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Natural Awakenings Boston

Living from the Higher Brain for More Peace

Oct 01, 2014 11:11AM ● By Dr. Michael Cotton

The prefrontal cortex, also known as the “Higher Brain”, is a fairly recent biological structure in the human brain. It is the area responsible for activating the body’s ability to rejuvenate, feel inner calm and find meaning in life. Unfortunately, this vital part of the brain is mostly dormant, and science has shown that most people use only five percent of their prefrontal cortex.

Most people’s experience of the world is largely filtered through their limbic system, or lower-brain. This is the region of the brain responsible for survival and “fight or flight” responses. When this area of the brain is activated, it directly correlates with one’s experience of the world. In a survival state, people see problems and interpret the world as a place full of struggle, stress and fear.

As stated in a recent Newsweek article, “To get at the essence of anxiety, you have to start with the anatomy of fear. The brain is not just a thinking machine; it is a biological adaptation, designed to promote survival in the environments where it evolved.” In stressful situations, the lower brain automatically takes over in an attempt to keep us safe. It is reactive and fast to interpret potential danger and threats to life.

This reactivity is actually a positive trait, developed during a time when humans needed to be able to react quickly in order to survive within their environment. During the Stone Age, if a tiger was about to leap on someone, that person needed to be able to react without consciously thinking. The lower brain ensured that people were able to keep themselves safe in survival-based situations.

In today’s landscape, tigers are rare, but human brains still interpret the landscape through this filter. To the lower brain, there is no difference between a late rent check, a bullying boss, and a tiger; all are stressors that trigger this region of the brain. Even when life is going well in this “age of information,” people process large amounts of data, interpret complex social structures and are under an onslaught of information like never before in history. This level of increased complexity is interpreted as a stress upon the brain, which contributes to increased activity in the limbic region. What does energy have to do with experience? When our sensory experience is first filtered through the lower primitive brain, there is more energetic activity in that region. When this occurs, the brain literally blocks us from experiencing joy and well-being. Thus, while the human brain is well-designed to aid in survival of the species, the persistence of lower brain activity in a world where predators arelargely non-existent is no longer optimal.

Meditation has been proven to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, or Higher Brain. This correlates with increased states of peace, well-being and relaxation. Meditation is a long process, however, and there are quicker ways to work with the body’s physiology to create the same surge of energy in the Higher Brain. An energetic shift in the brain can release the energy of the lower brain survival state into the higher brain, facilitating more peace, clarity, joy and problem solving.

Dr. Michael Cotton, founder of Higher Brain Living, holds a doctoral degree in chiropractic. To learn more and register for his November 17 event at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Westborough, visit

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