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Sun, 23 Oct 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Quantum physicists agree -- consciousness lives on after death

Does quantum mechanics predict the existence of a spiritual "soul"? Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of "life after death." They assert that a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.

Wave-particle duality, a fundamental concept of quantum mechanics, proposes that elementary particles, such as photons and electrons, possess the properties of both particles and waves. These physicists claim that they can possibly extend this theory to the soul-body dichotomy. If there is a quantum code for all things, living and dead, then there is an existence after death (speaking in purely physical terms). Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr, former head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, posits that, just as a particle "writes" all of its information on its wave function, the brain is the tangible "floppy disk" on which we save our data, and this data is then "uploaded" into the spiritual quantum field. Continuing with this analogy, when we die the body, or the physical disk, is gone, but our consciousness, or the data on the computer, lives on.

Comment: Further reading:


The cardiovascular response to going against the crowd

Going with the flow might appear easier than sticking up for yourself when confronted with unanimous disagreement. But as uncomfortable as it may be to walk as the lone dissenter, it not only reinforces core values, it also creates a ripple effect where others take notice.

A new University at Buffalo study that assessed bodily responses suggests that standing up for your beliefs, expressing your opinions and demonstrating your core values can be a positive psychological experience.

Our happiness, and ultimately our lives, are defined by the choices we make. When we allow other people to tell us how to feel, they are making those choices for us, and we are giving away our truth. Since all truths are true, we must define if it is our ego we are standing up for or something more.

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Dream scientists prove Freud partially right: We dream of things we try to ignore

© greg westfall/Flickr
It is the most well known - and perhaps infamous - theory of dreams in the Western world. At the turn of last century, Sigmund Freud published his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, arguing that our dreams are nothing more than wishes that we are looking to fulfill in our waking lives.

Some of these wishes are relatively innocent, and in these cases our dreams picture the wish just as it is. However, there are other wishes that are so unacceptable to us (such as sexual or aggressive impulses that we can't admit to or act out) that our dreams have to censor them.

Such unacceptable wishes are typically suppressed by the conscious waking mind but turn up in the dream in an unrecognisable and often bizarre way. But with the help of a psychoanalyst and methods like free association, Freud argued, the wish behind the dream could be discovered.

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Meditation in virtual reality; French philosophy meets the Matrix

© Moxie Group
Simulation of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha is said to have sat. You can be Buddha too!
There's no paradox in finding your true self via virtual reality because everyday reality is a simulation, says self-help guru Deepak Chopra of his latest venture...

The cosmos swirls, wisps of purple, yellow and orange light flickering across the darkness of space, then across the visage of Buddha. An otherworldly plain fills the horizon, framed by the branches of a tree - the tree of enlightenment. A familiar voice intrudes. "What or who is having this experience right this moment, right now?" Pause. "It is your own being. It is your innermost being that is having the experience, your true self." The voice continues. "Live here, with no regrets, no anticipation, no resistance, and you will be free. Freedom is always now. Being is now."

Even if you enjoy psychedelic animation graphics you may struggle to live here, however, because visits last just 20 minutes and they are not real, not free and not quite now.

Welcome - if you have the headset or appropriate app - to Deepak Chopra's latest venture: virtual reality (VR) meditation.

Comment: Is this the 20 minutes enlightenment version of Pokemon Go? What could be wrong with a 'quick fix' meditation? This is about dissociation, often the incipient means to manipulation and indoctrination, bypassing the safeguards of rational thinking. While for some it might result in 'enlightenment' as presented, for others with lesser personal intent and mastery, it may constitute an 'opening' for uninvited results. Buyer beware. Is Chopra self-handedly evolving the age-old enlightenment process while manifesting a quick buck or two?

Cloud Grey

New study disputes the idea that optimism is fundamental to human psychology

© Luke MacGregor / Reuters
If you tend to look at life in a 'glass half full' sort of way, you may be in the minority. The belief that people usually view the future optimistically may be based on flawed research, according to a new study.

Experts have believed for decades that most people experience 'irrational optimism bias,' meaning they naturally expect good things to happen in the future and underestimate the possibility of negative outcomes.

But after re-assessing previous evidence, scientists now say that there was no basis to claim such positivity is fundamental to human psychology. Specifically, they believe prior studies have generated data patterns that looked like people are being overly optimistic, when in fact no such bias existed.

Snow Globe

Psychogenic déjà vu, 8 years and counting

Doctors and neurologists are completely baffled by a 23-year-old British man's ongoing battle with a chronic "Groundhog Day" phenomenon that finds him stuck in a debilitating déjà vu time loop that first began eight years ago. The man told doctors that he was "trapped in a time loop" and it felt like he was reliving the past moment by moment. He can no longer watch television, listen to the radio, or read books or magazines because it feels as if the material is being sourced from his memories, resulting in what can only be described as a painful Truman Show-like anxiety.

What has experts mystified the most is the fact that the most extreme and intense cases of déjà vu are only found in people who have seizures in the temporal lobe (i.e. "temporal lobe epilepsy"). The patient's brain scans, however, are crystal clear and show zero signs of damage, seizures, or any neurological conditions whatsoever. His memory also passed all tests and showed no problems. The young man is therefore the world's first recorded case in medical history of what is now being called "psychogenic déjà vu", which is déjà vu triggered by anxiety rather than a neurological condition such as dementia or epilepsy.

Comment: Also see:


Art as medicine: Healing our collective wounds

Excerpt from ‘Faith’ by Annelie Solis

The Healing Power of Art

Immigration issues, class warfare, and racism have plagued humanity for generations. Things aren't 'worse than they have ever been', we are just more aware of it than before thanks to the internet. Waking up to present-day atrocities can be overwhelming, but awareness and social action will help us put these things into our collective past. We can not change the past, but we can learn to look at it in ways that empower us and allow us to evolve. On the personal and collective level, art helps us address cultural wounds and begin the process of healing our history. A deeper look at this intriguing topic is sure to inspire you to find your own creative voice.

The Research

There are many ways to look at, explore, and research, the healing powers of art. The American Art Therapy Association has taken a lead role in establishing research criteria, and documenting the success of using art therapeutically. In their Art Therapy Outcome Bibliography, they have amassed a huge list of scientific research that validates the wide-reaching impact of art in healing individuals and communities. Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Drug Addiction, Grief Management, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sexual Abuse, Trauma Resolution, and Traumatic Brain Injury, are just a few common ailments that Art Therapy has successfully addressed.
Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. -American Art Therapy Association

Comment: More reasons why creative activities are a balm to body and soul:


Empathetic people learn more quickly when their actions benefit others

© PeopleImages.com/Getty Images
The scientists found that participants who ranked higher for empathy levels were faster learners when it came to winning points for others during a task.
Although people are slower to learn to do tasks that help other people, research participants rated as more empathic proved to be quicker learners

People with a higher level of empathy learn to help others more quickly than their more hard-hearted peers, scientists say.

Researchers scanned the brains of more than 30 individuals while they learned how to carry out a task for their own benefit, someone else's benefit or no-one's benefit.

The results revealed that, on average, participants learned how to "win" at the task most quickly when they were the one to benefit. But, when it came to winning rewards for others, those who were more empathic were quicker learners.

"Overall people are slower to learn to help somebody else," said Patricia Lockwood, lead author of the research from the University of Oxford. "But people who report themselves to be higher in empathy learn at a similar rate to benefit themselves and the other person."

Comment: The vagus nerve fundamentally drives human social affiliation—the motivations and behaviors involved in approaching others in trusting, affectionate, cooperative ways and appears to be intimately tied to experiencing compassion towards other people's suffering. Breathing exercises can help to improve vagal tone and thus enhance pro-social behaviours. The Éiriú Eolas breathing program is an easily learned technique that stimulates the vagus nerve. It can help to effectively manage the physiological, emotional, and psychological effects of stress, create better links between your body and mind and increase your sense of connection with others.


Black and white or shades of gray: The color of your thinking matters

"Everything in life cannot and should not be seen in only two different shades of color. There is no truth in defining things in black and white since there are so infinitely many different underlying factors for each action performed by each person. Narrow-mindedness is for the socially detached individual." - Berivan Selim
Good or evil.

Right or wrong.

Perfect or terrible.

Smart or stupid.

Republican or Democrat.

Always or never.

Love or hate.

With us or against us.


What, exactly, is psychoanalysis?

© Bill Strain/Flickr
Psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a way of treating longstanding psychological problems that is based on the belief behaviours have underlying drivers which may be unrecognised and unconscious.

With this understanding it's possible to think about the meaning and reasons behind that behaviour and enable the possibility of change.

Although Freud's psychology of the mind was premised on the existence of an unconscious, he was not the originator of the term. Seventeenth-century Western philosophers John Locke and René Descartes and, later, Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz grappled with the idea of an unconscious, speculating the existence of something within the mind, beyond awareness, that also influenced behaviour.