Metacognition with Dr. Dispenza on Ted Talk

Joe tedtalk.jpgThis morning I saw Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Ted Talk presentation on neuroplasticity and rewiring our brains (cortical remapping) to change our behaviors. I think it was called “Thinking to Doing to Being.” (The location is: https://www.facebook.com/DrJoeDispenzaOfficialNewsFanPage/videos/2122965437728839/  )

Because I have previously commented on this aspect of “Whatever you think, IS—so change your thinking to reflect what you want” I’ll include the link if anyone wants to see it, and I’ll make a few more comments per Dr. Dispenza’s TT advice.

He began by explaining the functions of the 3 main parts of the brain: the neocortex3 parts of brain.jpg (the thinking brain), the limbic (mammalian/emotions/feeling) brain, and the cerebellum (the subconscious/reptilian) brain.  When all parts are functioning optimally and are in coordination with each other, we are in optimal mental health and can direct the course of our lives as we wish.

However, when what we think and what we feel are out of line with each other—like when a disturbing memory association and corresponding body reaction because of it counters our intentions to better control our present-day actions, then we feel we have no control over our lives—we automatically react to everything around us. We become stressed, we lose our temper, we act fearful for no visible reason, etc., and then we tend to blame others for our inability to control ourselves.

brain neuropla.jpgBut humans have an amazing ability to actually observe our thinking/acting processes. It is called metacognition—we can become consciously aware of ourselves and our reactions to life through observation—by pulling back to watch how our mind and our body are trying to take us in a direction we really don’t want to go, and then tracing the behavior back to the trigger point that created the reaction.  When we go into observation mode we can simply watch ourselves being WHO we are being—watch how we are reacting to the stimuli before us—even observe our thoughts at the moment to see what we are automatically thinking when a trigger subject arises. It is self-observation and reassessment before automatic reaction.

The importance of this is that in the ability to simply observe ourselves through metacognition, we then have the opportunity to change our previously-patterned behavior.

Dr. Dispenza went into depth on when you maintain the observer of how you are reacting stance rather than automatically react, you change the neuron-firing patterns of your brain’s neocortex enough so that you actually disrupt the limbic brain’s emotion-charged, chemical reactions to the same subject matter. By doing this you are diffusing the chemical effect that it would normally have on your endocrine system which controls the specific chemicals released into your blood stream like the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands that triggers our natural fight-or-flight response.create your future.jpg

Auto-reactions are carefully created neuropathways in the brain established by patterns of reaction and behavior. “Circuits that fire together, wire together,” he says. “So change your thinking, and you can change your body’s reaction to your environment.”

When you can shift to observer/non-reactive mode and choose how you wish to respond to a situation, you begin to biologically breakdown the old circuits earlier created in your brain that were connected to your old way of reacting to life stressors.  This makes your brain neurons start firing in new sequences and new patterns so that what once might have sparked a stress reactor in you, now is recognized as a trigger that you no longer will allow to affect you in the same way. You’ve taken control of how you think about the situation.

I’ll paraphrase him a bit here: “Nerve cells that fire together—wire together. Think new thoughts and you change your brain’s wiring patterns. This is how you change patterns of behavior—you start by thinking new thoughts and recognizing automatic stress triggers that previously might have adversely affected your body. By thinking about the situation in a less-reactive way—less emotional attachment to the situation, you can establish a new pattern of thought and a new pattern of behavior.”

“Knowledge is for the mind, but experience is for the body.  When you change a pattern of thought over time, you change the pattern of your body’s reaction to those thoughts.  The mind is primarily the neocortex of the brain, where as the emotions and body reactions are feelwhatyouthink.jpggoverned by the limbic (mammalian) brain which sends out the signals for the endocrine’s reaction and corresponding chemical release into the bloodstream to provide the body with additional reaction abilities. To change your body’s behavior, you neuro-chemically condition the body to accept the new behavior or new reaction.  With repetition, new circuits are created and the brain creates new pathways for more calmly dealing with a once-stressful situation.”

The third brain, the cerebellum or the reptilian brain, is the automatic reaction for protection and preservation of the body.  When you establish solid connections between the neocortex and the limbic brains, and develop new patterns of established behavior and reactability, then the cerebellum (the seat of your subconscious mind) can adopt it as the natural reactive pattern—it becomes the new habit, the new second-nature, the new go-to skill.  This becomes innate—it becomes your new way of being.”

“The way we transform the world, is to transform ourselves.”joe destiny

And there you have it.

I liked the last statement best, paraphrased as: “If you want a more compassionate world, then train yourself to react with compassion rather than anger to a situation not of your liking.”

He’s worth hearing.

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Celebrating Grayness

(Written 10/23/02, Edited 8/21/16)

Outside the day was as gray as my hair appeared in the mirror that morning, and I sighed just thinking about it.cloudy.jpg

“I’m not nearly as morose as I sound,” I thought, but the enticing dreariness was convincing me otherwise. “It’s a dark day,” I said to my mirrored reflection. “But so what? We all have dark days. The sun can’t shine brightly every day.”

It’s easy to go with the mood of the day—to slide into cynicism and negativity. Why not? Who cares? Gray days are meant for gray moods, aren’t they?

Gray is that inbetween color—including all the multi-shaded variations ranging from blackest black to whitest white. There are a lot more gray areas than there are the polargray shades.jpg extremes wherever you look—whatever you see. Even silver is just light gray buffed to a high shine. There’s nothing wrong with gray. If you could actually see their true hair colors, some of my best friends are going gray. My favorite cat is gray and white. My favorite slacks outfit is gray. (Well, it’s not really my favorite, but it looks sharply astute.) That’s what gray does for you. It gives you subtle distinction.

So I was having a “subtle distinction” day. Yeah, I could go with that.

That definitely describes it better than calling it a “gray” day. A “subtle distinction” day is a day devoted to nuances rather than contrast, detached engagement rather than enthusiastic support, and perhaps even contemplative acquiescence rather than flat out refusals.

Today was the day for “maybe.” Today was the “perhaps” of lingered consideration. Today stood mootly by with glazed expression and simply said, “I AM, …or I think I AM, …if I don’t think too hard.”

Gray days are for indecision. They celebrate fence-sitting, hem-hawing, shrugging shoulders, sagging heads, blank stares, mumbled responses, luke-warm coffee, and melted ice cream.

At lunchtime a gray day will promote clerk indifference, order confusion, bad choices, and frustrated.jpgsitting in ketchup.

At dinner, you will see crabby faces, hear stinging comments about your cooking, and you will wish that you lived alone.

Gray is for quiet contemplation far away from the nasty attitudes of others.

Gray is for monastery cubicles lined with slender white candles that allow you to watch melting candle wax slowly fill the pewter holder until it spills onto the shelf and then the floor knowing that the residents won’t scold you for not blowing out the candle sooner.

Gray is for stupor—for simple, unabridged “nothing” existing between the ears.spouses.jpg

Gray is grumbling spouses and cranky workmates, all in the same day.

Gray is finding, as you are ready to leave for work in the morning, that your garbage bag has been shredded in the night by the neighbor’s dog.

Gray is having your toddler sit on your lap with a wet, leaking diaper when you are already 10 minutes late for an appointment.

Gray is discovering an ironing rack full of clothes to press and none in your closet to wear.crabby woman.jpg

Gray is welcoming your new neighbors with open arms before realizing that they like staying in your house better than their own.

Gray is having Sunday buffet with in-laws that smilingly criticize your every thought, word, and deed.

Gray is the smell of something rotten when you open the front door after a two-week, summer vacation and remembering that you meant to put the newly-purchased hamburger into the freezer rather than on the counter beside it.cat in litter.jpg

Gray is having a cat that occasionally “misses” the litter box and leaves little “Uh-oh, better cover this up,” front paw tracks up the stairs, through the foyer and onto the livingroom carpet, before nesting in your favorite recliner.

Gray is for taking a deep breath and helplessly watching that 3rd button from the top pop off your blouse while meeting your new employer.

Gray is for shaking your head in disbelief at how every stoplight changes to red, just as you approach them.vaccum grass

 

Clearly, a gray day is meant for thinking all these gray thoughts, and then laughing at the craziness you call your life.

Selling a Narrative

This morning while reading through some previously-shared, philosophicalAlberto.jpg Facebook posts, I reread this caption:

“When we enter infinity, the past and future are stripped away and only the here and now exists. We are no longer bound to the painful stories from our past, and our future is no longer scripted by our history. We realize that we are not our stories.”Alberto Villoldo

And because that same subject matter actually applied to my last blog post on Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, Alberto’s last sentence reverberated in my thoughts: “We realize that we are not our stories.”

narrativeSatin Island was about examining the psycho-social science involved in “selling a narrative”—selling a story about the world we live in—a story about ourselves and our relationship/responsibility to that world we all share.

The key belief that almost all religions of the world share is the need for a “Creation Myth”—a story—a narrative, if you will, of how everything and everyone came into being on this planet: i.e., Who pushed the button to make it all happen and what wahands ball of fire.pngs the reasoning involved in the decision to do so.

The “WHO” in those Creation Myths may have many different names throughout the world. And the “reasoning” for such creation is often speculation at best.

Along with that Creation Myth for each religion there quickly follows the “governing rules” for living in harmony and/or conflict with every other being co-existing at that same time.

dao creationThe problem with so many creation myths and those governing rules that soon follow them is that they differ in small or large part from each other. This creates confusion as to which “Creation Myth” and corresponding rules are the TRUTH, which of course by elimination in that TRUTH category, must make the others false.

Herein lies the battle among world religions as to which religion is TRUTH above all others, with the resulting inference being that if THIS religion is the TRUE one, then all others are falsehoods, pitting devoted believers of one religion against the others.sign.jpg

But the actual TRUTH here is that all Creation Myths and governing rules are merely narratives created by human interpreters of Higher Intention; and the believers of those interpreted narratives have actually been “sold” on them in some way, or they would not believe what they are reading or being told.

That’s not to say that the “selling of a narrative” was a questionable practice—even for a Creation Myth. It is to say that what we tell ourselves about our own lives or about the world we live them in is a story that we buy into for one reason or another.

belief sign.pngAnd if, as Alberto says, we free ourselves from our history and our previous stories, we can change our future, because we are NOT our stories. We are NOT tied to our past. We are NOT limited by our personal or world belief systems when we open our minds and hearts to direct experiencing of TRUTH itself

TRUTH is NOT a story—it is NOT a narrative.

TRUTH is a lightwave frequency of such harmonious vibration that when we raise our personal vibration high enough our energy fields immediately slide into perfect resonance with it—we FEEL it on a far deeper level—and we KNOW that it is TRUTH. We don’t have to be told that it is. We don’t have to buy into anyone’s narrative to explain our veryknow truth existence.

We can FEEL TRUTH—OUR TRUTH.

So as Alberto mentions, when we reach that highest level of resonance with Higher Intention, the past and the future simply slip away; and we are left there in that harmonious moment resonating with immediately-recognizable higher TRUTH. That is when we know OUR TRUTH.

As he said: “We are NOT our stories.” We are beyond mere words and explanations created by limited minds with limited understandings telling us what our lives mean and how we should live them in accordance to their governing rules.

Beyond all human limitations, we ARE TRUTHever expanding—ever extending toward greater awareness and greater comprehension.

highest authorityAnd if you ever feel that you don’t quite fit into what others say you should be doing or what you should be thinking, then don’t sell yourself that old narrative.

Create a new one—a NEW TRUTH—just for you.

JOY!

During this night of deepest darkness she heard a voice sayingjoy1.jpg: “Let there be JOY!”

“Joy?” she said to the emptiness around her, “Joy now? Joy after all of this—this loss—this sadness? This is NOT a time for JOY!”

The voice calmly said, “JOY for ALL time and ALL places.

JOY for the meek and the mild.

JOY for the downtrodden and the derelict.

JOY for the desperate and the despairing.

Let there be JOY!”

“But how?” she cried. “How can I feel JOY after all of this death and destruction?”

The voice was silent for a moment, and just when she began to question herself that she had ever heard the voice at all, it spoke again:

“JOY is the light in any darkened room. It is the rising of fallen spirits. joy3.jpgIt is the underlying laughter in each breath of life.

JOY is the music of your soul’s purest essence.

JOY is the child’s uncompromised innocence and the expectation of goodness with every new discovery.

JOY is the heart so clear and light that it bursts with happiness at the sun rising.

JOY is always there awaiting you. Open the door and let me in.”

Again she scanned the too familiar bedroom so full of memories and emotions, and again saw no one speaking. “Who are you?” she finally whispered.

“JOY!” the voice sang with exuberance. “I am JOY!   I exist!   I am here with you always. Let me in.”

By now she was certain that she’d already had too many drinks trying to kill the deepest pain and all else was hallucination, however, the tiny spark of curiosity within her disheveled mind sent her to the tarnished door handle; and she opened the bedroom door.

The darkened hallway looked the same as usual, and the long night’s silence was broken only by the ticking of her old analog clock beside the bed. After looking up and down the empty hallway, she closed the bedroom door again and turned to the window beside the bed.

She walked over to the window and parted the curtains to stare out into rising sun.jpgthe night. Beyond the barren trees of winter a distant horizon was appearing and the earliest rays of dawn were peeking through the darkness before her. She had successfully made it through the sleepless night once again. No matter how dark the moment or how difficult sleeping became, the new day was dawning before her now and she was watching it appear. As the growing light overpowered the receding night, she stood there for some time—longer than she could fathom, watching it all unfold before she heard the voice again saying:

“I am JOY! I am the beautiful sunrise after an endless night. I am the light ever-building across this land. I am here—right here—right now—waiting for you. Just open your heart and let me in.”

A tear began to slide down her cheek, and she let it run nearly to her chin before wiping it off with her sleeve.

“New day,” the voice said. “New sun on the rise.”

She nodded, “New day,” she repeated. “New sun, but….”

choose joy“I am JOY!” the voice crooned encouragingly. “I am JOY! Say it.”

Tears were streaming effortlessly now—sobs erupted from her chest, and as her knees began to buckle she sat back heavily onto the bed.

“Empty your heart of sadness to clear the space for me. Let the sun shine now into the darkness of your sorrow to light the way for your new day. …I am JOY!” it repeated with emphasis.

“I am JOY,” she mumbled unconvincingly. Then after a few more tissues and a deeper breath she said it again, “I am JOY.”

The night was fast giving way to the strength of the rising sun, and soon a golden ball of brightness appeared above the distant hills—a light so bright that eyes could not contain it, but her heart could feel it filling with a soothing warmth and a unusual sense of peace. She stood, parting the curtains again to view the new day birthing before her now.

“I am JOY,” she repeated to the window pane with greater hope than before. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky she repeated it even louder, “I am JOY!”joy2.jpg

“I AM JOY!” she suddenly yelled and scared herself at the intensity of the lifeforce behind the statement. Where had that come from?

Again, she looked about the room void of a presence beyond her own and asked, “But what am I to do without him?”

A lilting laughter sang between her ears, and the voice said, “Just let there BE Joy!”

 

Rejection Redux

Rejection is a little like Acid Reflux; …it just keeps coming back up, especially when you lie down at night and try to sleep.

pain of rejectionRejection is the sort of thing no one wants to experience even once, let alone again and again. But for some folks, feeling like no one wants any part of you may seem standard fare. And it doesn’t feel very good when that lump of humiliation sticks in your throat.

If this situation feels like you might own it, then there is the possibility that the word “seems” could mean there may be a perception problem in your social interactions—and perhaps you only “think” that others are rejecting you when actually most folks around us are so completely self-absorbed that if you aren’t a mirror or their iphone, you simply aren’t going to be seen by them no matter what you do.

Then there is the other evidential possibility that for some unknown (or even known) reason, you are being avoided and pushed aside like yesterday’s fashion. For that possibility, you may need a little more research on WHY this might be happening to you.

However, if it is in Junior High or even High School that these rejections are occurring, then being ostracized or avoided is not that unusual as during that time period everyone is trying to discover their own identity, and yet still fit in with similar-acting or -looking kids. Those in adolescence who fail to conform to the rules of “popularity” are often ridiculed or made to feel sub-human. That doesn’t make it right—it just makes it normal.

It was SO normal when I was a teen, that Janis Ian even wrote a song about it way back when that made her an easy million dollars if not more, over the years, called “At Seventeen.” She’s even on Wikipedia—check her out. I’ll put the lyrics on here and every time you think you’re being reduced to an afterthought by another whiney-voiced, snob sneering, “Who are you anyway?” then you just listen to Janis Ian’s song and think: “Yeah, and she made a wad out of that whole rejection-thing. She laughed all the way to the bank, and still IS laughing because Oldies stations are still playing the song once in awhile.”

In other words, Janis Ian made that nasty, humiliating, adolescent character-building, rejection-experience work for her. And so can you.

“At number oneSeventeen

I learned the truth at seventeen, That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles Who married young and then retired.
The valentines I never knew, The Friday night charades of youth,
Were spent on one more beautiful. At seventeen I learned the truth.

And those of us with ravaged faces Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home, Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say – Come dance with me, And murmured vague obscenities.
It isn’t all it seems, …at seventeen.

A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs,Whose name I never could pronounce
Said – Pity please the ones who serve They only get what they deserve.
The rich-relationed hometown queen, Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company And haven for the elderly.

So remember those who win the game Lose the love they sought to gain,
In debentures of quality and dubious integrity. Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment-due Exceeds accounts-received, at seventeen.

To those of us who knew the pain Of valentines that never came,
And those whose names were never called When choosing sides for basketball.
It was long ago and far away The world was younger than today,
When dreams were all they gave for free To ugly duckling girls like me.

We all play the game, and when we dare We cheat ourselves at solitaire.
Inventing lovers on the phone, Repenting other lives unknown,
That call and say – Come on, dance with me And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, …..at seventeen.”

Janis is now nearing retirement. I bet as she sits back and counts all her money, she thanks ALL THOSE happy faceJERKS she once knew in adolescence for that rich portfolio of song-writing material created back then.

Rejection is never fun, but it’s okay. It just makes it easier to see your own unique beauty.

Look at the smile on her face now.