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You Have Three Brains: How Does That Work?


Loving Your Three Brains

The untold story about how body, mind and soul work as a single unit…

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

What’s the hardest part of loving your three brains? Knowing you really have three? But you’ve known about them all along, haven’t you? Take a look.

“Use Your Head”

We’ve all heard that one. Usually when someone believes we haven’t. It’s our best tool. So, why not?

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Logic is king, logical thinking is the key to a successful life. It’s how we block out that messy emotional, spiritual stuff.

Weigh your choices. Think ’em through. Jot them down, pro and con, they tell you. Then rank them.

It’s logical.

But it’s also sterile and incomplete. Critical factors are left out, undervaluing your other brains and preventing the most effective results.

What about your other two brains…?

Nobody told you, did they? Not in school or on the job. Not on PBS.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Mainstream science has a thing about inconvenient facts. There are more than you think. Big stuff. Your other brains are good examples.

It’s not as if the fascinating facts aren’t known. They are, but they don’t fit that tired old mold. You know, the one that really doesn’t explain who and what we are.

Those other noodles are a problem because we’ve been told forever that we have only one brain, the king inside your skull. I does wondrous things.

If we have other brains, what are they doing that the Big One isn’t? How could they be?

Haven’t we been taught that our one and only brain, the one between our ears, runs the whole shebang, and it even keeps massive records?

We have, but it’s not true

Are they even aware and conscious or just soft computers, processors, with no holistic vision?

It’s well accepted through scientific research, but not well-known that, besides old faithful between your ears, we are home to two more brains.

At least two, but let’s not go there yet.

There’s a “gut brain,” also called the “small brain” or the enteric nervous system. And there’s a “heart brain.”

Both have neurons, synapses and glia that work like those inside your skull, and both run some independent operations. They let the big brain know what’s going on and offer advice.

Meanwhile, there are weird doubts over whether any one of our three brains do actual thinking. Are they even aware and conscious or just soft computers, processors, with no holistic vision?

Turns out, there’s no universal agreement on what consciousness is or even whether it is at all. This, of course, makes it a pain in the ass to reach conclusions.

Note: In his latest book Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, Dr. Joe Dispenza argues there are several more brains. For simplicity, I’ll skip those here, but you might want to try the book.

Some thoughts about thought…

You take for granted that you are conscious and that you think, but surprise: there’s some controversy about that.

A sizable chunk of mainstream science says thinking, decision-making, free will, etc. are illusions. You’re kidding yourself. They aren’t what they appear but are just the accidental residue of brain activity… over which we have no control.

No matter what we think. Excuse the pun.

But why would we do that? What the hell’s the point?

Bunk!” springs to mind, but many scientists insist on a mechanistic universe including the tiny slice inside your skull. They say there’s no other viable explanation, only fables and religions.

And we are kidding ourselves if we “think” otherwise.

Not material is, well, immaterial.

So, if you imagine that your heart or your gut might think, independent of your upper gray matter, the traffic jam’s worse than Manhattan at Christmas.

I believe we think, just like we think we do, and that we have free will too.

Contrary arguments, no matter how logical and widely accepted, strike me as desperate, attempts to hold onto a cherished belief about materialism, not good science.

“He goes with his gut.”

That’s what Vicki, my new boss’s assistant, told me when I landed my first management job. She had to explain it because I had no manager experience and hadn’t applied to get some.

I was a freshly minted, second class stationary engineer eager to get my feet wet with steam boilers, but here I was, Project Manager in Plant Operations.

Edgar, the guy with the gut feelings, was right. We did well by each other until he retired, eight years later. We didn’t always get along, but we got things done sane people knew weren’t possible.

So, whatever it was in his gut made a decision that superseded whatever he was thinking in his head. He trusted it.

My only argument with gut thinking is that it squeezes something unique into already occupied space. I can’t imagine that thinking with our gut’s the same as putting our neocortices to work.

That’s why we call them “gut feelings,” not “gut ideas.” They’re a different kind of information and knowing.

But they are just as genuine and wise, and we all depend on them.

If you want to be whole, you must. Otherwise, it’s like walking with at least one limb out of service.

Dig deeper into the gut brain with this nerd video.

Simple facts about your gut brain…

The average cranial brain has 86 billion neurons. Your gut has just 500 million because it’s area of responsibility is much smaller, it’s responsibilities more focused.

Your gut brain acts freely without directions from above, contrary to what we’ve long believed. Many functions of digestion, for example, happen without supervision. News about what’s going on travels back and forth within the nervous systems, but that’s about staying in touch, not control.

Our brains trust each other.

But does your gut brain “think?” No, not in the usual way.

Like your heart brain, it feels. It’s like getting around in the pitch dark but you don’t care.

About your heart brain.

Your heart has a mind of its own. It keeps its own beat without help from above. It knows what to do and manages its own timing.

We think with our hearts, and that should be obvious.

When something painful happens, we’re heartbroken. Not brain broken.

When we fall in love, our hearts swell. Metaphorically. Swollen hearts or brains are not good things, but that’s how we recognize the wisdom. You don’t fall in love from thinking about it. That comes next.

We know joy and sorrow, love and hate, because our heart brain tells us about them. Joy and sorrow are not in our heads. We keep some records there, but that’s it.

Big brains are logical, not emotional, but they make good partners.

And for the most critical stuff, size might not matter at all.

Hearts and Minds

Thoughts and feelings are different things taking place in different locations, but they’ve got something critical in common.

They’re invisible.

You see a thought come to life, that is, manifest into something like a building or a painting, but you never see it or any other thought.

And you see the object of your desire, never the desire.

That’s where science gets tongue-tied. Since the time of Aristotle, we’ve increasingly come to trust only what we see, feel, touch or, in general, observe and measure.

All of modern science rests on that, and it steers modern science straight into a dead end.

We can live without seeing gravity, and we can pass off dark matter as something we will see, sooner or later.

But science has a terrible time with feelings and thoughts.

That’s probably why we never hear much about our other two brains. Nobody knows what to make of them.

If we accept them as simple mechanical shepherds, semi-independent, we’re left with squishy puzzles. How does it work when people have hurt feelings? And what on earth is gut intuition?

The heart knows…

Go with your gut…

Both of these common phrases, which roll easy off the tongue, deny the primacy of the big brain.

All three brains at the same dance

“I’m of two minds on this,” she says, and there’s another one.

The big deal is to get all three working together.

Research shows, as Dr. Joe Dispenza relates in Supernatural, that cooperation matters. Critically.

Scared out of your wits, he explains, you can say, “I’m not afraid,” a million times, but if you don’t merge that with feeling, that is, with confidence or visceral trust, you’ll stay scared.

Thought without feeling is a weakling.

All three brains have management jobs.

Your gut overseas complex biochemistry, turning food into energy, other system resources and waste.

Pumping blood into and out of its chambers at just he right pace to meet the needs for oxygen and nutrient delivery demands constant oversight.

Processing images, sounds and tastes, sorting and communicating about them, is a massive task. That’s why your big brain has so many more neurons and the synapses and glia to go with them.

More work, more hands needed on deck, but looked at objectively, that big brain is really multiple brains doing different things independently. We just got used to the idea that it’s all one big lump.

Lots of working parts.

But it’s in thinking and feeling, so unlike all the rest, and how we blend them in that defines us.

It’s what our lives are, and our three brains must coordinate to have real power.

Think about it this way:

You may believe you love someone, but how would you know if you didn’t feel it first? In your heart and/or in your gut…?

And how would make sense of those feelings, large and small, without a brain constantly telling you all about it?

Love all three of your brains. That makes a perfectly healthy family.

Buy me a coffee…

The Roosevelt Island Daily is always free to read. But our expenses are not. Publishing has costs beyond the human ones of writing and reporting. We appreciate your generous contribution in support our work. Thank you.

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