We first offered our Dr. Maura Sullivan's Fire & Rewire workshop at our St. Croix Elemental Flow Yoga Conference in 2016. This popular workshop provides a wonderful opportunity to dive a little deeper into the neuroscience of transformation. Join Dr, Sullivan at one of our upcoming events. Live Inspired.
When we fire a neuron for any reason - movement, thought or emotional circuitry - that neuron is myelinated.
The more it fires, the more myelin encases the neuron. The more myelin there is the faster the nerve can signal, which means a quicker response time. This is how we acquire “skills” such as riding a bike or master a yoga balancing posture. The same is true in working with our emotions; the stronger the myelin around the neural signals, the greater our awareness and response to the emotion.
The neural circuits that relate to emotion are actually pre-wired from birth and reside in our old animal reptilian brain.
From an evolutionary standpoint these emotions, whether positive or negative, are critical to our survival. Scientists such as Jaak Panksepp, have identified these emotional circuits, which almost directly correspond to the nine core emotions (rasas) identified thousands of years ago by Bharata Muni in the Natyasastra written between 200 BC and 200 AD. These nine core emotions are fear, wonder, joy, disgust, compassion, courage, anger, love, and peace. Each emotional circuit serves a distinct function. For instance, the wonder seeking/adbhuta rasa system energizes our intention through action which involves the dopamine system, whereas fear/bhayanaka rasa helps us identify threats in the environment to the safety of our body or mind.
During Fire & Rewire workshops we utilize the art of play through intention setting, breath-work, meditation, games and restorative yoga postures to allow participants to experience different rasas in an embodied fashion. Play is identified as an essential mental activity by Dr. Dan Siegel, and can be a powerful tool for working with perceived negative emotions such as anger and fear. In actuality, no emotion is truly negative, though we all tend to favor certain emotions and avoid or dismiss others. Indeed in terms of evolution, all nine core emotions are useful to our survival and lead us to a thriving, meaningful life.