Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brain Freeze

Did you ever eat ice cream too fast and get a brain freeze? I love root beer floats and devoured mine quickly while on vacation. For a moment I almost felt incapacitated, unable to think or move. My daughter caught me going, 'damn this hurts'.

Now my wife, during my brain freeze was tremendously empathetic...ha ha. She usually tells me to just suck it up. Well, by now you are probably wondering what does all this have to do with karate, zen and what I usually blog about.

About 13 years ago, one of my karate students, Mike, was accosted by three guys. Now, Mike is a tough black belt and a very dedicated zen-head. In relaying his story to me about the attack, Mike stated one of the guys put him in a headlock and began to smack Mike's face. Mike said that his thoughts were racing and he was thinking, "I can't believe this is happening".

Brain freeze. Mike was in the middle of an assault and his brain had froze. He was caught in between fight or flight. His analytical mind was too engaged in judging the experience. To make a long story short, Mike's training took over and he successfully defended himself from these three guys. Mike stopped using his discursive analytical mind that wanted to figure out what to do and trusted his protective mind that had been trained to kick butt.

Our analytical mind basically houses our ego...our judger of experiences... and is always one step behind the actual reality of the flow of Now. It wants to be in charge, but it really can't because it is so limited in it's ability. You see the analytical mind operates in a linear step by step fashion and typically sees life as on/off or black/white...and as I said is judging what is happening which is always one step behind the action of the actual happening Now.

The protective mind works more holographically and is in tune with what is really happening as it is happening. This is the part of the mind that can be trained with high repetition of simple self-defense movements and will protect you, if you let it. Trust is involved here...and no brain freeze can happen. Only flow exists.

Self-defense involves training your protective mind to move your body in a well-coordinated fashion for survival, if you let it. When you let your ego take over you are going to be one step behind the action and more apt to get lost in analysis....and brain freeze can happen, plus get your ass kicked.

So, using self-defense as a microcosm of our daily life experience, ponder how this can relate to your every day activities as well. Be aware of your brain well as those opportunities to enter into the bubbling of the now...then notice how your ego wants to take over. In many ways it is like a battle. So just watch.

What do Zen koans do to your mind?

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Pondered.

    A little synchronicity there in my current dissecting of what part of the mind does what and what part of the brain.

  2. You'll have to pick up a copy of my book when it comes out in April. I go into detail about the parts of the mind and how they function, mostly for healing pain, but also for understanding the mind's power in general. I don't cover brain function as much as mind function...there is a difference.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Shinzen, I have never been attacked as Mike was in your post above. I don't expect to be attacked, I know it's a possibility, but my mind set is such that it is 'not' a probability. I live by a code, I hope you won't mind my sharing it with you, here it is:

    1.I am Now.
    2.Only Now is real.
    3.The now, my reality, is perfect.
    4.The now, my reality, being perfect, is the solution.
    Therefore all I have to do is 'be' here and now and out of the perfection of present moment awareness, the now, unfolds the solution to the events or circumstances that exist in this moment.
    5. What I acknowledge is what I get.

    SOoooooo . . .

    1.I acknowledge this moment by keeping my attention in 'the moment', here and now.
    2.I acknowledge that 'I' am this moment, this moment is what 'I' am, it is the real 'I' found within the word real-i-ty.
    3.I acknowledge that this moment is already perfect; the imperfection is in thinking otherwise!
    4. I acknowledge that the perfection of this moment is the solution; end of problem. Or one could say that the solution unfolds out of the perfection of the moment.

    The only problem is that we think we are something other than the perfection of this moment, and in so doing we encounter problems that would otherwise not unfold.

    5. I acknowledge that what I acknowledge is what I get ;-)

    By being in the moment, here and now, and having already let go of the last moment (the past), the miracle of consciousness takes over and provides all solutions. Nothing more is required.

    I am describing my experience of life, and how I live it; I don't 'imagine' being attacked because that would be an acknowledgment that it could possibly happen. And the brain, being an instrument of magnification, would then magnify that 'image' in my mind and when consciousness then reflects off it what would happen? It would begin to manifest it for me.

    Consciousness always reflects off of our thought processes and then it reflects them back to us as events and circumstances here in existence; hence, 'What you acknowledge is what you get.'

    Most peoples lives are a mess because their minds are a mass of problematic thoughts and emotions. Consciousness is constantly reflecting this back to them.

    Think too much about a potential problem and pretty soon you'll manifest it.

    Consciousness is of this moment, it is what 'I', the reader, am. If I 'Still' the thinking mind, then all that is left is 'Pure Consciousness/Awareness, which is completely free of all problems.

    I hope you don't mind me making this observation Shinzen and thank you for allowing my participation.


  4. Wonderful comment Doug.

    You are right...we do manifest what we think, this is why I highly stress the practice of peace. This is also why in traditional martial art dojo's there is a shrine or kamiza/kamidana. It is to remind us of the laws of the mind and our true nature that emanates from compassion and love.

    Never worry about commenting to my helps my students and myself stay on track.

    Thank you for sharing your code. I think it is great!

  5. Thoughtful post, as usual! :)

    Shinzen...I've managed to lose all my contacts. I would like to add you as a reader...can you add your email to your profile?

    thank you

  6. Consider it done. I noticed I couldn't get in to read your blog the other day.