Brain tracks run our lives. They support us in living a passionate and fulfilled life, they cause to live a life of ‘quiet desperation’ – or somewhere in the middle. What IS a brain track and why do I need to be aware of or even care about knowing what my brain tracks are?
Most of us tend to live the majority, maybe ALL of our lives in these brain tracks until we begin the waking-up process: the awareness that we aren’t our thoughts and emotions and there is someplace inside us which is safe and clear, loving and inspirational.
This process can be sudden, as in a sudden life tragedy or shock, or it can be a gradual coming to the realization that there is something more than this daily life I am living, like the sun’s slow lighting of the day as it appears over the horizon each morning.
Maybe we become aware that the same kinds of unwanted events or situations keep happening over and over, or that we keep having the same conversations in our heads, or we are experiencing more depression or down times.
However it happens, in order to become fully realized beings and experience happiness on a consistent and ongoing basis, we need to understand what brain tracks are, how they operate in our lives and what we can do to rise above their influence. So to that end, the following is a blog I published back in 2013.
Definition of Brain Tracks
From the time we are born, maybe even earlier, we are learning. We grow up heavily influenced by our environments; at home, at school and wherever else our experience takes us.
We learn what is perceived as right and wrong, good and bad, how to act and react in various circumstances etc. We even learn who we are, or at least who we think we are.
The majority of our thinking and behaviors are learned. We have no idea how much we run on these automatic programs until we come to the realization that there is something else beyond them, that there is a part of us that is clear and peaceful and joyful. We may catch glimpses of this bigger Self from time to time: doing things we really love; listening to music; being in nature. And then we go back into our every-day world and back to the learned thinking that runs our lives.
I call this learned thinking and behavior ‘brain tracks’. Brain tracks run along very clearly defined thinking and behavioral patterns, like railway lines. They are automatic responses to given situations
We can try to change learned behaviors, and indeed there are countless methods to help us on this journey; countless programs, organizations, psychologies, churches, teachers and books. Over the years, many of these modalities have certainly helped me become more aware of my own brain tracks. Just knowing that “this isn’t me” can be enough eventually.
How do you know if your mind is running on a brain track?
- You aren’t aware of Presence in the background, of that sense of inner stillness that comes from your inner being
- Your mind is insistent that you continue thinking these thoughts, reacting in this way.
- There is a sense in your gut or your chest of being uncomfortable, angry, hurt, frustrated, sad, guilty, fearful, or any other such emotion.
- Your mind insists that you are ‘right’ to think and feel this way.
- Any sense of joy you may have been feeling earlier, has gone
- There may be a powerful pull to distract yourself from the situation; this includes such things as ‘busy’ work, reading emails or links that take you to other interesting places, eating, drinking, drugs, numbing out with mindless TV, the need to medicate and many more escape routes.
- You suddenly become very tired, too tired to do whatever it was you had intended.
- You become ill: back or neck pain, stomach or intestinal pain, headache, depression/sadness/lack of motivation, are just a few of the possibilities.
- Your computer or the tools with which you work suddenly start giving you trouble.
- You experience interruption upon interruption.
This is not to say that every instance of the above is your mind running on a brain track. However, it is certainly worth investigating the possibility. When you are in a reactive, brain track mode, it can be difficult to recognize. You have most probably been operating in this mode for many years and have come to think this is you.
You can say to yourself, “This isn’t me. This isn’t who I really am.” As you do so, little by little, a light begins to shine in your mind and you begin to separate your Self from yourself. Then of course the question that comes up next is “Well if this isn’t me, then who am I?” – a $64 million dollar question to spend the rest of your life answering.
Separating the self from the Self
So begins the process of separating yourself from your Self. The ironic thing is that as this ‘brain track’ of learned behavior began, it was a process of creating a self that was separate from who you really are. And now you are going through a process of separation again, but in the reverse; separating the self you created from the Self you really are.
This is called the awakening process. It can be quite shocking to realize that the majority of your life is spent unconsciously running on these learned brain tracks. You begin to question your thinking and your actions more and more. “Is this really me? Is there a way to look at this through the eyes of Life, my Self, my Inner Being, the Presence I Am?” You begin to discover that how you are feeling is of paramount importance. The more you connect with Life and come to know how Life feels, the more you can recognize feelings that are based in automatic brain tracks and those that are rooted in Presence.
No more analyzing and dissecting
The wonderful thing about this awakening is that you don’t need to do any analyzing and dissecting. It is the mind that loves to analyze and dissect. Simply coming into the awareness of who you are not, is enough. The awareness of who you are not, evolves naturally into a greater and greater awareness of the Self. Sometimes you will become aware of the origin of a brain track or experience a sudden epiphany of how it has operated throughout your life. Other times, the brain track just melts away. It is a created entity, not a real one, so when the light of awareness shines on it, it can no longer exist.
Brain Tracks That Serve Us
There is a place for analyzing and dissecting, don’t get me wrong. We have brains for very good reasons. The brain is an incredible tool that is barely tapped. When we make room by letting go of the learned brain tracks and allow Life Itself to work through the brain, there is no end to its value. As we become more aware, learned brain tracks that don’t serve us any longer can be released and our thinking, instead, becomes inspired thinking and with inspired thinking comes feelings of spaciousness and joy.
There can also be learned brain tracks that serve us well along with those which don’t serve us. Morning routines are a good example. We usually run on automatic to rise, shower, clean teeth, apply makeup, take our vitamins, have our breakfast and so on. They serve us well no matter what we might be feeling. Awareness can only add to these brain tracks. When we are living in the present moment, we bring all of our attention to whatever we are doing. So we clean our teeth simply being consciously present. No thought needed.
So then the challenge becomes “How can I create brain tracks that work automatically for me that will support me in my quest to let go of all that isn’t me and live fully that which is me”?
Awareness is key
Awareness is always the very first step. You become aware of thinking that isn’t who you really are: thinking that is judgmental, guilty, obligated, worried, fearful, anxious, superior, inferior – etc. Once you are aware of something, you then just notice it, allow it to be there, not pushing it away because it feels uncomfortable, nor acting out on it, simply be aware. Then acknowledge “That’s not me, that’s not who I really am, that is simply a learned brain track”. Breathe into it, it can’t hurt you, nor control you, it’s simply a thought (or feeling, or memory, or fear, or whatever it is).
That’s a great automaticity to establish for yourself. Then you aren’t trying push away, or conversely hold on, to a situation, but rather to decide consciously to live life to the fullest. Life Itself is then free to flow through you, to create from a place of vitality and aliveness, to bring more magic and fulfillment than you could ever imagine.