5:30 AM – The Workings Of The Brain (Emotions)

The last few mornings have seen my mind rise at around 530 am. I am usually asleep by 10.30 pm each night, and while there is nothing to attend to this early in the morning, I put the mind to use.

I prefer to meditate during the time, as it is the time I am less likely to fall asleep. There are certain times of night when my mind is fully wired, active with thought and energy. This is perfect for meditation, as I am required to use the frontal lobe to focus my attention on specific objects, like the breath or the sound of the fan as it ticks, loudly.

During the early mornings, I have been staying in bed and using this time to study. Although laying in bed isn’t ideal for when learning, this time of the morning happens to be great. It is said that the frequency of brain waves during this time of day is great for study, so that’s what I do.

I find that I jump from topic to topic, a lot. I have many interests; tech, neuroscience, business, personal development, philosophy and art, just to name a few.

I have been spending my mornings diving into topics in neuroscience, psychology and biology. Below is a diagram from the book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’, by Daniel Goleman.

What I like most about this book so far is, before getting into the practical aspects that the author offers through his studies, he also helps you gain a profound understanding of the topic with his eloquent explanations – relating them to research and real life case studies.

The book is a study of emotional intelligence and its application in every day work and life. The diagram below is an attempt to explain how sometimes stimuli from the external world triggers an emotional response before our conscious mind can even make sense of what happened.

Usually, stimulus will enter our retinas as information, sending signals directly to the visual cortices in the back of the brain. Due to our biological make up and the the role emotions play in order to help us survive and thrive, sometimes when stimulus is strong enough, it gets processed emotionally, before it even becomes conscious in your awareness.

Diagram from the book ‘Emotional Intelligence’, by Daniel Goleman

Information travels through the retina and instead of being processed in the visual cortex, this stimulus gets passed straight to the thalamus where it triggers the amygdala into fight or flight response. This is why sometimes when you are in a heated situation, you can sometimes forget what happened. This is when emotions took over your experience and you were responding to your experience in more primal ways.

No longer do we require this response for our survival; to escape our predators. This biological feature now manifests itself in different ways, and sometimes these can be dangerous and detrimental.

For example, the primitive amygdala is triggered into fight or flight mode in a person who is walking around the streets with a loaded weapon in their hand – These outcomes could be quite fatal.