Last week my brain threw up the spontaneous, random thought: “You’ve been in the human potential, suffering-reduction business for more than half a century!” That pulled me up short, since I rarely feel that antiquated. Then I thought it might be fun to make a list of all the “growth opportunities” I actually have direct experience with, or that I’ve studied in depth. So I did. Here’s the list that I’ve come up with so far:
What’s It All About, Markie?
In addition to both the number and variety of things I’ve exposed myself to over the years, what’s of most interest to me is … where I’ve landed. Paraphrasing child trauma psychiatrist Bruce Perry, “If you’re in the human potential-suffering reduction business, first and foremost, you’re in the brain change business.” And that is indeed where all this personal exploration has currently led me – to exploring and understanding yours and my own brain (and its body connections) as they operate in our everyday social world. (Not to mention the way trees – which we human energy beings are completely dependent upon for life – operate in much the same way as my brain does. This short video explains those parallels quite clearly).
Almost every single process and practice on that list has, at its most fundamental level, the goal of either temporarily or permanently changing the distributed network that comprises my brain and body in order to improve its capacity to process energy and information. What most of those practices are attempting to do – usually unwittingly or indirectly – is take my current processing capacity – for the sake of metaphor let’s say my brain operates at a 3G operating capacity – and transform it into a 4G, 5G or 200G processing capacity (G stands for “Generation; 3G transmits bits and bytes at a highest rate of 200 kilobits per second; 4G transmits at a highest rate of 1 gigabit per second; 200G is currently beyond my capacity to imagine. That’s probably when we begin to instantly teleport living beings). The brain too, transmits bits and bytes (byte = 8 bits) in the form of 1s and zeros – meaning action potentials that either fire and transmit electro-chemical charges or else they fail to. It offers up a steady, massive, multiple stream of on/off, yes/no activity.
Perilous Is As Perilous Does
What’s additionally remarkable and stands out most clearly as I look over the list above is that for almost everything on it, my interest and engagement in each discipline or practice emerged mostly organically. It was just me doing the best I could to repeatedly ask and answer The Two Perilous Questions. For example, I’ve written two previous posts here and here about how repeated ungrieved losses eventually drew me to become a longtime, volunteer grief counselor. Before that, I was enrolled in a Ph.D. psychology program at UCLA when a supposedly “chance” meeting with Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy pointed me to a start-up graduate school in transpersonal psychology (Sofia University). I traveled to the Bay Area for an information interview, intuitively felt it was a much better fit for me in both size and curriculum than UCLA, and immediately applied. A third example: my interest and involvement with EMDR came about when, on a walk together, my friend Katy Butler (Knocking On Heaven’s Door) told me about an interview with Francine Shapiro which she conducted for the Psychotherapy Networker. She was effusive about how she had been cured of longtime pain associated with a childhood trauma in a single session. This kind of rapid suffering-reduction was something I wanted to know more about.
The Be-All and End-All Brain ~ Not
My developing interest in neuroscience is much more tempered than it used to be. What neuroscience has taught me is that the brain and body are NOT all that matter and NOT all that life boils down to. On the contrary. The very complexity and extraordinary workings of brain and body parts – seen and unseen – convince me that there is much more to life and living than most of us ever consciously suspect. The research field and the tools of neuroscience simply provide a context and a process by which to construct creative hypotheses and systematically test them out. And repeatedly make mind-blowing discoveries like these and others that I’ve written about over the years.
It’s a sufficiently robust, complex and mysterious place for me to be spending the remaining days of my life. Please feel free to join me.
Time Is Moving
Last Call: If you rightly suspect that learning how your brain works will make it work better, now’s your last chance to register for the unique and entertaining Social Neuroscience Training which begins next week. Click HERE to see if it resonates.