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Meditation and the Christmas Tree Brain

The Christmas Tree Brain is my recent blog posting about an asynchronous macro-state of brain activity as measured by an electroencephalogram  (EEG).  It is based on the work of Dr. Dario Nardi.   It is characterized by various brain regions firing at different amplitudes and frequencies as a result of electrical activity in the brain.   Colors of blue, green, yellow and red, illuminate the EEG screen, with an overall look resembling a Christmas tree.

This whole brain pattern comes from transcontextual thinking where seemingly unrelated thoughts and concepts are quickly blended and related in the brain, often resulting in extremely creative and often vastly entertaining output.  Those who are most likely to show this pattern have psychological preferences for extraverted intuition namely ENFPs and ENTPs and to a lesser extent, INTPs and INFPs.  Apart from any neuro data,  it is well-accepted that ENFP/ENTP types are adept at connecting elements that normally don’t go together and are energized by this.   They can also be major procrastinators with poor follow-through when the exciting suddenly becomes routine.

It may come as no surprise that many comedians, talk show hosts, journalists prefer extraverted intuition. Some of these types might be Dr. Suess,  Robin Willians, or Conan O’Brien.   Experiencing the creative output of one of these types can be both exhilarating and tiring.  Seriously, who doesn’t want Robin Williams to tone it down a notch sometimes?

While this brain state can be a decided  advantage in many areas of life, it can also lead to peaks and valleys in creative energy because the proverbial switch is either firing on all cylinders or it’s off because it is waiting for the next spark to set off new energy.  It can also be a  liability if no one is able to follow your line of thinking.  As an ENFP myself, I have experienced the benefits of this:  incredible creative energy, clever turn of phrase, and  spontaneously turning a mundane activity into an event.  I have also seen the glazed over look in people’s eyes when they don’t get what the hell I am saying or I can’t get inspired to do anything and procrastinate looking for that spark.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that one can use to ameliorate the downside to Christmas Tree Brain.  One of them is meditation.  Meditation is not a relaxation exercise.  It is training the brain to be aware of what it is doing and make gently make corrections.  If one is rigid in his thinking, meditative practice can make those patterns easy to detect in the moment.  Likewise, a mind that is distracted or wildly off topic can also be gently reigned in if it is trained to do so.

Meditation won’t change an individual’s personality, it will only enhance it giving a larger array of ways to behave given a particular situation.  If you have the gift of transcontextual thinking, at times, you have to know when to stop riffing and get to the point.  Or let someone else talk.  Or know when you haven’t been understood so you can circle back and clarify.  You have to know when you are distracted and not following through.  You won’t lose your yuletide mojo but you will know when it’s overdone.  Meditation leads to an enhanced state of awareness, something we all can use to maximize our strengths while managing our blind spots.

To try a sample 11-minute meditation led by Dr. Daniel Siegel, follow this link.


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