Guest blogger Jon Moore on Consciousness, Productivity and Creativity
I’ve been scratching my head and doing some research, I think I’d like to open up a conversation about things I’ve discovered and how to play with around for practical results. The big question that no one wants to tackle is… What’s this thing we call consciousness?
First, I’d like to establish something and that is if a sentence contains the word ‘YOU’ it’s usually accompanied by a belief statement (a belief is just imaginary knowledge) – we all use our imagination to fill in the gaps because we’re afraid of finding out the real truth… so take a deep breath, relax and get over it! Think about this, when you read a story and your imagination takes you to a time in the past or fictionally into the future, your mind isn’t in the moment NOW… physically you are in NOW but mentally you’re in another time and space.In our mind the past recalls memories and the future imagines possibilities, the reason we have imagination is so that we can keep a safe distance and fill in the gaps that our senses are yet to witnessed. You see paying attention triggers an automatic ‘fear response’ causing anxiety and stress which I’ll discuss why this happens later down the page. Our imaginings and our experiences get stored in the same neural networks and our mind gets confused what was real and what is imagined. People will defend their imaginary beliefs to the death, even kill children and anything else that threatens them, bigots and believers are often wrong and often dangerous, however it takes science and engineering to carry them out on mass. Gods place is to provide the question and not the answers and the place for science is to provide the answers and not the questions. We would do well to remember this.It can be a wonderful symbiosis for the human mind to find this harmony. When our mind eye pays witness to something we call this first access (an experience) and this can be measured in frames per second. I like to refer to this measurement as attention density. The denser the the attention the more glucose gets used up, it’s like the the fuel injection being turned up in a racing car. By now some of you will have seen technically challenging words above and if you’re paying attention it will have triggered a ‘fear response’. You may have gone into alert mode which is causing you anxiety and stress and so you’ll be experiencing either a fight, flight, freeze or fawn reaction. For the rest who are still reading, hang in there 🙂
Here’s an overview of attention density or frames per second.
Measured in Hertz (Hz).
30 – 100 Hz = Super Alert When the brain frequency is in Gamma the body triggers an automatic FEAR RESPONSE’ (Fight, flight, Freeze or Fawn)
12 – 30 Hz = Vigilance (on Guard) NORMAL day awake state
8 – 12 Hz = Learning state – Daydreaming, (some REM dreaming) and pondering etc
4 – 7 Hz = Hypnosis and Lucid dreaming both are very interesting if you can master them. In my experience of lucid dreaming I have consciously explored the depths of my mind and it seems it’s possible to engage the self which are other neural networks contained in the body. Maybe in future lucid dreaming will be a valuable resource for self healing).
up to 4 Hz = Deep sleep, (this is where we refuel the glucose levels, replenish cells and generally prepare us for the following day.
The five different frequency ranges have different effects on the body and mind. For example the amount of glucose we build up after a ‘good deep sleep’ (in Delta waves) is enough to keep us vigilant (in Beta waves) throughout the day, however when something grabs your attention (in Gamma waves) the reserve of glucose burns up really fast and can supply only about 4hr per day. Normally we hover around Beta (in vigilance) so that we’re alert and on guard which keeps us safe from harm. Paying attention and triggering Gamma waves can be very stressful or a lot of fun. The automatic ‘fear response’ releases endorphins and various brain chemicals, it’s fun because it changes how we feel. Think about the adrenalin junkies. Increases in attention density allows us react faster…. The point is to keep us alive.
A personal tip here is to plan your day around the fact that glucose depletes with each task that we do, so do the glucose hungry tasks first like writing a pitch, only then plan out meetings and only then sort out your e-mails… Unfortunately so many people think rationally and do attention density tasks the wrong way round like trying to write a pitch at the end of the day. You’ll notice if you follow this rule, you’ll be much more productive Now back to that ‘fear response’.
Paying attention triggers an automatic ‘fear response’, blood runs away from the organs and out to the muscles in the limbs. That way we can react quickly in of one of the 4 F’s (Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn) A side effect from quickly paying attention is that the it causes the working memory to shrink and we go primal, we forget about social etiquette and our manners.
Over time evolution has favored Beta (vigilance) over Gamma (Attention) or Alpha (Daydreaming) or Theta and Delta (Sleeping) because predators know that the best time to hunt and make a successful strike is when an animals is not being vigilant so they get caught and eaten… (an exception is the eusocial societies, like ants and bees. Interestingly eusocial creatures only seem to have the “self identity” and are somewhat lacking in (i) identity that we possess, but that’s another story ). Coaches should listen up here. Rationality tells us to focus our attention on the problem however the real insights come when we’re relaxed in Alpha waveband and so insights and thus solutions come quicker Rationally is over rated and conventionally we believe we should pay attention all of the time however insights from masters of science proves we shouldn’t.
You see the brain can only do one thing at a time – in vigilance (on guard in the range of beta waves) we don’t learn very well because working memory is small and when we’re in super alert mode, that is when we’re really paying attention (gamma waves) we only have a tiny amount of working memory (around 7 bits of information ). The dilemma for us is to get into the Alpha waveband requires us to relax under our own steam which means switching off the Vigilance mechanism that evolution gave us for protection. So chill the hell out!
The rest of our memory is massive in comparison and that’s where we really want to be, so people use self medication like take aspirin, smoke fags, smoke weed, booze or have prescribed medication like beta blockers, SSRI’s etc. Other people practice meditation techniques like chant mantras, pray or some form of self hypnosis. The benefit of meditation over medication is control so that they can move through the frequency ranges and take action after a realisation in order to put deadlines to insights they had.
Some people choose to comfort eat (chew the fat), or find a beach to lay down on (chill out) or take a hot bath to find their eureka moments. It’s pretty much all the same, we just crave to get far away from the fear response and as consequence that takes us into the vastness of our mind. We usually recall memories in pictures, sounds, smells or a mixture of the five senses, we also have an ability to store more detailed descriptive sounds we called these WORDS which we store in our neocortex to recall at a later date. This ability to articulate self awareness is something animals are unable to do and humans recognise this as a framework for consciousness. That said I had to learn to speak, so what consciousness can I recall before that first word, well nothing really. However children are conscious as are animals and anything that has attention and intention, children and animals use ‘primal screams’ in the only way that they can communicate with us. (but they don’t have our words). Words are useful for detailed descriptions and mathematics can provide even more details but how many people can really speak the language of mathematics. Would Einstein think that I have no consciousness?So how to put this knowledge to practice? If you want to tap into your creative side get into Alpha. You can see when people are having an insight, their face goes blank for a few moments and then the answer just appears, but recording time is limited, like when you’ve had a dream but can’t remember it 10 minutes later. So inscribe your insights ASAP, relax and drop back into Alpha.
Stop thinking about thinking (switch off the internal dialogue) you can do this using the 5-7 breathing technique. Silently count up to 5 (in through the nose) and silently count down from 7 (out through the mouth). Do 12 in/out cycles and you should be in Alpha by then – if your still self talking then you’re not there yet. You will start to get small bursts of insights, they don’t last long so be quick to write them down (you’ll have moved into Beta/Gamma) as soon as you start writing.Once you’ve inscribed your thoughts then slow back down again and re-enter alpha etc…
When you practice this and you will discover that you have a wonderful ability to create some great stories, just like I have here 🙂