Hemisphere Hopping

This weekend is a yoga workshop I’m attending, but we talked about this video yesterday, so I thought I’d share with you all. The power of the two hemispheres is fantastic.

Here’s a bit of what we talked about:

Left brain – “The files of that which I know.”

When our minds think of the past and future they must fantasize, write a narrative.

The left brain handles the language centres. It’s where all our internal chattering comes from. When meditating, you are (attempting) to turn off the left brain and use only the right.

Systems are developed in the left brain. For instance, we know 1+1=2. That is a system. All judgements and labels come from here.

Right brain – experiential focal point. i.e. the heart in Chinese medicine as the emotional centre is equivalent to the right brain.

The right brain deals only with this moment.

The left brain “hijacks” the moment and turns it into a narrative, tells you what you’re experiencing. Your detailed understanding of the moment comes from the left brain, but the understanding of the eternity of this moment is the right brain.

“We are all one” comes from the right brain.

The level of unconscious of the world is what allows troubles to arise. If we could all learn to utilize each side of our brain at the appropriate moments, or “tap in” to the right brain we would be able to handle situations better, and understand the world better. The left brain forces your experiences to act as if they already know everything. Your right brain tells you that you know nothing. Imagine experiencing everything as if it was the first time you’ve experienced it. Go into the world with the eyes of a child. Innocence, openness, nonjudgemental, forgiving – all qualities of the right brain.

Any intention you set is handled differently by each hemisphere. The left side solidifies, solidifies, solidifies, as though building a brick house and each brick is a different detail. The right brain will leave it to manifestation, let it come to you. For instance, you have an intention to travel to Thailand. Your left brain would calculate how much money you need, when to take time off work, book the flights, etc. whereas your right brain would just let it pan out, let it happen. In a way the right brain is attraction, where what you think and feel and want will be attracted to you. So if you think about going to Thailand, and let your body experience that desire, you may get a phone call saying, “We’re looking for a yoga teacher in Thailand, so we’ve called you. You won’t get paid too much, but we’ll cover your living costs and food.” And suddenly, it’s there. Take the path of least resistance.

This is a beautiful system of thinking, that connects to so much, nadis, Tao, energy work, manifestation, attraction, yoga, and so much more.

What does this all mean? I’m not entirely certain. But, it’s a building block in how we can make ourselves and our world happier, easier, and more comfortable. How we can get along with each other. It all links back to empathy, too.

Anyway, that’s just touching the surface, but comments are always welcome! What do you think?

The Nature of Reality – Conversation between Tagore and Einstein

The Nature of Reality – Conversation between Tagore and Einstein

(A transcript of the conversation between Rabindranath Tagore and Professor Albert Einstein on 14th July, 1930, at the latter’s residence in Kaputh)
Borrowed from: http://www.myspace.com/iamasmartmathguy/blog/251373954

Einstein : Do you believe in the Divine as isolated from the world?

Tagore : Not isolated. The infinite personality of Man comprehends the Universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the Universe is human truth. I have taken a scientific fact to explain this. Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them, but matter may seem to be solid without the links in spaces which unify the individual electrons and protons. Similarly humanity is composed of individuals, yet they have their interconnection of human relationship, which gives living unity to man’s world. The entire universe is linked up with us, as individuals, in a similar manner – it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man.

Einstein : There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe -the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as a reality independent of the human factor.

Tagore :  When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.

Einstein : This is the purely human conception of the universe.

Tagore : There can be no other conception. This world is a human world – the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from us does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon our consciousness. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it truth, the standard of the Eternal Man whose experiences are through our experiences.

Einstein : This is a realization of the human entity.

Tagore : Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realized the Supreme Man who has no individual limitations through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals, it is the impersonal human world of truths. Religion realizes these truths and links them up with our deeper needs; our individual consciousness of truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to truth, and we know this truth as good through our own harmony with it.

Einstein : Truth, then, or beauty is not independent of man?

Tagore : No.

Einstein : If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.

Tagore : No!

Einstein : I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.

Tagore : Why not? Truth is realized through man.

Einstein : I cannot prove that my conception is right, but that is my religion.

Tagore : Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the Universal Being, Truth the perfect comprehension of the Universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, – through our illumined consciousness – how, otherwise, can we know Truth?

Einstein : I cannot prove that scientific truth must be conceived as a truth that is valid independent of humanity; but I believe it firmly. I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man. Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter.

Tagore : Truth, which is one with the Universal Being, must essentially be human; otherwise whatever we individuals realize as true can never be called truth, at least the truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic, in other words, by an organ of thoughts which is human. According to Indian philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute Truth which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can only be realized by completely merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance, that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind and therefore is human, and may be called Maya or illusion.

Einstein : So according to your conception, which may be the Indian conception, it is not the illusion of the individual but of humanity as a whole.

Tagore : In science we go through the discipline of eliminating the personal limitations of our individual minds and thus reach that comprehension of truth which is in the mind of the Universal Man.

Einstein : The problem begins whether truth is independent of our consciousness.

Tagore : What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the super-personal man.

Einstein : Even in our everyday life, we feel compelled to ascribe a reality independent of man to the objects we use. We do this to connect the experiences of our senses in a reasonable way. For instance, if nobody is in this house, yet that table remains where it is.

Tagore : Yes, it remains outside the individual mind but not the universal mind. The table which I perceive is perceptible by the same kind of consciousness which I possess.

Einstein : Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack – no primitive beings even. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity, it is indispensable for us, this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind – though we cannot say what it means.

Tagore : Science has proved that the table as a solid object is an appearance and therefore that which the human mind perceives as a table would not exist if that mind were naught. At the same time it must be admitted that the fact that the ultimate physical reality is nothing but a multitude of separate revolving centres of electric force, also belongs to the human mind. In the apprehension of truth there is an eternal conflict between the universal human mind and the same mind confined in the individual. The perpetual process of reconciliation is being carried on in our science, philosophy, in our ethics. In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing. It is not difficult to imagine a mind to which sequence of things happens not in space but only in time like the sequence of notes in music. For such a mind such conception of reality is akin to the musical reality in which Pythagorean geometry can have no meaning. There is the reality of paper, infinitely different from the reality of literature. For the kind of mind possessed by the moth which eats that paper literature is absolutely non-existent, yet for man’s mind literature has a greater value of truth than the paper itself. In a similar manner if there be some truth which has no sensuous or rational relation to human mind, it will ever remain as nothing so long as we remain human beings.

Einstein : Then I am more religious than you are!

Tagore : My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being. This has been the subject of my Hibbert Lectures, which I have called “The Religion of Man.”

(Published in the January, 1931, issue of Modern Review)

Mind reading from brain recordings? ‘Neural fingerprints’ of memory associations decoded

Mind reading from brain recordings? ‘Neural fingerprints’ of memory associations decoded.

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2012) — Researchers have long been interested in discovering the ways that human brains represent thoughts through a complex interplay of electrical signals. Recent improvements in brain recording and statistical methods have given researchers unprecedented insight into the physical processes under-lying thoughts. For example, researchers have begun to show that it is possible to use brain recordings to reconstruct aspects of an image or movie clip someone is viewing, a sound someone is hearing or even the text someone is reading.

A new study by University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University scientists brings this work one step closer to actual mind reading by using brain recordings to infer the way people organize associations between words in their memories.

The research was conducted by professor Michael J. Kahana of the Department of Psychology in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences and graduate student Jere-my R. Manning, then a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Group in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. They collaborated with other members of Kahana’s laboratory, as well as with research faculty at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Their study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The brain recordings necessary for the study were made possible by the fact that the participants were epilepsy patients who volunteered for the study while awaiting brain surgery. These participants had tiny electrodes implanted in their brains, which allowed researchers to precisely observe electrical signals that would not have been possible to measure outside the skull. While recording these electrical signals, the researchers asked the participants to study lists of 15 randomly chosen words and, a minute later, to repeat the words back in which-ever order they came to mind.

The researchers examined the brain recordings as the participants studied each word to home in on signals in the participant’ brains that reflected the meanings of the words. About a second before the participants recalled each word, these same “meaning signals” that were identified during the study phase were spontaneously reactivated in the participants’ brains.

Because the participants were not seeing, hearing or speaking any words at the times these patterns were reactivated, the researchers could be sure they were observing the neural signatures of the participants’ self-generated, internal thoughts.

Critically, differences across participants in the way these meaning signals were reactivated predicted the order in which the participants would recall the words. In particular, the degree to which the meaning signals were reactivated before recalling each word reflected each participant’s tendency to group similar words (like “duck” and “goose”) together in their recall sequence. Since the participants were instructed to say the words in the order they came to mind, the specific se-quence of recalls a participant makes provides insights into how the words were organized in that participant’s memory.

In an earlier study, Manning and Kahana used a similar technique to predict participants’ tendencies to organize learned information according to the time in which it was learned. Their new study adds to this research by elucidating the neural signature of organizing learned information by meaning.

“Each person’s brain patterns form a sort of ‘neural fingerprint’ that can be used to read out the ways they organize their memories through associations between words,” Manning said.

The techniques the researchers developed in this study could also be adapted to analyze many different ways of mentally organizing studied information.

“In addition to looking at memories organized by time, as in our previous study, or by meaning, as in our current study, one could use our technique to identify neural signatures of how individuals organize learned information according to appearance, size, texture, sound, taste, location or any other measurable property,” Manning said.

Such studies would paint a more complete picture of a fundamental aspect of human behavior.

“Spontaneous verbal recall is a form of memory that is both pervasive in our lives and unique to the human species,” Kahana said. “Yet, this aspect of human memory is the least well understood in terms of brain mechanisms. Our data show a direct correspondence between patterns of brain activity and the meanings of individual words and show how this neural representation of meaning predicts the way in which one item cues another during spontaneous recall.

“Given the critical role of language in human thought and communication, identifying a neural representation that reflects the meanings of words as they are spontaneously recalled brings us one step closer to the elusive goal of mapping thoughts in the human brain.”

The Will of a Particle

The Will of a Particle. Originally from taoareyou.com:

One of the more controversial aspects of quantum mechanics is the probability factor.  Basically, the properties of particles, such as position and momentum, are not known with certainly but rather estimated through complex mathematical formulas.  Einstein took issue with this, resulting in the famous quote, “I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.”

Of course Einstein was being metaphorical, since I don’t think he was professing his faith in a specific creator, but he was a man that did hold  beliefs.  He believed that all things have order and predictability.  To him, relying on probability just meant that somewhere, some understanding was missing.  Unfortunately, he died before he could find out what that was.  Even today, that search has never been completed.

When I think about this subject, I cannot approach it with the highly trained mathematical mind, but instead, I begin my visualization from a super-massive perspective rather than a sub-atomic one.  We look out at the universe.  We see our solar system, planets orbiting the sun, distant stars within the galaxy, other galaxies, galaxy clusters and so on.  Imagine if our consciousness was one that was looking down at our universe in the same manner we examine molecules.  This consciousness would likely be able to make predictions about the galaxies’ movements, and perhaps identify even smaller atoms, what we call solar systems.  Stars would be like tiny nuclei, planets would be like electrons zipping around them.  Then this consciousness would look deeper and note even smaller particles that make up the planets.

Us.  We are after all, technically a part of the planet.  Every piece of us was at sometime before us being used in a different capacity.  So how would the huge consciousness predictour movements?  What mathematical formula or principle governs our choices and our actions?    To it, would birth and death seem like parts of the Earth’s surface constantly bubbling in some chaotic manner?  Could it understand the meaning of societies or would it see it as some quantum flux?  What about our thoughts and emotions?  Would it even be able to see that we have our own sub-atomic world of wonder?

Depending on perspective, we are particles.  We like to think that we have no predictable formulas that apply to us.  At best our actions can be broken down into probabilities.  A profiler can look at different known factors and make predictions but they still cannot with certainty know in advance what we think or do.  That is our individual will.

But does will apply to our particles observed in quantum mechanics?  We have consciousness, an electron doesn’t.  Right?  This brings to mind Aristotle’s Metaphysics where he surmised, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”.  Electrons are particles that are part of who we are.  Still, like the electron, we are also tiny particles in the greater body of the Universe.  Yet we are conscious and make decisions that are at best a probability.

So is there a missing mathematical understanding that will link the world of quantum physics to the physics Einstein knew?  Or is quantum probability the foundation of consciousness?

Meditation Causes Brains To Grow

Meditation Causes Brains To Grow.

Plant food for the human brain. Sprinkle some meditation and watch as your grey matter expands, MRIs reveal. Reality Sandwich reports:

Last week, two University of Oregon scientists published new research confirming and expanding upon previous findings which supported the benefits of a Chinese meditation technique known as integrative body-mind training.

In the concrete physical dimension, the brains of subjects who consistently meditated for a month showed an increase in axonal density, or signaling connections, and growth of the protective fatty tissue known as myelin.

Researcher Michael Posner said, “This study gives us a much more detailed picture of what…is actually changing…we did confirm the exact locations of the white-matter changes that we had found previously. And now we show that both myelination and axon density are improving. The order of changes we found may be similar to changes found during brain development in early childhood.”

Yesterday was World Turtle Day!

Well I can’t believe I missed this, but I definitely missed World Turtle Day yesterday. I remember a teacher I had in high school, a very fantastic woman, who had a pet tortoise in the classroom, named Ortoise. He would wander around during class, so you had to make sure not to move your chair without looking, or put your feet down. Anyway, she was a great teacher, and I’ve always loved turtles anyway. So, here you go, a repost from Caitlin R. Kiernan, because she’s awesome, and there’s not much else I would want to say about it anyway:

Originally posted by greygirlbeast at World Turtle Day ’10

Yes, today was World Turtle Day. I suspect not a lot of Americans spend a lot of time thinking about turtles. But they’ve always been among my favorite reptiles, even when I include all those wonderful extinct groups. Indeed, turtles are a relic of an all but vanished branch of the Reptilia, the Parareptilia. Of all the many and varied forms of parareptiles that once thrived, only the Order Testudines (turtles and tortoises) survived beyond the Triassic Period. Long before the evolution of either lizards or snakes, there were turtles. There may have been turtles even before the first crocodylomorphs appeared in the Late Triassic. The oldest known turtle, Odontochelys semitestacea, was described in 2008 from 215/220-million-year-old fossils from the Late Triassic of Guizhou, China. Unlike all living (and most known fossil) turtles, Odontochelys had teeth.

Turtles are, evolutionarily and ecologically, a success story. They’ve survived two major extinction events (the Triassic-Jurassic extinction and the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction) and many less catastrophic mass extinctions. They’ve diversified, from terrestrial ancestors, to take advantage of fresh-water and marine environments, and many species (mostly within the Superfamily Testudinoidea) have returned to dry land, and include the modern tortoises and box turtles. Over the course of their evolution, turtles have produced some giants. The largest-known turtle is Archelon ischyros, from the Upper Cretaceous of North America, which was more than four meters (13.5 feet) long, and about 4.87 meters (16 feet) wide from flipper to flipper. The largest-known freshwater turtle, the living Asian softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii), is only about half that size, but still measures a very respectable six+ feet (about two meters) in length. The largest land species known is the bizarre horned Meiolania of Australia and New Caledonia, which reached lengths of eight and a half feet. And they are among the longest-lived of vertebrates, with some individuals of a few species boasting a longevity in the neighborhood of 200-250 years.

Estimates of the number of living turtle species vary widely, from 250 to 330 (depending of variations in classification schemes, and never mind species as yet discovered). And worldwide, an enormous number of these species are currently endangered or threatened. It has been estimated that about 75% of Asia’s ninety tortoise and freshwater turtle species have become threatened.* All marine species are endangered. And even those taxa not officially listed as endangered face vanishing habitat, climate change, human predation, and threats from pollution on such a scale that it’s not unreasonable to consider most living turtles in danger of extinction. Numerous species have already become extinct due to the actions of human beings.

Around the globe, turtles figure prominently in our myths, folktales, and religions. In Hindu mythology, the world is believed to rest on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the shell of a turtle. In Hinduism, Akupara is a tortoise who carries the world on his back. It upholds the Earth and the sea. But, in truth, at this point in the history of life of earth, the fate of all turtles (and elephants, for that matter) rests on the back of humanity. Will a single species of primates, and one that only dates back 195,000 years, be the end of a reptilian dynasty stretching back to the earliest days of the “Age of Reptiles”?

*Hilary Hylton, “Keeping U.S. Turtles Out of China,” Time Magazine, 2007-05-08.

(Portions of the entry were adapted from relevant Wikipedia articles.)

Yin and Yang – TCM Series

Tomorrow at 7pmSLT we are starting the in-depth traditional Chinese medicine series with a discussion on yin and yang! Below are the notes, which you can also get a copy of in world at the venue. The squares you’ll see are where textures exist, which are in the SL version and will be shown in world.

Next post is the intro notes for the discussion on Wednesday at LnL, 7pmSLT.

I’ve started reading “The Tao of Pooh” on Sunday’s at noonSLT, at my new home. You should come join us – it’s great fun and we all learn a lot. I also threw a house warming party last Sunday. It was great fun, with DJ Strix spinning the awesome tunes, and about 20 people came. I’m thinking I’ll be hosting another one of those some time, although maybe not soon.

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