Belichick, Brady, And Your Brain

GronkFlakesOn Wednesday, I had the opportunity to play “The Brookline Buddha“.  I spent the day with the 8th graders over at the Lawrence School in Brookline.  As some of you know, I spend a fair amount of time helping students, teachers, and parents deepen their understanding of their own mental processes – their inner landcsape, so they can focus on the moment, relax and really reflect on a situation before they act.

In every class I teach, the curriculum begins with a basic introduction to the science behind mindfulness.  Personally, I was very skeptical about meditation at first, so understanding the science, that proof of how it worked was very important to me.  I also believe that once students become more familiar with key parts of the brain and how they function together, they see that everyone’s brain works in the same way.  This awareness opens up a new ability to understand how they’re feeling in that moment – so they can get real clear in their response – and change their response, IF they need to.

I get excited about new ideas that can help people calm down and focus so that they can concentrate.  In this class I tried a new analogy: Your Brain as Your New England Patriots.

I’ve attached the video below but it may be too pixelated… so here’s the gist:

Prefrontal Cortex : I want you to imagine that the most reflective, thoughtful part of your is the quarterback- Tom Brady.  He’s got great focus, and discipline.  He can see the whole field in the moment. Brady is aware and can pay attention to what’s really going on – so he can make good choices.

Hippocampus: Imagine the hippocampus is the coach, Bill Belichick.  He contains memories and storage, and has the current playbook.  He has the wisdom of the past plays that have worked, stored for later use. After a play, he can relay important information to Tom that has worked in the past. This perspective helps Tom become aware that he has other choices.

Amygdala: The amygdala is your frontline of blockers.  It’s the most reactive part of the brain.  They alert Tom, protect him, and keep him safe.  They are quick to express snap judgements and emotions – like anger and anxiety.  So, what happens when the center is too pumped up and reacts quickly, or the line gets overly physical with the other team before the snap?

It’s a set back that usually causes a penalty.

Using real life examples, we explain how our brain works best when it’s in balance – integrated like a team.  When we meditate we’re training those key parts of our brain to work together- focus up, and be calm in the moment, so we can asses the situation with a little more clarity and then store that information for later use.  I hope this helps!

Go Pats!

-Andy

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