So many puzzle pieces

I have been reading through so many studies and links about the brain.  For instance, Patternicity: the tendency of people to overly pattern match/recognize, erroneously seeing patterns where statistically/scientifically there are none.  Relating to this concept of patternicity many appeal to personal experience (especially if/when common/shared) to justify beliefs in the otherwise nonexistent.

Then there is the scientific analysis of the laws of chance vs. people’s intuitive conceptions of randomness.  (an interesting study was done on people’s belief in the phrase “Hot Hand’ in describing a players performance in Basketball and analyzing the actual truth as a system/pattern and the group perception based on belief ).

How about the nature of peer pressure.  The statistics say that something like 65% of us will give the wrong answer just because we heard someone else say it, even if we know it’s the wrong answer.

Then there is the research about how brain chemistry/ Dopamine apparently ‘rewards’ us for noting patterns and finding meaning in sometimes meaningless-insignificant events.  They have found increased levels of Dopamine in schizophrenics where the beginning stages are characterized by an overabundant perception of meaningful coincidences.  And a series of studies at the University of Texas demonstrated that people primed to feel out of control are particularly likely to see patterns in random stimuli.

It seems like a natural phenomena of sorts that we tend to ‘bend information’ to fit our pre-existing cognitive schema.  In many ways we are all ‘hardwired’ to find patterns in our environment, particularly those that might represent a threat to us.

Another great example is the power of suggestion.  People are not always aware that they act so abundantly under suggestion. From our birth we are surrounded by those who suggest certain ideas to us, and we often follow these suggested ideas and adopt them as our own.  Does ‘original’ thought truly exist? How often do we follow the suggestion given, with no attempt to reach to the basis of that which is suggested? How do we take for granted the foundation upon which the suggestion rests….. in both critical and very basic aspects of life.

You face it every day of your life, whether when watching television, social situations, radio, the grocery store or working with politicians or a team of athletes. It mostly goes unrecognized from instance to instance. This is part of the commanding influence of the power of suggestion. It can be used in many contexts from subliminal advertising to motivating members of a basketball team and it has powerful affects.

Then there is Mass Hysteria or Mass psychogenic illness which is characterized by symptoms, occurring among a group of persons with shared beliefs regarding those symptoms, that suggest organic illness but have no identifiable environmental cause and little clinical or laboratory evidence of disease. Mass psychogenic illness typically affects adolescents or children, groups under stress and females disproportionately more than males. Symptoms often follow an environmental trigger or illness in an index case. They can spread rapidly by apparent visual transmission, may be aggravated by a prominent emergency or media response, and frequently resolve after patients are separated from each other and removed from the environment in which the outbreak began.

Are you seeing the pattern here?  There is so much research and information as well as all the unknowns when it comes to the power of our brains and the nature of how they make sense of things. ( I didn’t even go into ‘collective unconscious’)  The nature of what influences how we think and feel.  The template for how we are both conditioned and predisposed to see and experience the world.

None of this overwhelms me……it serves to bring me more compassion when working with the mind.  And all of this life and being human is ‘working with the mind’.  And when I say ‘working with the mind’ I am not speaking to ‘intelligence’…..I am reflecting upon cultivating awareness of the mechanics and learned behaviors at play so that you have more ability to choose.  I am speaking to the balanced relationship between the intuitive expansive heart and mechanisms of the mind to create false wisdom and limiting perceptions of self, other and the world.  Why not get to know the way your mind works…why not question it?  You never know when a simple thread of questioning can unravel you into a less constricted experience of self and life.

It seems the vibrant and necessary role of the mind is to connect dots and make sense of our lives and this world.  (It also seems the mind can work on auto pilot.) And it seems the vibrant and necessary role of the heart is to keep us connected to infinite possibility and outside of conditioned judgements or merit based systems/comparisons.  Somehow along the way it seems the autopilot of the mind tends to trump the heart.  Does that feel ‘true’ in your experience?  How do you come to dwell in the expanse of non-critical heart space?  How do you question the basic assumptions of your mind and self?  Does any of this seem significant?…or is it just more words?

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