If you haven't seen Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's talk on TED, and you have 18 minutes to spare (I know, I know), and you have an interest in the story of a Harvard brain scientist describing the particulars of her 4-hour, left-brain stroke, the experience of a right brain functioning without a left brain, and the lessons she learned during her 8-year recovery, do watch her:
TED: Jill Bolte Taylor's Powerful Stroke Of Insight
If you'd rather scan an interview, I saw this one today:
Interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.: "Stroke of Insight"
- Source: Bleeping Herald
(Update: May 16, 2011 - I don't think that link works anymore but the interview was posted on this site.)
This excerpt resonated with me:
Bleeping Herald: I love the part in your book where you discuss that when a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there's a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body and then after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.
Dr. Jill: The 90 second rule and then it's gone. It's predictable circuitry, so by paying attention to what circuits you are triggering and what that feels like inside of your body, you can recognize when it has happened. We all know what it feels like when we suddenly move into fear. Something happens in the external world and all of a sudden we experience a physiological response by our body that our mind would define as fear. So in my brain some circuit is saying something isn't safe and I need to go on full alert, those chemicals flush through my body to put my body on full alert, and for that to totally flush out of my body, it takes less than 90 seconds.
So, whether it's my fear circuitry or my anger circuitry or even my joy circuitry - it's really hard to hold a good belly laugh for more than 90 seconds naturally. The 90 second rule is totally empowering. That means for 90 seconds, I can watch this happen, I can feel this happen and I can watch it go away. After that, if I continue to feel that fear or feel that anger, I need to look at the thoughts I'm thinking that are re-stimulating that circuitry that is resulting in me having this physiology over and over again.
When you stay stuck in an emotional response, you're choosing it by choosing to continue thinking the same thoughts that retrigger it. We have this incredible ability in our minds to replay but as soon as you replay, you're not here, you're not in the present moment. You're still back in something else and if you continue to replay the exact same line and loop, then you have a predictable result. You can continue to make yourself mad all day and the more you obsess over whatever it is, the more you run that loop, then the more that loop gets energy of it's own to manifest itself with minimal amounts of thought, so it will then start on automatic. And it keeps reminding you, "Oh yeah, I was mad, I have to rethink that thought."