Tag Archives: cell phones

Change Directions

Fire Juggling Lessons


“Education can direct our attention to faculties of mind, not just facts in memory.”

                                                                        The Mindful Brain, Dan Seigel

            My smart phone provides access to information I don’t need to carry around in my head. A few years ago I didn’t have a machine on my desk that answered my questions. As a classically trained ballet dancer, juggler and circus arts performer I learned decades ago that training my body to do various physical moves was a whole different scratching of a place in my mind that was hard to itch. Here is the deal. Faculties of mind are not so much about the mind as storage container as it is about the mental muscle of the mind. The attentiveness muscle in particular seems to produce measurable changes in the brain. Here is a list of the key functions enabled by the middle prefrontal areas: body regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, flexibility, empathy, insight, fear modulation, intuition, and morality. That list of attributes comes from the Mindfulness Research Center of UCLA…For example increasing our intuitive powers would include focusing more attention on how our gut feels. It might include looking at a persons face and bringing attention to the muscles in their face, observing the tension in their eyes, clenching of jaw, posture, tone of voice. It doesn’t take long before we begin to see that our practice produces an increase in our intuitive skills. Figure that most of what I’m talking about is part of the cognitive toolkit we can play with. Playing with this toolkit in the good times increases our talents without having the pressure of coming to a crisis and frantically trying to grasp for them in the hard times. This is not a fix/broken model (I’m not into thinking of us like that) it is a cultivate/enhance model… I like that. Hopefully you will too…

Change I Can Remember

I am interested in thinking. Cognition is a word used to describe thinking. Metacognition is the process of thinking about our thinking. Dan Siegel a psychiatrist from UCLA has been doing brain scan research. He has been mapping brains of people while they think. We are learning many interesting things about how our minds actually work. Metacognition is a tricky thing. Our minds are always thinking and while trying to remain alert to being aware of our thoughts we can end up lost in them. Then, a light bulb goes off and we wake up and remember that we just forgot that we wanted to continue to think about this one thought and not the new thought that just swept our attention away… Now, Dr. Nora Volkow has been doing research on cell phones. Her research team did brain scans of people who are using cell phones and find that the weak radiation is having a measurable effect on the brain. In fact the brain is speeding up! Now, skeptics have already struck at the finding! It is important to raise doubt as soon as a fact has been established. My mind goes into ping-pong mode, bouncing from one thought and then back to the other. I am swept away by debate, and then find myself finally not knowing what to think! And then I wake up and remember that I am the species that remembers that I forget, and that what I had been forgetting is that I only get this one ride on this trip called life and I want to remember to take care of my brain, remember that, remember not to forget that I am the one in charge of that important action. So, I try to remember not to put that phone near my head, then I forget, and then I remember, and then I forget to remember, and then I remember that I forget….