While I’m getting much better at being aware of my thoughts, there are still times when I get myself into a thought/emotion loop. I spiral without awareness of my thoughts, until I reach a point at which it’s as though the primitive brain has completely taken “over” and the logic brain has been pushed to the side.
What I’ve started to notice is that when I do this, in order to break out of the pattern, I do one of two things:
The FIRST version I will do is to essentially shut my brain off. It’s hard to describe, but it’s almost as though I drop into a meditative or perhaps dissociative state. I am aware of my surroundings, even to the point of being hyper-focused. After being in this state for a little while (just a few moments, up to a few minutes) I look into my brain and the only thoughts there are things that I am noticing about my surroundings. The texture of fabric, the grain of wood in the floor, etc. It’s not even that I’m actively thinking about them; it’s just an awareness. After a few minutes of this, I’ve “calmed the primitive brain” and I’m able to do my thought work. I can step into an observer state, be aware of the thoughts that I had been having, bring them to memory, but not associate with them so closely that I get caught up in all the emotion and create the emotion loop.
The SECOND option of what I do is that I will use my phone or computer and do a bit of online surfing. This on the surface sounds like buffering to me, but the experience of it seems a bit different. It’s almost as though I’m using it as a pattern interrupt, or a white noise generator. I’m giving myself something for my conscious mind to do, while my subconscious mind relaxes and begins to enter into the state described I above. After a few moments of this, I can literally feel the two parts of my brain operating; there’s the part that is just taking in white noise data, and the deeper part of my brain which is slowing down and breaking out of the loop into an observer state. Again, after a few moments (up to a few minutes) of this, I have broken out of the primitive brain’s emotion loop and my pre-frontal is engaged and able to do the work again.
My question is — when I go into this state, because I am “turning my thoughts off” I am also turning the feelings off. This is helpful, because it’s how I’ve learned to get my pre-frontal back in control so the primitive brain isn’t running the show. However, it occurs to me that because I end up not feeling the feelings, it could be a form of buffering. It feels useful to me, in that it allows me to get into the observer state — but I don’t know if it’s actually useful, or if it’s more just that this is how I have become comfortable /habituated to handling high emotion.
Would you consider this to be buffering? Or is it something else?