I love to explore what scientists are doing in studying the human condition. In this piece, I want to focus on the brain.

After doing some training, readings, and watching. I have learned a little about something called the Default Mode Network (DMN).

After absorbing some of the work of Dr Dan Siegel. In his book Aware (2018) he talks about this network in our brains that is referred to as the DMN. I would highly suggest giving it a read if you are interested in making some changes to how you navigate the world.

 “This default way of being even when we are not assigned a task to perform, scientists have labeled this set of interconnected, mostly midline structures, front to back, the default mode network—the DMN.

That is a complicated way of saying “it’s the thing you do over and over”. The default mode network is a set of brain regions that are active when a person is in a state of wakeful rest, day-dreaming, mind-wandering, and auto pilot. So, we have this network of synaptic connections in our brains that we are hard wired into. It’s your default way of being in the world.

In our work as therapists, we see this over and over. People come into therapy because they are doing or feeling the same thing over and over. “I keep cheating on my partner”, “I ruminate about things I can’t control”, “I can’t stop switching the lights on and off”, “I wash my hands too often”, “I get defensive even when I don’t have to be”, “I want to enjoy family events but I just can’t stop reacting to my sister”, “I can’t stop drinking”……you get the idea.

You see your brain is VERY efficient. It seeks the fastest way of getting something done and it really enjoys habit. To your brain, habit means you don’t have to put any effort into it, you already know. The way you think, the way you navigate the world is deeply driven by this area of your brain. Even if you wanted to do something different you can’t because so often you are hijacked by the DMN.

Our DMN gets designed in our childhood and through the experiences we have. Whatever your experiences were, they have developed how you show up.

Even though this is true it is also false.

It is false because we have the ability to rewire the wiring. We can’t change the experiences however we can change the response we keep having to them.

If we keep saying “that shouldn’t have happened”……….We may be reacting from the default mode network. We may even believe in our own values that it shouldn’t have happened, however if we stay in that thought loop we will get the outcome of that belief; possibly anger, fear, resentment, or sadness. We will keep responding to the “shouldn’t” which will keep us in a defensive response.

To override the DMN we need to change the pathway. Change the response to the event. This happened………it was awful…….I don’t like that it happened…..this is what it did to me………….This is how I still hold it………..This is what I have learned about myself…………This is what I will carry forward with me…………This happened and I am not defined by it…………I want to define myself in this way now………

You get the picture, you have to feed the network something new for it to process. If we stay in the DMN way of responding nothing changes and we will keep doing life in the way we always do.

Our behaviours, thoughts, sensations, and feelings are responding from the DMN.

How do you give the brain/mind something new?

You have to create it.

You have to work at it.

You have to commit to being present.

You have to commit to staying in the NOW and HOW with yourself.

You can not do anything about the events. The events are not the experience, the experience is what you did with the event.

Everything you have done with the experience was necessary and effective at the time it was needed. Today………NOW decide………….how do I want to respond to this event?

If you want to keep the way you respond………then no need to go further, keep doing what you know, there is no right or wrong here.

Here there is just a decision. Validate the way you are and stay the course.

If you want to try rewiring your brain then you will have to work at it. I know this could be bad news for some because working at it can be exhausting. So here I say go slow………..take your time………be patient with yourself……..just don’t give up……..

Compassion is the key.

Here are few things you already know will work. Most of us already know what could be good for us however our resistances can be stronger than our desire for change so be compassionate with yourself if you experience resistance.


Meditation is VERY helpful to focus your attention to the interoceptive experience of the self. This process allows you to grow the skill of quieting the central nervous system (CNS). When the CNS is in homeostasis we can process information differently and this will allow us to begin the creation of new neurological pathways that we design vs the ones that were designed for us.

Here Dr. Dan Siegel walks you through some of his practices for The Wheel of Awareness

The physical act of meditation generally consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase. However, a meditator may also be walking or standing.

There are many traditions and countless ways to practice meditation, and “If you’re feeling better at the end, you are probably doing it right.”

Ways to get started are to put a timer on your phone, set it for 5 minutes. Sit still with eyes open or closed and just place all your focus on your breathing. That is it that is all. Then the next day repeat….slowly increase your time. Then notice

Another way is to use a skill I call “I’m thinking”. Begin by setting your timer, once you are settled and ready to start, focus on your breath for a few moments, then place your attention on your mind, in front of every thought that arises place the words “I’m thinking” in front of the thought. Notice what happens, many people report that the thought just comes and then goes. Sometimes the same thought will come around again, that is okay, just place the words “I’m thinking” in front of the thought and watch what it does. People also reported that their thoughts slowed down and they became very relaxed.

Give it shot


Carrying a book with around with you, it is a great way to process your thoughts. Set a timer on your phone, commit to writing something down each day.

You can write down the observations (internal and external) you have of yourself and how you are interacting with the world.

You can write down your new thought patterns so you can read them back to yourself later in the day.

You can sometimes quiet your thoughts if you put them on paper.

Journalling can also be used to increase creativity, you can journal what you want your thoughts and feelings to be……then you can begin to track your progress.


Working with a therapist can help you to explore your current thought patterns and behaviours. Having a safe person who is invested in your growth can be helpful in keeping you on track.

A therapist’s job is to be present with you. They are doing the work of showing up authentically and honestly with you. The primary skill a therapist uses with you is objectivity.

Most people in your life do not have the ability to be objective because they are attached to you. When we receive feedback from people close to us, sometimes it doesn’t stick because you sense the subjective experience of the person giving you the feedback so you resist it. Sometimes people tell me that a friend or family member told them the same thing I did, however they didn’t take it in because they thought their mom was just being a mom.

Full length of excited funny young african american man 20s in basic casual orange t-shirt dancing standing on toes pointing index fingers aside isolated on pastel violet background studio portrait


Movement helps us to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Put on some of your favorite songs and just move your body around. Even if you don’t like to dance, move vs dance. Swing your arms, swing your legs, do squats, do burpees, do anything that gets your body moving.

An idle body can lead to a very active mind.

An active mind often feeds the DMN.

An active body has the potential to re-wire.

Walk, cycle, bend, lift, twist…..It really doesn’t matter how you move, just move.


Spend time observing and describing

I use this technique in many of my sessions with people. I ask them to observe . I am often asked “what do you mean?”

Allow yourself to experience with awareness, in the moment, whatever is happening.

Pay attention to your experience. The information available to you includes bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, and external space.

Observation of constantly changing internal and external experience as they arise. Rather than just notice what is happening and stay in the moment, the temptation is to get caught in the experience.

When we are in the experience we are often “caught” in the DMN

Rumination and preoccupation are forms of getting caught in your experience.

The challenge of observing is just to experience the moment without judging it good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant.

The ability to step back from what is happening in the moment creates psychological space. This separation allows you to not get caught in or react to your experience. Without the psychological space, your reactions are automatic.

Experiencing the moment without getting caught or reacting is a way to extinguish automatic responses. Psychological space creates room for mental flexibility and freedom of choice. Try to observe in an unattached way.

Observing is the basis of self-awareness and can only happen in the here and now. When you observe your experience, you are more likely to have a feeling of self-agency, being in control of your thinking.

No matter what you are doing, you can just “step back” and observe. Step back a little, but stay within yourself – the goal is to be slightly detached, not to shut down completely.

Creating new pathways can be challenging. Don’t be discouraged, time and patience are important.

Stay the course and reach out of you need support. Find friends or family members that want to try with you. Create a community that is also interested in creating new experiences for themselves.

At Energy Tap we are constantly changing and evolving…..we love to create new pathways. Reach out if you want us to support you.

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