June 17, 2013
Infinity is hard to think about, but happily, our brains keep evolving. Having evolved to the point that we can look “out there” and see incredible mathematical orderliness, we've reached the horizon where reality may reveal its true source.
From The Huffington Post. By:
Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP
Murali Doraiswamy, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center
Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital
Menas Kafatos, PhD, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University.
In our previous articles, we challenged a cherished point of view, that reality is material and external. There is a world "out there" that that every baby plops into when it is born. Convincing someone that this didn't really happen is disturbing, and among scientists, whose worldview depends on the material world being real, hackles are raised as soon as you say otherwise. But we aren't straying outside science in the quantum era. Our basic point, that the physical world lost its reassuring status a hundred years ago when the quantum revolution began -- is beyond dispute.
But the fact that every particle in the universe winks in and out of the quantum field, or that particles can transition into waves that spread in all directions doesn't strike very close to home. Quantum physicists get into their cars every morning with no fear that the engine will vanish into a cloud of energy. But this new, nonmaterial reality actually lies much closer than anyone supposes. The human brain is where the quantum meets the road, with far-reaching implications.
What if there is physical evidence that the brain is a quantum device, and that its design reflects the cosmos in an uncanny way that cannot be by chance? In the Vedic tradition of India, it is held that "as is the smallest, so is the greatest. As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm." We're using modern terminology, but the concept is timeless: Nature is coherent from its subtlest level to its grossest. Some clues to this truth are visual -- the helix that appears in DNA and in spiral nebulas, for example. Hard science isn't moved by casual resemblances, however.
...Several years ago the philosopher Clark Glymour at Carnegie Mellon University published an intriguing paper titled "When is a brain like the planet?" He provocatively concluded that when it thinks, the brain parallels the ecology of our planet. A phenomenon like El Nino, which is coordinated with weather events far away in Africa, is similar time series correlations observed in an fMRI brain scan. (Similarly, Greek seismologists at the University of Athens have concluded that the tremors before an earthquake are identical to the heart patterns before a heart attack.)
...The fact is that all systems seem to be self-organized, from the complex way that replicant RNA organizes a new strand of DNA to the way the brain produces a single picture of reality that organizes the firing of billions of neurons. The constants that rule the evolution of the universe are so precise that stars are organized to live through definite, orderly stages, and the formation of galaxies from interstellar dust follows its own life cycle.
In recent decades it has become established that a single cell is a system, as is the brain, and the entire body -- you are presiding over an entire ecology, and like planetary ecology, everything finds a delicate balance. The phenomenon of homeostasis is the body's way of balancing hundreds of different functions (e.g., blood pressure, body temperature, the symphony of hormones coursing through the blood stream, digestion, respiration, and waking and sleeping). It strikingly mirrors planetary ecology and its living response to forces of balance and imbalance. The Gaia hypothesis, which looks upon the Earth as a single organism, may well apply to our own bodies as cells in the body of the cosmos.
"As is the smallest, so is the greatest" has come full circle from ancient wisdom to modern science once we accept that every system is driven by feedback loops, homeostasis, and continuing self-organization. At this point, it is up to dissenters to prove that we aren't inhabiting a living universe, tied into it by the most fundamental characteristics of biological systems.
“There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousness...In truth there is only one mind.”
If it seems too much to grant that the universe is a living organism, that point isn't necessary. What we wanted to show in this article is that the material world isn't primary but secondary. Without homeostasis, feedback loops, and self-organization drive every level of Nature -- they are invisible and intangible. Without them, the fine-tuned universe couldn't exist, or the fine-tuned human brain.
...Even though everyone uses phrases like "I'm making up my mind" and "My mind's not very sharp today," the "my" is only an assumption.
When you get out of the shower, you are wet; you don't say, "This is my wet." General qualities aren't individual. You can't call the Earth's atmosphere "my air." In the same way, human pride in being able to think and reason may be a false assumption. The great quantum pioneer Erwin Schrödinger thought so:
"There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousness... n truth there is only one mind."
The implication is that just as our bodies are cells in the body of the universe, our consciousness is immersed in the universal mind. But how would we go about validating this scientifically? Going beyond resemblances in Nature, systems give us a toehold -- studying the evolution of physical systems on Earth will tell us a lot about the evolution of the brain, and vice versa.
If the universe is encoded in the brain, then perhaps "insights" that scientists and philosophers have had in the past (breakthrough thoughts about reality) are not be so mysterious. Einstein was astonished that relativity, a theory formulated in his mind, turned out to match Nature's workings with incredible mathematical precision. Such astonishment has evolved beyond amazement by now. The brain is now being examined in the light of quantum biology, and it is dawning that thinking involves quantum operations at the basis where ions exchange charges -- thus exchanging information in a precise, even digital way -- down to a finer level where "normal" interactions between particles ceases. People do unexpected, strange, weird, and spooky things -- so do quanta. If their weirdness is entangled with ours, there is more than resemblance, parallels, and coincidence. The same source is at work for stars, brains, and thinking.
Perhaps, we are all tapping into cosmic knowledge (the ultimate software), acting as a portal from one piece of hardware to another, from the brain to reality "out there." Using the same build for the hardware, Nature has allowed us to enter our mental universe, only to discover the infinitude of the conscious universe. Infinity is hard to think about, but happily, our brains keep evolving. Having evolved to the point that we can look "out there" and see incredible mathematical orderliness, we've reached the horizon where reality may reveal its true source.
(To be cont.)
June 10, 2013
“The main finding [of our research] is that...transcendental meditation can have a major effect on cardiovascular events”
From Time.com Health & Family
By Laura Blue
Most doctors say meditation can’t hurt you, but now there’s reassuring evidence that it may help you as well when it comes to warding off disease.
Previous studies have linked better health outcomes among heart patients who practiced meditation compared to those who did not, but none of those trials could definitively credit the brain-focusing program with the better health results. In the latest trial to address those limitations, however, meditation does appear to have an effect on reducing heart attack, stroke and even early death from heart disease, at least among African-Americans.
“The main finding [of our research] is that, added on top of usual medical care, intervention with a mind-body technique — transcendental meditation — can have a major effect on cardiovascular events,” says Robert Schneider, lead author on the study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes and a professor at the Maharishi University of Management, an institution in Iowa that was founded by the creator of transcendental meditation.
He and his colleagues followed 201 African American men and women, who are at higher risk of heart disease than whites, but who also had an additional reason to worry about heart attacks and strokes since they were also diagnosed with coronary heart disease. The participants were randomly assigned to participate in either a health education class about heart-friendly diet and exercise, or to attend a transcendental meditation program. Transcendental meditation involves shutting out the outside world and focusing thoughts inward, or resting while remaining alert. All of the participants continued to receive their normal medical care as well, including appropriate medication.
After roughly five years of follow-up, the researchers found a 48% reduction in the overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from any cause among members of the meditation group compared to those from the health education group. The meditating group enjoyed an average drop of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure compared to the control group and also reported less stress and less anger. “It’s like discovering a whole new class of medications,” Schneider says of the power of meditation in improving the patients’ health.
But while the magnitude of those results is remarkable, the study involved a relatively small number of participants, and did not reveal how meditation may be lowering heart disease risk. On the surface, it’s intuitively obvious that stress management can affect heart health for the better; anxiety and stress cause blood pressure to shoot up and leave us on edge, triggering spikes in heart-harming stress hormones like cortisol.
But many experts are skeptical of the alleged benefits of techniques such as transcendental meditation that claim to reduce stress by a substantial amount.... In the past, these benefits have been hard to test scientifically, largely because study participants who volunteered for meditation programs may have been biased to see them succeed. Practitioners have also made strong and essentially unsubstantiated claims about the powers of meditation, leading heart experts and scientists to be especially skeptical. In fact, in 2005, more than 500 brain researchers signed a petition (albeit an unsuccessful one) to protest a scheduled lecture on the neuroscience of meditation by the Buddhist spiritual icon, the Dalai Lama, at a major conference organized by the Society for Neuroscience.
The great lengths to which the researchers of the Circulation study went to make their trial scientifically rigorous, however, should reinforce the results in the eyes of some skeptics. The scientists adjusted for the effects of weight, smoking behavior, and diet, all of which can influence heart attack, stroke and early heart death rates. And while the participants in both groups exercised more and cut back on alcohol during the study, they did so at similar rates, making these changes unlikely to be responsible for the differences in health outcomes either.
While the findings aren’t likely to resolve questions over whether meditation should become a standard part of heart disease care, the results should give more doctors confidence in discussing the practice with their patients and giving them some scientifically based information that’s an improvement over the advice that “it can’t hurt to try.”
Image credit unknown
June 06, 2013
“Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world....Our purpose is to examine subtle correlations that reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world.”
Coherent consciousness creates order in the world.
Subtle interactions link us with each other and the Earth.
When human consciousness becomes coherent and synchronized, the behavior of random systems may change. Quantum event based random number generators (RNGs) produce completely unpredictable sequences of zeroes and ones. But when a great event synchronizes the feelings of millions of people, our network of RNGs becomes subtly structured. The probability is less than one in a billion that the effect is due to chance. The evidence suggests an emerging noosphere, or the unifying field of consciousness described by sages in all cultures.
Definition of NOOSPHERE [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]:
the sphere of human consciousness and mental activity especially in regard to its influence on the biosphere and in relation to evolution
The Global Consciousness Project is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists and engineers. We collect data continuously from a global network of physical random number generators located in 70 host sites around the world. The data are transmitted to a central archive which now contains more than 12 years of random data in parallel sequences of synchronized 200-bit trials every second.
Our purpose is to examine subtle correlations that reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world. We hypothesize that there will be structure in what should be random data, associated with major global events. The data overall show a highly significant departure from expectation, confirming this prediction. Go to the Main Menu on the left to learn how the science is done. For some philosophical and interpretive perspectives, look to the Aesthetics menu.
Subtle but real effects of consciousness are important scientifically, but their real power is more direct. They encourage us to make essential, healthy changes in the great systems that dominate our world. Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. Knowing this, we can intentionally work toward a brighter, more conscious future.
The Institute of Noetic Sciences provides a logistical home for the GCP. It is directed by Roger Nelson from his home office in Princeton, but is not a project of Princeton University.
June 02, 2013
“These are areas of vast stillness, where the strange and the impossible are the norm.”
Filmmaker and consciousness explorer Martin Taylor turns the camera on himself, resolutely documenting his personal journey "home." Beginning with the Gateway Voyage program at TMI in Virginia, through the fire of dissolution, and emerging to take the next leap - Guidelines - in Australia, Martin is committed to telling his authentic story.
His video below, “Five Years to Find Home,” picks up five years after his Gateway program as he prepares to attend Guidelines. To begin at the beginning, check out Martin's “The Rest of Reality at The Monroe Institute.”
Along the way, Martin created Gift Notes, eloquent and deeply stirring two-minute film vignettes from anonymous TMI participants who were moved to share their own profoundly life-changing moments.
From Martin's blog, The Rest of Reality,
Well this has been a long time coming. A short break from daily life, this video, my next big adventure.
Over five years ago, I had an experience that solidified my past and changed my future. This short captures what happened since that pivotal point in 2008, and sets the stage for what’s to come.
This morning I’m driving ten hours North here in Australia, to attend Guidelines. Five days of listening to Hemi-Sync® technology; sounds that shift your consciousness away from waking reality and into expanded territory. These are areas of vast stillness, where the strange and the impossible are the norm.
I’m armed with the love and support of my wife, a sense of adventure, an award winning cinematographer, and a deep sense of gratitude.
More videos to come of what lays ahead. See you on the other side…
May 30, 2013
“A Florida woman says a dolphin saved her life by detecting her lung cancer—but is such a thing even possible?”
By David Kirby
Can dolphins detect cancer in people? To some scientists, it’s not even a legitimate hypothesis; and to many animal-rights activists, “swim-with-the-dolphin” cancer diagnostic centers would be no less objectionable than any other form of captivity.
But what if the rather far-fetched idea were true? What if we tested dolphins and discovered they can detect tiny tumors and abnormal growths in humans, perhaps even those missed by state-of-the-art technology? Instead of X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans, will patients one day be clamoring for cetacean-grams?
Probably not. But I, for one, believe the hypothesis is plausible. Others are positively convinced it is fact, including Patricia Stoops of Panama City, Florida, who claims that a captive dolphin named Keppler saved her life after a chance meeting at a swim-with program in the Caribbean.
Stoops was on a Carnival cruise in the British Virgin Islands when she eagerly signed up for the “dolphin excursion” on the island of Tortola.
She and about 15 others entered the water as a group of captive dolphins approached them and began interacting as normal. But one dolphin, Keppler, took a keen interest in Stoops and refused to leave her alone.
“He did a flip in front of me,” she told WJHG-TV news in Panama City. “He kept running into me and I explained to the trainer that the dolphin had hit me. He said, ‘Oh, that’s unusual.’ The dolphin trainer said the dolphin detected something wrong with me.”
Stoops was taken aback by what the trainer’s said next: He asked if her trip was sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to fulfill a final wish of swimming with dolphins.
“He asked if I’d ever had cancer. I said, ‘no way!’ ” she said. In fact, she had never been healthier in her life. But, she would soon discover, that was not true.
A week after returning home, Stoops noticed some pain in her chest. Thinking it had something to do with the dolphin encounter, she went to the doctor, who discovered a spot on her lung and diagnosed her with lung cancer. Now cancer free, she hopes to visit the animal in the fall.
“Thank God to this little dolphin, Keppler. He saved my life,” Stoops says.
The ability of whales and dolphins to emit and receive high-frequency sounds, called echolocation, has long baffled and awed scientists. Even today, we do not fully understand the remarkable process, which literally lies outside our own brains’ ability to perform.
Of course, the chain-of-events are likely coincidental, even though eerily similar, unverified accounts are posted online. Michael T. Hyson, Ph.D., research director at the Hawaii-based Sirius Institute, which advocates captive dolphins as therapy for people with autism and other disorders, writes about a dolphin named Dreamer possessed with seemingly miraculous abilities to heal and diagnose humans.
“A woman swimming with Dreamer thought she had been rammed,” Hyson writes. “The woman was taken to hospital for examination. The woman had a large bruise. X-ray revealed that under the ribs, near the center of the bruised area, there was a small tumor. It is my feeling that Dreamer likely ‘zapped’ the tumor with a powerful sound pulse, perhaps to heal it, and the high intensity sound left bruising from hydrostatic shock. At the least, the bruising called medical attention to the tumor.”
Meanwhile, “Dolphins have been known to detect certain types of cancer and pregnancy in some people,” WJHG reports, “But experts say there is no clinical research to back up those behaviors.
There has been no research in this regard, though it would be fairly simple. Dolphins could be put in the water with people with various stages of cancer and healthy controls. You could have, say, 15 controls and one patient. If a dolphin displayed unusual behaviors around that person, it’s possible the animal detected something.
Most experts I asked didn’t really know how to answer the question, “Is this possible?”...
May 27, 2013
“On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.”
The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.
‘Overview’ is a short film [19 minutes] that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.
• EDGAR MITCHELL – Apollo 14 astronaut and founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
• RON GARAN – ISS astronaut and founder of humanitarian organization Fragile Oasis
• NICOLE STOTT – Shuttle and ISS astronaut and member of Fragile Oasis
• JEFF HOFFMAN – Shuttle astronaut and senior lecturer at MIT
• SHANE KIMBROUGH – Shuttle/ISS astronaut and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army
• FRANK WHITE – space theorist and author of the book ‘The Overview Effect’
• DAVID LOY- philosopher and author
• DAVID BEAVER – philosopher and co-founder of The Overview Institute
Produced by: GUY REID, STEVE KENNEDY, CHRISTOPHER FERSTAD
Director: GUY REID
Editor: STEVE KENNEDY
Director of Photography: CHRISTOPHER FERSTAD
Original Score: HUMAN SUITS
Dubbing Mixer: PATCH MORRISON
Filmed with Canon 5D Mk ii.
Additional footage from NASA / ESA archives
Duration: 19 minutes
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