How friendly are your Head, Heart, and Gut?

I have noticed over the years of practicing acupuncture and sharing the wisdom of Chinese medicine and teaching the Arvigo Techniques Self Care and introductory classes, that I have enjoyed creating a bridge between the wisdom of ancient traditions and modern science.  I have noticed that it is more accessible for English speaking people to understand what is happening in their bodies if I bring in anatomy, physiology, and principles of functional medicine.  As for the psycho-emotional aspect of health, Chinese medicine has an a relationship oriented approach that offers much food-for-thought, the cartoon at the end of this blog is a perfect example.

One of the most exciting aspects about modern research is the connection between the brain and the gut.  The gut is generally considered the Second Brain, the brain being the first, but when I learned that 90% of nervous system signals travel through the vagus nerve in the gut, passes and innervates the heart, and THEN TO the brain, I have started to call the gut The First Brain.  Imagine if we all learned as children that what we felt in our bellies is the most important part of our self awareness and to love our bellies and nurture its intelligence rather than just focus on IQ and cognitive/didactive performance?  How different may we have developed into adults?

This aspect of the gut being a central system of the body is parallel to the Spleen/Stomach organ systems and the Earth Element being part of the “Mother of all Elements”.  For more information on the Earth element, digestion, and the Spleen from Chinese medicine perspective, visit a previous post I wrote The Mother of all Elements

In this blog I’d like to present some practical approaches taken from mindfulness approaches that will help with making wiser choices by tuning into your Head-Heart-Gut connection.  Mrs. Mindfulness, Mellie O’Brien, has put together a visual, didactic, and audio meditation that is based on this principle that technology and neuroscience has now discovered and proven:  We have three brains, the head brain, heart brain, and gut brain. 

Below are the steps of this meditation:

Any time you’re at a decision point you can use this mini-meditation to respond (and not react) to what is arising with wisdom and intelligence, making more mindful choices leading to a fuller happier more authentic life.

Step 1: Take three deep slow conscious breaths as a way of gathering your awareness to the present moment.

Step 2: Bring your awareness to your head
With your awareness in the head acknowledge what kind of thoughts are present in relation to the current situation.

Step 3: Drop awareness down to the heart
Place a hand over the heart and take a moment to attend to what values you have in this situation, what you care about and what your deepest intention is.

Step 4: Drop awareness down to the gut
Place a hand over the abdomen. Tune into any hunches, intuitions or emotions that are present in relation to the current situation.

Step 5: Collect all this information
Take one deep slow conscious breath in and out as you have a sense of collecting all this information from the body and mind. Then mentally ask yourself this question “what shall I do now?” Listen for the answer.

The Head-Heart-Gut Check meditation can be done in as little as 30 seconds when you need to make a quick decision or you can do a longer version that takes up to five minutes when you have more time. This simple powerful mini meditation will help you make more mindful decisions and will be an ally in times when you need mindfulness the most. May it serve you well!

Her full blog post is and her recorded meditation is on our YouTube channel under Meditations: Head-Heart-Gut check in with Mellie O’Brien

Let me know if this resonates with you by commenting below!  And if you have any questions about how Chinese medicine relates to this connection.

I’ll leave you with the following cartoon from The Awkward Yeti, the brain is on the left, the gut in the middle, the heart on the right.  It’s so perfect for another blog post on Chinese medicine…

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