Random complaint

Hey Stanford. How About Collaborating With Other Smart People and Coming Up With Some More Useful Words to Describe Women's Negotiating Techniques?

Remember when people used to post ads in newspapers for significant others? 

SWF looking for male 5"5 or taller, must be nice, like to laugh, do fun things, meet new people.  555-5555. 

My dad saw an ad like that decades ago and said, "What does that word 'nice' even mean?  How vague.  How

Fours and their Noses

Is there something about Fours and their noses?  At my first Enneagram workshop, the teacher was going through all the types and would list the body parts associated with the types, so type 9 was the butt because of their sloth, type 1 was the eyes because they're like eagles scanning the surface of the earth for imperfections, and type 4 was their nose "because there's a" and then he spoke with a pinched nasal whine, "'Why me?' approach to life that Fours have".   Fair enough.  I didn't know I was a Four then anyway, but fair enough.

I found out a couple months later while I was working at a call centre... the same call centre where I got called into my supervisor's office because I was using a scented product- Burt's Bees lipgloss.  The Individualist a few cubicles away had reported me.  I was so insulted, I went up to her desk and showed her the list of ingredients.  "This is organic!  Look!  It's all natural!"  I was so mad, reported by my own kind for an issue I also have to suppress all my own demons over.  Scented products have such a similar effect on me that it's one of the reasons I turned to all-natural products in 2007.

Last night I went to go pick up my car from the shop where I'd asked them to rotate my tires and clean it.  I had forgotten to mention to use "organic cleaning products", which they apparently did last time, and when I got in my car, I hit the roof because it smelled like a chemical manufacturing plant.  It smelled like some cheap-ass imitation-orange scent that was in the discount bin and Wheaton Chevrolet bought every last bottle and decided to spray the death scent into all of their customers' cars.  So my windows are all down and I'm driving with my hand over my mouth, and my head tilted toward the open window as I'm driving home, and I'm almost crying.

Fours already get mad at objects, but smells are personal because they enter the body.  Right?  I get mad at walls for being there when I run into them and I take it personally, like, "damn wall, why do you have to be there?  Just one more thing that doesn't understand me."  Machines are another thing.  But scents are a whole other ball game.  When someone sprays Febreeze or some other cancer-causing scent in a room, my raging princess diva rises to the surface and scares the shit out of me and I have to be like, "not now! not now!"  And she's like, "Yeah, but I know what to do here."  And I'm like, "Actually, you don't.  Please just go take a breather and I'll come check in on you when we're out of here."  And she's like, "Yeah, breathe WHERE?!"

I could've easily raised hell last night at Wheaton's.  I was so mad, I wanted to ask them to hold my car in their garage for an entire week where I could keep the windows open and let the wreaking orange smell off-gas back into their garage, but in fact, I had another reason to be mad- I had asked them to clean my car (they did- hence the smell), but the one spot on my passenger's side- a blob of liquid soap- that I wanted out was still there, so I had to ask them to come back and try again to wash it out.  The guy was like, "oh, well I'm going to have to use a harsher chemical on the spot then", and I'm like, "actually, it's just soap.  You should just need water."  I was calm and respectful throughout, and that's the best I could've asked of myself in that moment.  Good job, Erin.

Do any other Four have special issues around scents?  I'm sure there are many stories to be told, and I bet it has something to do with our Holy Idea of Holy Origin- like we have this need to be authentic, or "all-natural", and for someone to spray something to cover up a natural smell, is an all-too-familiar metaphor for someone dismissing us in the outside world.... ??

Why learning neuroscience is so hard

   
  
 
  
    
  
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    Thirty-three year-old artist Yarun Steinburg built a  model  of how he imagines his brain to be using cardboard boxes, Christmas lights, and TVs with film reels from his life.  From the back, you can see that the inside is modeled after a small city, the tightly-packed and highly detailed "neighborhoods", inviting viewers to pause and reflect on what the inside of their own brain might look like.

Thirty-three year-old artist Yarun Steinburg built a model of how he imagines his brain to be using cardboard boxes, Christmas lights, and TVs with film reels from his life.  From the back, you can see that the inside is modeled after a small city, the tightly-packed and highly detailed "neighborhoods", inviting viewers to pause and reflect on what the inside of their own brain might look like.

I've been reading about neuroscience these last four months, and I've really been struggling to integrate the material into my own words, hence the dearth of blog posts.

I decided to google why neuroscience is so hard, and while it's in part because only long-time meditators and intellectual heavyweights- of which I am neither- really comprehend neurophenomenlology enough to verbalize the subtle and complex processes in a way that laypeople can understand, there are few other reasons.

First of all, there is still so much even neurobiologists don't know about the brain, and parts we don't understand the function of.  There are 100 billion neurons- or nerve cells- and endless combinations they can connect with each other.  The connections between the neurons, called synapses- are shaped by both genes and life experience, but we don't know to what extent genes shape connections, and experience shapes connections.

  Nerve cell.   Image from bbc.co.uk. 

Nerve cell.  Image from bbc.co.uk. 

Moreover, neuroscience requires both objectivity and subjectivity.  If we're going to understand the phenomena of consciousness, on the one hand, we need scientifically valid observations of the brain; on the other, first person subjective accounts of peoples' internal experiences.  Because both the brain and the mind come together to form consciousness, scientists need to get creative and develop tests that measure and scientifically quantify mental phenomena. 

There is a complicated interplay between the brain and the mind: the mind and its attendant concepts and meanings is rooted in the activity of the brain, and the brain- due to its plasticity- is constructed itself by the mind.  As a result, the brain is turning its social circuits that normally attunes to others, inside out and is interacting with itself.  However, we know from the famous double-slit experiment (on the interference pattern of electrons being shot through a double-slit apparatus) that the mere act of observing electrons changes their behavior; just the same, mindfulness research has demonstrated a similar conclusion- that the mere act of becoming aware of your own awareness alters the form and function of your brain.  Your awareness is goes back on itself in a re-entry loop where the emergent process takes on a life of its own, improving memory, focus, and empathy.

The mind can be defined as an embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information. Regulation is at the heart of mental life, and helping others with this regulatory balance is central to understanding how the mind can change. The brain has self-regulatory circuits that may directly contribute to enhancing how the mind regulates the flow of its two elements, energy and information.
— Dr. Daniel Siegel

Some philosophers would say our consciousness is simply reducible to the chemical and electrical firings of our neurons, while others prefer to hold out for the discovery of the "self node" tucked away somewhere in the folds of our gyri like a pearl in an oyster shell that can answer for each and every one of our thoughts and decisions. 

To make things even more difficult, up until a few years ago, neither the field of psychology or neurobiology had a working, agreed-upon definition of the mind. 

Dr. Siegel, whom I mention a lot, only because I'm reading his book right now (The Mindful Brain), recounts how he has gone around the world speaking to mental health practictioners, and at every event, asked for a show of hands of who had ever had a lecture at any time in their training that defined what the mind was.  His finding- out of the 100,000 mental health professionals that he's taught- was that less than 2% had.  While it's true that philosophers and psychologists have been trying to answer that question since the ancient Greeks at least, what's cool is that we're actually at a unique time in history where we know enough to cobble a rough definition together.  Here is Siegel's own working definition:

The mind can be defined as an embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information. Regulation is at the heart of mental life, and helping others with this regulatory balance is central to understanding how the mind can change. The brain has self-regulatory circuits that may directly contribute to enhancing how the mind regulates the flow of its two elements, energy and information.

But there are other concepts that are still undefined.  Think about it.  Can you define consciousness?  Neither can psychologists.  What about self, or identity?

The next challenge is that the brain consists of more than just the pinky-brown organ in the head.  As the control centre of the entire central nervous system, the brain's nerves are routed through the spine and spread all the way to the soles of the feet.  The fact that this complex system works in concert to keep our bodies in homeostasis is nothing less than jaw-dropping.  As one scientist wrote, "If given the choice between having to pilot a plane without knowing anything about how to work any of the controls, and sitting at the dashboard of my central nervous system, coordinating the millions of outgoing and incoming processes happening every second, I'd choose the pilot job in a heartbeat."

Finally, because my purpose in studying the brain is to understand how brain form and function relates to different personality types, and that research is still in its infancy, there is little that can be said with objective certainty, although Dario Nardi (among others) have been doing some interesting research at UCLA, mapping the brain patterns of Carl Jung's legendary MBTI types, and is now starting to work with Enneagram types.  I'm sure more research funding will be forthcoming the more it becomes clear how brain research is important to our collective health, but in the meantime, we rely on anecdotal observations.  For example, during an informal study of brain activity and Enneagram types, Dr. Daniel Siegel noted in an interview with Russ Hudson and Jessica Dibb that Type Two's (one of the Enneagram's three image types) "have a lot of mirror neurons".  There is no book yet out there detailing what these observations could mean, but hopefully someone bright will pen the first one soon. 

 

#Imnoangel is #missingthepoint

  Hugely trending #Imnoangel campaign by Lane Bryant right now, with the headline, "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with "I'm No Angel" Campaign". The company sells plus-sized lingerie.   Photo from Cosmopolitan.com

Hugely trending #Imnoangel campaign by Lane Bryant right now, with the headline, "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with "I'm No Angel" Campaign". The company sells plus-sized lingerie.  Photo from Cosmopolitan.com

I saw this post from Adweek in Facebook this morning, which totally got me all twisted up.  "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with 'I'm No Angel' Campaign".  I love Victoria Secret angels- I do their workouts so I know how hard those girls work.  I also know how well they take care of their bodies by what they eat, what they put on their skin, how well-informed they are about nutrition.

So I wondered, when I saw this, if someone was trying to pass a moral judgement on people who want beautifully toned bodies, who go to the gym and eat well in order to get them.  But then I realized, no, Lane Bryant is trying to sell underwear. 

These girls have great aesthetics going on, so whatever, but oh my god, are we missing the point here.  This is 2015 and the body-image conversation is still for the most part in the dark ages.

Craving a VC Angel body isn't healthy, but neither is cynicism towards one, a form of aversion.  In Buddhism, the two greatest causes of human suffering are craving and aversion, so let's move past the useless "love your body" rhetoric to something more useful.  Does anyone know what "loving your body" means anyway?  Are you supposed to have warm feelings toward it?  Conjure up affection for it?  Pet it?  Give it treats when it's good? 

Pop body image rhetoric gets one thing right- that being at home in our bodies is true freedom- Maya Angelou said, "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  Gurdjieff told his students repeatedly to "Stay with yourself, stay with yourself."  Absent-minded or emotional eating, or lazy meal prep is a manifestation of having left oneself- having dissappeared into the worries, fantasies, memories, and other thinking, emotional, and instinctual patterns ever arising from the ego structure.  When you're tuned into your body's needs- honoring it by listening when it's full and feeding it nutrutious balanced meals when it's hungry, you're "really seeing it", and in mindfulness, to see yourself with the inner eye and stay with the discomfort that arises when something difficult comes up is to love.  See, stay, notice.  Love and sexiness is what is revealed when our defenses have been "noticed away."

  Is this what your inner critic looks like?  Quick, take a couple seconds to just notice the physiological effect of their hassling. Noticing that tension in your body when you cringe about a part of you you don't like is the secret to the life-long journey of dissolving the inner critic.   Image from lisarosman.com

Is this what your inner critic looks like?  Quick, take a couple seconds to just notice the physiological effect of their hassling. Noticing that tension in your body when you cringe about a part of you you don't like is the secret to the life-long journey of dissolving the inner critic.  Image from lisarosman.com

This is a lifelong journey, not a quick fix.  But the result is we get to come home to ourselves and radiate from within.  That's sexy. 

Carl Jung and the Enneagram Missed Each Other by That Much

I'm reading Carl Jung's Man and His Symbols now, and although he was brilliant-- and I'm by no means a Jungian scholar, so maybe I'm missing something here-- but I would love to go back in time and introduce him to the Enneagram.  I wonder how much more lucid he'd be if he had that vocabulary.  I'm sure his book would be half the length if he could just say, "underdevelopped Type Four" for the pages of description for the wicked anima or "Type Eight woman" for "a woman with occasional outbursts of temper who talked in an aggressive fashion that alienated men and gave her an intolerable feeling of dissatisfaction with herself."  These descriptions are fine, but if he knew people's types, he could cover a lot of ground with a couple words and be a lot clearer.

  Carl Jung, 1875-1961.   Photo from nndb.com

Carl Jung, 1875-1961.  Photo from nndb.com

  The Enneagram came onto the scene in California to a very small group of students in the early 1970's.   Image from enneagraminstitute.com.

The Enneagram came onto the scene in California to a very small group of students in the early 1970's.  Image from enneagraminstitute.com.

Carl Jung's lifespan was between 1875 and 1961.  The Enneagram was still unknown in the U.S. until the early 1970's, and even then it wasn't until the early 90's that there were a couple books available to the general public about it. 

Still, George Gurdjieff (Russia/France) and Oscar Ichazo (Bolivia/Chile) were working with it with their own study groups as far back as the 1940's, but even then, they were still talking in shapes and very vague archetypes, so it probably wouldn't have been much use to Jung anyway.  (Although talking in vague terms didn't seem to be an issue for him).

While we wait for someone to provide an Enneagram "translation" of Jung, we will have to muddle through and figure out what he meant when he told an educated, successful woman to "set about trying to change herself into a more submissive kind of woman" who had to realize that for a man, "life is something that has to be taken by storm, as an act of the heroic will; but for a woman to feel right about herself, life is best realized by a process of awakening."

WTF.

Making a Movie is Hard

I've been trying to come up with a concept for the homepage video for several months, and because I don't have a budget for it, I'm keeping it as simple as possible. I usually like creative challenges that I can sink my teeth into, but dammit, coming up with a concept that will keep viewers interested for one whole minute (and wanting more) is tough!

If you have a youtube channel, you probably have a Draw My Life video up.  Interestingly, a lot of people who have their own youtube channel are Self-Preservation/Sexual/Social or Sexual/Self-Preservation/Social.  At least that's what I've noticed so far!

This morning, I finally have a rough idea of what I'm going to do.  I've done one of those white board "Draw My Life" videos with a girl I tutor, which involved downloading Splice, and timing her narration to the video. It was fun- even though finicky-  and I'm going to tweak the concept for my webpage with pictures of philosophers and quotes from Daniel Goleman. Because who can resist Daniel Goleman quotes?