisions. When the reason why you want something aligns with what you know to be true, it is much easier to act and to know how to do it. For our reflect and connect activity. We're going to work on building coherent breathing skills. Breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of four. If you feel like you need more or less time, then you can make the adjustment. What's important is that you have the same time for both in for four, out for four or in for five and out for five. Do this for at least two minutes at a time. Practice breathing into your heart, no ribs, no tummy, breathed through the diaphragm. Hold your hands over your heart as you breathe, and think thoughts of appreciation and gratitude. feel love for yourself because self-compassion is the key to your best decisions. As Lisa pointed out if we work on strengthening our own positive feelings, we can deflect negativity and have a positive influence on our own decisions as well as others. If you're interested in experiencing the rest of the ambit process check out the element is everything website for resources. And when you start with the heart and align your thoughts with what you know and what you're willing to do, you'll find a path taking you to that place where you find your element
Joseph Porter 28:33
Thank you for listening to this episode of Element Is Everything. If you found anything in this podcast worth knowing, please share it with a friend, teacher, business leader or other decision maker. If you haven't already done so be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening now to be notified of future episodes. We appreciate your suggestions and feedback which you can provide through the Element is Everything website under Contact. Or you can simply email element is everything at my element.org Will this podcast change the world for the better? Not likely. But if we can help just a few listeners discover the path to their element, who will then help just a few others do the same. That will be a step in the right direction. Remember to live life to the fullest live life in your element.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
My purpose is to facilitate and support Wellbeing for individuals, organisations and society. Wellbeing is simply the most important outcome we should be striving for at every level - individual, organisation, and the economy.
I support Wellbeing for individuals through resilience, and strengths-based coaching, grounded in neuroscience, mBIT, positive psychology and other evidence-based practices. I work with healthcare professionals, leaders in health and social care, people living with cancer or chronic conditions and young people.
For organisations, I facilitate Wellbeing strategy – enabling a more resilient workforce, more positively impactful outcomes and enhanced sustainability. I train leaders and teams in resilience, compassionate leadership, listening skills, decision-making, coaching approach and others.
My non-exec roles are closely aligned with my intention to have a positive impact on Wellbeing – in healthcare, young people and society. I am delighted to serve on the board of NHS National Services Scotland and Potential in Me.
I continue to work as a healthcare qualitative researcher on behalf of industry, charities and the NHS. My main areas of interest and expertise are oncology and human factors testing for medical devices and apps.