By Dr. William K. Larkin on June 25, 2012
Nitrous oxide is a gas that shows up in the blood when we have let go of demanding that we get the “how” to a thing and the more creative idea begins to show up. When we have spent long periods of time on a particular thing, and we just let go of it and focus on something else, this gas appears when a new solution begins to arrive.
It can actually be measured in the blood and is indicative of a state of letting go of a lot of pressure during problem-solving and the conditions that appear before solutions begin to arise. Should we be surprised that gases and hormones are associated with releasing the hold and pressure we have on coming up with answers? Consider the state of having an idea, of getting a vision of something, and having little or no idea of how it’s going to happen. Over-thinking sets in and we start to wonder and worry and focus on the fact that it hasn’t or isn’t happening. We are getting nowhere. Time is passing. There seem to be no clues. Actually we couldn’t see them if they were in front of us.
Divergis mentis means diverting the mind in order for it to focus on something else to get us out of the rut. Our brain has structures or “molds” of reasoning. It gets used to going about things in the same old ways. The diversion of the brain releases at least this one gas, nitrous oxide, as an indicator that new processes are in motion.
We all need some hobby or diversion that is a guaranteed way to get our minds off things. If you have ever wondered how people could like horror movies, here is your answer. It gets their mind off everything else. That is not my divergis mentis, but if it works for you, use it.
Exercise is a great way to divert your attention. Breathing deeply and doing breathing exercises is another. Being sensitive to forces beyond yourself that bring answers in the form of people and circumstances is a great one. It is important to develop the kind of sensitivity that reads the signs. I know I am on such shaky ground here, because I know people who see signs in everything are such a pain.
The problem is that the signs they see are usually for someone other than themselves. If they read the signs correctly, they’d be quiet. There is a way we read signs that is for us. It is receptive and emerges from being able to “take a break,” breathe, and divert the mind.
All caught up in the issues with no answers? All wrapped up in the problem and the how? Full of doubt that what you hope for just isn’t going to happen in your time frame?
Try a little nitrous oxide.
Here is then the neuroscience. The left hemisphere is in charge of inhibition/disinhibition. It is a kind of stop/go of the brain. It cycles and sorts all the information from the right frontal lobe, creates vision, and gets you to where you have to go on time. It keeps the schedule and, while it is not the moral compass, it is closely connected, especially to compulsive like, addictive looking behavior. There are some theories that it is the overworked left frontal lobe that is responsible for fibromyalgia, especially in women with a lot of responsibility and power. And perhaps with feminine men also. Go figure.
You are turning down the left frontal hemisphere a bit. Move to the occipital lobe and take some beautiful pictures with your iPhone, then spend some time relishing them. Send them to your friends with a note of support and care, and …….breathe deeply.
There are football players who crochet, and financiers who knit when they need to let go of issues that they can’t solve and are over-thinking.
CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR COACHES
1) How have you used your ANI tools to “turn down” the left frontal lobe and move your state of mind and behavior to “divergis mentis?” Tell us what tools you have used and what has been the result.
FOR OUR LARGER BLOG COMMUNITY
1) Are you guilty of habitual “over thinking” and normally deeply invested in seeking the “how” in your life? What natural approaches do you employ to divert your focus to a more positive state of mind? Tell us what they are and how you have used them.
palmspringsesq wrote on Mon Jun 25th, 12:30pm:
I am definetely guilty of habitual over thinking.The approaches I use to try to divert my attention vary. Fisrt and foremost, I am practicing the approach we are learning in the Class. Try to snap out of it by going to the emotional gym and concentrating on positive thoughts of Gratitude, Joy, Peace and Love. This approach has worked well for me and look forward to practicing more with our groups.
Another natural approach is to simply exercise for a while. I go to the regular gym in addition to the emotional gym. Especially If Im feeling down or caught up in Stinking Thinking! Cant go wrong going to both gyms!
Medman wrote on Mon Jun 25th, 12:38pm:
What a powerful Blog I am reading a book talking about this same artivle. How funny it that. Well the first thing for me is to let the problem head immediatly to the back burner. Not to keep living there. Tell myself the same story six times and it is imprinted into the mind. Let go of the how did i get here? And dont ask myself how do I get out. Swithch from being in control to let go. Switching the thinking process. Which is so hard for many people we live in a world where we have to have all of the answers and control what is next. We can’t things will happen that will take us by surprise and we have to trust that all will turn out okay. I love the idea here about finding something else to do. Change the focus point and the answer will come to you.How true. Release the old thinking and the old way of doing things and let the creative genius inside of you come alive. How true. We cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it. So we must move into a different frame of thinking. Creative or free flowing is what i hear it is called. The ability for us to listen to the inner voice and follow the higher road. When we quite our minds we have the answer for every little hiccup that occurs in life. Our job is not to let that bump in the road becaome a stop sign. We are creator and we have to tune into the right station to move to the next level of life. The key here is to learn to relax the mind and let the answer float into your awareness. Not to sit and force a solution.
Fiat Lux wrote on Mon Jun 25th, 4:45pm:
When I am thinking too hard about something I am trying to figure out, I do one of several things. I will go and swim laps where the repetitive motion of the water and to and fro motion calms the chatter in my mind. Or I might go for a bike ride and focus on the wind running through my hair, or take a walk to the beach and listen to the waves. I will try to empty my mind of thoughts so I will write on a large sheet of paper all of my questions and thoughts and map the connections or ideas and then put it away. I know that over-thinking the issue will get me nowhere.
Oddly, I naturally awaken every morning at around 4:00 a.m. and find that even while sleeping, I have been thinking about the issue. While I am in a somewhat lucid dreamy state, ideas bubble to the surface and I try to capture them on paper with my eyes closed. Sometimes, I will keep my laptop nearby and type with my eyes closed. Once I open my eyes, I lose all of the clarity or lucidity and find myself back to reality. This really helps me a lot.
Meditation of any type is a wonderful way to empty one’s brain and allow that which wants to enter to do so. Not unlike the wisdom stated in our recent reading: When one door closes, another opens. We need to be still, to empty, to push the pause button on our life. It’s a relief. It’s a pleasure. It greases the skids for our intuitive intelligence to emerge.
Suzanne wrote on Wed Jun 27th, 8:32am:
I am a bit confused. In a past article about the research with the monks, it was stated that the left frontal lobes were associated with happiness and positive emotions. This article seems to say the opposite and that we should “turn down” this part. I am taking a deep breath to divert my confusion!
Can you clarify this? Thank you!
RachelsWell wrote on Thu Jun 28th, 7:38am:
When overthinking is giving me nothing but a headache, a sure sign the pressure is building, I divert my focus to a more positive state by working out at the Emotional Gym. It helps to pulse the positive emotions at the physical gym. One workout feeds the other. But I can go the Emotional Gym any time.
Then there’s the overthinking that begins to take on a life of its own, that narrows my focus and options and is really more of a rumination that gets me nowhere or worse. This is where Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s work helps: I go to the garden. Either the real garden or the neuropositive, pulsing gratitude, garden. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
Here are other ways I can “relax and allow”:
-Slowing down. Taking a walk. Slowing down enough to see what’s been in front of me all along: nature’s displays and patterns. Divergis mentis.
- Looking with relaxed focus at the vast sky here in the Southwest, especially at night or driving on empty roads during the day. This activates what I call “big sky” imagination, relaxes me and fills me with wonder. So does looking at Hubble Telescope images.
-Reading that engages me, with no apparent connection to what I’m overthinking. I love non-fiction works that open and expand my mind. It’s uncanny how often I find exactly what I need to know by opening a book, seemingly at random, to the perfect passage. I call this my library angel, and now I’m learning the neuroscience behind it.
-Reading Sufi poetry (Rumi, Hafiz) and mystical wisdom tales - a different kind of “non-fiction”...
-And sacred writing - my own mystical writings. I write imaginative stories and tales without knowing ahead of time what will emerge on the page. Just writing the words “once upon a time” relaxes my mind, probably releases nitrous oxide, and opens me to a trust and knowing that, while I don’t know what will follow or how the story will unfold (though there may be a subtle intention to discover with delight what I can’t get to in more direct ways), I trust that with a positive lean the story will turn out okay, that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” (Julian of Norwich), something my overworked problem-solving contracted mind has a hard time believing until new possibilities, new ways of seeing begin to arrive, in unexpected ways, like the magic in a tale.
jillangeldavis wrote on Thu Jun 28th, 7:05pm:
Suzanne: Great observation, This resource sheds some light on it…“As far as the year of 2003, HealthEmotions research Institute at UW-Madison was the only institution where researches on positive emotions such as happiness were studied. Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at UW-Madison as well as a leader of a research team at HealthEmotions research Institution has contributed very much on happiness studies. One of the most famous studies was to look at Buddhist monk’s brains during their meditations by using the recent technologies including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalograms (EEG). FMRI shows the blood flow within the brains and EEG shows the electrical activity in the brain. From this experiment, Davidson found a much greater level of activity in the left prefrontal lobe in Monk’s brains than those who do not meditate (2). On the other hand, a research on negative emotions by using fMRI showed that the right prefrontal cortex was more active when people were emotionally distressed (3). This is a significant finding but the researches are still not sure if this indicates that the sensation of happiness is produced in the left prefrontal area or the area is active because people have the sensation of happiness. Another research was done by Davidson. He conducted a research on babies who were less than a year old and their brain activities when their mothers left them. From this experiment, he found out that babies who did not cry turned out to have a higher activity in their left prefrontal lobe (2). From both of the experiments, happiness and the left prefrontal lobe is even more clearly linked.
The physical difference between the more active left prefrontal lobe, a “happier” brain, and the less active left prefrontal lobe, a less “happy” brain, is questioned. Davidson believes that it maybe has something to do with neurotransmitters(2). Neurotransmitters are chemicals which carry signals from one neuron to the other. The prefrontal cortex is filled with various kinds of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, glutamate, serotonin etc. Since some studies on animals show that dopamine is very active when they transfer signals associated with positive emotions between the left prefrontal lobe area and the emotional center in the brain, Davidson believes that dopamine may be one of the most important neurotransmitters. Davidson believes, “dopamine pathways may be especially important in aspects of happiness associated with moving toward some sort of goals” since monks always have a goal as well as people who try to cut their eating/smoking habits etc (2).” Found here:http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web3/ahosoda.html
livestrong81 wrote on Sun Jul 1st, 2:07pm:
I have been fascinated with this for years actually. I read an amazing book called “The Davinci Method” by Garrett Laporto years ago and regularly look through it as a reminder of the rich material. He describes different areas of the brain and how to engage them. One thing that struck me was that he spoke about many great scientist, artists, inventors, poets and playwrights of all time had a habit of taking a nap, going for a walk, fishing or doing simple daily chores when they were stuck in their work. For example, Einstein would take naps regularly when he found he was stuck on a problem. He would write down on a piece of paper the problem he was having, and would allow his mind to wander as he drifted off to sleep. He would often “receive” the answer in his dream state and would awaken with excitement. This was a regular “problem solving technique” he practiced.
I have heard many great speakers say that some of their most brilliant ideas come to them when they are in the shower, washing dishes or driving their car. Doing these mundane, automatic routines allows our subconscious mind to put pieces of our worlds together that our conscious mind isn’t equipped to do in the moment. It’s the saying, “You can’t see the forest in the trees.”
I believe it was Anthony Robbins that said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same equation that created it.” In other words, it is impossible to come up with an answer for a problem with the same thinking that created the problem. You need a new perspective, new thoughts, a new way of being and experiencing it. In order for the Nitrous Oxide to occur, we need allow space for an answer to appear instead of forcing it to happen. Our subconscious mind has answers that our conscious minds need to know.
My personal experience with this is almost a daily process. I am constantly seeking knowledge, analyzing life and looking for ways to improve my quality of life for myself and others. So, I am always in a space of seeking more knowledge, answers and do stumble upon roadblocks or uncertainties in my journey.
First off, I make sure I am starting this process in an Upspiral so I can stay creative, open and be receptive to my internal problem solving skills. Because one of my top strengths is creativity, I usually journal, draw (doodle), daydream or start a creative project like putting together a puzzle. I find that having an intention for an answer and releasing the answer to come to me in the time and way it chooses works well. For me, talking it through with a positive, wise person also helps me to “get out of rut.” Hearing another person’s perspective or thoughts to a problem can be refreshing and can lead to an answer I never could’ve thought of on my own.
On another note, Einstein’s method works! I’ve done it a few different times and have “received” an answer in my dreams or by daydreaming when awakening.
Steve D wrote on Wed Jul 4th, 9:12pm:
I am in a serene place tonight, free from over thinking and trying to solve the challenges of life; in a place of surrender and alignment with the universe and just plain ol’ feeling good. It’s the 4th of July and with it I have released the stories that I have held on to for all of my life. I’ve given myself the gift of freedom from the past; and with it the gift of peace in the moment.
My gift which keeps me joyous throughout much of the day and always serves as a “positive distraction” is music. I have over 18,000 iTunes and I find myself choosing a playlist (usually from the 60’s)...right now I’m listening in chronological order all of the songs that hit the top 100. I’m in October of 1967 and joyously working out to the music on my iPod in my workouts, bike rides, and while I work around the house.
Through my music, I am always brought to the present, usually singing along in a joyous state. Life should always be lived in beautiful harmony (now that reminds me of a song by the Beach Boys in 1964…Don’t Worry Baby)... and so it is!
gabenza wrote on Wed Jul 18th, 7:26pm:
Yes I am guilty of habitually over thinking and invested in the “how” in my life. Recent posts should attest to that.
The natural approaches in the past I have used was to go jogging, hiking, or dancing (even dancing in my living room). I knew that if I was depressed a long jog would make me feel better. No matter what problems I had in my life I could go dancing and have a good time. It would be a relief to go to work, knowing that working would take my mind off of my problems. Although house cleaning is not a favorite of mine it is a good diversion also.
Now the first thing I do is to pulse positive emotion whenever I have a issue. Although I still have challenges in my life I have remained in an upspiral. Dancing is my favorite hobby and my favorite diverges mentis. I usually dance in the now with no other thoughts except responding to my partner and the music.
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