Use Your Whole Brain to Improve the Way You Live Your Life

I recently had a chance to catch up with Boulderite Rob Schware, a Whole Brain Living Coach, who has been co-facilitating programs at the Boulder JCC and working closely with the creator of the Whole Brain Living paradigm, Jill Bolte Taylor. Whole Brain Living is a new and  innovative way to understand the relationship between our thoughts, emotions and behavior, and offers tools to gain more control over how we react, behave and enjoy our daily lives. Here is our conversation.

Hi Rob. Let’s start with a little background. Who created the Whole Brain Living concept? In “Whole Brain Living, The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life,” Dr. Taylor chronicles the experience of her rare stroke at the age of 37 in which she lost her ability to walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her past. It took eight years for her to rebuild her brain — to recover all physical, emotional, and thinking abilities. She blends this experience with neuroanatomy and psychology to illustrate how we can overcome emotional reactivity to lead more fulfilling and peaceful lives, and create healthier relationships. She introduces readers to the four characters of the brain that are fundamental to our identity, and offers a new framework to understand our behaviors, feelings, and emotions.

How did you learn about Whole Brain Living? Good question. I worked as a senior manager at the World Bank, my first career, before taking early retirement and co-founding the Give Back Yoga Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports yoga teachers in bringing this practice to unserved populations (Veterans hospitals, addiction and recovery centers, prisons, etc.). The director of one of our programs, Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, sent me an email saying that I absolutely must read Whole Brain Living, and that she was applying it in her senior teacher training. Reading it coincided with an uncomfortable time when my wife and I returned to couples therapy. A literal lightbulb went off in my brain when I realized there was a “We Inside Me” and that I had the power to choose which of my 4 characters I wanted at the microphone at any given moment in my daily life.

How does Whole Brain Living work? At the core of Whole Brain Living are the four regions of our brain, which manifest collectively as our Four Characters. Our coaching sessions will define, identify, and then explore the strengths of each of your four unique characters. After that, we will examine how each of these four parts of your brain contributes to your life in everyday situations.  From there, we will explore each of your Four Characters and see how they participate in each of your significant personal and professional relationships. Considering there are Four Characters inside each of us, that means there are eight of us in every relationship! No wonder navigating life and keeping peace with others is often challenging.

Can you speak personally about how Whole Brain Living has impacted your life? Whole Brain Living has helped heal my relationship with my wife Alice, has helped me find my more playful self around my grandchildren, it helped me better understand what was going on inside of myself as I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, and it has helped me sustain and integrate my past psychedelic experiences.

Mt. Kilimanjaro?? How did you tap into Whole Brain Living while trying to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro? Even though I did extensive training in preparation for an 8-day climb up the world’s highest free-standing mountain, during the climb, at around 17,000 ft, my attention and focus began to close down and I became doubtful of ever reaching the summit. After hours climbing over a steep, unavoidable scree, I was laboring and I knew I’d soon have a long ascent ahead to test my muscles and lungs. I looked up and saw headlights a great distance ahead and also high up the steep snow-capped mountain. I began to panic and to think “three quarters up this mountain is quite enough.” I went to my zone of disliking the unknown, afraid of the worst possible outcomes ahead. I desperately needed a breakthrough to continue and not collapse on my keister. So, I adopted a two-pronged strategy: first, don’t look up at anything other than my guide’s heels; second, immerse myself in the Whole Brain Living’s Brain Huddle strategy with my 4 characters. Give them each a chance at the microphone in my mind but don’t let any character dominate the internal conversation. My Character 1 wanted to continue its sharp focus on the heels in front of me—a solid tactical approach. My Character 2 felt fear and constriction—moaning and groaning. Character 3 delighted in hiking in the depths of the dark and felt an authentic joy and lightness of being. And Character 4 relished the connection with my other characters, felt open to embrace the next moments, and aware of the fellowship all around me.

Do you feel any connection between Whole Brain Living and your Judaism?  Well, I think about Shabbat, which is more than a day of rest in the Old Testament. Its observance by the Israelites was a constantly recurring acknowledgment of God as the Creator of the Universe.  I get to connect with that God concept, and embody the expression for the ineffable sanctity of life when I am in my Character 4.

What was your career path to becoming a Whole Brain Living Coach? I was part of the first batch of coaches who were trained and Officially Certified in Whole Brain Living, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Throughout my professional life, I have worked with leaders in both nonprofit and corporate sectors. I have now chosen to share the knowledge and wisdom of  Whole Brain Living with others, because of the profound impact this material has had on my own personal life and relationships.

As a Whole Brain Living Coach how will you work with your clients? I view Whole Brain Living as a powerful tool that we each can master so we can live our lives on purpose as our most healthy selves.  In our sessions, we will use a variety of fun exercises that will help us recognize the different values and roles of each of our Four  Characters so we can readily identify which of our Four Characters we are embodying at any moment. To immediately recognize each of your Four Characters, you will not simply create a cognitive relationship with these different parts of yourself but rather learn what each of these different characters feels like inside your body. Through the use of the Whole Brain Living tool, the BRAIN Huddle, you will realize that you have the power to choose who and how you want to be at any moment.

What skills will your client’s learn to implement in their own lives? Once you can recognize which of your Four Characters you are exhibiting at any moment, then because you know who your other characters are, you can choose if you want to stay in that character or shift into another part of your brain. This is personal power, and as Dr. Taylor repeatedly says, ‘we have much more power over what is going on inside of our brain than we have ever been taught’. At any moment in time, we are thinking thoughts, feeling emotions, and running physiological responses to what we are thinking and feeling. When you have mastered Whole Brain Living and the BRAIN Huddle, you will no longer be controlled by your emotional reactivity when triggered. Instead, when you know your Four Characters and gain the power to be the person you want to be, you will spend more time being that person. Once you have mastered Whole Brain Living, you will be able to notice and navigate each of your Four Characters throughout the day. With this mastery comes an ongoing sense of peace because you know you have the power to choose who and how you want to be, which is true personal freedom.

Simply put…why should people consider working with you and learning the Whole Brain Living approach? This is a tailored way to help you transform your life by better understanding your whole brain. Our brains are cool!  We’ll practice techniques so you feel empowered to make better choices and live the life you want to live.

What are the ways people can access your services? I offer one-on-one coaching as well as offer a WBL Group Course and Corporate Workshops. I offer a free 15-20 minute phone or video consultation to help answer any questions you might like to explore. Please contact me directly at rschware@gmail.com

About Lori Dube

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