Note: the blue italics indicates the teacher, in black other participants.

The three brains

A human being has 3 centers (or brains): intellectual, physical/instinctive and emotional. In the ideal (permanent absence of identity mechanisms) each of the brains functions independently. One of the main features of identity is to create great confusion by switching from one to the other, and by allowing one of the brains to activate itself for something that can only be accomplished by another, creating a real cerebral hullabaloo.
It helps to know that each brain “runs” at a different speed, the emotional one being the fastest, the intellectual the slowest. It is always the emotional brain that picks up on a situation first, but it happens so fast that it is difficult to notice. The functioning of the 2nd one, the instinctive/physiological brain, is easier to observe because it includes all the nervous and hormonal reactions. The slowest is the intellectual brain. When it starts to describe or comment on a situation, it is already in the past.
Each brain has a great deal of innate intelligence that cannot be fully expressed because of the almost constant interference from the other two brains (by the way, the only way to stay in body consciousness when you have to concentrate on an intellectual task without being distracted is to keep out the attempts of the emotional and instinctive/physical brains to interfere).
Start observing this in others and in yourself (knowing that it can only work when you do it in body consciousness):
How instinctive/physical emanations switch to emotions (“this pain is putting me in a bad mood”), how the non-acceptance of necessary suffering switches the emotional brain to the intellectual center (over-intellectualization), how a purely intellectual task is disrupted by physical pain or emotional preoccupation (I remember P. saying he couldn’t participate in a discussion because he was preoccupied with the problems of his divorce), and so on, there are countless examples.
Thanks for sharing your observations here.

Recently I had two experiences of physical discomfort that I lived in a different way: The first one was due to a flu that plunged me into an intense physical fatigue during 7 days. The physical discomfort was polluted by internal considerations with the desire to be recognized as sick and therefore not able to perform certain tasks. The intellectual center invited itself in the physical feeling by building a story, as if the people around me should recognize me as sick, and eventually the emotional center could invite itself in turn by feeling as unfair this absence of recognition, hence anger and frustration. The second experience, I have been living it for 4 days, with an infection in a finger (panariasis) which made me suffer a lot. I saw there too the setting up of the refusal of the necessary suffering with the search for a recognition of the suffering that I endure. This time, on the other hand, the mechanism was revealed at the very moment it was activated. On the other hand, I can also testify that when the three centers are well separated, as it is the case in the body consciousness, it is even surprising to be able to live or to attend an event without the emotional nor the mental one invading by force. There is then the event that simply unfolds, in a form of neutrality, with a very wide and open perceptive field, and in a very dense and stripped present moment experience. How restful that is!

At the moment, and since last night, I have some physical problems. One of them is high blood pressure. This results in mild dizziness and slight physical anxiety. Whenever there is a feeling in my chest, left arm or jaw I have to resist the tendency of the intellectual center to make a bad prognosis which would then lead the emotional center to anxiety. I try to be clear enough to make the decision whether or not to go to the emergency medical center. Well, writing this has introduced more clarity into the intellectual brain without interference from the other brains. The decision is to call the medical center.

For the first time, I became a “driver” on a carpooling site, and things did not go very smoothly. One person was late, the other one had made a wrong appointment, heavy traffic and impossible arrival times, not taking into account the traffic… So the circumstances created emotions, which translated into physical sensations, I tried to stay observing these sensations but the intellect got involved, “I should have taken into account this parameter and that one” etc. Then I accepted the fact that yes, I did not take these parameters into account. So I welcomed the necessary suffering, and of course I will readjust if I do the experiment again. In any case, I observe very clearly that my emotional center could disturb, confuse, the physical/instinctive center and the intellectual center if I let it invade the space. But in fact, I notice that if I stay in the body consciousness, these occasional disturbances do not leave any traces…

An example of observation on others: I was in a meeting, and my colleagues were in a stressful period because they have an app to test and deliver by the end of the month, and there are still many problems. This context that should engage only the intellectual (to do what needs to be done) and physical (because there are long days) centers. However, I saw the emotions coming out strongly, with some aggressive exchanges and a lot of time spent discussing human relationships or justifying themselves: “we’ll have to have a meeting to discuss all this,” and, “it can’t go on like this otherwise…” which wasted so much time and energy! So, I observed it all with benevolence and tried to bring a little humor to relax everyone.

A recent observation: the non-acceptance of the necessary suffering in my sister manifested itself in a withdrawn but palpable aggressiveness which overflowed into the intellectual center provoking reactions unsuited to the situation. The non-acceptance of necessary suffering caused by the umpteenth phone call about a missing document for my mother. My sister, being too busy complaining about the situation, had not understood what needed to be done. On my side, witnessing the “damage” caused by this situation, I calmly went to the file cabinet, found the missing document, and as a result my sister was able to contact the service again, give them the missing information and the file was closed after 9 months of proceedings.

As a reminder: It’s always the emotional brain that picks up on a situation first, but it happens so fast that it’s hard to notice.
Thank you for continuing to observe the workings of the 3 brains in yourself and others, and thank you for sharing more examples here. By the way, there are 3 major triggers that make us forget to be in body awareness:
– Not welcoming necessary suffering when a situation demands it.
– Expressing or repressing an unpleasant emotion instead of transforming it.
– Allowing a brain to process or interact in a situation for which it is not adapted.

The president of my company had a meeting with me to tell me that I didn’t have his confidence on the main file I was working on. My emotional brain was touched and my reaction was to want to explain my difficulties and justify myself. But intellectual elements came back to light that tended to highlight a falsification on his part.
Moreover, his very presence made me uncomfortable from the very beginning. I stayed with the messages sent by the 3 brains and I composed accordingly by making “as if” with a clarity that seems to me today adapted to the situation: to leave and to accept his will to remove me. I confirmed today my will not to continue in this enterprise.

By trying to live the body consciousness as often as possible these last days, I could recognize that when I am there, each brain is “in its place. I feel a balance, simplicity and relaxation in the background, in the moment. But as I am not able to maintain this experience all the time, the scrambling intervenes and I try at that moment to see which brain is at work. I have thus noticed that the emotional center seems to intervene immediately as soon as one of my beliefs, values, or convictions collides with a reality . Immediately the emotion creates an internal reaction which is expressed by an unpleasant sensation (a tension very often). That sensation then feeds the rejection which is then justified with reasons, often in the form of judgements. Currently, the discussions around politics and the presidential elections offer a superb playground. Another confusion I have noticed: when I am in body consciousness, I can be touched by the beauty or the singularity of the moment (a view of something, an atmosphere, etc.) but instead of letting this emotion be lived simply, very quickly the mind/intellect comes to comment unnecessarily (and thus pollute) this moment. It is as if, when one is in body consciousness, the inappropriate and out of context intervention of one of the brains opens the door to its oblivion.

After returning from a nature walk, I started to feel hungry and fatigued. I observed that it tended to generate impatience, or internal dialogue that cut me off from my environment. When I started the walk, I felt very in tune with the environment and on the way back it took me a moment of adjustment to not let the discomfort of the body feed the emotional center and accentuate the separation. The impression I got was that the body simply sends a signal of discomfort that is rather informative (hunger, cold, fatigue…), and that this signal is then (very quickly) distorted and interpreted by the emotional center as a danger. For example, when it is completely false, or even that this discomfort is used as a pretext for grumbling. In itself, feeling a little bit of hunger or a little bit of fatigue is an experience like any other, it doesn’t require any particular intervention. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the poor functioning of the emotional center makes things seem more dramatic. A little fatigue becomes “I’m dying of fatigue.”

When I went to the post office, I had to deal with the bad faith of the employee. I tried patiently to explain but when I reached a wall, I don’t know why I didn’t welcome a last necessary suffering. I insisted, and I felt in myself that the emotional center was reacting. Thanks to alertness I woke up immediately, welcomed the necessary suffering, listened to the employee’s response, and finally said goodbye. I came back an hour later and got what I wanted without any problem with another employee.

When my son learns a new piece of music, he sometimes loses some of what he has learned from previous pieces. So he gets desperate, and he can quickly become frustrated, impatient and angry, which makes him even more tense and blocked. If he is struggling with the old pieces that he knew perfectly and can’t play anymore, it can lead to tears. Before it gets too extreme, I reassure him by telling him that it’s temporary, that it’s part of the learning process, and I suggest that he do something else for a while (to introduce a stop.) Very often when he starts again, not only has he found his ease, but he has also integrated something of the new piece. For me this is a good example of how the emotional center can very quickly pollute the instinctive center (or motor center? I don’t know exactly which center corresponds to the rhythm and the fingering, ) On the other hand, the stop brings an emptiness (mentioned in the text on intervals) and it seems to me that it is from this emptiness, or thanks to this emptiness, that learning can take place, or a “clean” or “simple” action.

This morning in front of the coffee machine, at 6:30 a.m. after a short night and while I was feeling really bad physically, I feel a “I’m fed up” emotion rising.
I feel like it can quickly overtake me and make me give up on what I have to do. I let the emotion pass while continuing to prepare my coffee, without expressing or repressing, and I continue my action. Later in the day my wife called a real estate agency in France, to make an appointment to visit an apartment for rent. The person started asking intrusive questions about why we want to return to France, explains that the apartment we had seen is reserved for people who pay their taxes in France, etc. Then I feel the irritation rising in me, and the mind jumps in, but clearly the mind had taken a place that wasn’t its own. I saw that very quickly and I let it go.

I have noticed since we talked about it, that the blurring of the 3 centers is also involved in eating. As W. said, when the instinctive center arouses the feeling of hunger, the simple fact of waiting a little makes this feeling disappear. On the other hand, the fact of focusing on this hunger and having something to respond to it then comes under the emotional aspect which seeks the pleasure of eating at all costs. In my case, I can even find myself feeling full at the end of a meal and wanting to continue to nibble on sweet foods simply to respond to a clearly emotional impulse. I notice it as soon as I take the first bite: a pleasure appears that is not physical, because physically I am full! And if I don’t give in to this urge, then a frustration appears.

Yesterday, while accompanying my grandchildren to school, I see written by hand on a trash can, in cursive writing not very legible: “It is necessary to eliminate people able to be happy.” Emotional shock, I pass very quickly. Then the intellectual brain takes hold of the thing, and starts to cogitate on the roots of hatred, the state of the world, etc., etc. On the way back from school, without the little kids, I feel the urge to avoid the trash can (necessary suffering) I don’t follow it, and passing slower, I read “you have to admire people capable of being happy!” The error of perception was undoubtedly due to the emotional brain which had flared up immediately, and made the intellectual brain clutch.

My 18 year old daughter in law, a dancer, has been at home for a month and a half because she has a bad back. Her physical condition has polluted her emotional state, and she is not in good spirits anymore. As a result, she doesn’t do anything anymore, goes to bed at 3 am after watching videos, and we almost have to get angry to force her to continue a “normal” life and participate at home while waiting for the results of the medical studies (MRI soon). The idea of not having “the spirit” because of the weather, health problems, terrorism, etc. is clearly set up as a fact recognized by society.

My young colleague told me that he flew on Saturday morning but when he landed in Lyon, the weather was so bad that it took them three attempts. The passengers were very shaken with turbulences and many were sick and vomited. My colleague had a seizure. It seems that the discomfort of the instinctive/physical center turned into a “cut” of the emotional center which could not stand it anymore and intellectual at the same time. Afterwards, he didn’t know where he was anymore and he lost his identity card. As a result, it was impossible for him to get back on the plane to Toulouse and to take his flight to Paris where he had to go for a congress. So he took the train!

I’ve had a lot of problems lately, including a small cut on my finger that turned into a bone infection that required 5 days in the hospital.
It has been very important to not allow the physical pain to interfere with the emotional brain. I noticed that once I resisted the urge to create emotions around the pain for long enough, it was much easier. I still need to be vigilant. The bone infection in my finger kept me in the hospital for five days. That was the hardest part: I had a roommate who had a severe cough. The doctors didn’t know what it was, so I was concerned, I didn’t want to be exposed (brain survival instinct?) I was upset that they put it in my room when there was a possibility that it could infect me. (Emotional brain) This was where I felt stuck and was unclear (question: how do you let an emotional reaction “be” when anger for example, is the appropriate reaction? What I mean is that I identified with the anger because my intellectual brain thought the reasons for the anger were justified). I walked out of the room and sat down to try to clear my brains. I was trying to accept the necessary suffering, but I thought: this is not necessary suffering. I don’t need to be in this room because I can move to other empty rooms. The nurse saw that I was upset and asked what was wrong. I explained that the coughing was driving me crazy, and they moved me to a single room. It turned out to be in my favor, but there were plenty of options for not being emotionally stuck.

There are few examples in our sharing of the pollution of the emotional center by the intellectual center, I heard by chance a poem that speaks well of it (here we can say that it is a hyper-pollution). Text Ni from Chad:

The smug

His eye said he was a director
his word shot or stunned
it is according to.
The tenderness he had made
so much that he had become accustomed
to slash, dictate, scold
his enjoyment what a misery!
He wanted to be loved,
he took it very badly,
the profession of intelligence
choked in him the emotion,
this emotion
without aplomb
without armor.
His humor was learned
as much as to say inaudible
his word was brittle
as much as to say uninhabited.
This intelligent man
had not understood,
that weakness is desirable
and that love conquers the conqueror.

I can share an experience of pollution of the emotional center by the intellectual center. Last week, I was returning from a tour and I was going to meet my two colleagues who always find something to blame me for. I observed the intellectual center starting to complain and to get excited about this state of affairs. The emotion rose and I felt a little despair when I arrived, although I remained at the same time in body consciousness.

If I understand correctly, when there is a perception, the different brains organize the perceived data and analyze them and give a meaning adapted to their function and speed?

Ideally this is the case but it can only happen when one is able to maintain body awareness under difficult and potentially disturbing circumstances. This requires:
1. Welcoming the necessary suffering whenever a situation demands it.
2. Transforming unpleasant emotions (not repressing, not expressing) in a situation that has the potential to make you angry.
Body consciousness includes the simultaneous perception of the 3 brains.

Does the emotional brain always influence the other brains because of the speed of the operation?


In the past I have observed: when I am in an acute emotional state, many parts of my intellectual brain are not accessible. How do you explain that?

There is identification and/or lack of body consciousness.

There is clearly a force that comes from the body (so I guess related to the physical/instinctive brain), which gives a power to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. This power can easily be stopped if the emotional or intellectual jumps in like “I’m tired, I can rest and pamper myself a bit” or “if I do this I’ll be even more tired, and blah blah blah…”. But if you don’t let them mess it up, then you can have the surprise of doing it all the way. So: it comes from the physical/instinctive brain, and it can be easily stopped by the interference of others. And you can’t decide that it comes. It comes when it comes. To say that it comes at the right time is already saying too much. Being aware of that is very valuable to me.

In which brain is the will power located?

In the instinctive brain. A completely different force of will arises when there is no more interference between the 3 brains.
This Force of Will is different from the force of will of the instinctive brain in that it is able to take into consideration all the data that a situation requires. The instinctive willpower is focused, whereas the Willpower is global. It emanates from what can be called the “unified self”. No other “I” can interfere with or thwart the decisions and actions taken by the Unified Self. For example, those who decided to join us and then left did not make the decision with a unified self (or they had other reasons for joining our group than to reach the end of themselves). There were some “I’s” who made this decision but it was not made by the unified “I”, otherwise it would have been impossible to break off. The commitment (no matter if it is for something small/insignificant or existential) made by a unified self is like a sacred vow, and it allows to overcome the most difficult obstacles and intervals.

Thank you!! This sheds a lot of light on what I felt and could not say. It was clear to me that there was something other than the instinctive, something like “above”. I feel it like a big hand that takes me and makes me move like a robot even if I thought it was impossible (because I was too tired for example). What happens is that “people” waste a lot of energy (and don’t have access to that Willpower) with the brain shuffle. They think they have to have some kind of “break”, which in reality means “I need a little pleasure to avoid the necessary suffering”. If I then suggest doing something different, to actually get a break from the previous task, they can’t accept it. Most of the time I adapt because I consider that I don’t have to touch this limitation. Conclusion: now I see life as a continuous action. I mean: there is nothing else but “doing things”. and this “doing” comes from nothing. Sometimes there is only: sleeping.
Maybe in fact, being a robot of life is the only real thing to be.