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I’m ashamed of getting old. I’ve never been old before and I don’t really know much about how best to go about becoming old. So many things I expect of myself that I took for granted ten, five, even one year ago, I find myself often struggling with today.

The ability to hold more than two things in mind at the same time for at least a few minutes is a challenge. So is reading. The longest time I can currently sit and read a book or magazine or academic paper is 10 minutes tops – I hold Neuroenergetic Theory responsible. After 10 minutes I need a break and am not able to return to reading for a good half hour or more. I have to carry a reporter’s notebook with me so I can write down things I want to remember. Then, of course, I forget to look at the notebook. I also forget to remember the research that suggests fast walking might make my elder brain work better.

Inclining the Decline

Physical things are harder as well. Walking more than 45 minutes fatigues me. When I take one of the dogs with me, Ollie, the big Berner pulls me all over the dog park with ease whenever another male dog shows up to challenge him. I’m forced to take him there really early in the morning when no other dogs are around.

3chopwood.jpgI like to cut firewood, load and split it. I’m only good for an hour max at any portion of that process. I’ve had to learn to be hyper-vigilant when using the chainsaw, since many accidents tend to befall the elderly using power tools. Same thing with climbing up and cleaning off the roof. However, I’m determined to stay active and NOT be one of those statistics.

My typing has significantly deteriorated. I used to be able to type full paragraphs and pages without so much as a single misspelling. Now, my fingers hit keys for the wrong letters repeatedly. It’s as if my fingers have a mind of their own. Unfortunately, it’s a dyslexic mind that constantly types letters like it thinks I speak a foreign language.

I’ve always been an early riser, but for the last 10 years or so, 3AM has been my regular wake-up time. Is this normal? Neuroscientists suggest it’s not; that it’s bad for my brain. However, I wake up reasonably rested without using an alarm. What am I supposed to do – try and force myself back to sleep?

Beware the Predators

Scammers prey on the elderly. We can’t think as clearly as we once could. I almost fell for a not-very sophisticated scam only last month. I worked hard to finish the 4th Prayer Pod I’ve been building all winter (after running into all kinds of bureaucratic mishegas, I decided to build them and sell them and give a percentage of the profits to homeless organizations, rather than to try and donate the pods directly).

Curvy Pod FrontWell, I got the pod com- pleted and put it up on Craigslist. Almost imme- diately my wife and I got an email from a “marine engineer” away at sea. He wanted to surprise his father with the pod for Father’s Day. Would we accept payment through Paypal? What could go wrong, right?

Well, on a hunch I went online and looked up “Paypal Scams” and there was the script this “marine engineer” was using, almost word for word. Fortunately, we escaped with only a small amount of time wasted.

Sense and Sensibility

I feel perhaps the greatest shame in the clear deterioration of all my physical senses, most pointedly, smell. Several weeks ago my wife took our dogs out for a romp on the beach. That evening, sitting in the living room she noticed a stink. Only after she pointed it out did I notice it. Her sense of smell has been forever more keen than mine. “The dogs must have rolled in something dead at the beach,” was the explanation we eventually settled on.

In the morning, when I got up the stench was stronger than the night before. It was a cold morning and I was about to take the spring chill out of the house by starting a fire in the woodstove. But then I thought it would be a good idea to let all the dogs out. Then I decided I would first take a shower. It was in the shower that my neural networks finally connected the brain cells that identified the pungent smell permeating the house: it was propane! I immediately jumped out of the shower, went into the kitchen and sure enough – a knob on the gas range was turned on and had been spewing gas into the house for the previous 15 hours. I don’t know if the fuel concentration was strong enough to ignite had I lit the woodstove, but I’m thankful I didn’t run that experiment!

Needless to say, what’s most disconcerting is that I wasn’t able to recognize the smell of that escaping gas immediately. Thankfully, it wasn’t a deadly sensory decline. This time.

And then there’s the subject of Fogey Sex. I think I’ll save that shameful topic for another post. Instead, let me offer up a related Enchanted Loom review HERE – Buddhist psychiatrist, Mark Epstein’s best-selling book, Open to Desire.

I spend a fair amount of time each week with groups of people. We meet either on telephone conference calls or in person, face to face. The groups meet for various purposes – to explore the way money influences our interpersonal relationships; to inquire into how various structural vulnerabilities in the brain contribute to pain and suffering; exploring any number of ways to turn information into inspiration in the age of info-besity. I greatly enjoy these get-togethers and look forward to them each week. And in most of them I find myself having great difficulty.

Facing Up to Reality

One difficulty I have is with people’s faces. Facial expressions are both compelling and distracting to me. As a result, whenever I’m with a group online, I either don’t put up a picture of myself or else I provide a recent still photo. I also don’t look at the faces of the people I’m interacting with on the screen.

Portraits

There are specific areas of the brain with circuitry dedicated to facial recognition and processing. I suspect my own face processing networks are either very large – faces are like mighty electromagnets the way they draw me to them; or very small – I’m constantly effortfully attending to them in what feels like to an excessive degree. The draw frequently feels like an addiction – I often can’t not look. Evolutionary neuroscience posits that what I’m most looking for are potential threats.

Another reason I don’t show up live in front of a camera on conference calls is because virtually every time I’m on them I find myself yawning repeatedly. Not out of distraction or boredom in response to what people are saying, but out of what feels like a need to stretch my facial muscles and take in more oxygen. I also frequently find my eyes watering non-stop. It’s very much like I’m allergic to talking on the phone. Needless to say, this is all enormously stressful. And interesting! The stress may be the result of hyperarousal similar to that identified in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder which induces them to avoid making eye contact – something I also struggle with and something I have to be very mindful and deliberate about.

Stifling Myself

As a consequence of having so much self-attending to do, more often than not I find it very challenging to track group dynamics and dialogue on the phone, on Zoom or on Skype. As a further consequence I often find myself reluctant to speak up for fear that what I have to say will be off-topic and betray my struggle with attending and tracking.

There is another element involved with this difficulty as well. It turns out that testosterone, in the amounts that get generated during puberty in males – as Louann Brizendine reports in her book The Male Brain – ends up specifically targeting the speech and language centers in adolescent males, pruning and thinning much of that network like a mad gardener. 1192422_940x5311.jpgThe result for many adolescent boys – and especially for me – is that it takes considerably more effort and energy to generate speech than it did only months or weeks before puberty. I very likely have compromised Anomia Networks. With practice, over time, those networks can become restored, as evidenced by many male professors or politicians. But they don’t for everyone, dependent in part I suspect, on a male’s (or female’s) personal prior and subsequent trauma history.

Working Around My Workaround

Recognizing this speaking difficulty for myself, one workaround I’ve developed is to put together presentations that provide me with clear cues and explicit talking points. I then add extensive notes to remind myself of things I want to say that I hope and expect people will find interesting and useful. I also hope they will inspire talking on their end. Having this format allows my threat-detection networks the ability to relax, which, in and of itself permits greater operational access to Broca and Wernicke (my brain’s predominant speech-generating and language processing areas).

Much of my ongoing challenge has been to find workarounds like this. For the oxygen piece, I often exercise before I’m going to be on an extended call. For the eye-watering, sometimes I’ll take an antihistamine beforehand. In an effort to keep my stress levels in the eustress zone, I might do some desk exercises or practice yogic breathing. Essentially, though, what it continually comes down to is: communicating skillfully and effectively in the service of non-self-stifling … takes a LOT of challenging, mindful, deliberate work!

Years ago I took a two weekend training that had many neurobiologically integrative elements to it. One was a requirement that: “When you give your word, keep it.” That made sense to me, even though I was someone pretty lax in that regard. I didn’t know much about the brain then, or interpersonal neurobiology – how we constantly, consciously and unconsciously affect one another for better or worse.

ipnb-header.jpgDuring the course of that training people repeatedly made promises and then failed to keep them. They promised to arrive on time and they would show up late. They promised to pay attention to the trainer and then repeatedly whispered things to their neighbor. They promised to participate in the exercises and then came up with all kinds of stories about why they couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t. It was interesting to notice how, with each of these broken promises, my automatic instinct was to move away from those people. Without me even consciously directing it, my brain and body automatically identified people who made promises and didn’t keep them as “untrustworthy others.”

A great many of us fail to realize that much of our lives is actively devoted to safety-seeking. From the friends we make, to the places we work, the stores where we shop, to the restaurants where we eat most regularly, ideally they all actively operate in ways that consciously or unconsciously avoid triggering our threat detection circuitry. Once a threat-detection circuit gets activated, it’s difficult to disconnect it and turn it off. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons this long-ago training spent so much time working with us on keeping our word once we’ve given it. It makes us dependable, trustworthy, i.e. worthy of other people’s trust. Keeping our word actually turns out to be a lot easier to do than the repair work required after promises have been broken. Unfortunately the work of repairing the rupture that results from unkept promises is something many of us simply never bother to do. This is a mistake.

Interconnected Hydrology

My friend Susan recently sent me the image below from The Nature Conservancy. I was struck by how very much like brain networks all the water basins in the country appear. Not only that, but how connected they all are.

A Water Basin Brain

It’s hard for me not to think of human beings as being interconnected like that. And equally difficult to think that it doesn’t matter when broken promises break connections. Life and energy (and water) is meant to flow. When it doesn’t, this image makes it easy to imagine that serious consequences result.

Say What You’ll Do and Do What You Say

What also comes to mind in terms of keeping our promises is how instructive many wisdom traditions are when it comes to using language. Buddhism, for example, offers the concept of Right Speech, most easily memorable as mindful inquiry by the acronym THINK: Is what we’re saying True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? And finally, and probably most important from a brain-health perspective, Is it Kind? Imagine how trustworthy the world would be if we all walked around with this way of behaving as a personal adrenal management practice?

Circling Averages

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn popularized the notion that we (our brains and bodies) are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. That fits with the tenets of Interpersonal Neurobiology. In my own early life in the housing projects, it quickly became apparent to me that I didn’t really want to spend a lot of time around people who scared me or whom I couldn’t trust. But where to go and what to do to find new people to raise the quality of my social circle?

Growing up, a single mom with four boys – a woman named Edith Labovitz – used to live in the projects. She was instrumental in getting me my first job – delivering newspapers around the neighborhood. One day she just picked up and successfully moved with her four boys from New Haven to Los Angeles. Years later, I would make the same move, and because she was kind and gracious enough to take me in as Son #5 when I arrived in LA, the downward trajectory my life had been on, suddenly changed abruptly. Her only requirement of me: keep every promise I made her. I owe her and her sons a deep debt of gratitude for substantially changing my brain and my behavior at a most vulnerable and critical time in my life.

If you want to powerfully amp up the change process in your own brain and behavior, check out this Enchanted Loom review of the new book, Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst, by Stanford neurobiologist, and Daily Show guest, Robert Sapolsky. It’s been ten years in the making.

Several years after I’d successfully established myself as a Bay Area builder, a friend approached me to explore the possibility of doing a spec house together. After a number of discussions we agreed we would take on the rough-and-tumble world of Palo Alto real estate. We would find an old house with tons of deferred maintenance and either remodel it or tear it down and build anew (teardowns could actually be found in Palo Alto in those days).

After many frustrating weeks of fruitlessly searching together, one morning I discovered an empty lot for sale while driving my daughter to school. An empty, buildable lot; a perfect fit for our needs! I’d probably driven by it previously a dozen times or more. welcome+to+palo+alto4.jpgIt was located at 720 Seneca Street in Palo Alto – within easy walking distance to Steve Jobs’ house on Waverley Street and just a few blocks off University Avenue, affording a straight shot onto the Stanford Campus. Stan immediately put an offer on the lot (he was the Money Man in our partnership), and we closed the purchase less than a month later.

I really liked partnering with Stan. He took a lot of the pressure off in working with architects and designers and the Palo Alto building and planning department. He was smart and creative and very good at problem-solving. He also picked all the kitchen and bathroom fixtures for the house and worked with the landscape architect. The actual building of the house was primarily left to me and my crew, with Stan sharing the stressors and providing the investment capital (which is often a major stressor for spec builders, since banks invariably want to yoke a construction loan to a builder’s personal residence). The Seneca House was a joy to build. Until it wasn’t.

Dual Relationships: There Be Monsters

Dual Relationships are something that the fields of therapy and coaching tend to pay a lot of attention to, and for good reason. The potential for personal exploitation and/or ethical violations, when such relational dynamics exist, is exponentially increased. But there’s another significant factor that is seldom considered in dual relationship dynamics.

I’ve written extensively over the years about how on some level, mostly unconsciously, our brains are very often trying to get The Big Brain Question – Are You There for Me – answered “Yes.” A Yes answer results in secure attachment, robust neural connectivity and integration, ease with prudent risk-taking and self-regulation. Secure Attachment is a wondrous thing.

And all of these elements and more were present in Stan and my partnership. Until they weren’t.

Here’s how The Big Brain Question unwittingly turned from a “Yes” into a “No” for Stan and me without either of us realizing what had taken place.

Leaving the Partnering World

As the finishing touches were being put on the house, real estate brokers began coming around looking to secure the sales listing. I disliked dealing with them, especially in the middle of the workday, and so I would refer them to Stan. One day he called me up and suggested we get together and have a meeting to discuss selling the house. It was at that meeting that Stan broke the news: he was actually interested in buying the house himself!

My immediate reaction was mixed. On the one hand, selling to Stan would take the pressure off of getting the house sold. It would also cut out half the realtor’s fees (Stan insisted that he should get to deduct 3% of their fee, since he was going to half to pay 6% whenever he sold.

il_340x270.817013724_4vod.jpgOn the other hand his offer caused me a great degree of difficulty. Whereas, through the whole process, I’d had a trusted partner and we had each other’s back, now suddenly my partner was gone and with him went the possibility of getting the absolute best price we could for the house. Stan handed me a list of bank appraisers and said, “We’ll each freely pick an appraiser from the list and we’ll split the difference in the value they each determine.”

If I was smart and had advisors who had my back, I would have been well-served by going to them at once and asking them to represent ME in the transaction. But with my history of betrayal and abandonment, that wasn’t something actually available to me. I ended up doing as Stan asked, but never felt good about anything that happened from there on out. And for good reason.

It was only years later that I learned there’s a significant difference in types and kinds of real estate appraisers and how they work. Fee appraisers are much more thorough and work only for their client to try and get the most accurate valuation possible. Bank appraisers work for banks, and appraise properties very conservatively so as to best protect the bank’s interest. The list that Stan suggested we select from was a list of local bank appraisers, of course. I have no doubt that Stan knew the difference.

Money knowledge is power, and without a doubt Stan used it greatly to his advantage. He ended up holding the house for three years and sold it for a little less than double what he paid for it. Stan and I never did another project together again.

My daughter completed a graduate degree in social work this month. She invited me to her graduation of course, and I gave considerable thought to going. I reluctantly attended the ceremony for her undergraduate degree. Facing extended family that I’d been separated and out of contact with for years promised to be more than challenging than I realized. I was going to do my best to attend the after-party where her mother and her new husband and all the extended family were going to be gathered. In the middle of her processional, however, I was overcome with a panic attack, leaving me little recourse but to flee the scene in order to self-regulate. At the time that it happened I had absolutely no clue what a panic attack even was.

Learning How I Work

My body and brain took great learning away from that experience – biasing me towards avoiding a repeat at the current graduation ceremony. Still, a large part of me wanted to attend. graduation-ceremony-ideas.jpgI’m proud of my daughter and how hard she’s worked to overcome all kinds of difficulties as a result of the parents and extended family she has been born into. But what I didn’t want was to make my daughter’s moment of accomplishment overshadowed by my own emotional challenges. For lots of reasons, her mother and I have never managed to do much of the repair work that our relationship rupture revealed the need for. Historically, neither of us have been able to offer the trust and vulnerability that such a repair would require. On my side, whenever her mother and I are together my threat-detection circuitry becomes extraordinarily hyper-aroused and I am unable to hold any kind of solid center. Nor has she been able to easily control herself in my presence.

This pretty much describes the nature of my daughter’s mother and my relationship for much of her life after about age nine. We tried to get all kinds of help changing that relational dynamic, all to frustratingly little avail. Finally, the only viable solution we could come up with was to distance ourselves and maintain separate households.

It’s Your Senses, Silly

The more I study the brain and its interactive network functioning, the more interested I am in relationship ruptures such as ours. If THIS is true in terms of how little energy and information in bits per second our relational senses consciously take in, what might it tell us about the accuracy of our experience and perceptions of the people we struggle with?

senory-system-information-theory-99-unconscious

A lot. Mostly, our brain invariably makes crap up about the people we are in conflict with and then goes about the work of making us forget that people aren’t static, unchanging beings, and that the default principle – observable by simply looking at tens of billions of neurons in the brain of any living being – is connection. But in order to maintain or repair connection, we invariably need lots of opportunities for practice. We can use the pain of lots of relationship ruptures to reconcile and repair to learn and grow. To do so, we need our brain to begin a process of reappraisal – to be able to authentically tell a new and different true story about ourselves and other people. Understanding the detailed workings of the brain, its limitations and how vulnerable it often is, can make the work of reappraisal somewhat easier. But make no mistake, it takes a LOT of hard emotional work. Especially if, like me, you tend to be conflict-avoidant. As neuropsychiatrist Gabor Maté noted in a recent riveting Insights at the Edge interview (minute 14:55), “I have my tombstone epitaph already composed: ‘(Becoming spiritually enlightened) was a LOT more work than I anticipated.'”

Deciding What’s Best for All

When it came time to decide whether or not to attend my daughter’s graduation, I was eventually able to freely choose to go or not go. The decision was no longer about me and how I might feel. My brain, body and I had come to a place of full “response flexibility.” It was her graduation, her needs and her decision to make. In the end she and I decided that since it would be too emotionally challenging to have her mother and I and all of the extended family together with so little repair work having been done in the interim years, it would be best if she and I designed our own separate celebration together. And while it wasn’t my first preference, that’s what we did. Lux et veritas!

If you want to learn more about how your own early experiences may impact the way your senses take in the world and affect your ability to deal with conflict, here’s an Enchanted Loom featuring child psychiatrist, Bruce Perry’s account of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog.

No matter what business you’re in, first and foremost you’re in the change of heart business. If you want to change your brain, change your heart.                        ~ Mark Brady (Why not, right?)

I have a saying, one which anyone who spends more than a little time with me has heard more than once: “None of us escapes childhood unscathed.” There are lots of reasons why this is true. Primary among them is that, like the baby bunnies currently racing all over Whidbey Island, our fragile neurobiology is at its most vulnerable all through childhood. bunny.jpgIt is in childhood that we have the least ability to regulate our responses to stress and we learn the real dangers that other people, places and events can represent (In the bunny’s case, it’s eagles, owls, dogs, and coyotes in addition to people). Rarely realizing the true nature of our very vulnerable condition, through heartbreak after heartbreak, we begin to make connective, memorable meaning of the world. As a result of defense mechanisms like denial, distortion and rationalization, it’s not uncommon to truly fail to realize the damage we may have suffered.

Hurt Children Hurt Children

When I was four years old, my 11-year-old sister Andrea would take me to the local neighborhood playground. One day while Ann was pushing me on a swing set, a young girl who was maybe six or seven wandered over and stood off to the side watching me try to make the swing go higher and higher. Boy SwingingWhen I got it going as high as I could manage without totally terrifying myself, I began to ease off the climb. As I passed the little girl on my back swing, she stepped in close. Then, as my front swing brought me right up to her, she stuck her fist out and hit me right in the nose as I flew by. Then she immediately ran away. Fortun- ately, I managed to hold onto the swing – in great pain with blood everywhere. I still clearly remember this world-rocking episode of trust and innocence betrayed more than sixty years later.

This unexpected and unwarranted punch in the nose adversely impacted my heart. And every other organ in my body, including my brain, since they’re all wired together partly by the wandering 10th cranial nerve, the vagus. People hurt people, often for a good reason: they have been hurt themselves. Thus begins our personal Topography of Tears.

Broken Hearted to Death

Pioneer Award-winning researcher Lisa Barrett asks the question: “Why is it that you can sue someone for breaking your (nose) but not for breaking your heart?” The reality is that the emotional damage a broken heart enacts upon us can often be far more damaging and long-lasting than a broken bone. vagus_nerveNot only can it reduce Heart Rate Vulnerability – compromising the heart’s oxygen supply function – but it can also induce Takotsubo Syndrome (also known as Broken Heart Syndrome). This condition, affecting four women for every man, compromises the heart’s pumping function (There is some suggestion that it may have been a contributing factor in Debbie Reynold’s death last year in the wake of her daughter, Carrie Fisher’s death).

Other risks that heartbreak exposes us to are chest pain, shortness of breath, increased levels of inflammation, and Afib or atrial fibrillation – rapid and irregular heartbeat. It can feel like we might be having a heart attack. Any of the ten childhood adverse experiences listed in the ACEs research, in my mind, would qualify as heartbreak. In every one, trust and boundaries are violated, vulnerability is exploited and our young nervous system is flooded with stress hormones beyond all measure. Unless skillfully and successfully addressed, the end result of such traumatic beginnings will be an early death (some neuroscientists believe all you have to do to heal a broken heart it push a button on a computer. I’m not so sure. Read about it HERE).

A Broken Heart Never Forgets

At the same time, most broken hearts heal and grow. And as Leonard Cohen observed (putting music to William Blake’s poetry), the heart’s broken places are where the light gets in. Few of us would trade our unique personal heartbreaks for someone else’s, I suspect. And for good reason: the light holds the seeds for the growing, healing and learning that is an essential part of our own unique human developmental journey.

While it was impossible to understand at the time, being punched in the nose as a four-year-old has been a gift that has kept on giving. It taught me early on that there is pain in life, and that holding onto it as lightly and for as short a time as possible will allow me to avoid a lot of suffering in its wake. It also exquisitely attunes me to the great suffering in the world operating under many people’s personal radar.

“Words have power. They can save, cure, uplift, devastate, deflate and kill.”                                                                           ~ Robert Sapolsky, Behave

One power that words have – in this case, words found in the King James Bible – for those familiar with it – is the ability to regulate our neurophysiology, for better or worse. Ideally though, for better. Read this passage out loud. Pay attention, as best you can, to what goes on inside your body (interoception) as you do so:

shepherdThe LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:1-6)

Bible As Arousal Regulator

If these words have been with you since childhood, there’s a high probability that they have a calming effect. According to Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky (of opening quotation familiarity), they activate your mesolimbic dopaminergic system, a common brain reward pathway. They also work to slow your breathing and relax the muscular tension being held in your body.

If you haven’t been so exposed, it’s likely they will have very little effect on your brain and body. Or, as in my case, an averse effect. What are we to make of such things?

As a young child, I was physically abused by the nuns at Sacred Heart Catholic School. They refused to let me go to the bathroom when I needed to and they smacked the knuckles on the back of my little hands with a wooden ruler. As you might suspect, I don’t have warm fuzzy feelings for Catholicism or Christianity in general.

Converting to Judaism as an adult came with an embarrassing ceremonial circumcision and lots of words I didn’t know the meaning of. Those experiences are partly why I’m currently not a practicing Jew.

Sitting in Buddhist meditation ended up quieting my mind sufficiently so that buried, early somatic traumatic memories, with no words accompanying them, would activate and flood my body with great waves of stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – seemingly out of the blue. For that reason and others, I currently do not practice sitting meditation. How’s a guy supposed to spiritually self-regulate?

Undoing Early Damage

It’s unfortunate that so many of these experiences – intended to draw me into closer connection with spirit and spiritual communities – have been associated with unpleasant or painful reactions in my body and brain. But I am not alone in my early religious trauma. The world is full of people like me. I have met and taught hundreds of them.

Home Fellowship.jpg

To combat the unskillful actions many people have experienced early on with organized religion, some people have taken to organizing prayer, bible-reading and spiritual fellowship similar to how home music concerts are organized. Twelve to fifteen people will gather in a private home and come together in a kind of grassroots worship service, forming a kind of intimate, boutique church as a way to have spiritual connection and social support. The House Church Movement is a growing one in America. There is safety in numbers.

Di-verse-ity Makes It Happen

One interesting finding about words and spirituality from neuroscientist Andrew Newberg in his book, Why God Won’t Go Away, is that the individual brain scans of the members of any religious cohort – Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews – are all different. Both within any group and between any group. Essentially this means there’s no such thing as a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Jew. Each is unique in their own understanding, observance and practice of their professed faith. The words contained in the Bible, the Koran, the Sutras or the Talmud impact each adherent’s brain in ways that are specific and unique to them.

Finally, it turns out that taking the Bible literally and trying to fit many of its ancient prescriptions into contemporary culture, e.g. 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” can be quite damaging to our neural networks. Much like the connectivity that makes up the networks in the brain itself, connections between people are not meant to be unskillfully ruptured by word or deed. When that is the result, we, as the rupturer, pay a heavy price with disaffection and disconnection.

If you want to learn to truly be yourself on your personal spiritual path, here’s an Enchanted Loom review of a book that might excite you, Beau Lotto’s, Deviate.