Were you aware that you have 3 brains? Think about when you had to do a presentation for the first time at work and got ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or made an important decision because ‘you followed your heart’. Neuroscience has shown that in addition to the head brain, which you’re probably already familiar with 😉, there are 2 others – the heart-brain and the gut-brain. Each of these brains is its own complex system (neurons, motor-neurons and neurotransmitters) able to change, learn and receive & process information. The heart-brain and gut-brain communicate with the head-brain having great impact on how we feel, our perception of people & environment and performance.
Let’s look how at how the 3 brains differ:
With approximately 86 billion neurons, the head-brain has many responsibilities controlling all voluntary and involuntary movement and bodily functions. It communicates with each part of the body through the spinal cord (central nervous system). An example of this is the autonomic nervous system, the system that regulates the bodily functions done without conscious effort (digestion, heart-beating, breathing, blood pressure etc.). Our brain receives information from the 5 senses – sight, touch, smell, sound and taste – processes them in a way that has meaning for us and stores them in memory for access when necessary.
The brain is also responsible for thinking, logic, cognition, reasoning, planning & processing, intellect, creativity, gives meaning to the things that we experience and happen to us and creates the story of ‘I’ – ‘I think’, ‘I understand’, ‘I reckon’.
Amazingly, there are 40,000 neurons operating in the ‘heart-brain’ meaning it can operate independently from the brain. You might expect that the brain does most of the talking when it comes to communicating with the heart, actually the heart sends more messages up to the brain as there are more neural pathways running from the heart to the brain, than vice versa.
As you’ll know from experience, the heart-brain is for feeling and emotions – think back to a time when you said to yourself something like ‘I feel happy’ or ‘I feel valued’ or ‘I feel sad’ – these are felt in the heart-brain, our visions and dreams have place here too. When we experience sincere positive emotions, such as compassion, appreciation and joy, the heart processes these emotions, and the heart's rhythm becomes more coherent and harmonious.
If you’ve said the words ‘my gut is telling me…’ or felt ‘butterflies in the stomach’, you have already experienced the gut brain in action, which is hidden in the walls of your digestive system. With 100million neurons here, it’s known as the ‘second brain’.
Here is some food for thought: 90%of the body’s serotonin (the mood management chemical) is produced in the gut – adding to the notion ‘eat well to feel well’. Our gut instinct will be more noticeable with a healthy diet and being mindful of what we’re consuming – heavily processed and fried foods can literally restrict communication from this brain to the heart and brain centres.
Did you know that 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut? Additionally, the gut enables the correct absorption of nutrients from food. Check out this article for 10 handy tips to a happy gut.
Our fast-paced technological society has driven us to live pre-dominantly in our head - many of the subtle sensations within our body go unnoticed when we’re in a continuous doing or thinking mode. Try setting some time to practice dropping into the body and notice what you feel – whether meditation, stretching, walking or just sitting with intention to sense our physical body – you may be surprised with what you notice!
Consider the wisdom of your head-brain, the feelings of your heart-brain, and the instincts of your gut-brain for a fuller picture on how to take action when needed!
Check out the source article here: sunwarrior.com/three-brains