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Brain Clutch

[March 2023 – Dharma Center Mindfulness Tip] 

Lately it’s felt like I’m grinding my gears. Not in my car; I switched to an automatic years ago. My brain was an automatic too, able to shift quickly from task to task with ease. Perhaps it’s that I have too many projects I want to complete, or the rapidly changing energies of the universe, or one of my many chronic body issues, or maybe my brain decided it wants to run on manual – but whatever the cause, I kept grinding gears.

I was able to get going after some false starts, and then when I’m about to move into high gear, my brain starts crunching. I can almost hear the signature noise that happens when the clutch in your car doesn’t engage before shifting into third. Other projects appeared in my mind, seducing me to spend a few minutes here and there. I looked at all the ways I could move forward, but never actually opened the file or sorted through the next batch of endless Things To Do. Then I would think, “Ooooh maybe I’ll make another list!” And before I know it, it’s time to rest again.

After some investigation, I realized I need a brain clutch. Fortunately my gears seem to still be in good shape because I do complete things once I wrangle my body into the chair. The problem seems to be in moving from one project to another. In a manual car, we have to depress the clutch to release the gears, and this allows us to smoothly shift to a different gear without that horrible crunching sound. Apparently my brain wants the same treatment! I discovered if I give myself a syntactical break; if I give myself a brain clutch to press, then I can effortlessly slide into the new gear.

My new game is when I complete the portion of the project or task I set out to finish (or the allotted amount of time has passed), I will do something to signal to my brain that it’s time to switch gears. Sometimes it is taking a celebratory moment to enjoy the feeling of completion. Other times it might be a stretch or a drink of water. I don’t want to get into the habit of using food – that is a dangerous road! But water is good. Stretching is probably better.

As long as I do something to signal to my body-mind system that we are on to the next, I’ve discovered it has an easier time of smoothly switching gear.

How about you? What do you use for a brain clutch?

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Published inBuddha Lessons / Mindfulness