Thursday, January 10, 2008
A Delicate Network
Cohesion and Integration
Your reading these words is actually a delicate operation in progress right now in your brain. Essentially what you're seeing has been reduced to a patchwork of signals, a number of electronic sparks, and in the brain sectors of the highly visual brain are being stimulated by what you see. Other sectors, such as the temporal lobes that are the seat of memory, are then stimulated in response to what we see, so that we, in a sense know (by association) what we are seeing. These stimulations, which are thousands upon thousands of nerves firing in rapidly varying waves of unique patterns, is how you see what you see right now. Seeing ignites a delicate network, but this blue flame of energy roiling in a quadrant of your brain is more than just a sensitive network.
The front part of the brain is the CEO, the director, the pilot of your brain and thoughts. If you were to put a sensor on this part of your brain, and you were to read the impulse stream, you would see a lot of very high spikes. If someone walked into the room, you would see the equivalent of a dramatic spike in amplitude. Any images that inspire thoughts or emotions, any color that activates a sensation, causes the delicate fabric of ultra-fine nerves to fire in a greater number in various patterns, showing high oscillations in brain wave patterns depending on the nature of the stimulus.
In sharp contrast, the rear sector of the brain is not engaged in decision making,it has no activators such as aggression or compassion. When we close our eyes, the front sector of the brain shuts down, and the rear sector is activated. Memories bubble to the surface from our temporal lobes. Amazingly, when we meditate, which is is not a state of sleep, but a state of alert thoughtlessness, the front sectors reactivate, and the wave motions of the front and rear, in fact the entire brain, begin to move in sync. Individual waves widen from sharp and narrow spikes, to swarming intelligence that is cohesively integrated. You may think this is nice to know, but there is far more to it than that.
Criminals are shown to have entire sectors of their brain that have shut down. Some parts are overstimulated, other parts are like dead canyons. Meditation is a way to reactivate, re-balance the brain, and thus, the behaviours the brain determine. An experiment with prisoners in Senegal showed how effective this technique can be. 96% of criminals released were returning to jail as repeat offenders. By having prisoners meditate, this figure was wiped down to a mere 6%.
It has been demonstrated that meditation can increase:
Long and short term memory
Happiness (thus a way of combating Depression and other Mental Illnesses)
Meditation is interchangeable with prayer. It is an unfocused alertness, where one tunes in to one's inner nature, one's being. It is a state of listening, of awareness, of experiencing the pattern of ourselves in the universe.
Young children can innately connect themselves to what is around them, but they then have to learn to focus, to narrow their perceptions - as we must - in order to learn our mother's faces, what is food, the alphabet, tasks, how devices work, etc. We increasingly learn the ability to focus, but lose the ability to connect in an unfocused way to ourselves, the world, and the universe, in terms of a broad perception as living beings connected to the world and other living beings. Meditation helps us to relearn this. Meditation in effect, helps us to reconnect to the world, through reconnections within ourselves. It is an inward journey. And it brings about inner cohesiveness and integration. These are words interchangeable with the word 'truth'.
Cohesion is essentially the same as congruence. Are the things we say the same as the things we do? Cohesion is a deeper experience of congruence, moving through more dimensions. Feelings, thoughts, emotions, decisions and actions all ought to reinforce one another. To the extent that their is cohesiveness, there must also be effective and efficient co-operation, mutualism and synergy.
Although cohesiveness is a substrate for integration, and integration for cohesiveness, they are not necessarily the same thing, and can exist without the other. An integrated system might still want to break away from itself if it is not cohesive (think of a computer with a virus, or a team with a loose canon as a member). And a cohesive group or system can also work well together but nevertheless be encouraged to work independently in order to develop various responses, and then to find value in that kind of variety and diversity.
The answer is to have both high levels of cohesiveness and integration. This starts in the brain, and sees Harmony as its highest level of functionality. Harmony implies self realisation at a maximal level.
I have tested this harmonious brain function state myself whilst at university. I listened to specially chosen classical music pieces that placed my brain waves in a particular state of consistent arousal. I was able to achieve a very high average even though I was unable to attend classes as I was studying a different course in a different city. During a very short period of time I was able to absorb and render a large amount of detail.
The Delicate Network of the brain presents an analogy for corporate structures, ecosystems and other scenarios in the world. Integration and cohesion requires an internal approach, the ability to correspond to the self, and then reconnect outwardly. This is a powerful way to address the imbalances in the world, and a means to enrich all that is impoverished in our world.
For more info, go here and here.