Peace, Love, Understanding

Feb 24, 2021

I was listening to the audiobook of Jay Shetty’s new offering  “Think Like A Monk” last week and he mentioned that as humans we have three basic desires – to be at peace, to be loved (and to love) and to be understood. 

It reminded me of that great song from my youth by Elvis Costello – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout”) Peace, Love And Understanding? Perhaps Elvis grasped a deep essence of life when he wrote this because there is a definite desire in parts of our culture to laugh at some of the simpler principles for a life well-lived.

It also occurred to me that there’s a direct correlation between each of the “three brains” (that I drone on about week after week in these posts) and the basic human desires. 

Peace comes from, at least in part, having a settled nervous system, being grounded in the present moment and not stuck in anxiety and panic mode. This is the level of the gut, the most basic primal part of us that looks for threat and is concerned with the basic human survival needs – fighting, fleeing, feeding, fornicating – the last being all about reproduction of species rather than for the deep connection it might bring. 

Love comes from the heart level and the relationships that we form with others around us. When we move into balance at our heart level we feel connected to ourselves, our own sense of being and others around us. At an even more profound level, and generally after a fair amount of our own inner work, we begin to feel connected to universal care, looking beyond the needs of us as individuals and small family units and into the wider world as a whole. 

Understanding comes from the ability of our executive centres in the prefrontal cortex to give reason and meaning to our existence. We begin to recognise where we are out of alignment with deeper truths and start to work with the thought processes and beliefs that hold us back. As we do this we begin to feel understood both by ourselves and by others around us. 

As with all of the three brain work that I am developing at the moment, it is so profound (at least for me) to understand that we have three very distinct parts of our being that each have different functions and requirements. 

As we begin to address one of these areas, the rest naturally will begin to shift for sure, but if you can focus on working at each level on a day-to-day basis, then change and growth is inevitable.

One of my clients gave me a wonderful example of this on a call this week. One day last week she had woken, checked her emails and discovered a massive issue that had arisen in her business overnight. She immediately went into full-blown anxiety, anger and frustration which was only interrupted by needing to start walking her son to school. 

But after she dropped him off at school, she decided that she should start using some of the techniques that we were teaching her in our programme. She found some space to sit in a park and practiced a few different processes that we had given her and she noticed things begin to change. 

First of all, she started to feel a sense of stillness and peace, before beginning to feel some gratitude and appreciation for how this made her feel and began to focus on the positives of the work she was doing. She took a few minutes to uncover what was going on in her thought processes and recognised that a lot of the stress from this situation had come about because she had taken her eye off a particular part of her business and she was full of self-recrimination and self-criticism. 

Within fifteen minutes she had completely calmed herself down and walked back into her home office feeling grounded, connected and ready to sort out the issues ahead. 

As I congratulated her on doing such a great job I also told her that she had performed each piece of the process in perfect order. She first dealt with the gut and her fight/ flight response to the email. She’d then settled her emotions and moved from a downward energetic spiral to an upwards spiral. Finally, as her body and emotions began to settle she’d taken it on herself to work through her thoughts and her beliefs, coming to a great deal of clarity about her situation and then taking action. 

As a result, she had a productive (if challenging) day. She also told me that a few months ago, before working in the programme, a similar start to the day would continue with eight hours of manic anger, frustration and upset before eventually collapsing, exhausted, at the end of the working day. 

The best thing about this stuff is that it doesn’t take months and years to get to grips with either, it just takes a few weeks to transform from anxious, exhausted and overwhelmed to far more relaxed, centred and present. Although there is one piece that people consistently miss – you’ve got to do the actual work! 

It’s all very well KNOWING what to do, but a very different thing to actually apply it. Which is exactly what my client did – she took all the learnings and applied it to a direct situation in life. That’s the secret, right there.