Perspectives on the Brain – Introducing TED.com (and a little BrickhouseBodymind homework)

Written by Philip Walter on May 6 at 4:43 pm in weMINDculture

Integral perspectives on the brain.

Photo courtesy of
bionicteaching.

The purpose of this post is two-fold. 1) I want to introduce you guys to a terrific website at TED.com. 2) I want to prime your minds with a bit of homework for an article coming later this week on making all elements of your life better through the cultivation of mindfulness.

Last week my dad turned me on to a website called TED.com. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone interested in learning more about science, technology, art, design, business, culture, etc. The website’s subtitle is “Ideas worth spreading,” and it presents (completely free of charge) lectures on all aforementioned subjects by some very knowledgeable and compelling characters. The talke are generally around 20 minutes in length and are well worth the time.

So, homework assignment 1 – check out the following lecture from TED.com. If the player below doesn’t work for you, just follow this direct link. It’s 18 minutes 44 seconds.

Okay, how do you feel now? I for one was very enthralled by this talk. I can tell you I had a visceral reaction to her pulling out the actual brain and spinal cord there. The idea that so much flimsy meat is what controls everything my body does is at the same time astounding and a little sickening. It’s hard to imagine that lumpy mass with its slinky tail, housed inside the bony structures of my body is what makes my human awareness with all its exquisite obsessions possible.

And this brings me to my point. The integral approach seeks to understand life from all available perspectives. This lecture you’ve just watched is a perfect example of the different perspectives on the human mind.

  • There is an external, scientific perspective illustrated by bringing out the physical brain. This makes a lot of people (myself included) a little uncomfortable precisely because it reduces the special-ness of the human being to so much squishy flesh. It reminds us how vulnerable we really are.
  • There is an internal, personal perspective, which is what she describes as she experiences the stroke. Notice too, that this perspective changes as she goes back and forth from right-brain euphoria to left-brain panic.
  • There is finally an internal, interpersonal perspective illustrated by the phone call she makes to her colleague in an attempt to get help. Because of her situation, they have a difficult time communicating and agreeing on what’s happening in her head, but there is finally a mutual understanding that she needs help.

Now for homework assignment 2 – check out this video of Ken Wilber manipulating his brainwaves by meditating while hooked up to an EKG machine. It’s 10 minutes 10 seconds.

This again drives home the concept of multiple perspectives. What I really want you all to get a handle on before my next article on mindfulness is that our internal, personal experiences are inextricably linked to external, physical correlates. This is the mind-body connection we’ve all heard about for so long. It’s for real. Furthermore, this also works the other way. Our physical state of being manifests in our mental/emotional state of being.

You truly are a bodymind unit.

Please comment below if you have thoughts on the videos in this post, or if you want to share your own experiences with the body-mind connection. And be sure to check back later this week for tips on bringing more mindfulness into your life.

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