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Fri, 22 Jun 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

Magic Hat

Civil servant missing most of his brain, still conscious: Your brain is not your mind!

© Reuters/ Neil Hall
Which bit causes consciousness?

Comment: This article starts out well, with a genuinely puzzling piece of data that throws into question all our theories of the nature of consciousness. But then it proceeds to offer yet another nonsensical theory. The first step towards a real theory is not that difficult: your brain is not your mind!

Not much is definitively proven about consciousness, the awareness of one's existence and surroundings, other than that its somehow linked to the brain. But theories as to how, exactly, grey matter generates consciousness are challenged when a fully-conscious man is found to be missing most of his brain.

Several years ago, a 44-year-old Frenchman went to the hospital complaining of mild weakness in his left leg. It was discovered then that his skull was filled largely by fluid, leaving just a thin perimeter of actual brain tissue.

And yet the man was a married father of two and a civil servant with an IQ of 75, below-average in his intelligence but not mentally disabled.


'Helicopter parenting' harms child success, study finds

Helicopter parenting
© Thinkstock
Parents who are too involved in their children's lives as they prepare to enter college could be inadvertently hampering their transition into adulthood, causing them to become depressed and experience anxiety during this crucial period, according to a newly-published study.

While it is important for mom and dad to help out as young adults prepare to leave home for the first time, intervening too much in decision making and becoming helicopter parents could have serious mental health implications, researchers from Florida State University reported in a paper now available online and scheduled to be published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

"Helicopter parents are parents who are overly involved," FSU doctoral candidate Kayla Reed, who co-authored the new study along with assistant family and child sciences professor Mallory Lucier-Greer and others, explained in a statement. "They mean everything with good intentions, but it often goes beyond supportive to intervening in the decisions of emerging adults."

Comment: Further reading:


Cut ties with energy vampires and save your sanity

energy drain
With empathy, the ability to recognize and feel other people's emotions, comes the disadvantage of also absorbing the suffering and negativity of the others around you. When this occurs, your ability to function at your best can be significantly impacted. Even a person who is not so empathic can be affected energetically when around negative or dramatic people.

Absorbing other people's negative energy can be just as toxic on a person as ingesting unhealthy food, and perhaps even more noticeably draining. Thus, learning how to stop this from happening can be a valuable skill. Here are five methods that you can use so you absorb less negative energy from others around you.

1) Be Selective About the People You Allow into Your Life

You have to come to terms that not everyone will like you, and you don't have to become friends with everyone that you meet. You do not need to pressure yourself into befriending everyone you meet, either at work, though existing friends, or via your kids. Of course you want to be polite, but trust your intuition when meeting new people and don't ever feel like you need to spend time with people just because you've come to know them by association.

Comment: For more on these types see:

Book 2

Trauma lost and found: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are

The past is never dead. It's not even past. - William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
A well-documented feature of trauma, one familiar to many, is our inability to articulate what happens to us. We not only lose our words, but something happens with our memory as well. During a traumatic incident, our thought processes become scattered and disorganized in such a way that we no longer recognize the memories as belonging to the original event. Instead, fragments of memory, dispersed as images, body sensations, and words, are stored in our unconscious and can become activated later by anything even remotely reminiscent of the original experience. Once they are triggered, it is as if an invisible rewind button has been pressed, causing us to reenact aspects of the original trauma in our day-to-day lives. Unconsciously, we could find ourselves reacting to certain people, events, or situations in old, familiar ways that echo the past.

Comment: Do we pass on trauma through our DNA?

Heart - Black

Rising anxiety & depression in children and adolescents related to declining childhood play

childhood play
"We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing." ~ Charles Schaefer

Every generation since the 1950s has experienced a decline in free play. During the holidays in my parent's generation, kids left the house in the morning and were told to be home by dinner. They went out into the streets, met up with other neighbourhood kids and played all day long. During my own childhood things were a little more supervised, but we still had ample time to play beyond the watchful eyes of our parents.

Today most children are rarely left to their own devices. In an attempt keep our kids safe and provide them with all they need to ensure they have every chance for a happy, successful life, we fill up their days with activities, structured opportunities to learn and seductive screen time. However, as well meaning as this approach might be, there is increasing evidence that it may be doing more harm than good.

Comment: A sign of the times? Children spend less time outside than the average prisoner

Light Saber

Training your brain to use stress to your advantage

It starts off slow. Heart rate building. Dry mouth. A drip of sweat slowly rolling down from your temple to your cheek. And then wham. A punch to the gut.


It's inevitable in life. And yet so many of us see it as something we can't control. Or worse, something we should bury and ignore.

Keep Calm and Carry On might work for t-shirts and tote bags, but as advice for real life? It's about as useful as sticking your head in the sand.

Stress affects us in different ways, at different times, but one of the most common situations we've all encountered is right before a big performance. Whether that means talking to your boss, singing karaoke, or playing sports. Pre-performance stress is a real thing. And it kills our ability to act.

But what if there were ways to rewire our brain to use stress to our advantage? To take those feelings of dread and anxiety and transform them into energy, excitement, and focus? To make stress our own version of Popeye's spinach?

Sounds like a dream. But thanks to new research into how our brains handle stress, it doesn't have to be.

Comment: Why you shouldn't always stress about stress


Free will experiment suggests: People who meditate are more aware of their unconscious brain

People who meditate are more aware of their unconscious brain activity - or so a new take on a classic "free will" experiment suggests.

The results hint that the feeling of conscious control over our actions can vary - and provide more clues to understanding the complex nature of free will.

The famous experiment that challenged our notions of free will was first done in 1983 by neuroscientist Benjamin Libet. It involved measuring electrical activity in someone's brain while asking them to press a button, whenever they like, while they watch a special clock that allows them to note the time precisely.


Watching someone's face does not help detect lies - it actually hampers your abilities

pinnochio, lying, liars
© Juliana Coutinho
It is notoriously difficult to tell when someone is lying to you.

It may be easier to tell if someone is lying when you cannot see their face, new research finds.

Contrary to most people's expectations, being able to see someone's full face does not help lie detection.

In fact, it actually hurts it.

Dr Amy-May Leach, the study's first author, explained that the reason may be because it helps people focus on important cues:
"The presence of a veil may compel observers to pay attention to more 'diagnostic' cues, such as listening for verbal indicators of deception."



Scientists discover what meditation does to your gut and brain and for a wide range of other diseases

Numerous studies have indicated the many physiological benefits of meditation, and the latest one comes from Harvard University.

An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. It's the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain's grey matter. (1)

"Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing." - (1) Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School Instructor in Psychology

Comment: The Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program is a form of breathing and meditation techniques designed to be both informative, effective and life changing. Interested in learning more about the numerous benefits of a breathing and meditation program like Éiriú Eolas? Check out the program here and try it today.


8 traits for a long lasting relationship

two eyes
Relationships are a beautiful part of life. Whether they are romantic or just friendly, connecting with another human being is undoubtedly one of the best experiences that life has to offer. Of course, within relationships, as with so many other things in life, change is inevitable. I doubt that there are very many of us, if any, that have maintained the exact same partner and/or core group of friends throughout the vast majority of our lives.

Despite this seemingly natural turnover, what is it about certain relationships that makes them outlast many others? I've come up with 8 signs that I think are a great signal that a particular relationship is worth keeping, but be sure to pay attention to the last one I mention, since it alone can override all of the other points, and in my opinion it's the most important.

Comment: See also: