“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Less than a second: a simple yes or no changes everything.” Tony Robbins
We make a lot of decisions every day and these decisions are what determine the direction and quality of our lives. Some are little. Some are completely life-altering. So how do we let go of mental clutter, uncertainty and confusion and make those decisions in the best way possible? My favourite technique is through using the head-heart-gut check-in. A powerful mental strength tool for making decisions.
The head-heart-gut check-in helps you tap into the innate, whole-body intelligence that lies within us all. Accessing our intuition, our wisdom and our intellectual intelligence, it helps us make choices from a place of certainty, clarity and awareness.
So, press play on the podcast, or keep reading below, to learn this technique, as well as a bit of the science behind why it’s so effective. Use it on the go in your life to help you make both big and little decisions in the most effective way possible.
We have three brains – head, heart, gut
Did you know you have one hundred million neurons (also called nerve cells or brain cells) in your intestines? The gut is now being referred to by many scientists as the gut-brain. Your heart, in addition to its other functions, also acts as a heart-brain. It’s made up of about 40,000 neurons, all of which can sense, feel, learn and remember.
Yep, that’s right. We have three brains communicating together at any one point in time. The more official names are:
- Cephalic brain (head)
- Cardiac brain (heart)
- Enteric brain (gut)
Each organ has complex neural-networks and is able to store and process information, and each has the capacity for neuroplasticity.
Many ancient wisdom teachings have put great emphasis on checking into one’s own innate intelligence, speaking about ‘following the wisdom of the heart’ and honoring and listening to ‘gut feelings’. In recent years, technology and neuroscience have confirmed that these teachings were correct. So we now know for sure… our bodies have not one, but three brains. Each of which have different ways of ‘knowing’.
Here is how you can use the intelligence, wisdom and intuition of your three brains to make better decisions. It’s a mini meditation practice called the head-heart-gut check in.
How to practice the head-heart-gut check in
Read the steps below, and save this infographic to use later.
You can also follow along using the meditation supplied below. Any time you’re at a decision point you can use this mini-meditation to respond (and not react) to what is arising with wisdom and intelligence, making more mindful choices leading to a fuller, happier, more authentic life.
The head-heart-gut check in: 5 easy steps
Step 1: Take three deep breaths. Take three deep slow conscious breaths as a way of gathering your awareness to the present moment.
Step 2: Bring your awareness to your head. With your awareness in the head, acknowledge what kind of thoughts are present in relation to the current situation.
Step 3: Drop awareness down to the heart. Place a hand over the heart and take a moment to attend to what values you have in this situation, what you care about and what your deepest intention is.
Step 4: Drop awareness down to the gut. Place a hand over the abdomen. Tune into any hunches, intuitions or emotions that are present in relation to the current situation.
Step 5: Collect all this information. Take one deep slow conscious breath in and out as you have a sense of collecting all this information from the body and mind. Then mentally ask yourself this question, “What shall I do now?” Listen for the answer.
Maybe you’ve got an insight – that’s really helpful, but don’t worry if you don’t get a clear answer right away. You can repeat this practice at any time.
Once you’re familiar with the steps, the Head-Heart-Gut Check In meditation can be done in as little as 30 seconds when you need to make a quick decision, or you can do a longer version that takes up to five minutes when you have more time and perhaps are facing hard choices. We often rely way too much on spinning things around in our heads and ignoring the other domains of our being. The domains of wisdom, and our deepest and most dearly held values. By using this practice in your moments of decision, you’ll be able to make more integrated, empowered, and wise choices.
May this practice be an ally in times when you need it the most. It certainly has been for me.
The Head-Heart-Gut Check In Mini Meditation
You may also listen to the head-heart-gut check in meditation by clicking on the video below.
Your Mental Strength Practice for this week
So this week, your mental strength practice is to try to use the head-heart-gut check at least once. It can be a small decision or a big one. Just try to get familiar with it and see what effect it has on you. See if it’s helpful and if it is – keep it in your mental strength toolkit going forward in your life.
Want to dive deeper into becoming mentally stronger? I have so many great resources to give you the support to do that.
Why not try my free 5-day Mental Strength Challenge? You can start it right away, and it’s designed to give you quick wins in your mental strength, wellbeing, happiness, and resilience.
To take your mental strength to the next level and arm yourself with powerful tools that will last a lifetime, join me in my Headstrong program. It’s my 8-week intensive mental strength program. Headstrong offers the best of everything I’ve learnt in over two decades of mental strength training and teaching. It’s designed to get rapid transformational results and arm you with powerful tools and skills that will last a lifetime. This program will help you not only survive but thrive – even in tough times.
Hadzhazy, A. (2010, February 12). Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/
Moore, N. (2016, December 1). You Have 3 Physical Brains! Head, Heart and Gut. Retrieved from http://www.mindsetcomms.co.uk/head-heart-gut-brains-three-physical-brains/
Rajvanshi, A. (2011, May). The Three Minds of the Body Brain, heart and gut. Retrieved from http://www.nariphaltan.org/gut.pdf
Rozman, D. (2013 February 11). Let Your Heart Talk To Your Brain. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heartmath-llc/heart-wisdom_b_2615857.html
Sonnenburg, J. and Sonnenburg, E. (2015, May 1). Hut Feelings – the “Second Brain” In Our Gastrointestinal Systems (Excerpt). Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-feelings-the-second-brain-in-our-gastrointestinal-systems-excerpt/
Soosalu, G. and Oka, M. (2012), Neuroscience and the Three Brains of Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.mbraining.com/mbit-and-leadership
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