You have exactly 90 seconds

By: Tory  |  Published: June 24th, 2011   |  Category: Tory Shulman News

“I define responsibility as the ability to choose how we respond to stimulation…Although there are certain limbic system programs that can be triggered automatically, it takes less than 90 SECONDS for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body, and then be completely flushed out of our blood stream…If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.” —-“My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.

If you didn’t know, Dr. Jill Taylor is a one of the top brain anatomists in the country. In 1996 she famously suffered a severe stroke at the young age of 37 leaving her temporarily, with only the use of the right side or creative side of the brain. This meant language and mathematics were instantly erased but her sense of flow, of the present moment, different strains of energy and a blissful oneness with the world shot straight up. Her book “My Stroke of Insight” gives you all the amazing details of how she recovered.

In my favorite section of the book, called “OWN YOUR OWN POWER” Dr. Taylor writes about one of the hardest parts of her recovery. When she started regaining parts of her left brain, she had to also regain the loops of negative thoughts and judgment which we all know so very well. BUT having once experienced life without them, she decided, quite quickly, that she wouldn’t invite that part of her brain circuitry back. After waiting the anatomically automatic 90 seconds of surging emotion to race through her, she just decided to shut off that particular circuit.

Is it that simple??? Is it that amazingly easy? I can’t imagine what my day would be like if I simply shut off the noise that repeatedly says “You should not have eaten that or worn this or said that or felt this and blah blah blah blah judgey mcjudgerstein.” What if the second that left hemisphere started to clear its throat—I simply said “Ooh sorry, we are all out of time?”

This concept is not actually knew to me. If any of you know me personally, you will know that the American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron and her wise cracking Buddhist teachings have been a tremendous help for me when the left side burns a bit too brightly. And the amazing thing is that the way Pema explains her technique is actually identical to Dr. Taylor’s philosophy.

For instance, if something bad happens, lets say you rear end a car and you’re already ten minutes late to a meeting. Immediately, almost pre-verbal, a layer of emotional cement dumps straight over you. However, and this is HUGE so listen up or read up or whatever up. IF you continue to berate yourself, berate the driver, berate the traffic, berate the day, berate your car or berate your crappy luck, you yes YOU have CHOSEN to drive that ugly ass cement truck back over and over your head leaving you with ten more layers of cement you NEVER EVEN NEEDED. There is no point to creating more cement layers. The shitty action has already occurred. You can choose to make the situation ten thousand times more efficient by recognizing that the 90 second circuit has been breached. Let the blood settle. Don’t fear the discomfort. Get to know how it makes your stomach ache and you back tighten. Observe how this one cement layer makes you feel so you aren’t surprised the next time. Become familiar with the taste in your mouth and don’t be scared to directly confront the circuit and simply say: “I’m sorry I’m all out of time.”