Tag: University of California

Vibrations!

The mind-body debate!

This is a republication of a recent article that appeared on The Conversation site. In a sense, it has nothing to do with dogs. Yet in another sense, it does!

You be the judge.

Meanwhile, I have finished the draft of my book, have printed it out and now have the gargantuan task of reading and editing it before it goes to an independent proof reader. All 56,657 words.

Oh well, if you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined!

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Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?

November 9th, 2019

By

Affiliate Guest in Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Why is my awareness here, while yours is over there? Why is the universe split in two for each of us, into a subject and an infinity of objects? How is each of us our own center of experience, receiving information about the rest of the world out there? Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A gnat? A bacterium?

These questions are all aspects of the ancient “mind-body problem,” which asks, essentially: What is the relationship between mind and matter? It’s resisted a generally satisfying conclusion for thousands of years.

The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades. Now it’s generally known as the “hard problem” of consciousness, after philosopher David Chalmers coined this term in a now classic paper and further explored it in his 1996 book, “The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.”

Chalmers thought the mind-body problem should be called “hard” in comparison to what, with tongue in cheek, he called the “easy” problems of neuroscience: How do neurons and the brain work at the physical level? Of course they’re not actually easy at all. But his point was that they’re relatively easy compared to the truly difficult problem of explaining how consciousness relates to matter.

Over the last decade, my colleague, University of California, Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler and I have developed what we call a “resonance theory of consciousness.” We suggest that resonance – another word for synchronized vibrations – is at the heart of not only human consciousness but also animal consciousness and of physical reality more generally. It sounds like something the hippies might have dreamed up – it’s all vibrations, man! – but stick with me.

How do things in nature – like flashing fireflies – spontaneously synchronize? Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock.com

All about the vibrations

All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields. As such, at every scale, all of nature vibrates.

Something interesting things happen when different vibrating things come together: They will often start, after a little while, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.

Mathematician Steven Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate “sync” – his term for resonance – in his 2003 book “Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life,” including:

  • When fireflies of certain species come together in large gatherings, they start flashing in sync, in ways that can still seem a little mystifying.
  • Lasers are produced when photons of the same power and frequency sync up.
  • The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face.

Examining resonance leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.

External electrodes can record a brain’s activity. vasara/Shutterstock.com

Sync inside your skull

Neuroscientists have identified sync in their research, too. Large-scale neuron firing occurs in human brains at measurable frequencies, with mammalian consciousness thought to be commonly associated with various kinds of neuronal sync.

For example, German neurophysiologist Pascal Fries has explored the ways in which various electrical patterns sync in the brain to produce different types of human consciousness.

Fries focuses on gamma, beta and theta waves. These labels refer to the speed of electrical oscillations in the brain, measured by electrodes placed on the outside of the skull. Groups of neurons produce these oscillations as they use electrochemical impulses to communicate with each other. It’s the speed and voltage of these signals that, when averaged, produce EEG waves that can be measured at signature cycles per second.

Each type of synchronized activity is associated with certain types of brain function. artellia/Shutterstock.com

Gamma waves are associated with large-scale coordinated activities like perception, meditation or focused consciousness; beta with maximum brain activity or arousal; and theta with relaxation or daydreaming. These three wave types work together to produce, or at least facilitate, various types of human consciousness, according to Fries. But the exact relationship between electrical brain waves and consciousness is still very much up for debate.

Fries calls his concept “communication through coherence.” For him, it’s all about neuronal synchronization. Synchronization, in terms of shared electrical oscillation rates, allows for smooth communication between neurons and groups of neurons. Without this kind of synchronized coherence, inputs arrive at random phases of the neuron excitability cycle and are ineffective, or at least much less effective, in communication.

A resonance theory of consciousness

Our resonance theory builds upon the work of Fries and many others, with a broader approach that can help to explain not only human and mammalian consciousness, but also consciousness more broadly.

Based on the observed behavior of the entities that surround us, from electrons to atoms to molecules, to bacteria to mice, bats, rats, and on, we suggest that all things may be viewed as at least a little conscious. This sounds strange at first blush, but “panpsychism” – the view that all matter has some associated consciousness – is an increasingly accepted position with respect to the nature of consciousness.

The panpsychist argues that consciousness did not emerge at some point during evolution. Rather, it’s always associated with matter and vice versa – they’re two sides of the same coin. But the large majority of the mind associated with the various types of matter in our universe is extremely rudimentary. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoys just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter becomes more interconnected and rich, so does the mind, and vice versa, according to this way of thinking.

Biological organisms can quickly exchange information through various biophysical pathways, both electrical and electrochemical. Non-biological structures can only exchange information internally using heat/thermal pathways – much slower and far less rich in information in comparison. Living things leverage their speedier information flows into larger-scale consciousness than what would occur in similar-size things like boulders or piles of sand, for example. There’s much greater internal connection and thus far more “going on” in biological structures than in a boulder or a pile of sand.

Under our approach, boulders and piles of sand are “mere aggregates,” just collections of highly rudimentary conscious entities at the atomic or molecular level only. That’s in contrast to what happens in biological life forms where the combinations of these micro-conscious entities together create a higher level macro-conscious entity. For us, this combination process is the hallmark of biological life.

The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for large-scale consciousness – like those humans and other mammals enjoy – result from a shared resonance among many smaller constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity in each moment.

As a particular shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the new conscious entity that results from this resonance and combination grows larger and more complex. So the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone.

What about larger inter-organism resonance like the cloud of fireflies with their little lights flashing in sync? Researchers think their bioluminescent resonance arises due to internal biological oscillators that automatically result in each firefly syncing up with its neighbors.

Is this group of fireflies enjoying a higher level of group consciousness? Probably not, since we can explain the phenomenon without recourse to any intelligence or consciousness. But in biological structures with the right kind of information pathways and processing power, these tendencies toward self-organization can and often do produce larger-scale conscious entities.

Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience, as well as more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics, and also the philosophy of mind. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems.

It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations.

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This may require more than one read. Because, if you are interested in the subject I’m sure you will wish to read it again.

But the underlying premise is that, as was said earlier,: “all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields.

Beautiful!

 

Meditating.

A guest post from Sue Dreamwalker.

Last Monday, the post on Learning from Dogs was called Growing old!!

The essence of that post was to report on the following:

That’s why a recent item on the BBC News website jumped off the page at me.  It was an article called: Health kick ‘reverses cell ageing’ written by Michelle Roberts, Health editor, BBC News online.  Here is how the article opened:

Going on a health kick reverses ageing at the cellular level, researchers say.

The University of California team says it has found the first evidence a strict regime of exercise, diet and meditation can have such an effect.

But experts say although the study in Lancet Oncology is intriguing, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions.

The study looked at just 35 men with prostate cancer. Those who changed their lifestyle had demonstrably younger cells in genetic terms.

The full article should be read, by the way, because it covers much more than this opening paragraph.

Anyway, one of the comments to that post was left by Sue, of Sue Dreamwalker, Here is what she wrote:

Great information and learning to Meditate even for a few minutes helps heal and relax.. Dogs have it right…. No stress!

I wrote a complete exercise I used a lot both for myself and within my circle I used to run… Hope you enjoy as you take your roots down into the earth after bringing in the Light….
you can find it here http://wp.me/p16xW7-37

Namaste! :-)

I then asked Sue if I could republish her guidance on meditation as a guest post.  Sue kindly agreed.  Here it is.

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A Meditation For My Friends

by Sue Dreamwalker

Meditation-1

Meditation.

Some Friends have been asking about Meditation and relaxation techniques, so I have put you a very simple little meditation here for starters.

You can buy books on meditation and read different techniques until your eyes pop out of your head, and you can find plenty about meditation on web sites too.  I always say there is no right or wrong way to Meditate. To meditate means finding that quiet place within your own mind, finding that peace and space to be at one with yourself.

When people say empty your mind, this is near enough impossible, as you will always have a train of thought that will pop in at times. So this is why we use the Breath.

The breath is used to bring your concentration back, so focusing on your breath may be one way in which you can stop the hum-drum of your thoughts that chatter away inside your head.

First you need to ensure you’re not going to be disturbed, so switch of the phone, find a comfortable chair, in a quiet room, and relax.  If you lie down you may find that you drift asleep, that’s ok also for that shows you have relaxed.  But preferably sit upright with your feet slightly apart and have them touching the ground. Take deep breaths breathing in and out through the nose, and close your eyes.

This is one of the meditations I do regularly.  It may seem long to read, but once you have it in your mind it will only take you 10 minutes to do. Read it through a couple of times until you have it clear in your mind, and then have a go.

meditation

Relax and take some nice deep breaths  breathing deeply and evenly, try to breath in to the count of five, hold for a few seconds and then breath out long and slow, Feel your breath rise from your solar plexus your stomach and feel your diaphragm rise and fall.

Do this for a few minutes until you feel comfortable with breathing this way. (Many of us do not breathe deep enough, so this may at first feel uncomfortable, but try not to force it, just try to get your breath into a natural rhythm).

One your breath is comfortable I want you to imagine a beautiful White light coming down in a column from up above  your head.  Almost like a search light in a darkened room.

As you breath in, I want you to breathe in this light. Imagine that it is flowing down inside your head through your crown, and it passes behind your eyes, relaxing your eyes. It then passes down over your throat, relaxing your throat.

You feel this Light which has healing properties cascading across your shoulders, relaxing your shoulders, taking all the burdens of the day with it.  You now see and feel this warm Light travel down your arms into your forearms relaxing your muscles as it goes, now it’s travelling into your finger tips, and your arms now feel heavy and relaxed.

You see the Light now travel through from your throat, down into your heart centre, feel the beat of your heart, and see the light now filling your heart and as it beats see the light dispersing throughout your veins into your whole being,

See the light travelling into your stomach relaxing your stomach muscles, down your thighs relaxing your thighs into your calves, relaxing your calves, and see the light now going into your feet relaxing your toes and feet.

And all the while you are breathing deeply and evenly, relaxing more and more.

meditation-2

Now you are relaxed and are full of healing light, I want you to now see that light coming out of the soles of your feet, as if they were roots from a tree. See these roots going down from your feet into Mother Earth, going down through the rocks, twisting and turning as they go deeper and deeper, and as they travel deeper so too you are feeling more and more relaxed.

You now see an underground cavern, with an underground pool, your roots of light emerge in the ceiling of this cavern, and illuminate it like the lights of a chandelier.

And as the light illuminates the Cavern you now see you are stood in a beautiful Crystal Cavern, The Light reflects the many luminous rainbow colours from the hundreds of giant crystals.. See the rainbow of pastel colours dance around the cavern reflection on the underground pool.

Now you can choose any colour you see, for whatever colour you choose this colour will intuitively be the right healing colour for your needs at this moment in time.

So once you see the colour you are attracted to, allow your roots to wrap themselves around that crystal, and as you breathe deeply in, see now that your roots have now turned into hollow straws, for you will now be able to breathe up that colour through your roots and as you do so, retract your roots back up through Mother Earth, breathe that  colour into your feet, feel the warmth of the healing.

Now draw it back up through your calves, up through your thighs, into your solar plexus. Breathing deeply and evenly. Feel the warmth of healing relax and heal all your worries and anxieties, breath it up into your lungs, into your heart, down your arms and into your fingers, see how relaxed and refreshed you now feel, see this colour cleansing your entire being taking with it all the debris that you have collected, all the negative thoughts, flushing you clean.

See this colour now rise and come up through your throat, see it helping you release all the words you have spoken in haste, and all the words you hold back, see them all now flow up past your eyes, helping you see that you are a Being of Light and whole and free, see that colour now rise out through the top of your head, see it cascading out into the Universe Like a fountain, and as it does so see it explode into a thousand stars, taking all your problems and negative debris with it, and know that God and the Universe will disperse this energy as it sees fit,

Give thanks to Mother Earth for her healing energy, and see the top of your head close and seal in your new vibration, and feel yourself glowing from within,

Slowly bring your awareness back to yourself sat in the chair, and open your eyes.

Sit for a moment or two and take a sip of water.

Know that you can go to your crystal cavern at any time for healing.


Soulfly

Hope you relax and Enjoy.

Dreamwalker x

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And if you want any encouragement to find that deep, peaceful place, then just breath in this picture of young Cleo letting the world go by!

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