How to Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax (Author)

In How to be Human, Ruby Wax tries to come up with some answers to that niggling question about how we can learn to like and love ourselves. With the input of a Buddhist monk (an expert on our inner lives) and a neuroscientist (an expert on the brain), Ruby explores how to find happiness in the modern world – despite the constant bombardment of bad news, the need to choose between 5,000 different types of toothpaste, and the loneliness of having hundreds of friends who we’ve never met and don’t know us.

Filled with witty anecdotes from Ruby’s own life, and backed up by scientific authority, How to be Human is the only guide you need for building a healthy, happy relationship with yourself.

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.


Ruby Wax, OBE (born Ruby Wachs; 19 April 1953) is an American actress, mental health campaigner, lecturer, and author who holds both American and British citizenship.

A classically-trained actress, Wax came to prominence as a comic interviewer, playing up to British perceptions of the strident American style, which she replicated in the TV sitcom Girls on Top. She also appeared in Absolutely Fabulous, where she doubled as script editor. Her memoirs, How Do You Want Me?, reached the Sunday Times best-seller list.

Wax pursued a distinguished academic career, graduating in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and gaining a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from Oxford University. Wax is currently a Visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by S Pakhrin (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

How To Be Human | Ruby Wax

What do you get when Ruby Wax, a monk and a neuroscientist team up to write a book? How to be Human: The Manual – which has already been described by Joanna Lumley as ‘wise, practical and funny’. ‘How to Be Human is wise, practical and funny. It is a handbook for those in despair. Ruby, the Monk and the Neuroscientist are today’s Magi’ Joanna Lumley

Ruby Wax in conversation with a Neuroscientist, a Monk & Louise Chunn

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the ‘Evolutionary Hunger Games’ by the fact you’re on all 2’s and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – but most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? Why have we started treating ourselves like machines and less like humans? But even as technology takes over the world, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’ – and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness. It’s time to upgrade your mind as often as you upgrade your iPhone. Hear Ruby Wax, monk Gelong Thubton and neuroscientist Ash Ranpura discuss her new book, How to be Human, covering everything from addictions to relationships, via evolution, sex, kids, compassion, and the future of humanity. ————————————————————————-

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How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain THE NEW SCIENCE OF TRANSFORMATION By ANDREW NEWBERG and MARK ROBERT WALDMAN


The bestselling authors of How God Changes Your Brain reveal the neurological underpinnings of enlightenment, offering unique strategies to help readers experience its many benefits.

In this original and groundbreaking book, Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman turn their attention to the pinnacle of the human experience: enlightenment. Through his brain- scan studies on Brazilian psychic mediums, Sufi mystics, Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, Pentecostals, and participants in secular spirituality rituals, Newberg has discovered the specific neurological mechanisms associated with the enlightenment experience–and how we might activate those circuits in our own brains.

In his survey of more than one thousand people who have experienced enlightenment, Newberg has also discovered that in the aftermath they have had profound, positive life changes. Enlightenment offers us the possibility to become permanently less stress-prone, to break bad habits, to improve our collaboration and creativity skills, and to lead happier, more satisfying lives. Relaying the story of his own transformational experience as well as including the stories of others who try to describe an event that is truly indescribable, Newberg brings us a new paradigm for deep and lasting change.


Andrew Newberg, M.D., is the director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. He is one of the founders of the new interdisciplinary field called neurotheology. He is an associate professor in the department of radiology, with secondary appointments in the departments of psychiatry and religious studies, at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been featured on Good Morning America, Nightline, Discovery Channel, BBC, NPR, and National Geographic Television. He is the co-author of Why God Won’t Go Away, Born to Believe, and The Mystical Mind.


Mark Robert Waldman is an associate fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a therapist, the author or co-author of ten books, including Born to Believe (with Andrew Newberg), and was the founding editor of Transpersonal Review. He lectures throughout the country on neuroscience, religion, and spirituality and conducts research with numerous religious and secular groups. His work has been featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines and on syndicated radio programs.


Finding our enlightened state | Andrew Newberg | TEDxPenn
How does the brain function during prayer, meditation, and trance states? Andrew Newberg has conducted hundreds of brain scans of people during these “enlightened” states and found unique patterns of brain activity. He has surveyed 2,000 people to find the essential elements of the enlightenment experience. With these findings, Andrew aims to help people find their own enlightenment, an experience that can radically change and improve your life.

Andrew is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His research has been published in prestigious scientific journals including JAMA, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and Frontiers in Psychology, and featured in Newsweek, Time, and the New York Times. He has appeared on Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, as well as movies including Bill Maher’s “Religulous”; and “Awake: The Life of Yogananda.”

Neuroscience Has A Lot To Learn From Buddhism – Matthieu Ricard

Posted on December 18, 2017
by Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer: A scientist and a monk compare notes on meditation, therapy, and their effects on the brain…
Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain.

Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.

Matthieu Ricard: Although one finds in the Buddhist literature many treatises on “traditional sciences”—medicine, cosmology, botanic, logic, and so on—Tibetan Buddhism has not endeavored to the same extent as Western civilizations to expand its knowledge of the world through the natural sciences. Rather it has pursued an exhaustive investigation of the mind for 2,500 years and has accumulated, in an empirical way, a wealth of experiential findings over the centuries. A great number of people have dedicated their whole lives to this contemplative science.

Modern Western psychology began with William James just over a century ago. I can’t help remembering the remark made by Stephen Kosslyn, then chair of the psychology department at Harvard, at the Mind and Life meeting on “Investigating the Mind,” which took place at MIT in 2003. He started his presentation by saying, “I want to begin with a declaration of humility in the face of the sheer amount of data that the contemplatives are bringing to modern psychology.”It does not suffice to ponder how the human psyche works and elaborate complex theories about it, as, for instance, Freud did. Such intellectual constructs cannot replace two millennia of direct investigation of the workings of mind through penetrating introspection conducted with trained minds that have become both stable and clear.

Wolf Singer: Can you be more specific with this rather bold claim? Why should what nature gave us be fundamentally negative, requiring special mental practice for its elimination, and why should this approach be superior to conventional education or, if conflicts arise, to psychotherapy in its various forms, including psychoanalysis?

Ricard: What nature gave us is by no means entirely negative; it is just a baseline. Few people would honestly argue that there is nothing worth improving about the way they live and the way they experience the world. Some people regard their own particular weaknesses and conflicting emotions as a valuable and distinct part of their “personality,” as something that contributes to the fullness of their lives. They believe that this is what makes them unique and argue that they should accept themselves as they are. But isn’t this an easy way to giving up on the idea of improving the quality of their lives, which would cost only some reasoning and effort?

Modern conventional education does not focus on transforming the mind and cultivating basic human qualities such as lovingkindness and mindfulness. As we will see later, Buddhist contemplative science has many things in common with cognitive therapies, in particular with those using mindfulness as a foundation for remedying mental imbalance. As for psychoanalysis, it seems to encourage rumination and explore endlessly the details and intricacies of the clouds of mental confusion and self-centeredness that mask the most fundamental aspect of mind: luminous awareness.

Singer: So rumination would be the opposite of what you do during meditation?

Ricard: Totally opposite. It is also well known that constant rumination is one of the main symptoms of depression. What we need is to gain freedom from the mental chain reactions that rumination endlessly perpetuates. One should learn to let thoughts arise and be freed to go as soon as they arise, instead of letting them invade one’s mind. In the freshness of the present moment, the past is gone, the future is not yet born, and if one remains in pure mindfulness and freedom, potentially disturbing thoughts arise and go without leaving a trace.

Singer
: What you have to learn then is to adopt a much more subtle approach to your internal emotional theater, to learn to identify with much higher resolution the various connotations of your feelings.

Ricard: That’s right. In the beginning, it is difficult to do it as soon as an emotion arises, but if you become increasingly familiar with such an approach, it becomes quite natural. Whenever anger is just showing its face, we recognize it right away and deal with it before it becomes too strong.

Singer: It is not unlike a scientific endeavor except that the analytical effort is directed toward the inner rather than the outer world. Science also attempts to understand reality by increasing the resolving power of instruments, training the mind to grasp complex relations, and decomposing systems into ever-smaller components.

Ricard: It is said in the Buddhist teachings that there is no task so difficult that it cannot be broken down into a series of small, easy tasks.

Singer: Your object of inquiry appears to be the mental apparatus and your analytical tool, introspection. This is an interesting self-referential approach that differs from the Western science of mind because it emphasizes the first-person perspective and collapses, in a sense, the instrument of investigation with its object. The Western approach, while using the first-person perspective for the definition of mental phenomena, clearly favors the third-person perspective for its investigation.

I am curious to find out whether the results of analytical introspection match those obtained by cognitive neuroscience. Both approaches obviously try to develop a differentiated and realistic view of cognitive processes.

What guarantees that the introspective technique for the dissection of mental phenomena is reliable? If it is the consensus among those who consider themselves experts, how can you compare and validate subjective mental states? There is nothing another person can look at and judge as valid; the observers can only rely on the verbal testimony of subjective states.

Ricard: It is the same with scientific knowledge. You first have to rely on the credible testimony of a number of scientists, but later you can train in the subject and verify the findings firsthand. This is quite similar to contemplative science. You first need to refine the telescope of your mind and the methods of investigations for years to find out for yourself what other contemplatives have found and all agreed on. The state of pure consciousness without content, which might seem puzzling at first sight, is something that all contemplatives have experienced. So it is not just some sort of Buddhist dogmatic theory. Anyone who takes the trouble to stabilize and clarify his or her mind will be able to experience it.Regarding cross-checking interpersonal experience, both contemplatives and the texts dealing with the various experiences a meditator might encounter are quite precise in their descriptions. When a student reports on his inner states of mind to an experienced meditation master, the descriptions are not just vague and poetic. The master will ask precise questions and the student replies, and it is quite clear that they are speaking about something that is well defined and mutually understood.

However, in the end, what really matters is the way the person gradually changes. If, over months and years, someone becomes less impatient, less prone to anger, and less torn apart by hopes and fears, then the method he or she has been using is a valid one.An ongoing study seems to indicate that while they are engaged in meditation, practitioners can clearly distinguish, like everyone who is not distracted, between pleasant and aversive stimuli, but they react much less emotionally than control subjects. While retaining the capacity of being fully aware of something, they succeed in not being carried away by their emotional responses.

Singer: How do you do this? What are the tools?

Ricard: This process requires perseverance. You need to train again and again. You can’t learn to play tennis by holding a racket for a few minutes every few months. With meditation, the effort is aimed at developing not a physical skill but an inner enrichment.In extreme cases, you could be in a simple hermitage in which nothing changes or sitting alone always facing the same scene day after day. So the outer enrichment is almost nil, but the inner enrichment is maximal. You are training your mind all day long with little outer stimulation. Furthermore, such enrichment is not passive, but voluntary, and methodically directed. When you engage for eight or more hours a day in cultivating certain mental states that you have decided to cultivate and that you have learned to cultivate, you reprogram the brain.

Singer: In a sense, you make your brain the object of a sophisticated cognitive process that is turned inward rather than outward toward the world around you. You apply the cognitive abilities of the brain to studying its own organization and functioning, and you do so in an intentional and focused way, similar to when you attend to events in the outer world and when you organize sensory signals into coherent percepts. You assign value to certain states and you try to increase their prevalence, which probably goes along with a change in synaptic connectivity in much the same way as it occurs with learning processes resulting from interactions with the outer world.Let us perhaps briefly recapitulate how the human brain adapts to the environment because this developmental process can also be seen as a modification or reprogramming of brain functions. Brain development is characterized by a massive proliferation of connections and is paralleled by a shaping process through which the connections being formed are either stabilized or deleted according to functional criteria, using experience and interaction with the environment as the validation criterion. This developmental reorganization continues until the age of about 20. The early stages serve the adjustment of sensory and motor functions, and the later phases primarily involve brain systems responsible for social abilities. Once these developmental processes come to an end, the connectivity of the brain becomes fixed, and large-scale modifications are no longer possible.

Ricard: To some extent.

Singer: To some extent, yes. The existing synaptic connections remain modifiable, but you can’t grow new long-range connections. In a few distinct regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus and olfactory bulb, new neurons are generated throughout life and inserted into the existing circuits, but this process is not large-scale, at least not in the neocortex, where higher cognitive functions are supposed to be realized.

Ricard: A study of people who have practiced meditation for a long time demonstrates that structural connectivity among the different areas of the brain is higher in meditators than in a control group. Hence, there must be another kind of change allowed by the brain.

Singer: I have no difficulty in accepting that a learning process can change behavioral dispositions, even in adults. There is ample evidence of this from reeducation programs, where practice leads to small but incremental behavior modifications. There is also evidence for quite dramatic and sudden changes in cognition, emotional states, and coping strategies. In this case, the same mechanisms that support learning—distributed changes in the efficiency of synaptic connections—lead to drastic alterations of global brain states.

Ricard: You could also change the flow of neuron activity, as when the traffic on a road increases significantly

Singer: Yes. What changes with learning and training in the adult is the flow of activity. The fixed hardware of anatomical connections is rather stable after age 20, but it is still possible to route activity flexibly from A to B or from A to C by adding certain signatures to the activity that ensure that a given activation pattern is not broadcast in a diffuse way to all connected brain regions but sent only to selected target areas.

Ricard: So far, the results of the studies conducted with trained meditators indicate that they have the faculty to generate clean, powerful, well-defined states of mind, and this faculty is associated with some specific brain patterns. Mental training enables one to generate those states at will and to modulate their intensity, even when confronted with disturbing circumstances, such as strong positive or negative emotional stimuli. Thus, one acquires the faculty to maintain an overall emotional balance that favors inner strength and peace.

Singer: So you have to use your cognitive abilities to identify more clearly and delineate more sharply the various emotional states, and to train your control systems, probably located in the frontal lobe, to increase or decrease selectively the activity of subsystems responsible for the generation of the various emotions.An analogy for this process of refinement could be the improved differentiation of objects of perception, which is known to depend on learning. With just a little experience, you are able to recognize an animal as a dog. With more experience, you can sharpen your eye and become able to distinguish with greater and greater precision dogs that look similar. Likewise, mental training might allow you to sharpen your inner eye for the distinction of emotional states.In the naïve state, you are able to distinguish good and bad feelings only in a global way. With practice, these distinctions would become increasingly refined until you could distinguish more and more nuances. The taxonomy of mental states should thus become more differentiated. If this is the case, then cultures exploiting mental training as a source of knowledge should have a richer vocabulary for mental states than cultures that are more interested in investigating phenomena of the outer world.

Ricard: Buddhist taxonomy describes 58 main mental events and various subdivisions thereof. It is quite true that by conducting an in-depth investigation of mental events, one becomes able to distinguish increasingly more subtle nuances.Take anger, for instance. Often anger can have a malevolent component, but it can also be rightful indignation in the face of injustice. Anger can be a reaction that allows us to rapidly overcome an obstacle preventing us from achieving something worthwhile or remove an obstacle threatening us. However, it could also reflect a tendency to be short-tempered. If you look carefully at anger, you will see that it contains aspects of clarity, focus, and effectiveness that are not harmful in and of themselves. So if you are able to recognize those aspects that are not yet negative and let your mind remain in them, without drifting into the destructive aspects, then you will not be troubled and confused by these emotions.Another result of cultivating mental skills is that, after a while, you will no longer need to apply contrived efforts. You can deal with the arising of mental perturbations like the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas. The crows often attack them, even though they are much smaller. They dive at the eagles from above trying to hit them with their beaks. However, instead of getting alarmed and moving around to avoid the crow, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, letting the diving crow pass by, and extends its wing back out. The whole thing requires minimal effort and is perfectly efficient. Being experienced in dealing with the sudden arising of emotions in the mind works in a similar way. When you are able to preserve a clear state of awareness, you see thoughts arise; you let them pass through your mind, without trying to block or encourage them; and they vanish without creating many waves.

Singer: That reminds me of what we do when we encounter severe difficulties that require fast solutions, such as a complicated traffic situation. We immediately call on a large repertoire of escape strategies that we have learned and practiced, and then we choose among them without much reasoning, relying mainly on subconscious heuristics. Apparently, if we are not experienced with contemplative practice, we haven’t gone through the driving school for the management of emotional conflicts. Would you say this is a valid analogy?

Ricard: Yes, complex situations become greatly simplified through training and the cultivation of effortless awareness. When you learn to ride a horse, as a beginner you are constantly preoccupied, trying not to fall at every movement the horse makes. Especially when the horse starts galloping, it puts you on high alert. But when you become an expert rider, everything becomes easier. Riders in eastern Tibet, for instance, can do all kinds of acrobatics, such as shooting arrows at a target or catching something on the ground while galloping at full speed, and they do all that with ease and a big smile on their face.One study with meditators showed that they can maintain their attention at an optimal level for extended periods of time. When performing what is called a continuous performance task, even after 45 minutes, they did not become tense and were not distracted even for a moment. When I did this task myself, I noticed that the first few minutes were challenging and required some effort, but once I entered a state of “attentional flow,” it became easier.

Singer: This resembles a general strategy that the brain applies when acquiring new skills. In the naïve state, one uses conscious control to perform a task. The task is broken down into a series of subtasks that are sequentially executed. This requires attention, takes time, and is effortful. Later, after practice, the performance becomes automatized. Usually, the execution of the skilled behavior is then accomplished by different brain structures than those involved in the initial learning and execution of the task. Once this shift has occurred, performance becomes automatic, fast, and effortless and no longer requires cognitive control. This type of learning is called procedural learning and requires practice. Such automatized skills often save you in difficult situations because you can access them quickly. They can also often cope with more variables simultaneously due to parallel processing. Conscious processing is more serialized and therefore takes more time.Do you think you can apply the same learning strategy to your emotions by learning to pay attention to them, differentiate them, and thereby familiarize yourself with their dynamics so as to later become able to rely on automatized routines for their management in case of conflict?

Ricard: You seem to be describing the meditation process. In the teachings, it says that when one begins to meditate, on compassion, for instance, one experiences a contrived, artificial form of compassion. However, by generating compassion over and over again, it becomes second nature and spontaneously arises, even in the midst of a complex and challenging situation.

Singer: It would be really interesting to look with neurobiological tools at whether you have the same shift of function that you observe in other cases where familiarization through learning and training leads to the automation of processes. In brain scans, one observes that different brain structures take over when skills that are initially acquired under the control of consciousness become automatic.

Ricard: That is what a study conducted by Julie Brefczynski and Antoine Lutz at Richard Davidson’s lab seems to indicate. Brefczynski and Lutz studied the brain activity of novice, relatively experienced, and very experienced meditators when they engage in focused attention. Different patterns of activity were observed depending on the practitioners’ level of experience.Relatively experienced meditators (with an average of 19,000 hours of practice) showed more activity in attention-related brain regions compared with novices. Paradoxically, the most experienced meditators (with an average of 44,000 hours of practice) demonstrated less activation than the ones without as much experience. These highly advanced meditators appear to acquire a level of skill that enables them to achieve a focused state of mind with less effort. These effects resemble the skill of expert musicians and athletes capable of immersing themselves in the “flow” of their performances with a minimal sense of effortful control. This observation accords with other studies demonstrating that when someone has mastered a task, the cerebral structures put into play during the execution of this task are generally less active than they were when the brain was still in the learning phase.

Singer: This suggests that the neuronal codes become sparser, perhaps involving fewer but more specialized neurons, once skills become highly familiar and are executed with great expertise. To become a real expert seems to require then at least as much training as is required to become a world-class violin or piano player. With four hours of practice a day, it would take you 30 years of daily meditation to attain 44,000 hours. Remarkable!

This article has been adapted from Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer’s book, Beyond the Self: Conversations Between Buddhism and Neuroscience.

Source: The Atlantic

Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza (Author)

 

The author of the New York Times bestseller You Are the Placebo, as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain, draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012 to explore how common people are doing the uncommon to transform themselves and their lives. Becoming Supernatural marries some of the most profound scientific information with ancient wisdom to show how people like you and me can experience a more mystical life.

Readers will learn that we are, quite literally supernatural by nature if given the proper knowledge and instruction, and when we learn how to apply that information through various meditations, we should experience a greater expression of our creative abilities; that we have the capacity to tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and receive more orderly coherent streams of consciousness and energy; that we can intentionally change our brain chemistry to initiate profoundly mystical transcendental experiences; and how, if we do this enough times, we can develop the skill of creating a more efficient, balanced, healthy body, a more unlimited mind, and greater access to the realms of spiritual truth. Topics include:

  • Demystifying the body’s 7 energy centers and how you can balance them to heal
  • How to free yourself from the past by reconditioning your body to a new mind
  • How you can create reality in the generous present moment by changing your energy
  • The difference between third-dimension creation and fifth-dimension creation
  • The secret science of the pineal gland and its role in accessing mystical realms of reality
    The distinction between Space-Time vs. Time-Space realities
  • And much more
    Using tools and disciplines ranging from cutting-edge physics to practical exercises such as a walking meditation, Dr. Joe offers nothing less than a program for stepping outside our physical reality and into the quantum field of infinite possibilities.

Dr. Joe Dispenza first caught the public’s eye as one of the scientists featured in the award-winning film What the BLEEP Do We Know!? Since then, his work has expanded in several key directions that reflect his passion for exploring how people can use findings from neuroscience and quantum physics not only to heal illness but also to enjoy a more fulfilled and happy life. Dr. Joe is driven by the conviction that each one of us has the potential for greatness and unlimited abilities.

As a scientist, teacher and lecturer, Dr. Joe has educated thousands of people in how they can re-wire their brains and re-condition their bodies to make lasting changes. As a researcher, he explores the science behind spontaneous remissions and how people heal themselves of chronic conditions and even terminal diseases. He has been partnering with other scientists to research the effects of meditation during his advanced workshops, using techniques from brain mapping with EEGs to measuring heart coherence to demonstrating verifiable epigenetic changes in his students. He is also currently measuring telomere changes as well as 7,500 gene regulations in this research with advanced participants too. As a corporate consultant, Dr. Joe gives on-site lectures and workshops for businesses and corporations interested in using neuroscientific principles to boost their employees’ creativity, innovation, productivity, and more. He is the author of the New York Timesbestseller You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain. Website: drjoedispenza.com

 

DR JOE DISPENZA: Becoming Supernatural – Rewire Your Brain & Change Your Reality! Law of Attraction

If you’ve ever wanted to do more, feel better, and attract the uncommon into your life, then do we have the Becoming Supernatural show for you.

Today I’ll be speaking with Dr. Joe Dispenza, the best selling author of numerous books including You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, and his latest must-read for changing your life, Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon.

A Neuroscientist Talks of Consciousness: Rudolph Tanzi

science and nonduality
Published on Sep 12, 2017

In this wide-ranging interview, Rudolph Tanzi, Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and one of our most open-minded and influential neuroscientists, touches on experiences from his own life and research to propose a model of consciousness that includes attention, and can be welcomed both by science and nonduality. A pragmatic scientist, he refuses to be dogmatic about the primacy of mind or matter, and is willing to consider fringe experiences such as lucid dreaming and precognition in an effort to come to understanding.

Culadasa -The 5 ultimate insights that lead to direct awakening.


Culadasa (John Yates, Ph.D.) is a meditation master with over four decades of experience in the Tibetan and Theravadin Buddhist traditions. He taught physiology and neuroscience for many years at the Universities of Calgary and British Columbia. Later, he worked at the forefront of healthcare education and therapeutic massage, serving as the founding director of the West Coast College of Massage Therapy. Culadasa retired from academia in 1996, moving with his wife into an old Apache stronghold in the Arizona wilderness, where they deepened their spiritual practice together. He currently leads the Dharma Treasure Buddhist Sangha in Tucson, Arizona and holds retreats across the United States.

In addition to teaching meditation, Culadasa is the author of the groundbreaking book, A Physician’s Guide to Therapeutic Massage, which has been through several editions and is still frequently used in classrooms today. He is also a lifelong sitar player and an amateur woodworker, with several hand-carved canoes hanging from the ceiling of his workshop. His wife Nancy and he run Cochise Stronghold Canyon Nature Retreat, a nationally recognized B&B featured in the travel section of The New York Times.

Culadasa’s forthcoming book, The Mind Illuminated, is the first comprehensive guide to Buddhist meditation for a Western audience. It combines age-old teachings with the latest research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, providing meditators with step-by-step guidance for every stage of the path – from your very first sit, all the way to mastery of the deepest states of peace and insight. This is the clear, friendly, and in-depth meditation manual that people have been waiting for.

Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human by Daniel J. Siegel M.D. (Author)


A New York Times Bestseller.

A scientist’s exploration into the mysteries of the human mind.
What is the mind? What is the experience of the self truly made of? How does the mind differ from the brain? Though the mind’s contents―its emotions, thoughts, and memories―are often described, the essence of mind is rarely, if ever, defined.

In this book, noted neuropsychiatrist and New York Times best-selling author Daniel J. Siegel, MD, uses his characteristic sensitivity and interdisciplinary background to offer a definition of the mind that illuminates the how, what, when, where, and even why of who we are, of what the mind is, and what the mind’s self has the potential to become. MIND takes the reader on a deep personal and scientific journey into consciousness, subjective experience, and information processing, uncovering the mind’s self-organizational properties that emerge from both the body and the relationships we have with one another, and with the world around us. While making a wide range of sciences accessible and exciting―from neurobiology to quantum physics, anthropology to psychology―this book offers an experience that addresses some of our most pressing personal and global questions about identity, connection, and the cultivation of well-being in our lives. 55 illustrations

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is an internationally acclaimed author, award-winning educator, and child psychiatrist. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he also serves as a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions and communities. His books include “Mindsight,” “The Developing Mind,” “The Mindful Brain,” “The Mindful Therapist,” “Parenting From the Inside Out,” and “The Whole-Brain Child.” He is the Founding Editor of the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes “Healing Trauma,” “The Power of Emotion,” and “Trauma and the Body.” He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. For more information on Dr. Siegel’s work, please visit DrDanSiegel.com.

LOOK INSIDE


Published on Aug 15, 2016

Featuring Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and is the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. Dr. Siegel is the author of numerous bestselling texts and titles, including Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, The Whole-Brain Child, and Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.

Recorded on Thursday, August 11, 2016 as part of the Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series at the Doerr-Hosier Center at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado.

The Science of Enlightenment : How Meditation Works ~ Shinzen Young

“Enlightenment”—is it a myth or is it real? In every spiritual tradition, inner explorers have discovered that the liberated state is in fact a natural experience, as real as the sensations you are having right now—and that through the investigation of your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions you can awaken to clear insight and a happiness independent of conditions.

For decades, one of the most engaging teachers of our time has illuminated the many dimensions of awakening—but solely at his live retreats and on audio recordings. Now, with The Science of Enlightenment, Shinzen Young brings to readers an uncommonly lucid guide to mindfulness meditation for the first time: how it works and how to use it to enhance your cognitive capacities, your kindness and connection with the world, and the richness of all your experiences.

As thousands of his students and listeners will confirm, Shinzen is like no other teacher you’ve ever encountered. He merges scientific clarity, a rare grasp of source-language teachings East and West, and a gift for sparking insight through unexpected analogies, illustrations, humor, and firsthand accounts that reveal the inner journey to be as wondrous as any geographical expedition. Join him here to explore:

  • Universal insights spanning Buddhism, Christian and Jewish mysticism, shamanism, the yogas of India, and many other paths
  • How to begin and navigate your own meditation practice
  • Concentration, clarity, and equanimity—the core catalysts of awakening
  • Impermanence—its many aspects and how to work with them
  • Experiencing the “wave” and “particle” natures of self
  • Purification and clarification—how we digest mental blockages and habits through inner work
  • Emerging neuroscience research, the future of enlightenment, and much more

For meditators of all levels and beliefs—especially those who think they’ve heard it all—this many-faceted gem will be sure to surprise, provoke, illuminate, and inspire.

Shinzen Young is an American mindfulness teacher and neuroscience research consultant.

His systematic approach to categorizing, adapting and teaching meditation has resulted in collaborations with Harvard Medical School, Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Vermont in the bourgeoning field of contemplative neuroscience.

Shinzen’s interest in Asia began at the age of 14 when he decided to attend Japanese ethnic school in his native city of Los Angeles.

After majoring in East Asian languages at UCLA, he entered a PhD program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. As a part of his thesis research, he lived as a Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) Buddhist monk for three years at Mount Koya, Japan. It was then that he received the name Shinzen (真善).

Also during that time, he became friends with Father William Johnston (author of Christian Zen). Fr. Johnston helped broaden Shinzen’s interests to include comparative world mysticism and the scientific study of meditative states.

Upon returning to the United States, his academic interests shifted to the dialogue between Eastern meditation and Western science.

Shinzen is known for his interactive, algorithmic approach to mindfulness, and often uses mathematical metaphors to illustrate meditative phenomena.

He is the author of The Science of Enlightenment, Natural Pain Relief and numerous audio offerings.

Shinzen leads residential retreats throughout North America. In 2006, he created the monthly Home Practice Program. These phone-based mini-retreats are designed to make deep meditation practice accessible to anyone in the world regardless of their location, health situation, and time or financial constraints.

Shinzen likes to say of himself:

I’m a Jewish-American Buddhist teacher who got turned on to comparative mysticism by an Irish-Catholic priest and who has developed a Burmese-Japanese fusion practice inspired by the spirit of quantified science.

LOOK INSIDE

Shinzen Young – 2nd Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Shinzen Young – 2nd Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Shinzen Young is an American mindfulness teacher and neuroscience research consultant.

His systematic approach to categorizing, adapting and teaching meditation has resulted in collaborations with Harvard Medical School, Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Vermont in the bourgeoning field of contemplative neuroscience.

Shinzen’s interest in Asia began at the age of 14 when he decided to attend Japanese ethnic school in his native city of Los Angeles.
After majoring in Asian languages at UCLA, he entered a PhD program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. As a part of his thesis research, he lived as a Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) monk for three years at Mount Koya, Japan. It was then that he received the name Shinzen (真善).

Also during that time, he became friends with Father William Johnston (author of Christian Zen). Fr. Johnston helped broaden Shinzen’s interests to include comparative world mysticism and the scientific study of meditative states.

Upon returning to the United States, his academic interests shifted to the dialogue between Eastern meditation and Western science.
Shinzen is known for his interactive, algorithmic approach to mindfulness, and often uses mathematical metaphors to illustrate meditative phenomena.

He is the author of The Science of Enlightenment, Natural Pain Relief and numerous audio offerings.

Shinzen leads residential retreats throughout North America. In 2006, he created the Home Practice Program. These phone-based mini-retreats are designed to make deep meditation practice accessible to anyone in the world regardless of their location, health situation, and time or financial constraints.

THE QUICKEST WAY TO ENLIGHTENMENT ~ Shinzen Young

During a So. Cal. retreat, Shinzen gave a dharma talk on May 21, 2013, explaining how strong determination sitting – using the strategies he presents – can be a very quick way to enlightenment.

Musings in an English Garden


Richard looks at observations from neuroscience and links them to how we can explore poetic forms of self-expression to come into deep psychophysical balance and open our consciousness to spaciousness.

[BELL TOLLS]

Transcript

You know, what’s really been very interesting to me lately is to read of something of what neuroscience is beginning to tell us about how our brains work. And it’s interesting. It was the old idea that the left brain did one thing. The right brain did another thing– masculine, and feminine, and so forth. But we realize now is that both sides of our brains are trying to create wholeness or representing wholeness to us. The right experiences wholeness just as it is, all at once. The left side creates concepts, and words, and representations, and it puts them together. And it tries to develop wholeness that way.

In fact, by putting together words into beliefs, we don’t necessarily create wholeness at all, but we create systems that often divide us. And what fascinates me is the notion of poetry, of a way to change energy by the use of words, and feeling, and association. For me, I used to be able to bring myself into states of stillness, oneness often through running, or athleticism, and riding my bike. But over the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of pain. And until recently, back surgery’s really freed me from it.

And I needed to practice. I needed a way to change my energy without being able to run, or jog, or dance, or climb, or hike– the things that would join me to nature. And so I began to explore just writing poetry. I want to share one of the poems that is inspired by my visit here, in England, where my friends have a wonderful farm and garden. And I can go out and pick berries in the morning. So here’s this short inspiration from yesterday.

The miracles of berries growing. I’m squatting to free them from their branches– singly or in bunches– red, purple, pale yellow, blue, and near black. Distinct tastes but all offer that moment of resistance before bursting forth in their mouth watering glory. Not in a box, no plastic lid, no packaging. Straight into the bowl. Surely worth the pricks, and punctures, and torn skin to reach the plump ones through their defenses. And the frantic bird that found its way into the enclosure, to gorge but not know how to escape– I leave the door open, and he finds his way to freedom, taking a part of me with him into the sky.

So one of the things that happens with poetry is that boundaries become blurred. Tastes, images, sounds, and ideas have a way of dancing with each other. And the reason I say this to you is because what’s happening in our world is that we’re building reality. We’re building structures that we think are whole, but we’re building them from representations. We’re building them with words. Words link together into sentences. Sentences link together into ideas and beliefs. And those ideas and beliefs can have nothing whatsoever to do with nature, and wholeness, and the simple balance and rightness of things.

And when you take the time just to let your feeling and your associative processes in your thinking and imagery and sensation join together in a flow of words. You create a balance between a wholeness made of representation and a wholeness that you just simply know. Like I leave the door open and he finds his way to freedom, taking a part of me with him into the sky.

The bird doesn’t leave me. The bird and I travel together. I go into the sky. There’s a sense of everything connected. In those simple moments where words can do that for me change my energy, just as much as meditation, just as much as contemplation, just as much as dancing, just as much as hiking in the mountains.

I really wonder if we will start to understand that what we do with words, what we see happening on the political scene today– this assembling of rationalizations that have nothing to do with sun, or flowers, or plants, or smells, or breezes. These rationalizations that allow us to explore our world– we’re missing the poetry of life. And I invite you explore becoming your own poet.

When I do my retreats during the quiet days, I say to people don’t write in your journal. Don’t use this notion of “I” or “me” and then talk about yourself. Just let words allow you to flow with an energy. And see if you can start to take yourself back to states of wholeness, even though you’re playing with fragments, and representations, and words, and ideas.

The Cerebrospinal Fluid and the Appearance of “I Am”, Mauro Zappaterra


Certain traditions believe there is a ‘step-down’ process or condensation that occurs from the Source to our physical self. As this energy condenses it becomes more differentiated and visible to the human eye as physical form. As this condensation occurs, certain traditions believe that the initial ‘step’ into the body occurs at the third eye, or the brow center.

At this same location is the third ventricle, a space in the middle of the brain filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). As the energy from the Source condenses into physical form, the ‘step’ into the physical body may be into this fluid that bathes the entire inner and outer surface of the brain and spinal cord. Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “fluids come together and the ‘I Am’ appears.” The CSF may be the fluid through which the ‘I Am’ appears. The CSF is a conveyor of energy.

An adult produces 500ml of CSF daily. While the CSF is 99% water, the CSF is also rich in proteins, ions, lipids, hormones, cholesterol, glucose, and many other molecules. The CSF is home to many neurotransmitters and signaling molecules providing an elaborate range of biological functions. The CSF utilizes volume transmission and its components can potentially be dispersed quickly and target key brain regulatory centers simultaneously due to its fluid nature. Moreover, along the third ventricle, the pineal gland makes direct contact with the CSF, and releases information directly into the CSF for volume transmission to the rest of the brain. In addition, the CSF contains the ‘spirit molecule’ DMT that is released by the pineal gland. Therefore, the CSF may serve as a vehicle for immediate signaling to major control centers of the brain and may be significant in regulating consciousness and the sense of ‘I Am’.

Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom By Henry Emmons, MD and David Alter, PhD

The book Dr. Christiane Northrup promised “will change your mind and your brain in the best possible way,” Staying Sharp is the practical guidebook for building and maintaining a sharp, healthy, and vibrant mind.

A strong memory and a healthy brain aren’t as difficult to maintain as one might think. Combining the latest neuroscience research with age-old wisdom about resilience, mindfulness, and stress reduction, Drs. Henry Emmons and David Alter show that vibrant aging is within reach. Together they demonstrate how to blend the best of modern science and Eastern holistic medicine to form a powerful drug-free program that will maintain a youthful mind and a happy life.

With more than fifty-five years of combined experience in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry, Dr. Emmons and Dr. Alter have taken their expertise and translated the fundamentals of brain science into an easily accessible collection of the nine key lessons proven to preserve and strengthen mental acuity. Filled with easy-to-understand theories and practical exercises to work out your brain, Staying Sharp provides you with “reliable information on how to minimize cognitive decline” (The New York Times) so you can live more joyfully, age more gracefully, and build intimacy in your relationships, no matter what your age.


Henry Emmons, MD, is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness and allied Buddhist therapeutics, and psychotherapeutic caring and insight in his clinical work. Dr. Emmons is in demand as a workshop and retreat leader for both healthcare professionals and the general public.


David Alter, PhD was born in Minneapolis, MN but lived in 4 states and 3 continents by the time he was five years old. Those early experiences with language, dialect and culture helped shape his curiosity for how people live, how they express themselves and how they are shaped by their environments. Now, having practiced as a clinical neurologist/health psychologist for 30 years, always focusing on the evolving nature of our mind and our brain in relation to our social surroundings, he has translated his acquired experiences into his first published work (Staying Sharp, with co-author H. Emmons, MD). This non-fiction book about aging well reflects his inherent optimism about what is possible for us as time passes and grounds his findings and suggestions in solid neuroscience about what it takes to cultivate and maintain a healthy brain throughout the second half of life. Currently, he is joyfully engaged in practicing what he preaches.

He is an active teacher and trainer around the country, leading workshops and retreats and invited talks to both general and professional audiences.

LOOK INSIDE

Keeping Your Brain Youthful With Sleep

Published on Jul 25, 2016

Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. David Alter, authors of STAYING SHARP, debunk myths surrounding the needs of the aging brain and explain how sleep can actually help keep your mind youthful and healthy.

Neuroscience’s New Consciousness Theory Is Spiritual

Source: Consciousness Awakening by Ralph Buckley/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality” -Carl Sagan

It appears that we are approaching a unique time in the history of man and science where empirical measures and deductive reasoning can actually inform us spiritually. Integrated Information Theory (IIT)—put forth by neuroscientists Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch—is a new framework that describes a way to experimentally measure the extent to which a system is conscious.

As such, it has the potential to answer questions that once seemed impossible, like “which is more conscious, a bat or a beetle?” Furthermore, the theory posits that any system that processes and integrates information, be it organic or inorganic, experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, smartphones, the Internet—even protons—are all examples of such systems. The result is a cosmos composed of a sentient fabric. But before getting into the bizarreness of all that, let’s talk a little about how we got to this point.

The decline and demise of the mystical

As more of the natural world is described objectively and empirically, belief in the existence of anything that defies current scientific explanation is fading at a faster rate than ever before. The majority of college-educated individuals no longer accept the supernatural and magical accounts of physical processes given by religious holy books. Nor do they believe in the actuality of mystical realms beyond life that offer eternal bliss or infinite punishment for the “souls” of righteous or evil men.

This is because modern science has achieved impeccable performance when it comes to explaining phenomena previously thought to be unexplainable. In this day and age, we have complete scientific descriptions of virtually everything. We understand what gives rise to vacuous black holes and their spacetime geometries. We know how new species of life can evolve and the statistical rules that govern such processes. We even have a pretty good understanding of the exact moment in which the universe, and thus of all reality, came into existence! But no serious and informed scientist will tell you that at present we fully understand the thing each of us knows best. That is, our own consciousness.

One of science’s last greatest mysteries

Although we’ve come along way since the time of Descartes, who postulated that consciousness was actually some immaterial spirit not subject to physical law, we still don’t have a complete and satisfactory account of the science underlying experience. We simply don’t know how to quantify it. And if we can’t do that, how do we know whether those non-human life forms that are unable to communicate with us are also conscious? Does it feel like anything to be a cat? Most will probably agree that it does, but how about a ladybug? If so, how can we know which life forms are more conscious than others? Do animals that show impressively intelligent behavior and elaborate memory, like dolphins or crows, experience the world in a unified conscious fashion as we do? These questions are almost impossible to answer without a way to measure consciousness. Fortunately, a neuroscientific theory that has been gaining popular acceptance aims to do just that.

Integrated Information Theory to the Rescue

Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which has become quite a hot topic in contemporary neuroscience, claims to provide a precise way to measure consciousness and express the phenomenon in purely mathematical terms. The theory was put forth by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, and has attracted some highly regarded names in the science community. One such name is Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who now champions the idea along with Tononi. Koch may be best-known for bringing consciousness research into the mainstream of neuroscience through his long-term collaboration with the late DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick. Now Tononi and Koch are actively researching the theory along with an increasing number of scientists, some from outside the field of neuroscience like esteemed physicist and popular author Max Tegmark, who is joining the ranks of those who believe they’ve figured out how to reduce one of science’s greatest secrets to numbers. Bits of information to be exact.

Okay, so we now know that the theory is kind of a big deal to notable scientists. But how exactly does IIT attempt to quantify something as ill-defined and seemingly elusive as consciousness?

IIT in a nutshell

Just like a computer, the brain stores and processes information. But it is how that information is shared throughout the brain network that gives rise to our rich and vivid conscious experience. Let’s consider the act of observing a sunset. Thanks to advances in brain imaging, modern neuroscience tells us that there are a number of different and distinct regions active during this event, each of which process information about different features of that event separately. There’s a region in the visual cortex (known as “V2”) that processes the form and color of the yellow and orange sunrays against the clouds. There are auditory areas in the temporal lobe being fed information about the sound of the wind rushing past you as you stare off into the horizon. That rushing wind against your skin also generates patterns of electrical signals in the somatosensory cortex that create a sense of touch. There are many different things going on in distant places.

Yet somehow we perceive it all as one unified conscious experience.

According to IIT, this unified experience relies on the brain’s ability to fuse together (or integrate) all that incoming sensory information as a whole. To measure the degree of integration, Tononi has taken mathematical principles formulated by American engineer Claude Shannon, who developed a scientific theory of information midway through the 20th century to describe data transmission, and applied them to the brain. IIT claims that these information measures allow one to calculate an exact number that represents the degree of integrated information that exists in a brain at any given moment. Tononi chooses to call this metric “Phi” (or Φ), which serves as an index for consciousness. The greater the Phi, the more conscious the system. It need not matter whether it’s the nervous system of a child, or a cat, or even a ladybug.

Problem solved?

Sounds simple and straightforward enough, doesn’t it? Isn’t this what science has strived to do all along? To describe things objectively and strip away all mystery from foggily understood natural phenomena? Could this be the solution to demystifying consciousness, the thing philosophers have been battling over for centuries? It may certainly answer some very important questions, but when you follow the theory to its logical conclusions, things get pretty weird, and also, well, kind of neat. But before we get to the weird conclusions let’s start with the weird questions, which have essentially been ignored by modern physical science, and at first ponder may even seem unremarkable.

Some hard questions

How can physical processing create inner, subjective experience?

How can matter possess first person perspective?

How can mere electrical signals produce qualitative sensation and awareness?

Why should information “feel” like anything in the first place?

These questions are functionally synonymous and define what philosophers have dubbed the “hard problem of consciousness,” a concept that many neuroscientists have embraced. Conversely, the “easy problem” (although it is also extremely difficult) is figuring out all the computational and cognitive mechanisms underlying consciousness, which is categorically different from describing experience. Previously, science has only concentrated on solving those questions related to the “easy problem of consciousness.” Some still believe that questions about subjective experience can’t be answered quantitatively, and are therefore only appropriate topics for philosophy. Others handle the situation by refusing to acknowledge the existence of consciousness altogether! However, the truth of consciousness is self-evident, and denying it is equivalent to denying one’s own existence. IIT is unique in that it recognizes consciousness as a real phenomenon that can be described objectively and mathematically.

But does IIT really address the “hard problem of consciousness,” i.e., how subjective experience arises from the physical?

The answer is not quite.

The brain stores and processes information, but how and why that information takes on the characteristic of “feeling like something” is left unexplained. IIT tells us how to measure the degree of consciousness (Phi or Φ), but does not tell us how different types of information acquire different subjective sensations, like the feel of a burning flame or an orgasm. As stated by philosopher Ned Block, it may be that Phi is correlated with consciousness, but does not play a role in its cause.

So how do proponents of Integrated Information Theory attempt to explain subjective experience?

Christof Koch’s answer: Consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe. Wherever there is integrated information, there is experience. The theory takes its existence as a given and therefore doesn’t have to explain the mechanism behind it. It’s just a fact of nature that information has an inner side in addition to its bit-composed outer side.

Let’s follow the logic of this idea and see how it holds up. We know that certain brain states feel like something. Brain states are just information states. Therefore, information feels like something. Sounds pretty solid. Under IIT, lower mammals like cats have conscious experience, as do insects, even if only to some miniscule degree. Such an idea would seem intuitive. Why should there be some magical point at which a nervous system spontaneously turns conscious, like a switch had been suddenly flipped? It is more likely that a continuum of experience exists along a gradient, going from the very simple, raw sensations of single-celled organisms to the more complex qualitative awareness of the human sort. But what about non-biological systems that integrate information?

Things start to get weird

What’s interesting about IIT is that it doesn’t require that a conscious entity be a living organism. Any system that can integrate information, whether it be carbon-based or composed of silicon chips and metal wires, should produce conscious states. As information processors, modern computers possess some amount of experience, but presumably so little that it may be undetectable by human observers. In fact, according to IIT, it actually feels like something to be your iPhone. This should please artificial intelligence researchers who often long for their creations to someday be “alive”. In our technology driven world, IIT says that consciousness is both in our homes and in our hands.

Although all of this may seem pretty strange, the idea that machines can be conscious might not be entirely unfathomable, especially given the amount of science fiction that has instilled visions of self-aware robots into our psyche. Is this as far as the theory goes?

Nope.

If you are very clever (or perhaps very high), then upon reading the above you may have briefly considered the following question in some form or another. Aren’t humans always exchanging information through a global network of interconnected computers that collectively store and integrate information in some complex fashion? Let’s follow IIT down the rabbit hole.

The Internet wakes up

If we are to take IIT seriously, we must accept that a system such as the Internet can possess conscious states like that of a biological nervous system, as so long as information is being integrated in a similar fashion. This possibility has been explored by Christof Koch himself:

Consider humankind’s largest and most complex artifact, the Internet. It consists of billions of computers linked together using optical fibers and copper cables that rapidly instantiate specific connections using ultrafast communication protocols. Each of these processors in turn is made out of a few billion transistors. Taken as a whole, the Internet has perhaps 10^19 transistors, about the number of synapses in the brains of 10,000 people. Thus, its sheer number of components exceeds that of any one human brain. Whether or not the Internet today feels like something to itself is completely speculative. Still, it is certainly conceivable.

However, at the current time it seems highly unlikely that the Internet possesses the level of first-person experience as do you or I. Our brains have been shaped by evolution over millions of years in ways that have developed and refined its information-processing capabilities. But still, the potential for a self-aware World Wide Web is surely there.

An information-based collective consciousness

That’s right. The theory allows for the emergence of an abstract “superorganism” that is composed of many individual organisms. Many puzzling questions are to follow. If the web were to “wake up,” so to speak, would it exhibit apparent forms of observable unified and coordinated behavior? Or would we simply be an unknowing unit in a larger system in the same way a neuron is unaware of its contribution to a mental state? It’s not only fun to entertain the idea of a living entity that would possess essentially all the knowledge accumulated by humanity, but also scientifically productive.

In theory, there’s almost no limit to how large a fully conscious system can grow and evolve in space. It is bound only by the rate of information and complexity growth, which we have seen tends to increase exponentially.

So far we’ve discussed consciousness that can span large distances with no palpable physical structure. But what about arrangements of information that are too small for the eye to see?

Protons that feel

IIT says that anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience. This includes subatomic particles. Koch writes:

Even simple matter has a modicum of Φ [integrated information]. Protons and neutrons consist of a triad of quarks that are never observed in isolation. They constitute an infinitesimal integrated system.

This has profound consequences. It would mean that consciousness is spread throughout space like a cosmic web of experience. Of course awareness is greatest where there is significant information integration, but in essence, “mind” (or “psyche”) is everywhere. IIT turns out to be a modern twist on an ancient philosophical view known as “panpsychism.” But before you go dismissing the concept because of its name, you should know that intellectual heavy hitters such as Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and William James are all considered panpsychists. Its central tenant is that all matter has a mental aspect, which makes consciousness universal. Koch goes on:

The entire cosmos is suffused with sentience. We are surrounded and immersed in consciousness; it is in the air we breathe, the soil we tread on, the bacteria that colonize our intestines, and the brain that enables us to think.

A new spirituality constrained by science

So far, Integrated Information Theory is the best candidate for a scientific doctrine that provides an objective description of consciousness. As such, it deserves that we consider the possibility of such seemingly radical ideas. Pondering questions previously deemed appropriate only for pot-smoking college dorm-dwellers is now a task for the best and brightest scientific minds. Most rational thinkers will agree that the idea of a personal god who gets angry when we masturbate and routinely disrupts the laws of physics upon prayer is utterly ridiculous. This theory doesn’t give credence to anything of the sort. It simply reveals an underlying harmony in nature, and a sweeping mental presence that isn’t confined to biological systems. IIT’s inevitable logical conclusions and philosophical implications are both elegant and precise. What it yields is a new kind of scientific spirituality that paints a picture of a soulful existence that even the most diehard materialist or devout atheist can unashamedly get behind.

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.”—Albert Einstein

Bobby Azarian Ph.D.
Mind In The Machine

Bobby Azarian, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist and science writer in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Global Mind and the Rise of Civilization: The Quantum Evolution of Consciousness By Carl Johan Calleman

How the global mind drives the evolution of both consciousness and civilization

• Explains how our brains receive consciousness from the global mind, which upgrades human consciousness according to a pre-set divine time frame

• Reveals how the Mayan Calendar provides a blueprint for these consciousness downloads throughout history

• Examines the mind shift in humans and the development of pyramids and civilization in ancient Egypt, Sumer, South America, and Asia beginning in 3115 BCE

In each culture the origins of civilization can be tied to the arising of one concept in the human mind: straight lines. Straight and perpendicular lines are not found in nature, so where did they come from? What shift in consciousness occurred around the globe that triggered the start of rectangular building methods and linear organization as well as written language, pyramid construction, mathematics, and art?

Offering a detailed answer to this question, Carl Calleman explores the quantum evolution of the global mind and its holographic resonance with the human mind. He examines how our brains are not thinking machines but individual receivers of consciousness from the global mind, which creates holographic downloads to adjust human consciousness to new cosmological circumstances. He explains how the Mayan Calendar provides a blueprint for these downloads throughout history and how the global mind, rather than the individual, has the power to make civilizations rise and fall. He shows how, at the beginning of the Mayan 6th Wave (Long Count) in 3115 BCE, the global mind gave human beings the capacity to conceptualize spatial relations in terms of straight and perpendicular lines, initiating the building of pyramids and megaliths around the world and leading to the rise of modern civilization. He examines the symbolism within the Great Pyramid of Giza and the pyramid at Chichén Itzá and looks at the differences between humans of the 6th Wave in ancient Egypt, Sumer, South America, and Asia and the cave painters of the 5th Wave. He reveals how the global mind is always connected to the inner core of the Earth and discusses how the two halves of the brain parallel the civilizations of the East and West.

Outlining the historical, psychological, geophysical, and neurological roots of the modern human mind, Calleman shows how studying early civilizations offers a means of understanding the evolution of consciousness.

Carl Johan Calleman holds a Ph.D. in Physical Biology and has served as an expert on cancer for the World Health Organization. He began his studies on the Mayan calendar in 1979 and now lectures throughout the world. He is also author of The Purposeful Universe, Solving the Greatest Mystery of Our Time: The Mayan Calendar and The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Look Inside

Dr. Carl Johan Calleman: The Global Mind Review

Published on Aug 19, 2015

[Previously Recorded Interview]
Dr. Calleman and Alexandra Meadors review his fascinating book called the Global Mind: The Rise of Civilization. It really gets into the details of the global mind, mass consciousness, our brain, and mind. Dr. Calleman describes how deep and fundamental the consequences of the shift in the Mayan calendar has been for our worldview, a shift that is only now beginning to make itself known through a new social conscience in our global social networks. Dr. Calleman describes the pivotal mental shift that created early civilizations; what inspired the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Jews and Mayans, outlining a new theory about the historical, psychological, geophysical, and neurological roots of the human mind.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of person(s) interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of Alexandra Meadors and Galactic Connection.

The Cerebrospinal Fluid & the Fluid Nature of Consciousness


Published on May 3, 2016

The Cerebrospinal Fluid and the Fluid Nature of Consciousness

Mauro Zappaterra, Director of Regenerative Medicine and Clinical Research
Certain traditions believe there is a ‘step-down’ process or condensation that occurs from the Source to our physical self. As this energy condenses it becomes more differentiated and
visible to the human eye as physical form. As this condensation occurs, certain traditions believe that the initial ‘step’ into the body occurs at the third eye, or the brow center. At this same location is the third ventricle, a space in the middle of the brain filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Amazingly, this same fluid space, bordered by the pituitary gland in front and the pineal gland in back, has been referred to as the ‘Crystal Palace’ and the ‘Cave of Brahma.’ The CSF is home to many neurotransmitters and signaling molecules providing an elaborate range of biological functions. The CSF utilizes volume transmission and its information can potentially be quickly dispersed and simultaneously target key brain regulatory centers due to its fluid nature.

Interestingly, at the back of the third ventricle, in the middle of the brain, the CSF condenses and aggregates into a thread-like structure known as Reissner’s fiber that extends the entire length of the central canal of the spinal cord. The precise role of this fiber is unknown. Could it have a role in conveying vibratory signals from the fluid itself?

In addition, the CSF contains the ‘spirit molecule’ DMT that is released by the pineal gland. Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “fluids come together and the ‘I Am’ appears.” The CSF may
therefore serve as a vehicle for immediate signaling to major control centers of the brain and may be significant in regulating consciousness and the sense of ‘I Am’. Let us explore our fluid
nature, our fluid body, visit the ‘Cave of Brahma’ and go with the flow.

Science of Consciousness – Helané Wahbeh


Published on Mar 2, 2016

While our materialistic paradigm would have us believe that our consciousness is housed in our physical brain and does not extend beyond it, there is growing evidence that this is actually not true.

This is a presentation that was given in February 2016 to the Chinmaya Mission in Princeton, New Jersey.

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