Month Nine


An interview with Dr Dan Siegel

How to build a Yes brain, that is courageous, curious and resilient.

Welcome to MONTH NINE

In his book, The Yes Brain, Psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Daniel Siegel, describes a powerful metaphor around resilience.

He describes the range of our emotional balance and reactivity as living in the blue, green and red zone of emotions.

The green zone, is a state we ideally want to be in most of the time. It's a state of emotional balance where even when challenges arise, we can use our more evolved brain, the pre-frontal cortex, to come up with effective responses rather than automatic reactions.

The red zone is a state, where we're emotionally triggered and our sympathetic nervous system has stimulated the fight or flight response. In this state, we may notice an increased heart rate, the heat of emotion, and more rapid breathing - all signs of being in a hyperaroused state. In this red zone, we're driven by the more primitive brain that leads us to automatically react, often in ways that make the situation worse. We are less resourced.

The blue zone is another state triggered by stress, but it's a hypo-aroused response, triggered by our parasympathetic nervous system which leads to more of a withdrawal and avoidance of situations, almost a freeze type response or helpless victim state.

The key to our resilience lies in expanding "the window of our green zone", so that we can meet life's challenges with less reactivity and more responsiveness. That doesn't mean we'll stop feeling difficult emotions like fear or anger, but rather that we'll be able to make room for them, without being mindlessly driven by them.

Dan writes "reactivity blocks resilience and receptivity promotes it." When we are able to pause and bring mindfulness to our emotions, we widen the green zone and have a better ability to respond wisely and maintain greater emotional balance.

Mindfulness really is a crucial foundation for building resilience, and it's the regularity of the practise that's important. But we know how challenging it can be to make mindfulness a consistent part of our lives.

So even if you're coming back here after falling off track with practice, remember any moment is an opportunity to start again!

In this video you’ll learn:

  • What a Yes Brain is and how it differs from a No Brain
  • Some practical tools for developing greater resilience
  • What the red, blue and green zone of emotions are and how to optimise your emotional balance
  • The difference between mindfulness and dissociation (disconnecting from reality)

About Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel is a New York Times best-selling author, award winning educator and associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organisation that focuses on how the development of insight, compassion and empathy in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes. His latest book is The Yes Brain.

Dr. Elise Bialylew

Our upcoming LIVE CALL

Join our live guided online meditation with Dr. Elise Bialylew, along with an interactive Q&A session.

Join the session on Zoom here:


7 Keys to Finding your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles.

This month, as part of the Mind Life Project book club you’re invited to read The Resilience Factor, by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte.

Resilience is a crucial ingredient–perhaps the crucial ingredient–to a happy,
healthy life. More than anything else, it’s what determines how high we rise
above what threatens to wear us down, from battling an illness, to bolstering a marriage, to carrying on after a national crisis. Everyone needs resilience, and now two expert psychologists share seven proven techniques for enhancing our capacity to weather even the cruelest setbacks.

The science in The Resilience Factor takes an extraordinary leap from the
research introduced in the bestselling Learned Optimism a decade ago. Just as hundreds of thousands of people were transformed by “flexible optimism,” readers of this book will flourish, thanks to their enhanced ability to overcome obstacles of any kind. Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté are seasoned resilience coaches and, through practical methods and vivid anecdotes, they prove that resilience is not just an ability that we’re born with and need to survive, but a skill that anyone can learn and improve in order to thrive.

Download the book club reflection guide here where you can record your biggest takeaways. As you take notes feel free to share them in the Facebook group as a way of integrating your learning and having discussions with others in the group. Remember to use the hashtag #bookclub.

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