Monday, January 10, 2011

A genius description of connectedness.

I love the science of wellness.

When I was young, I read the comics first. Later, I was attracted to the entertainment section. The last many years, I have been a devotee of the arts & culture sections of a magazine, website or newspaper. And now, I gravitate to the science sections. The New Yorker has particularly good science reporting. And today, I read an article called "The Social Animal" by David Brooks which investigates how "over the past few decades, geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and others have made great strides in understanding the inner working of the human mind."

It is worth reading the whole article (link below) but I was particularly taken by this passage, where a neuroscientist reveals his science-fueled thoughts on happiness.

During the question-and-answer period, though, a woman asked the neuroscientist how his studies had changed the way he lived. He paused for a second, and then starting talking about a group he had joined called the Russian-American Folk Dance Company. It was odd, given how hard and scientific he had sounded.

“I guess I used to think of myself as a lone agent, who made certain choices and established certain alliances with colleagues and friends,” he said. “Now, though, I see things differently. I believe we inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past we call genetics. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family, and the information offered months ago we call education. But it is all information that flows through us. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and exists only as a creature in that river. Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it.

“And though history has made us self-conscious in order to enhance our survival prospects, we still have deep impulses to erase the skull lines in our head and become immersed directly in the river. I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.”

To this, I say 'hell yes!'

This is what the True Body Project attempts to make programmatic, these rituals of unselfconscious connectedness.

And this is why I hope you have your own place and your own practices to allow information and affection to flow through you, covertly, every day and every year.

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