Why You Should Have the Guts To Follow Heart Before Brain

Recently, I have been reading a book called Mbraining; Doing Cool Stuff With Your Multiple Brains. It explains how we have actually three brains not one, and how every brain has it’s own expressions and qualities. To optimally function as a human being the integration of all three brains is key. Lack of coherence between them can lead to a variety of problems. The idea that we have three brains is not just an invention, but by definition the gut and the heart have identical qualities as the head brain or cerebrum. Besides that, this knowledge can be found throughout many esoteric traditions all over the world. By reading the book and using it’s awareness exercises I recognized how mechanisms between the three brains work for me.

Brain Centered Society

When I analyze the way we designed our society though, a lack of coherence between the three brains becomes evident. Looking at what we learn in school, how we should make responsible decisions and what knowledge we ascribe the highest value too, it turns out all these qualities are related to the head brain. First, in school we learn math, physics and geography. Then, when we take an important decision we tend to look at the pro’s and con’s, how much money we have to invest now and how much we might get in return. Finally, after receiving a masters degree I will get a high salary, because value is expressed with money.

The heart brain accounts for compassion and courage is to be found an expression of the gut brain. However, did I ever meet somebody who got rich solely by being super courageous, or somebody who was the most loving person in the world? There might be exceptions, but this is not the rule. On the other hand, an a-social person having troubles with expressing his feelings, living in fear, but a genius head-brainer, might end up earning a lot of money without doubt.

Furthermore, as long as we only value one out of many of our human capacities things are bound to feel wrong eventually. If they actually go wrong is a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, the fact that there are so many people feeling unsatisfied, even though they have jobs that provide them all the physical safety and material comfort, says a lot. Knowing that our head-brain-based-society is self-limiting, does not mean we should start making decisions solely based on compassion or fearlessness.

Brain Integration

Even though, we value our head brain the most, both in society and the fact that reasonable decisions are supposed to be good ones, the heart should be listened to with the highest regard. This does not mean however, that I turn off my head brain, rather I chose to ascribe value to the entire experience. Including heart felt sensations and gut feelings in to my decisions with a proper mindset allow me to act with more confidence. Ultimately, opening up the way for me to feel happier and more satisfied.

It is still possible that decisions have an outcome that is unsatisfying to me. Nevertheless, the fact that I took my decisions in a state of coherence with everything I feel and think, it is easier to deal with these consequences. As things go, loss, gain and concepts like having fortune or bad luck are inventions of us humans. My heart and gut do not function based on this concepts. When it comes to the head brain though, I am perfectly capable of materializing these concepts, ultimately influencing my feelings in a singular way.

Feelings

The heart and gut however, do not function according to belief, social construct and material importance. They express themselves and communicate with feelings. Therefore, when the head-brain-perspective deems a decision as wrong, there are still two parts of the equation that perceive differently. The result is, that a decision materialistically gone wrong can still be looked back upon with satisfaction when it was made with coherence of all three brains.

The shift of perspective this book provoked in me is still very significant. I have not finished it yet, but it already made it easier for me to make sense of certain experiences. On top of that, now I am aware of these interconnections, I can use breathing exercises, imagination, sound, smell and other modalities to enhance the communication and coherence between the three brains (more about this in the book). However, without doubt the biggest value it had for me personally is to put a structure to a decision making process that I was already engaging in. Now that this process is clearer, it is easier to reproduce. Ultimately, it showed me that all the moments I had the guts to follow heart before brain, the results led to great satisfaction. One of them being, that I call Brazil home now.

Why and How You Should Start Hitchhiking

I set a variety of intentions before taking off to travel, very few came true. Hitchhiking is one of them though. Upon leaving Europe, I had hitchhiked no more than 1000 kilometers. However, having hitchhiked most of my travels in South America, I can now add roughly 5000 kilometers to my curriculum. This does not necessarily make me an expert, nevertheless I hope that by sharing my experience I can make the step, to get you engaged in this awesome way of traveling, a little smaller. This blog will be the first in a series on hitchhiking. In the first two parts I will explain what hitchhiking is, provide background information and show how to get started.

The Basics

Catching a ride, hacer dedo, autostop, liften, pegar carona and hitchhiking all mean the same thing (in different languages); trying to catch a ride while standing by the road holding up your thumb. The idea is that you get a ride from someone without paying for it. The entire concept is entirely based on “giving”, pure philanthropy.

The motivation to hitchhike often originates from the necessity to travel, but not having the money or the means of transport for it. The first is pretty straight up, but the second is not something you encounter in Europe often. In Argentina however, there are a lot of places where there is no public transport. The solution therefore: hitchhiking. For others, like me, the adventure and the unexpected experiences awaiting any hitchhiker are what might move one in this direction. Nevertheless, the fact that it is a transaction without money always plays a big role in the equation.

An Opportunity To Meet People

To give a ride on the other hand is also something that requires motivation, not everybody will stop for a stranger standing by the road. Even in countries where hitchhiking is very common there will be plenty of people driving by. Even though, most of the people that pick you up either believe in the art of giving, or see, like me, the added value of meeting a stranger. It is not just that you get a ride, it is an opportunity to meet somebody new, learn new things and most of all have some company. The last, is often a motivation for truckers to stop for a hitchhiker. Spending days on the road in a truck all by themselves, having somebody new next to them allows for a nice change of pace. On top of this, for you as a hitchhiker, this is great as well because trucks often travel long distances.

Furthermore, the beautiful thing is that there are no set rules. Yes it helps to be polite, and there are certain things that will definitely make it easier, (more on that in the second part of this introduction) but otherwise it is all up to you how you define your hitchhike. I used it as a means of transport but it could also be a day out. Definitely in Europe this is easily done. Meet up with a friend on Saturday morning, get to your starting spot by 07:00 and see how far you get until whatever time. Here after, you can spend the night somewhere or go back with public transport. In the meantime you will have experienced a million things you were not aware of before. Above all, having the best stories to tell when you get back.

An Opportunity To Learn

I believe the ultimate thing to gain from the experience, is the fact that it is all up to oneself. There are plenty of people that hitchhike together or with more people, but dealing with the whole process by myself has taught me a lot. First of all, I had to figure out where to go, where to start and how to get there in the first place. This forced me to talk to people, to ask them where there is more traffic, where there is less traffic and if there are any rules or situations I should be aware of. This not only helped me with my hitchhiking but automatically taught me a lot about the places I was.

Second, the fact that I am all by myself makes me totally responsible for anything that happens. I can curse all the people driving by me for not picking me up (trust me, I have done this), but ultimately I am responsible for how I live this experience. Over time I have become more confident and relaxed standing by the road. Allowing me to make quicker and better decisions and to stay in a better mood all throughout. Nevertheless, the unique thing that hitchhiking did to my emotions is that I sometimes literally went on a roller coaster from feeling depressed to super awesome after catching a ride and back down again. Over time however, experience helped me to make this roller coaster ride a little calmer.

Finally, to have the opportunity to meet random people I would otherwise never meet was of great value to me. It allowed me to learn and practice two new languages (Spanish and Portuguese) and I got insights into how life really was in the places I was traveling through. I have had great conversations ranging from the troubles in somebodies personal life, to discussing local politics and the way certain agriculture works. I have had quiet rides and I have made friends on the go.

The Flip Side

Just as much as hitchhiking can be amazing and liberating, it can be frustrating and severely depressing too. However, there are plenty of ways to increase the chance of an enjoyable experience throughout. A lot of the difficulties are easily diminished by teaming up with somebody. Next, hitchhiking in a familiar environment, like your own country or the region you live in is another way to reduce it’s strain. Last, hitchhiking in countries with better roads, more trustworthy weather forecast and newer cars all increase the chance of making it an enjoyable adventure, rather than a 12-hour grind leaving you dehydrated and hungry looking for a place to spend the night.

Nevertheless, I learned so many things that apply to every time hitchhiked, regardless of where I was. I summed up as many as I could remember.

To consider before hitchhiking:

  • Bring sufficient water.
  • How much time do you have? There is nothing more stressful than hitchhiking with a lack of time.
  • Try to get as much information as possible from locals, before you start your hitchhike. Ask them for information on where, how and what to be aware of. Information from locals is more valuable than anything! If a local tells you something entirely different than what you figured out after hours of research online. Trust the local. The moments I didn’t do this, it always meant at least more discomfort up until hitchhiking in the wrong direction.
  • Do not hitchhike at night. Your chances are heavily reduced because the people can’t see you well, and you can’t see them either. Also, depending on where you are, the security situation might change.
  • What day? Weekdays are usually better because of work traffic.
  • What time? Early is usually better and in rush hour. Also depends on the distance you are traveling.
  • How far? Shorter distances are always easier and are definitely preferred if you have the time.
  • The weather. I try to be prepared, depending on where I am and want to go. I always carry rain clothes, sun glasses, sun screen, and a cap.
  • Try to be aware of anything special happening during the days I hitchhike. Things that influence the amount of traffic; like holidays, strikes, demonstrations or parties.
  • Write the name of the place I am going on a carton. I prefer to do this if I am no more than 150-200 kilometers away. If there is more distance to my destination, I prefer to go without. A direction like north or south can also help in some cases.

To consider during hitchhiking:

  • I look for spots where traffic is slow and can stop easily, think of highway entrees, crossings, traffic lights and gas stations.
  • If you are unsure about anything ask locals, they know where traffic is slow or where there might be a gas station.
  • Try to position yourself so that oncoming traffic can see you well, colorful clothes or an attention-grabbing hand movement can help a lot.
  • If you do not feel well, because you feel unsafe, need to go to the bathroom, are hungry or whatever, take care of that first. Your (unconscious) presentation by the road is everything. You are all by yourself/together and you never know how long your trip will last.
  • If it is sunny look for a place in the shadow. Even the shadow of a lantern or traffic light might work if your position yourself well. This sounds funny, but it saved me a couple of times when I was out on midday, with just the sun in the sky and temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius.

Finally, the following is something very simple but has increased my experience often in times when it was not that great; I try to say hello to anybody walking by, show thankful hand gestures when people communicate from their car things like “we do not have space”, “we are going in another direction” or are giving you the thumbs up telling you you are awesome but they are too lame to pick you up. Whatever reason, I try to smile and thank them.

I challenge you to redefine hitchhiking according to your terms to make your next couple, or thousand kilometers of travelling even more exciting.

If you make it to the side of the road, give me a heads up. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions please let me know.

This post was originally posted in two parts on questforauthenticity.org.