Yawning…

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By studying the phenomenon of contagious yawning, the researchers learned that people’s reactions in virtual reality (VR) can be quite different from what they are in actual reality. They found that contagious yawning happens in VR, but people’s tendency to suppress yawns when they have company or feel they’re being watched don’t apply in the VR environment. Further, when people immersed in VR are aware of an actual person in the room, they do stifle their yawns. Actual reality supersedes virtual reality. (1)

Reality…

What an overrated word.

We grow up worshiping it.

But without knowing why.

What is real?

What is not?

Fundamental questions we fail to answer.

And yet we are driven by them every day.

Reality…

It is not the cosmos calling us.

It is us calling at the cosmos…

In an empty world…

The only thing we worship without knowing why.

And, because of that, the only thing worth worshiping…

Reality…

It is…

Yawn…

Editing consciousness. Controlling thoughts. Speaking in the mirror…

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People who are grieving a major loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child, use different coping mechanisms to carry on with their lives. Psychologists have been able to track different approaches, which can reflect different clinical outcomes. One approach that is not usually successful is avoidant grief, a state in which people suffering from grief show marked, effortful, repeated, and often unsuccessful attempts to stop themselves from thinking about their loss. While researchers have shown that avoidant grievers consciously monitor their external environment in order to avoid reminders of their loss, no one has yet been able to show whether these grievers also monitor their mental state unconsciously, trying to block any thoughts of loss from rising to their conscious state.

A new collaborative study between Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center published online in SCAN: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience demonstrates that avoidant grievers do unconsciously monitor and block the contents of their mind-wandering, a discovery that could lead to more effective psychiatric treatment for bereaved people. The researchers are the first to show how this unconscious thought suppression occurs, by tracking ongoing processes of mental control as loss-related thoughts came in and out of conscious awareness during a 10-minute period of mind-wandering. (1)

How can the mind block itself?

How can the brain control the brain?

How can you control you?

The more one tries to make sense of the cosmos, the more we realize that everything runs in circles. The snake will bite its own tail. The tide will rise again. Life will come after death. The morning will shine again.

And every passing minute, you will be constantly speaking.

To the only person that can hear you.

And the only thing you can hear is what you have already spoken.

Shhhh…

Knowing things…

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By focusing on nervous system circuits of nociception, the body’s sensing of tissue damage, anesthesiologists can achieve unconsciousness in patients using less drug and manage post-operative pain better, leading to less need for opioids. (1)

We don’t know what consciousness is.

Yet, we know when we do not have it.

We can’t say what a soul is.

But we all feel we have one.

Look out for the things you cannot know.

They are the only ones which are worth knowing…

The birth of consciousness…

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Think about consciousness for long enough, and you’ll drive yourself to distraction. To psychologist Julian Jaynes, the question of consciousness was big enough to last a lifetime. His answer? Consciousness is much smaller, much rarer, and much younger than we tend to think. Forget about wondering if a dog, cat, or earthworm has consciousness — Jaynes hypothesized that even the ancient Greeks failed to achieve it. “Now, hold on,” you might be saying. “Ancient Greeks wrote some of the most enduring literature of all time — ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ were written by non-conscious creatures?” To which Jaynes would reply, “Of course not. A conscious mind wrote The Odyssey.” An analysis of these two texts inspired the foundation of Jaynes’ metaphysical beliefs — the bicameral mind.

The bicameral mind (which may sound familiar to “Westworld” fans) is essentially a consciousness split in half. One half takes care of execution: When it receives the message that the body is hungry, it seeks and consumes food; when it gets the message that it has been wronged and insulted, it seeks vengeance. The other half is the one that sends those messages. Back before we had developed any sort of introspection, those messages would have hit the brain like the word of the gods. After all, where else could it have come from? The breakdown of the bicameral mind happens when that executive half starts really asking that question and finding the answer is “nowhere.” In other words, Jaynes says, consciousness didn’t arise until we stopped attributing our inner monologue to the gods. (1)

Trying to answer the big questions.

Trying to understand.

This is what started everything.

In the beginning we just accepted the cosmos.

Being an integral and active part of it.

But at one point we decided to leave home.

And deny our Father.

We wanted to “know”.

And the only way to do that was via defining everything else as “different” than us; thus, compatible with analysis and examination. We used to be part of the cosmos. Defining the universe while the universe defined us. Now we still see the stars. But as something distant. Longing to go there, even though we used to be walking on the Sun. Afraid that we will die if we touch them, while we used to play with them as kids.

Lying down on a forest clearing.

Listening to nothing.

Thinking of nothing.

Alone in the cosmos.

Who is talking?

Arousal. Awareness. Consciousness?

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Scientists found a connection between the brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involved in awareness, two prerequisites for consciousness. (1)

We firmly believe that consciousness is being awake and aware. We believe we are more conscious when we are more arouse, part of the cosmos, doing things, thinking, speaking, running.

But we have been misled. And now we have treaded the wrong path for so long that there is no turning back.

Lost. Walking on thin ice.

Soon the ice will break.

And we will die. In a cold abyss.

We will find our self there.

Cold and unconscious.

Senseless and full of awareness.

Keeping the ice under our feet…