Tuesday, February 12, 2013


So this morning I totally broke my resolution for the new year and used the phrase "sure as hell" when speaking to an insurance company rep.  When she reacted by saying she preferred that I not use profanity I asked to speak with a grown up.  Yeah - not much of a love ninja today.

After I concluded my business (I am thinking after 30 years with my insurance carrier that it may be time to make a switch.) I recalled reading about this on the Scientific American website:

An almond-shaped structure in the center of the brain called the amygdala is a hub for emotional responses. When it’s in high gear, feelings tend to rule the neural roost, blocking the ability to rationally consider the best course of action. Ideally, we would all pause long enough for rational thought to take over—say, after someone cuts us off on the road or criticizes our efforts at work or at home. Some educators believe that such a skill should be taught to everyone at a very young age.

A curriculum called MindUP conceived by actor Goldie Hawn includes an activity called the "amygdala shake-up" designed to help children understand the need for this sort of patience. For this activity, a teacher creates a crude model of the amygdala from a soda bottle filled with water, sand and glitter. Then, in front of the class (or a single student), she turns over the bottle and shakes up its contents to show what happens when a person gets stressed or upset. Once the glitter and sand are mixed, she rights the bottle and waits for the sand and glitter to settle, explaining that the wait represents the time it takes the amygdala to calm down enough so that a person can make a good choice.

What an excellent thing to teach kids!  I like the glitter image, too.  It reminds me of that idea of "seeing red."

I also read this great post by a teacher who teaches mindfulness in her classroom.  She writes about the connection between the amygdala and bullying.

 I need to remember to take that deep breath first, BEFORE I react…instead of after when I am trying to calm myself down.


hokgardner said...

Downloading that now, for myself.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I don't have a smart phone, but I'm thinking that having a tool at hand (shaking up a bottle of sand and glitter and water, for instance) and waiting for it to settle would be a good thing -- especially when on the phone with the insurance company! It might work for talking on the phone with my 20yo son, too...