Stimulating and Soothing
(Workbook Page 57)
Soothing calms the brain. It can be as simple as a thought or as complex as competing in a triathlon. We are soothed by others and learn to self-soothe over time. The range and variety of soothing behaviors is nearly infinite. People soothe themselves in positive ways and in negative ways. Regardless, the act of soothing requires activation of circuits extending from deep brain centers into higher brain centers in the limbic system, an important part of the Associational Cortices (see pages 35 and 46 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook). The limbic cortex is responsible for regulating mood, autobiographical memory and problem solving. A description of the limbic cortex and its ability to disrupt or calm pain and mood circuits is mapped out on page 57 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. Soothing activities allow for the proper balance of neurotransmitters, electrical circuits and resting networks.
Stimulating the brain results in the release of excitatory neurotransmitters, honing focus, sharpening memory and unleashing creativity. Too much stimulation can lead to runaway anxiety and pain. Too little stimulation causes depression and fatigue. Staying in the zone requires that stimulation of the brain is balanced by soothing. Being in the flow of an experience is achieved when a perfect balance is reached between the two, and a person merges with the activity being performed. The peak moments of life are the times we are in the flow.
When excitatory glutamate is not matched with inhibitory GABA\ processing in the brain becomes excitatory. To bring this back in balance GABA activity is necessary. The last part of this animation shows that restoration of balance between GABA and Glutamate. This occurs when people are equally soothed and stimulated. These "flow" experiences of balance between excitation and stimulation result in feelings of happiness and well-being.