Your mind can be your greatest supporter or your biggest destroyer. In this podcast, Travis will share how your thoughts feed your emotions and your emotions feed your thoughts. Mastering this loop is the key to mastering your life.
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “Dare to Awaken Podcast.”]
Welcome to the Thought and Emotion Loop. This is one of my favorite talks out of the whole 30 days, and I hope that you enjoy it too. Socrates said that human excellence is a state of mind. The Buddha said, “Rule your mind, otherwise, it will rule you.”
You see, your mind can be your greatest destroyer or it can become your biggest supporter. You see, your mind can be your biggest supporter or it can become your greatest destroyer. So as you learn how to master this thought and emotion loop, it will ultimately empower you. So let’s break down the way that the lineage of thoughts works and how that flows. So the first step is we think a thought. And after we think a thought, it turns on a set of circuits inside of our brain, and then this produces a holographic image in the front of our brain known as the prefrontal cortex.
Now we’re holding this image of who we think we are or what our identity is. And then this activates neurotransmitters, which influences neuropeptides in a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which is the chemical and emotional area of the brain. Then what this does is it sends a neural chemical signal down the brainstem, through the spine, and out the spine into various hormonal centers. In yoga, these are known as chakras or energy centers.
And then now we produce an emotion in this hormonal center. Now, once the emotion is produced, something interesting is still happening up here in your brain. Your brain is monitoring the emotion of what you’re feeling down here in your body. And what your brain does is it produces more thoughts in alignment with the emotion that you’re feeling. And so the thought creates the emotion, and the emotion creates more of the same thoughts, which produces more of the same emotions, and so it creates this cycle.
Let’s look at the context of somebody who maybe is, we’ll say, an angry person, somebody who thinks angry thoughts pretty often. So they think that thought, and then that activates a set of circuits in the brain. There’s an image of this person that is seeing themselves in this identity of being an angry person, which then produces the neurotransmitters, which influences the neuropeptides and the hypothalamus, and then that sends that neural chemical signal down to a region in the body. So maybe the anger shows up down in the gut. And so they feel it in their core. Their core gets tense. It gets constricted. It gets tight. And then as the emotion of anger is surging in the belly in the abdominal area, the brain is monitoring all this. And then it puts out more angry thoughts, more things to feed that anger.
Now, let’s look at another scenario. Let’s look at a more positive scenario. Let’s look at the scenario of somebody who thinks positive, compassionate, loving thoughts. So they’re thinking these kind of thoughts, which then activates that set of circuits in the brain, which then creates the holographic image that they are a loving person. It reinforces that identity. It reinforces that ego, and then that influences the hypothalamus, which then creates the neurotransmitters, which creates the neuropeptides, which goes down the brainstem. And then now maybe instead of going to the core, this goes to the region of the heart. And their heart is wide open. They’re thinking kind, compassionate, benevolent thoughts.
This is how the thought and the emotional loop work. In yoga, we call these samskaras. And these are these cycles or these loops that we get stuck in. Now, when the thought creates the emotion and the emotion creates a thought and that cycle is playing itself over and over and over again, this creates a state of being because we are made of electromagnetic energy. We’re made of electricity and magnetic energy. And so this essentially is like when you say something about somebody vibes, “Oh, that person has a weird vibe. I’m not going anywhere near them,” or, “That person over there, they got a good vibe. I want to hang out with them and spend some time with them.” Vibes are that electromagnetic signature. That’s that state of being. So when we’re thinking those angry thoughts over and over, we create a state of being that is putting out that energy of anger into the environment around us. And this ultimately goes to create our personality. And people see us and they say, “Oh, that’s an angry person,” or, “Oh, that’s a really positive, joyful person.” So mastering your life is about mastering this loop. It’s about being aware of your thoughts that are producing your emotions, that are creating a state of being, and creating your personality. Because inevitably, as we’ll discuss in a further talk, your personality is what creates your reality.
Now, when you start to do the work and you start to change this or work on this, it’s not easy in the beginning. And that’s because in the brain are millions and millions of little branches, and these branches are sending information from one branch to another. And these branches get wired into certain configurations. And although a couple of decades ago it was thought that once we reach a certain age, you could change the configuration of the brain, we now know through research, through neuroplasticity that you actually can rewire your brain. But in the beginning, it’s not easy because just like anything in nature, when you’re pulling two things apart that have been connected and attached to each other for a long time, it takes effort. And this is because of something called Neural Growth Factor or NGF. Neural growth factors like a little microscopic glue that glues these branches together. If you’re shifting from the angry person to the positive, joyful person, you’re beginning to undo that neural growth factor. You’re beginning to rewire your brain into a different configuration.
This is why in the beginning– like if you do a compassion practice and you’re trying to send out these vibes of compassion – may all beings be healthy, happy, and at peace – very often in the beginning it doesn’t feel authentic because it’s not in alignment with who you’ve always been. You have to move through that process where you fake it till you make it. You just do your best. Keep doing it over and over and over again. And then eventually, you rewire the brain, and you start to lock it into this different set of configuration. And now, you’re embodying the person that you want to be.
The things that you feed become stronger, and the things that you starve become weaker. So feed the good thoughts. Starve the bad thoughts. Feed the good emotions, and starve the bad emotions or work with the emotions as we talked about in the previous talk. Working with difficult emotions in a very skillful, mindful way. So in today’s workbook, you’re going to observe these loops in your daily life, and you’re going to follow those prompts so that you can become more aware of your patterns and your programs. Hope you enjoy the talk. I’ll see you in the next one.