Did you know people on the other side of the world are patterning our minds.

Can we live without being influenced by our surrounding and be an island to ourselves where no outside influence can affect us? I don’t think so. If we believe that we cannot  BUT be influenced by our environment, our culture, our neighbours, our leaders, our religion, our family, our friends  by the media than doesn’t it make sense that we conduct ourselves in such a way that its beneficial to both our society and ourselves? ( or if you like ourselves and our society?).

In my previous posts I mentioned how by interaction with others we are patterning our mind to react or behave in a particular way. But our quality of interaction and the kind of relationship we have with each other is dependent on the kind of cultures and societies we live in. This means our cultures and social structures can activate and pattern our minds, too. In our fast paced , competitive society we are going to be interacting and stimulating different patterns in each of us than if we were in slower , more contented societies.

Does it not than follow that we have to think about ourselves radically differently than “island among ourselves.” It would be more accurate to think about ourselves as “mutually influencing beings” ? So on individual level, our irritation with each other will raise our stress and increase our vulnerability to range of health problems and to social discord, while our kindness to each other will lower our stress and impact positively on our well-being and increase our social safeness. At a societal level mental illness and criminality are born from complicated genetic, social mentality and cultural/ social interactions. At international level , the ways in which our societies operate, seek goods and services, secure trade agreements and enable international companies to extract huge profits from stock markets will greatly affect the lives and pattern the minds of people far away. Clearly we are all connected , even to those we have not met and are far away on the other side of the world.

So we have a choice of either encouraging selfish tribal behaviour in ourselves and try to be an ” island among ourselves” or we can choose a compassionate approach that’s more thoughtful of others.  Ideally, of course , we want to  blend our interest and interest of others. We will have to reflect and think carefully about our values and try to be the ‘best we can be’ but at the same time, not ruthlessly exploitative.

 

Resources:

The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert.

http://www.flickr.com

The Question: Who Am I ?

Most of us have asked the question who am I ? or  at the very least have asked some form of this question. The question usually occurs to us when we are in a pensive mood or maybe even a depressed mood. Sometimes we take time out to discover the ‘real self’ or ‘the real me.’ I am sorry to say there is no real self or real me, either physically or mentally. It is an illusionary concept at best. We don’t even have a single atom left in our bodies that we were born with, we are constantly changing and replenishing. Our sense of  ‘being’ comes from the patterns created in our physical brain. If for some reason part of the brain gets damaged then our sense of self will become very different.

In the previous posts I hinted that our brain and mind is the product of our evolution. We are not in full control of our mind. It is governed partly by the ancient strategies that have survival value and have been evolving since the beginning of time (or life); as well it is governed by our archetypes, desires, motives, fears , abilities and talents. Our mind has matured into a ‘complex entity’ , with rainbow of possibilities. It knows ‘we exist’, it can explore the nature of the universe, it is capable of great clarity , compassion, charity , love and kindness; but it has a dark side too, it is also capable of rage , violence and torture.

We are patterns of great complexity, a rainbow of many colours and the point of introspection is not so much as to find a particular colour but to find a way to blend all the colours and  stretch across the horizon like a beautiful rainbow. A family is not just children, mum , dad, uncles, aunts and grandparents but all of them delicately connected and integrated together. Similarly we can think of ourself not as a single self  but as a consciousness that is textured by a multi-faceted , multicoloured set of possibilities. The trick is to connect and integrate different ‘parts’ of ourself so we can love, be loved, be compassionate, be patient, without fear, be at peace and live with ease.

Next I will post some thoughts on Jungian archetypes and social mentalities; until then have a mindful life.

Resources

The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=rainbow+photograph&qpvt=rainbow+photograph&FORM=Z7FD#x0y0

http://flickrhivemind.net/

Learning to thrive with uncertainty is the root of creativity.

I mentioned in my previous post that integration is the basis for health. I explained integration as a situation where all the differentiated parts are  linked together and the information between these parts flow in a flexible, free and harmonious way. So when a brain or a relationship is well-integrated and therefore healthy ,then all of the different centres, each dealing with a unique information or function, are connected and the information flows between them is flexible, free and harmonious.   To understand the dynamics of living creative and healthy life some have suggested a “river of integration” as a metaphor for our flow through life in which the central flow of the river the movement of harmony, and the banks of the river represents the states of chaos and rigidity when we are not in an integrated flow. I should mention that integration is not a state we arrive at and then stay there for ever; rather the integration is a life long process, not a final product. Our life continuously flows and unfolds towards intentional integration but never reaches a fixed endpoint, so we are truly on a journey of growth, understanding and wisdom.

If we are always in the middle of the river where one is fully integrated, life would flow along without much stress or upheaval. In real life the opportunities for growth, creativity,understanding and wisdom comes when we move towards both banks of the river of integration, towards chaos and rigidity; but not get stuck there for long periods of time. On the banks there is uncertainty of chaos and rigidity, one has to be open to see reality in a new way and discover new solutions or insights for growth and creativity.

The romantic notion of an artist’s having to suffer personal pain and turmoil to produce wonderful art is dispelled with careful studies of their inclination and output. The artistic expression is only one form of creativity; here we are viewing creativity as a much larger concept. It includes not only the outward production of art but also includes a deep inward experience of living a creative life. What does it mean to live a deep creative life? It is a notion of way of being. It is being receptive and open to ourselves and others; ready to receive and ready to connect; it means letting go of preexisting judgements and expectations; it means experiencing energy flow within us which give rise to fresh perception, new perspective, and spontaneous gesture. It means having a mindful awareness. It means open to experience as it arises without being swept up by judgements or automatic processes that dominate our perceptions of the whole.We have an habitual inclination to avoid sensing and experiencing with a fresh and open mind, perhaps to gain a sense of control and certainty. But we need to embrace  uncertainty. Learning to thrive with uncertainty is the root of creativity.

Sometimes we get stuck in familiar and repetitive habits that becomes our imprisonment ( cohesive way of being). We may have a fixed view of ourselves which is cohesive and logical stating who we are  and why we are here but not being open to further change; we may experience repeated uncontrollable emotions and impulsive reaction to others which overwhelms us and we pass it off as “hot under the collar” or we may put it down to ” prone to meltdown or rages”. This kind of repeated behaviour gives us rigid patterns to our personality that keep us stuck in rigidity and chaos. The allure to staying in these pattern is certainty and familiarity of the same behaviour;  an attempt to avoid uncertainty. But it is destructive and often create impediment to health and creativity.

In mindful awareness one has to be open and present , in the “here and now” ; the experiences in this way of being are not controllable, not certain, and often not familiar. It requires courage to face the unknown and not withdraw into the familiar destructive habits.  Dr . Daniel J. Siegel in his book Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology puts it this way…

…” Applying this approach to integration is a creative act from the inside out. Living creatively is not about creating a product, but living a life fully present and open to things as they are. Living creatively is also filled with the thrill of possibility and the gratitude for this miracle of being alive. As the self emerges in these new ways with integration, being generous and kind is a natural outcome – towards others, and with ourselves. Beginning with ourselves and extending our open mind to others, integration becomes a way of being present that opens the doors to healthy and creative ways of being in the world.”

Resources:

Daniel J. Siegel -Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology 

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