Tag Archives: cognition

Déjà Vu “Explained” 3 Ways, But Still Super Bizarre

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 1.57.59 PMHave you ever that eerie, ineffable feeling that “you’ve been here before.” The feeling might be triggered by something someone says, or by a series of events, a scent, taste, or texture. It may hit you all at once or perhaps dawn on you slowly as a conversation unfolds.

It’s such a common experience, you’d think there would be some good research out there to explain the phenomenon. But there are several difficulties that get in the way. For one, you can’t induce déjà vu or predict when it will come about. And researchers aren’t prepared to just sit around waiting for it to happen. Even if they did, it would be hard to tell if any two people experience déjà vu in the same way.

There are several theories out there, though, which attempt to offer insight into, if not completely explain, the bizarre phenomenon. This enlightening TedEducation video outlines three such theories, with awesome animation to accompany.

What do you think déjà vu is? Do any of these theories adequately explain it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Deepak Chopra: Can We Influence Our Own Evolution?

Is evolution a complex process that we have nothing to do with, or is there any way we can actually influence our own evolution? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak explores how can we influence human evolution as well as the evolution of the cosmos.

Our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, cognition, internal mental activity, and behavior changes in every moment. The neural architecture of our brain responds to both internal and external reactions which we create through our own choices. Thus, as we think, feel and emote – we affect the expression of our genes and expression of genes in others. Your genes are activated right now watching this video, and we are influencing each other, and thus, in a sense, influencing evolution.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and never stop activating your curiosity!

Deepak Chopra: The Mystery of Memory

How do we recall a memory and where does it disappear to once we’ve remembered it? Do we exist in our brains or are they tools of our consciousness? In this week’s episode of “The Rabbit Hole” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra explores the mysterious world of our memories and where they live in our brain.

So, do you remember what you had for dinner last night? How about the house you lived in as a child? Or the way you felt the first time you heard your favorite song? If these memories exist as waves of potential, there for us to recall at any moment, then our entire past, present, and future may be more simultaneously interwoven then we thought.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak Chopra’s recent book Super Brain for more on memory and the brain!

Has Science Discovered the Answer to Eternal Youth?

Scented PinkOurs is a culture that values youth and childlike beauty above anything else, even to the point of neglecting our elderly population. Not only do we covet the strength and flexibility of a spry body, but we obsess over youthful beauty and go to inordinate lengths to maintain it well into aging. Well, forget about plastic surgery and face creams – what if there were a way to not only live longer and look younger, but to actually stay young throughout your life?

We aren’t making any promises, but Nature science journal recently published findings linking the activities of the hypothalamus to the process of aging. Early trials have been conducted on mice, but if applied to humans it could change the way doctors approach age-related illness and measures for increasing longevity. The study has discovered correlations between inflammation, stress responses, and aging all localized in the hypothalamus, which could suggest that reducing the one would alleviate the other, etc.

The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that regulates hormones associated with temperature, sleep, hunger, blood pressure, sex drive, and moods, as well as the release of hormones from various glands, including the pituitary gland. The complex nature of the brain is such that we can’t draw a simple line between stress and aging or even inflammation and aging, when a host of hormones and neurological factors are at play. Several things can be said, though, about the effects of stress on the body, which meditation and other mind-calming techniques have been shown to help alleviate.

Stress can increase blood pressure, slow digestion, increase heart rate, and cause muscle to tense, along with other problems. And the latest research on meditation, the brain, and overall health suggests that the practice may reduce these stress-related effects, as well as improve the immune system, cognitive function, and control of the nervous system.

We look forward to further research on this subject! We hope that in the near future much will be uncovered about the potential to reduce age-related suffering, whether through mindfulness practices like meditation, or even through manipulating hormones in the hypothalamus. After all, wrinkles and grey hair are marks of wisdom and rich life experience, but we could just as soon do without the pain and illness that often goes along with aging.

What do you think? Take a look at the studies on your own and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Keeping Cool When Mind is On Fire

There’s thinking… and there’s thinking about thinking as a stream of thoughts…

Think about it…

Here goes a thought… Here goes another… And so it goes… On and on and on…

Consciousness has been compared to a river: like a river, mind flows, from one thought to another, incessantly, irrevocably…

Here’s one of the thoughts that Buddhism built its psychological salvation on: "there has never been a thought that didn’t go away."

Hmm…

No need to try to not think about what I don’t want to think about! No need to resist the thoughts that I am already having! No need to push the thoughts I don’t like out! No need to do anything but stay and watch the thoughts go… After all, if it’s true that there’s never been a thought that didn’t go away, why do the river’s work? The river knows how to flow…

Wow…

"There’s never been a thought that didn’t go away…"

What if… what if I let go of every thought except this one? What if all I thought was "there’s never been a thought that didn’t go away?" What would that be like?!

So, here I’d sit, on the bank of this babbling brook of consciousness, watching thoughts pass, thinking "there’s never been a thought that didn’t go away." What would that be like?!

Swami Vivekananda, in writing about Dattatreya, the author of Advahuta Gita, a Vedanta text on Nonduality, wrote: "Men like the one who wrote this Song <…> they care for nothing, they feel nothing done to the body, care not for heat, cold, danger, or anything. They sit still <…> and though red-hot coals burn the body, they feel them not." (1)

Such people are sometimes called "non-returners" – having left the stream of consciousness, having found a place in the shade of the meta-cognitive distance, on the bank of this babbling brook of consciousness, they never re-enter the river of the experience. They think of thoughts as thoughts, and, thus, remain un-touched by the never-ceasing evanescence of their mind-states…

Is that possible?

Journalist Malcolm Brown witnessed one such "non-returner" in 1963 when a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc performed an act of self-immolation. The man sat down, poured gasoline over himself and lit himself up. What’s amazing – to me – is not the cause, not even the decision, but what happened after… Nothing happened: the man sat, in a lotus position, while burning alive. The skin of his face coagulating in flames… Dying… Burning alive…

Thich – a real, historically-documented non-returner… He didn’t return because he never left the place of his here-and-now presence…. even with a river of pain-lava flowing through his mind…

How’s that possible?

It is.

Imagine you had a chance to ask Thich this very question: "How is this possible? How are you able to just sit while you are on fire?"

My guess, Thich would’ve asked in return: "What fire?"

"There’s never been a thought that didn’t go away…"

In this myriad of fleeting thoughts, perhaps, this one is the only one worth holding?

 

Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time" (New Harbinger, 2008)

www.eatingthemoment.com

Copyright 2009

 

References:

Jerry Katz, "One: Essential Writings on Nonduality," First Sentinent Publications, 2007.

Mind is Its Own Hostage

""There’s only one way out of prison, which is to set your jailer free."

Grebenschikov (The Time, Radio Silence, 1989 CBS Records).

Mind is its own hostage.

Each belief, each schema, each defense is both an adaptation and a handicap.

The very anchors that have helped you feel grounded may now hold you down with all the weight of their historical usefulness…

Yes, mind is its own hostage…

But mind is also its own search-and-rescue.

Take a look at what of what you are is no longer you…

 

Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal a Time" (New Harbinger, 2008) www.eatingthemoment.com  Copyright, 2009

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