The Default Mode Network
Stop, Breathe & Think | 6:28
When we’re not consciously directing our attention to a specific task or activity, the brain clicks into a distinctive neural pattern called the “default mode network”. Studies have determined that the DMN is a state of wandering, distracted brain activity, wherein our attention is lurching compulsively from thought to thought, as they rise into consciousness.
Because of our negativity bias, we’re drawn to negative thoughts - and because of our reactivity bias, we attach and react instantly to endorse and amplify it. This is an unconscious cycle that keeps us in a baseline state of stress and anxiety. To quote a 2011 Harvard Medical School research report: “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.
That research also determined that we spend almost 50% of waking time in this non-productive, generally unhappy dream state. Our mental chatter, mental fatigue, negativity bias, reactivity bias and default mode networks are all evolutionary artifacts that create stress.
It’s really important to understand those, so we can respond with the effective antidote - wake up, come to the present, relax, ground ourselves and move forward consciously.