Breathing in the Good
Neuropsychology has made great leaps in understanding how the mind creates synaptic connections in response to our experiences. Rick Hanson is a leading proponent of positive neuropsychology and combining it with teachings from various wisdom traditions like Buddhism to offer practical ways to help us rewire ourselves for happiness. For more information check out the extensive offerings at http://www.rickhanson.net/key-offerings/.
The main “take away”, as Rick calls them, that I have used ever since exploring his offerings is about taking in the good. He goes into detail about the reasons why humans and mammals are hardwired to remember the bad and forget the good experiences, which boils down to our basic survival mechanisms that want us to stay alive more than they want us to be happy. However, at a certain point in our conscious evolution we yearn to go beyond just surviving and wake up to a greater truth about our existence.
My simplified version of his process is to take 3 conscious breaths whenever we have a positive experience that we want to integrate. He points out that it takes but a fraction of a second to wire a dangerous experience into our memory, but it takes 20 seconds for a positive one to imprint! Therefore, we actually need to be proactive if we want to hardwire ourselves to feel more joy, peace and happiness. Three slow, deep breaths takes about 20 seconds, so if we notice when we have an insight or an “ah ha” moment and pause long enough to take 3 conscious breaths, we have a much better chance of it actually sticking in our memory banks. Try it for yourself. Just stay focused on whatever feels positive while you simultaneously breathe in and out 3 times. Imagine that positive experience or feeling permeating your cells, synapses and entire being.