Using the Belly Brain

Using the Belly Brain

Taoist teachers talk about the benefits of using the belly brain over using the upper brain. I’ve mentioned before that there are more nerve cells in the ‘gut brain’ than there are in the upper brain.’ John’s Hopkins Medicine states that the enteric nervous system is “two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.”  We can train our lower brain to handle every-day task and use the upper brain less. The benefit of using the belly brain is that it works more efficiently for everyday tasks.

The brain’s main functions are directing involuntary actions, such as heartbeat, respiration, and digestion. These brain-related tasks work in conjunction with the organs that carry out the functions. The brain also controls “higher-order,” conscious activities, such as thought, reasoning, and abstraction. Unfortunately, much of the energy expended by the upper brain is dealing with absence of thought, lack of reasoning, and misinterpreting abstraction. This happens through fear-mongering, anger, worry, and fantasizing negative dystopias.

As one becomes more present in the body, the brain obsesses less in the negative ways. This frees up a lot of energy for cell repair, recharging, creativity or other higher-order functions. Using the belly brain over the upper brain, to me, means being aware in the body to calm and quiet the runaway train of unproductive thinking. The lower brain and intelligence of the vital organs can carry out breathing, heartbeat, digestion, gland functions, etc. and the upper brain can focus on the higher-order functions.

Photo: Master Wang, Wudang Dragongate Master

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