A circuit breaker is an electrical switch designed to protect an entire circuit from damage caused by a sudden overload or from a short appearing somewhere in the circuit.
By interrupting the current, the circuit breaker is protecting the entire system.
Our brain-mind is also a giant electrical system made of 100 billion cells called neurons.
All of them are interconnected and the total number of neural connections within our skull is phenomenal, around 10^15, that is more that the number of starts in our galaxy.
Brain cells are also connected to our peripheral 40trillion cells composing our body.
Few more numbers to swallow here:
Human brain mass represents 2% of our body mass but 20% of our total energy consumption.
It means that, per unit of mass, our brain-mind consumes 20x more energy that any other organs.
In order to keep alive our body, sensors and thinking, this bioelectrical machine works continuously 24/7 and between 70,000 and 120,000 thoughts are produce daily not stop.
Despite its complexity, our brain-mind works only in “one or nothing” as far thinking is concerned.
Using the physical electrical system as an analogy, our brain-mind system can also be the victim of sudden /chronic overload. These overloading processes are biochemical and bioelectrical and I will not go in the detail of them.
There are 3 main differences between an electrical system and its brain-mind biological equivalent:
1) Brain has the capacity to create and erase connections in order to fulfill the needs.
This is neuroplasticity and a basic computer cannot create hardware spontaneously.
2) Brain uses a very tiny amount of energy (12 watts and around 400 cals during 4 hours of thinking).
3) Finally, an electrical circuit is built with automatic protective circuit breakers, our brain does not have any.
Sudden or chronic overload of our brain-mind activities are frequent such as powerful emotional stress, chronic or acute negative feelings such as anger, fear, nostalgia, depression, acute excitements, physical pain, etc…. Our brain-mind, like an electrical circuit, can “overheat”,
and be the source of serious mental and psychological problems.
During these restless episodes, the brain-mind cannot expect the protecting effect of an automatic circuit breaker because, as already mentioned, there is none.
So, what to do to cool down our restless overheated mind and minimize further damage?
There is, indeed, a built-in, hidden circuit breaker in our brain-mind that we can use all the time.
It is called mindfulness. or mental focusing w/o using any analytic or decisional process.
Neural circuit-breaker was discover more than 10,000 years ago!
By paying sustained attention to something such as breathing, sound, odor, visualization, or whatever, we are forcing our mind to shut down in order to focus on what you are asking him to do. To be mindful is telling your mind: “Shut up and focus please”
Mono-thinking such as mindfulness practice is a wonderful circuit breaker to use as much as we can. The more you practice, the better and more efficient the circuit-breaker becomes.
Instead of being the victim of your ongoing thoughts and the risk of creating overheating, you become the ruler, at least for a few min. depending on your level of practice.
Zen Master Ji Gong Korean lineage.