Tag: Thought

Unlocking the inner parts of our brain.

The healing power of meditation and self-reflection.

Yesterday, I wrote about two seemingly disconnected events that appeared to resonate together.  One of those was a comment left by reader Patrice Ayme.

But that harmony didn’t stop with those two events.  Here’s how it continued to flow.

Patrice has a recently published post called Consciousness I.  To be honest, some of the concepts have been a bit of a struggle for me to understand.  However, at one point in that essay, Patrice wrote:

Meditation is a most precious, most human state of consciousness. Whereas sentience is shared with many animals on this planet, obviously, not so with the capacity for meditation. meditation allows to shut down most (over-) used neuronal circuitry, and engage more strategically important parts of the brain.

Action without meditation is as slavedom without wisdom.

That really struck a chord with me because, once again, the power of meditation has been brought into focus.  Regular readers of Learning from Dogs may recall that just six days ago, I wrote a piece called Maybe home is found in our quietness.  There were three references to meditation in that post that I will take the liberty of repeating today.

The first was:

A few weeks ago when meeting our local doctor for the first time since we moved to Oregon, I had grumbled about bouts of terrible short-term memory recall and more or less had shrugged my shoulders in resignation that there was nothing one could do: it was just part of getting older, I guessed!

“On the contrary”, responded Dr. Hurd, continuing, “There’s growing evidence that our information-crowded lives: cell phones; email; constant TV; constant news, is pumping too much for our brains to manage.”

Dr. Hurd continued, “Think about it!  Our brains have to process every single sensory stimulus.  The research is suggesting that our brains are being over-loaded and then the brain just dumps the excess data.  If that is the case, and the evidence is pointing in that direction, then try thirty minutes of meditation each day; give your brain a chance to rest.”

Then later on in that post came:

The second was a recent science programme on the BBC under the Horizon series.  The programme was called,The Truth About Personality.


Within the programme came the astounding fact that even ten minutes a day meditation can help the brain achieve a more balanced personality (balance in terms of not being overly negative in one’s thoughts).

The last one was in a short talk by writer Pico Iyer  meditating on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.

Now come forward just three days to last Tuesday evening. Jean and I sat down and more or less randomly wondered if there was something of interest to watch on the website Top Documentary Films.  Just by chance, we came across a film by filmmaker Isabelle Raynauld with the title of Mystical Brain.

Here’s a tiny snippet from the film:

Filmmaker Isabelle Raynauld offers up scientific research that suggests that mystical ecstasy is a transformative experience.

It could contribute to people’s psychic and physical health, treat depression and speed up the healing process when combined with conventional medicine.

This documentary reveals the exploratory work of a team from the University of Montreal who seek to understand the states of grace experienced by mystics and those who meditate. In French with English subtitles.

However, as interesting as this snippet is, the power of the film is in the area of spirituality and the way that meditation can open up the brain to an incredible range of mystical experiences, as well as the impressive health benefits of slowing the mind.  Maybe, just maybe, the power of religious and spiritual experience is being understood, with some very surprising results.

So please watch the whole documentary on-line. The website of the Mind & Life Institute will also be of interest.

To underscore why the film should be watched, there is much about the nature of the theta rhythms in the brain.  The relevance of these?  Simply that when the brain is generating these regular slow oscillations the human condition is one of great peace.

Dhalia showing us humans how easy it is to meditate!
Dhalia showing us humans how easy it is to meditate!

Call it prayer, meditation, relaxation, building internal energy or life force, compassion, love, patience, generosity or forgiveness; what does it matter.  It’s what it is doing to you that matters!

So when you bury your face in the warm fur of your beautiful dog and both you and your dog appear to be transported to some beautiful, magical place you have entered that indestructible sense of well-being.

Actually, let me make one small correction. Both you and your dog have entered that indestructible sense of well-being.

Only one way to finish today’s post: I think, therefore I am!” René Descartes.

On quietness.

Out of the quietness comes clarity

In yesterday’s post Sanity Anchors, I opened by saying, “A few days ago, I exchanged emails with Jon Lavin.  In the early days of Learning from Dogs, Jon used to write the occasional post, one of which seems highly relevant some three years later.  I will republish it tomorrow.”

So here it is, first presented on the 15th July, 2010.


On coming of age

It’s been a partly exhilarating and very scary 12 months since the launch of Learning from Dogs. I can’t remember a time when there has been so much change and uncertainty that hits right down to the foundations of everyone.

Twelve months ago these changes were merely hinted at, and then only to a few in the upper strata of the finance world, from my point of view anyway. How everything seems to have changed now!

Where lies ahead?

Warnings abound about our use of our world’s resources. Our seeming need to procreate without self imposed limit is leading us to a place that coupled with climate change, we will be unable to sustain the current world’s population, let alone the projected increase within 20 years or so. Water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world and so is food.

For those who are awakening from a media-induced slumber which distorts and bends reality to suit who can apply the greatest financial influence and weighting, the reality of the situation we are facing as a planet, is rapidly catching us up.

We still have choices – all is not lost and they will require a highly integrous group of people and thinkers to guide us through the next hundred years or so. In other words, in our children’s or children’s, children’s lifetimes. People who are not driven by the ego, but to serve the highest good.

So what can we do as individuals? Enjoy what we have, perhaps? I think, work on ourselves through awareness and expose ourselves to everything positive and integrous.

Most of our problems lie within, from that thing called an ego, that would rather drive us to death, rather than admit it might be wrong. The world would be an even more positive place if we worked on ourselves and our awareness rather than looking for all the answers ‘out there’, with somebody or something else.

So, how do we work with that? Well, no surprises there really – by bringing in awareness and coming out of the dream state, or nightmare state, depending on how you see things at the moment, and into the Present or Now, as some writers have called it.

How do we do that? It can simply begin by remembering to breathe! So by bringing our awareness to the breath, we come back into our bodies and out of the trance going on in the mind. Approximately 95% of our time is spent in this self-induced trance-like state, by the way.

Think you can’t survive without ‘your mind’ or ‘your thoughts’. There’s no such thing really. By coming out of the mind and back into the body, slowly, with practice and awareness, the noise gently starts to subside and we become aware of spaces of silence or no thought. That is where the answers lie, not in thinking.

The intellect and what we have learned kicks in after the quiet, to allow us to put into action what has come up through the silence.

Most of us have such a huge investment in ‘our thoughts’ or ‘our ideas’. If we could just make the time to sit still, in peace and quiet, so much more would be revealed to us.

So in this brave, new world going forward, to badly quote Einstein, we must aspire to move onto a higher level than the one that triggered this road we are relentlessly pursuing. We need to start becoming aware of the interconnectedness of all beings and focus on activities that are for the highest good, that benefit everyone, rather for the benefit of the few, to the detriment of the many.

By Jon Lavin


So let’s make this new year the year where we all slow down, embrace the peace and quiet, so that a clear world is revealed.

The art of relaxation

Yesterday’s article reminds me of something fundamental!

In Patricia’s guest post of yesterday, she wrote about Chloe, her dog,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

I was speaking with Jon Lavin a few days ago about the effect of anxiety on memory.  Jon confirmed that as we get older even low levels of anxiety can play games with our mental focus.  He described what many of us know – of walking into a room, for instance, and suddenly realising that you didn’t have a clue as to why you had come into the room!  In a very real sense anxiety is the body’s manifestation of fear.

Jon went on to say that practicing ‘letting go’ for a couple of 10-minute sessions a day is wonderfully therapeutic for the mind.  In fact, when Jon was a guest author for Learning from Dogs he touched on the subject of fear in a post almost two years ago to the day; Dealing with the fear of the known.  Indeed, I’m going to reproduce that article in full – here it is,

Jon Lavin

Can we ever conquer fear?

In a recent article I discussed the fear of the unknown, linked to the down-turn, redundancies, etc.

Per Kurowski, a great supporter of this Blog, posed the following question. “Great advice… but how do we remove the fear of what is known?”  A simple, and slightly flippant answer would be, “Develop a different relationship with it.”

What I’m saying is that when we are facing the known, and I’m assuming that it’s something unpleasant, our choices are limited. It’s going to happen, so the only thing we can do is change the way we view it.

This brings us back full circle to developing a different relationship with it. Let’s take the word, ‘fear’.

All fear is an illusion, walk right through“. I heard Dr David Hawkins say on a CD. Granted, a great trick if you can do it!

Here’s another description of fear: Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is generally future-based. We tend to use the past as a learning reference to inform us of what to be afraid of in the future. So human beings live their lives trying to predict and prepare for the future, limited by their past experiences.

Unfortunately, the only way to work with fear of the known is to live in the present!

Our whole society is geared up to look into the future. We are forever worrying about or planning something for the future.

To begin focussing on the present, try this.

Simply, to start off, become aware of the breath and sensations in the body. This will slowly start to remind us to be present, or embodied, in our own body. Problems, fear and spiral thinking, often at 3 or 4 in the morning, are generated in the mind. Thoughts occur randomly, although we call them, “Our thoughts“, and refer to, “Our mind“.

By dropping out of the thought processes into the awareness of our breath and our body, the noise stops, even if only for a moment.  Here’s the rub: So very few people in the world will have even the slightest inkling what these words mean!

If more of us got used to coming out of the mind before making an important decision, and simply sat with the question for a while, the answer would probably present itself.

This will probably raise more questions than it answers but that’s not a bad thing.

By Jon Lavin

Difficult to add anything to that very sound advice save to try it out yourself, and if you own a dog or have one as a friend, just look much more closely at how he or she behaves and remember why this blog is called what it is!  Or as Trish wrote,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

Ah, the power of a good nap!

Puppy Cleo enjoying a good nap!

We never stop learning!


Just try reading this without laughing till you cry!!!

Pocket taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife.

A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Taser for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Taser.

The effects of the Taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety…??

WAY TOO COOL! Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home… I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button and pressed it against a metal surface at the same time, I’d get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.

AWESOME!!! Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be all that bad with only two AAA batteries, right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target.

I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and then thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised.

Am I wrong?

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and Taser in another.

The directions said that:

  • a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant;
  • a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; and
  • a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water.
  • Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries.

All the while I’m looking at this little device measuring about 5″ long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference (loaded with two itsy, bitsy AAA batteries); pretty cute really, and thinking to myself, ‘no possible way!’

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best.

I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side so as to say, ‘Don’t do it stupid,’ reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny lil ole thing couldn’t hurt all that bad.. I decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it..

I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and…


I’m pretty sure Hulk Hogan ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs!

The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room..


If you ever feel compelled to ‘mug’ yourself with a Taser,
one note of caution:

There is NO such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself!

You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor! A three second burst would be considered conservative!

A minute or so later (I can’t be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape.

  • My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace.

  • The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was.

  • My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching.

  • My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs.

  • I had no control over the drooling.

  • Apparently I had crapped in my shorts, but was too numb to know for sure, and my sense of smell was gone.

  • I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head, which I believe came from my hair.

I’m still looking for my testicles and I’m offering a significant reward for their safe return!

PS: My wife can’t stop laughing about my experience, loved the gift and now regularly threatens me with it!

If you think education is difficult, try being stupid!!!!