The Monkey And The SpreadsheetWritten by Abraham Thomas
When mind was fidgety, like a monkey
When you felt restless, it helped to understand drives. The mind perceived, recognized and interpreted. It set goals and acted. Those five faculties were managed by sovereign intelligences. Out of these, it was fourth intelligence, which set goals, by translating feelings into drives. A feeling of fear dictated an escape drive, whose purpose was to achieve safety. That demanded instant responses, varying across species. A deer bounded away. A bird took flight. A fish swam off. While activities of running, flying and swimming differed, it was the drive, which achieved objective of escaping. Drives often made you restless.
Intuition managed drives
Drives have been described in book, The Intuitive Algorithm. Intuition, a pattern recognition algorithm, enabled mind to respond, from input to output, within just 20 milliseconds. The incredible speed of this process depended on massive combinatorial memories in nerve cells and this elimination algorithm. These vast memories enabled nerve cells to remember and trigger drive sequences, with infinite contextual finesse. Drives enabled birds to build nests, selecting secure locations and suitable materials. The wracking sobs of sorrow, or relaxing movements of a belly laugh were both drives responding to emotions. Such drives were inherited responses of nerve channels to varying feelings and emotions.
Search components of drives
Not all drives produced motor outputs. To achieve their objectives, drives also demanded an intelligent evaluation of environment. If objective was to escape, that goal was hardly possible by heading into predator. Increasing distance from danger demanded evaluation of many escape routes. That goal could even be achieved by slipping into a safe sanctuary, inaccessible to predator. Like underside of a rock.. Drives involved a search of multiple contexts to discover right answer. When a person sat down to write a shopping list, drives evaluated stock in larder, likely menus, stock of toiletries, and cleaning needs. Drives delivered item lists to working memory, to be jotted down. By contextually searching mind, drives played a valuable, creative role.
The “Aha” experience of drives
Such drives, searching across varied contexts, were not limited to humans. Konrad Lorenz described a chimpanzee in a room which contained a banana suspended from ceiling just out of reach, and a box elsewhere in room. "The matter gave him no peace, and he returned to it again. Then, suddenly - and there is no other way to describe it - his previously gloomy face 'lit up'. His eyes now moved from banana to empty space beneath it on ground, from this to box, then back to space, and from there to banana. The next moment he gave a cry of joy, and somersaulted over to box in sheer high spirits. Completely assured of his success, he pushed box below banana. No man watching him could doubt existence of a genuine 'Aha' experience in anthropoid apes". Even monkeys inherited creative drives. And restlessness.
The burden of responsibility
The need for a solution had given animal “no peace.” This dilemma was not limited to animals or just ordinary people. It was a problem at highest levels of professional life. Mathen had retired as director of a major medical college and hospital, where he had gracefully managed myriad problems faced by institution. He mentioned that, when he rose from bed morning after retirement, he felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. His subconscious drives, seeking solutions to a barrage of issues, had become inhibited. He felt unburdened. A multitude of such drives operated in your mind. Some of those could discover no solutions. Which caused restlessness. Understanding those drives and acting to manage them could be a step to peace of mind.
Many conflicting goals
Life was a creative process, facing a train of baffling problems. The options were to fight, compromise, or retreat. Each context triggered distinct emotions. Anger, friendship, or fear triggered competing drives. Intuition provided a narrow focus to each drive, by eliminating concerns that did not fit its own feeling. For drive supported by anger, amicable memories were eliminated. Each drive held a partisan view. As evidence built up, emotional strengths of drives varied. Opposing emotions competed for control. Intuition acted in limbic system to establish most powerful emotion as current feeling. The current feeling triggered its own drive. Competing drives, which opposed feeling were inhibited and became unavailable to consciousness.
You were conscious of dominant drive. But, other divergent drives continued as subconscious search processes. Many sought to achieve opposing objectives. More often than not, these furtive emotions perturbed you. For some, this process created massive internal conflicts. How could conflicting viewpoints of mind be integrated? How could a multitude of clashing drives be focused on problems of coping with life in a harsh and unforgiving world? Across ages, many solutions were offered to focus mind and still conflicts. Over time, meditation, chanting and breathing routines were found to be beneficial. But, that treated symptom, not problem. The long term solution was to broaden narrow focus of competing drives. An integrated approach to life would empower consciousness.
Psychology and Sacred MomentsWritten by Elisha Goldstein
"The great lesson from true mystics, from Zen Monks, and now also from Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists – that sacred is in ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting sacred – this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous." - Abraham Maslow
An electronic search of Psychological Abstracts in psychology’s last 100 years reveals a 14 to 1 ratio of psychological articles about negative emotions versus positive emotions. The imbalance in research of negative versus positive makes it ever more important to ask question, what does it mean to live good life? Religious scholars to philosophers to modern day psychologists have pondered perennial question of what it means to live well. In past few decades there has been a considerable surge in interest and research on phenomena of well-being. Distilled through years, subjective well-being (SWB)and psychological well-being (PWB)have emerged as most prominent concepts in mainstream research. SWB focuses more on positive/negative affect and life satisfaction while PWB is concerned with meaning, purpose, and existential issues. Through empirically validated studies, research in each field has created operationalized, well validated constructs of well-being (Diener, 1984; Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996; Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995).
Empirical research suggests that, in considering an approach to pursuing a lifestyle conducive to good overall health and well-being, an important factor is cultivating a sense of sacredness in one’s life. Recent studies show a high positive correlation between cognitive and affective aspects of sacred and well-being. Some studies suggest that connecting with transcendent and experiencing a transcendent sense of self foster well-being. Other studies find that well-being is positively correlated with a sense of support from transcendent in areas such as marriage, parenting,healthy family relationships, and sustaining physical health. Emmons and McCullough (2003) applied a new intervention that focuses on fostering gratitude and linked it to life satisfaction and a sense of purpose in life. Furthermore, cognitive and affective components associated with sacred have positive correlations among themselves, implying that when experiencing one aspect, others may be felt at same time. These studies underscore concept that there is a significant positive connection between what are considered sacred components of life and well-being and a negative connection to stress. It can therefore be argued that an intervention cultivating these sacred components may increase well-being and reduce stress.
Sacred Qualities and Sacred Moments
A large body of theory has described a broad spectrum of experiences that may or may not be considered a sacred moment. The key aspect of a sacred moment, as defined and described in this study, is that it is a moment in time that is imbued with sacred qualities. For purposes of this study, sacred qualities are defined as having two components: (a) they inherently possess spiritual qualities as defined by Lynn Underwood and World Health Organization, such as gratefulness, feeling of connection with and support from transcendent, sweet-sadness, awe, compassion, and/or a deep sense of inner peace, and (b) they are imbued with qualities such as precious, dear, blessed, cherished, and/or holy. Consequently, for purposes of this study, sacred moments are defined as day-to-day personal moments that are imbued with sacred qualities, which seem like time-outs from daily busy-ness, where a sense of stillness arises or occurs and where concerns of every day just seem to evaporate. In other words, in order to experience a sacred moment, moment needs to be imbued by individual with these sacred qualities. Although extraordinary mystical experiences could also be considered sacred moments, focus of this research is on those more ordinary day-to-day experiences. After defining these moments, it seems important to find a way to cultivate them. A core aspect in cultivating these moments is being able to attend to present moment. Different methods have been developed over last decade to help individual control attention, including; hypnosis, biofeedback, and gestalt therapy. Currently, most applicable and prolific field of study attending to present moment is mindfulness. Mindfulness has been defined as a method of focusing attention on present as it occurs. Learning how to train mind and body to be in present moment is critical to being aware of what is sacred in moment.