Cognition Control Manual: A philosophical drivers education for operating awareness along dendritic highways of the mind.
Our brains contain miles upon miles of dendritic highways. Our awareness of these roads comes from within a perceptual windshield built upon our experiences, memories and thoughts. With this understanding of how the brain operates, how do we take control of our awareness as it travels along these highways?
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00BI2TASW” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41HpB-fn7kL._SL160_.jpg” width=”115″]Enter philosophical cognition control. Deliberate allocation of awareness plots a course and destination for how, and where, you want to view reality from. Currently, I am venturing along cliffs of neurological and emotional heights. Looking down causes perceptual vertigo, fear circuits surge and pulse with dizzying emotions, clouding the view afforded along this adventure. When attention is kept focused on the next turn and breathtaking vistas, fears quickly dissipate and reality becomes vibrant and beautiful.
This all sounds great in theory, but how does one take the metaphorical steering wheel? I will use personal experiences that have helped me reach uncharted avenues and depths of perception. I will list out different emotions and techniques that guide me in times where I took the wrong turn down dark alleys of my mind and used linguistic GPS to guide me back onto a journey of wonder and authenticity.
Love, Pain and Empathy; These have been the most difficult and ambiguous roads to navigate. My understanding of love was riddled with potholes of insecurities and fears. Love, as I define it, is not contingent upon another’s actions or choices. The most authentic, though hard, perspective on love is wanting another to be happy regardless if it reciprocated. Neurologically, this is activation and navigation of the empathetic mirror neuron network.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0688172172″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Zau2o2WML._SL160_.jpg” width=”102″]Vilayanur Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at UCSD, offers, “We used to say, metaphorically, that ‘I can feel another’s pain.’ But now we know that my mirror neurons can literally feel your pain. Mirror neurons dissolve the barrier between you and someone else,” says Ramachandran. He calls them ‘Gandhi neurons’. It seems we are hardwired to love and empathize with each other, so these neurons are not bias to when and who they interact with; they are there to reflect a perspective and emotion. The mirrors get distorted when influenced by other networks.
Example; if I fall in love with someone, my actions and behaviors reflect how my mirror neurons are projecting that emotion. If my reflection is distorted with the fear of pain, rejection, loss and so on, this limits the ability for not just me to experience empathy and love, but the person I am trying to show love too as well.
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” -Albert Einstein
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1573244988″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41HLeqRSveL._SL160_.jpg” width=”100″]Reflecting a distorted emotion will cause roadblocks that I label hypocritical. The emotion felt when I say one thing and feel another causes such cognitive dissonance that if left unchecked, will cause the reflection I am projecting to not match reality at all. I navigate my empathetic neuronal highway with rumble strips along the sides. If I venture off the road, my attention vibrates with this emotion of hypocrisy. Finding authenticity in my reflection pulls my awareness back to a set course.
Finding authenticity: for everyone this will be different. It requires deep introspection and openness to analyze and change emotions, thoughts and behaviors. I recently have used the feeling of rejection to clean and adjust my mirrors. Rejection is an emotion that distorts and manipulates authenticity. Rejection fuels fear and pain. Love and empathy fuel emotions with a level of octane far more powerful than that of rejection. How you think about these emotions, and the language you attach to them dictates how you will reflect these emotions in the future. Hating someone you love for rejecting you will bind the emotion of hatred next time you reflect love to anyone.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” -Pablo Neruda
In part 2 of this article series, I will be driving us deeper into language and its role in operation of our cognition.
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