An article in an old issue of O reported on an interesting concept developed by Herbert Benson MD, the founding president of Mind/Body Medical Institute. I am sharing a few things that I think you will enjoy:
“You’re striving toward a goal at work, in a relationship, in therapy, or at the gym, and you hit a wall. You’re stuck, frustrated, and exhausted. Finally, you just let go. You turn to something completely different, perhaps something soothingly mindless and repetitive. And suddenly the answer is there. Your mind is flooded with insights and solutions, your body with the energy and grace that athletes call the zone.
This concept, called a “breakout” is a universal pattern of human functioning that powers our great leaps forward in every area of life. Every breakout you’ve ever millimeter or a mile, to a higher, freer plane. It’s how we grow- not in one smooth arc, but in bursts that Benson diagrams as STRUGGLE > RELEASE > BREAKOUT > IMPROVED ‘NEW NORMAL’.
By understanding the science of the breakout, we can begin to master the art of it. Benson offers three rules. One: No struggle, no breakout. If a bath triggered your best eureka moment, you might suppose more life-changing insights will flow from more time in the tub, and then wonder why nothing happens. “Unless you’ve worked and struggled, backing off is not effective,” Benson says. Two important things go on inside us during the struggle phase. One is a flurry of brain activity, strongest in the left or “thinking brain”, the center of logical, linear, verbal reasoning. The other is the release of stress hormones, which increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and our “alertness” and “edge”.
Up to a point, stress helps us think, cope, and work better. But beyond that point, it starts to tear us apart. The second rule is: Know when to quit struggling. If you keep pushing yourself when you feel stuck, stress hormones start to swamp your system, and your primitive brain (the deep core that drives your most basic life functions and rawest emotions) goes into overdrive. Push on and you may harm your health. Instead “say to yourself, I’ve done everything possible”. And then follow the third rule: Pull the breakout trigger. Watch your breath. Watch a ballgame. Laugh millimeter or a mile, to a higher, freer plane. It’s how we grow- not in one smooth arc, but in bursts that Benson diagrams as STRUGGLE > RELEASE > BREAKOUT > IMPROVED ‘NEW NORMAL’.
A SIMPLE BREAKOUT TRIGGER
Try invoking the “relaxation response”, a simple way to open yourself to an exhilarating breakout, suggested by Herbert Benson MD, the founding president of Mind/Body Medical Institute. Benson’s technique: Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Choose a word or a sound or a prayerful phrase that has positive meaning for you. Close your eyes and breathe regularly. On each exhalation, silently repeat your words or sounds. If your mind wanders, don’t fight it or feel you’ve failed. Just think, Oh, well, and gently return to your repetition. After 10 to 20 minutes, open your eyes, sit quietly, and let everyday thoughts seep back into your awareness. You’ve primed your brain for a flash of creative insight.
“ Happiness is..equilibrium. Shift your weight”