Mindfulness and Encounter!
What they do to the red zone
The red zone happens when something comes to our attention and triggers a cascade of memories with negative feelings attached. A phenomenon known as ‘emotional lateralisation’ occurs where the brain’s locus of control switches to the left hemisphere and then resources – oxygen, nutrients – are diverted to the red zone and it takes control.
The key step is the cascade of negative feelings. It is here where both mindfulness and encounter have one of their major impacts.
Both these practices allow the brain to pull up a memory, extinguish the negative feeling attached to it and replace it with a neutral or positive feeling. The systematic use of these practices allows us to gradually neutralise all the negative memories that allow the red zone to seize control.
When such a triggering event occurs, you are driving, and someone cuts in, practice mindfulness: come into the present, be aware of what is happening in your body and around you and let the negative feelings subside, before they trigger the red zone. Do this regularly and the memories will be reconfigured with better feelings attached.
Similarly, in the presence of someone you dislike, or feel intimidated by, practice encounter: pay full attention to them, strive to be free of judgement or comparison - for your brain to pull up a memory the eyes need to move, so pay full attention with a steady gaze – and whatever they say or do respond with kindness and compassion.
Both these practices are powerful ways to manage and reduce red zone triggering and, of course, the practice of encounter will eventually cause the red zone to fade away completely.
John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter. Earlier blogs can be found here.