THRIVE RATHER THAN SURVIVE

Flip the Coin


DID YOU KNOW: Stress alters brain cells and functions.

Today I watched Call the Midwife, Season 7, Episode 8 which is a Netflix series based in 1960 East-side London. Picture the scene in a dreary two-bed hospital room when the average surgical-stay is 3-4 days and bed-mates are at odds with each other. Sister Monica Joan is fearful when she goes in for cataract surgery. Before the surgery, she is fearful and came to terms with the possibility that she might die under the surgeon’s knife. When she awoke from surgery, she is thankful that she is alive. On the other hand, her roommate, Daisy, when she awoke from cataract surgery is terrified. Both are confined to their beds, unable to move their heads due to the sand-pillow designed for this purpose. Their bodies are immobilized by the tight constrictor of bed linens. Sister Monica Joan awakens filled with awe at the fact that she is alive. Daisy awakens consumed by terror, unable to move. Daisy states: “It is like being in a coffin buried in the earth.” She begins to panic. To which Sister Monica Jones replies: “Draw on your inner strength. You are the mistress of your vision. Take custody of your mind’s eye.” Having misheard, Daisy interrupts her and asks, “What does custard have to do with it?” Sister Monica Joan repeats, “Take custody of your mind’s eye. Instruct it to show you something wonderful like the night ablaze with the shimmering Aurara Borealis.” Sister Monica Joan smiles with a twinkle in her eye. Daisy laughs and says “I see mounds and mounds of custard.” Sister Monica Joan, having a sweet tooth, nods and says, “I see it too!”

This scene so eloquently describes the paradox of fear. It is like a coin with two sides … awe and terror. Sister Monica Joan represents life’s awe. Daisy represents the death terror. Both are located architecturally in the brain’s limbic system. The brain needs specific directions from the mind to flip the coin from terror to awe so that it can thrive rather than survive the reality of life-threatening conditions.

The Connector Brain links us to self, to others, to the

Creator and to Creation.

ABC Tool #4: Flip the Coin

A – Aware: Awaken to life!

  1. Ask yourself “To whom or what are you connected?” Connect to self and others!

  2. The brain is wired to find a tribe or group of people to survive. Individually we are vulnerable. Collectively we are safe. Oops … how does that work today when we are told to keep physical/social distance?

a. Practice the KISS principle! Keep It Strictly Simple. When you think of someone,

pick up the phone and call or text that person.

b. Practice random acts of kindness! Leave a surprise of tasty treat or bunch of

flowers on a neighbor’s or friend’s door step.

B – Break: Breathe intentionally!

  1. Change your breathing pattern. Exercise your body.

  2. Practice stop/drop/roll breathing when your brain is on fire with anxious thoughts or consumed by worry.

a. Say to yourself: Stop!

b. Exhale: Drop your breath into your diaphragm. Blow it out like a whale emerging

from the depths of the ocean. Release your breath!

c. Inhale: Roll into now. Use your movement patterns to balance the left and right

side of your brain.

i. Incorporate cross-over exercises when you are confined to your home, chair

or bed. Reach across the mid-line of your body. If your ankles, knees or arms

are crossed left over right, take a break and change them, crossing them right

over left. Repeat for one minute.

ii. Use your non-dominate hand for at least one activity per day such as eating

your food or brushing your teeth. Practice reaching across the mid-line of

your body to pick up an object.

C – Connect: Draw on your inner strength!

  1. Take custody of your mind. You are the master/mistress of your vision. Show your brain something wonderful and awe inspiring. Perhaps it is a magnificent sunrise or sunset. Picture in your mind’s eye favorite vacation places.

  2. Take custody of your mind. You are the authority of your internal dialogue. Feed your brain with something wonderful and breath-taking. Perhaps it is in the silence of sound. Listen to the quiet. Turn off news feeds or electronic devices. Sit in the stillness of the world before people awake or after people are asleep.

May the Movement of Life flow through you!

Harness the Power of Your Connector Brain.