Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What do you see in the magick mirror ball?

Spirituality and Health... An intriguing magazine with a corny name. The name reflects two subjects I have great interest in, but one of my goals in life is to find a word to replace "spirituality". I do not like it. To quote a friend, it's just too "pop psych" sounding for me. I found myself perusing the Sept/Oct. edition of this mag and I found several intriguing and well written articles. The article that really fired me up was on the subject of the Mirror Neuron System or MNS. (Just call me the happy punster!)

I tried to upload a NOVA video which gives the short version of what it is and how it was discovered, but could not figure out how to make it happen. So, here is the link for those of you who are curious: Mirror Neurons, on Nova~PBS

I could try to explain this in my own words, but I'd rather quote Wikipedia:

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.[1] Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primates, and are believed to occur in humans and other species including birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.

Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important recent discoveries in neuroscience. Among them is V.S. Ramachandran, who believes they might be very important in imitation and language acquisition.[2] However, despite the popularity of this field, to date no widely accepted neural or computational models have been put forward to describe how mirror neuron activity supports cognitive functions such as imitation.[3]

I find this absolutely incredible!!! It could explain so much about so many things, it makes the head spin! Of course it is being researched with regard to autism, but the possibilities of the influence of this portion of the brain and it's function (or lack thereof) are staggering. Think of the potential... I mean, just being able to understand and actually reach populations that up till now just had to suffer... It's simply mind blowing~ Then there are our own personal challenges and patterns to reconsider. (Maybe we're not "losers at love" or "lazy" or "insert label") Maybe we are merely mirroring unhealthy people... or maybe our mirror mechanism is malfunctioning? More importantly, we can relearn through watching and visualizing and meditating... we can perhaps learn to reprogram or strengthen this part of our brains with practice! Why not?!! I realize that sections of our society have known in some way that the brain has this capacity and how to manipulate it. Some for good, others for profit. (The porn industry has obviously known about this for some time now... but then so have earth based religions just to name a few) BUT... now that there is scientific PROOF...a section of the brain that has been isolated, studied, deduced and identified as being responsible for this skill/gift it will eventually be more accepted by the mainstream... and that is exciting!

The (please pardon the word) spiritual implications are immense as well. The Buddhists have been saying for centuries, and without the aid of fancy equipment, that this life is just an illusion. The more I live and learn, the more I believe this to be true. When I read about how the human eye works and how color is perceived I was absolutely convinced. Seeing is believing my ass! What we see is actually turned upside down and the colors we see are really the lack of that particular pigment being reflected! So what are we REALLY seeing? What would it look like without filters? What the hell is REALLY going on here? I'm not sure anyone can really answer those questions, but I'm sure it has to do with mirrors...however, if we go on the assumption that empathy and connection can be learned and cultivated, I don't think much else matters. Because if that can be achieved for everyone, then we can end war, hatred, greed and suffering. Because if we all have the capacity to feel empathy, when we feel it, there is no more separateness. Then we would all feel the reality that to hurt another is to hurt ourselves, and who wants that? I mean, this could even put an end to involuntary masochism!

To think... all this time, we were taught that the root of evil is money. While there is truth in that, it is only part of the picture. In order for something to be evil, would imply it has power. By itself money does not. We assign it power, all of us collectively. Which means that desire for money, greed, is the real culprit. But while greed may well be evil, that evil is sprung from a deeper well. The well of our perceived separateness. ~The shutting off of our empathy is the root of all that is evil. It is the well from which every other evil is born.

The good news is, if enough of us cultivate our empathic tendencies as a species, we will be unable to knowingly do harm. Or at least less able. I like the sound of that. No, wait...



Ms. Moon said...

Very interesting stuff, Ms. Fleur.

Dexter Dama said...

OH my god! I can't wait to come back and marinate in this post. If I read even one complete sentence I'll miss my yoga class.
See you sooon!

Dexter Dama said...

I loved this post. The whole concept of thinking we're separate....it has had me in a tailspin for quite some time. Readers might also be interested in the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know? It offers a tremendous physics based and neuroscientific picture of learned patterns via stories of various individuals. Whoever is interested in changing brains, and believes in it, please see this movie!

PF, your excitement about how mirror neurons can be applied to society at large is inspiring. You really care about our world feeling weller and people not being trapped. Thanks for reminding me of that with your post, and as always, for posting your zest without censor. I'm bouncy!

Petit fleur said...

Ms Moon- Thanks for stopping... Do you really think it's interesting? I can't tell if you're pulling my leg sometimes. DOH!

Petit fleur said...

Dear Dama,

You are such an encouraging soul. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I'm so stoked that your excited and bouncy about this too! I wish I was in a position to really help with experiments on brain and behavior. I find it so fascinating. Talk about an onion! Sheesh!

I did see the movie and read the book. It is fascinating stuff. I gobble it up. I don't care if I fit into some cheese ball stereotype! What is so funny about peace love and understanding anyway?

Speaking of PL & U, did you hear that Mary from Peter Paul and Mary just died...? I just heard it this morning.

Elizabeth said...

This is so interesting -- and I don't know how I missed it because I regularly read the magazine (I even had an article published in a year or so ago!). I'm new to your blog and looking forward to reading more.

Petit fleur said...

Hey Elizabeth!

I see you all the time on Ms Moon's blog, and I love your comments.

WOW you wrote and article for S&H mag.. that is so cool! I'd love to read it. May I ask what you do for living? (I'm still trying to figure that one out!)

Do you have a blog?

Anyway, thanks for stopping in. I'm really excited to have new traffic!
Hope to see you again,