Archive for the ‘Right/Left Brain’ Category
The Platform: NeuroLeadership Summit 2008, Day 1
The Twitter: Psssttt! It’s all connected — brain, body and mind!
The Big Idea: Rethinking leadership from an interdependent whole-brain, whole-body, whole-mind networked point of view!
David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and organizer of both the NY and Sydney meetings this year, noted last evening that today’s most urgent issue, as seen by companies and businesses across the global sphere, is the crisis of developing leadership. With that in mind, Rock invited world-class scientists to give keynote talks — presentations which should help this year’s summit partipants picture a new paradigm of “best practices” when approaching the question of developing leadership.
For yours truly, it was a deep and gratifying pleasure to be immersed in an arena wherein scientists, coaches and consultants seriously broached the topic of new neuroscience and the myriad of ways to connect body, mind and brain in human learning, performance and innovation, be it at home, school, in sport or in the workplace.
Again, time is limited to tell all (more will be fleshed out post summit) but here’s the beef on today’s keynote talks — which by the way, are followed up by generous amounts of time for question and break-out focus group discussions:
From the first keynote by Dr. Amy Arnstein to the last one of the day delivered by Dr. Kevin Ochsner, the frame for Day 1 stretched across a psychological continuum: Arnstein cogently tackled the neurochemical correlates to interrupted moments of perception and cognition (either by way of daily stress or by profound mental illness); Ochsner closed the long intense day by chunking the complex study of human emotion into a bite size expose on the neuroanatomical correlates to strategies that effect emotional experience and behavior, e.g. “reappraisal” of emotional narrative. (Arnstein gets two thumbs up for a spiffy visual presentations. As one researcher noted — the cartooned versions of neurotransmitting processes signaled well with ‘low noise’ residual.)
With the frame set by these two talks, were some real nuggets of 21st century thinking — the sort that reinforces the hard work reseachers, thought leaders and cultural changers have put forth for more than half a century in communicating
1) the value of “insight” in innovation and
2) “mindfulness” (or meditation) experiences in modifying how we use our “attention” in goal directed tasks.
Within the break out discussions, some facinating and tough questions were raised by the audience regarding cross-cultural imprinting and bias in charting the neuroscience of perception, leaving a door open to comparative cultural studies, especially with developing leaders in the global sphere is concerned.
While all of the keynotes were delivered in impeccable style, Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang’s lunchtime presentation clearly touched my brain and heart in his clear and playful deconstruction of cultural definitions of “mindfulness” experience to make room for the semantics of a neuroscientifically informed picture of brain/mind/body operations and connections that enter into the “mindfulness state.” As one who first came to mindfulness through the Martial arts, Yuan placed before us the challenge of knowing how to engage attention and awareness in a way that helps us “integrate” body/mind and brain in the experience of “being” (as to be distinguished neurologically from “thinking or doing.”) In response to Tang’s talk, David Rock offered a tip he found helpful in his study of mindfulness, namely the strategy of distingushing between narration (interpretation) and direct experience — each having their own correlates in brain anatomy and brain chemistry.
As I have noted on this blog, the brain/body/mind connection is one we can’t emphasize enough. It speaks of a new way to recognize our very humanness as a function of emergent networked processes, allowing us to integrate in a multi-dimensional fashion, a host of relations between what and how we think/feel and do.
The message from today’s proceedings: The responsibility of developing effective and even inspiring 21st century leadership rests on the shoulders of the somatically and neuroscientifically aware.
One can find the summit proceedings schedule on the NeuroLeadership.org website.
P.S. A self-referential historical note regarding the inception of the blogsite: I wrote my dissertation in the late ’80’s on “attention and awareness training” practices used by American performing artists. Sometimes a good idea like cheese, needs time to age. Please write if you have questions about the literature on attention training.
News on the home front;
First, commentary continues to flow from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk on Oprah. A neuro-leader if there ever was one. Please enjoy the discussion that ensued on this site.
One of the questions to arise: Should we be devoting our lives to training our brains for bliss, or should bliss pursuits be relegated to the cloistered arena of mystical experience? Of course, the dualist framing of the question is unfortunate for as Taylor herself points out, right-brain enhanced joy is not licenced or owned by religious seekers. Think of the pattern recognition operations that go on in the mind of painters or fabric designers?
For those interested in a critical, psychological analysis of American mystical experience, try starting with a standard and truly royal read: William James’ VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. James, the father of American psychology and a spacious thinker on the question of brain-mind relations, takes one on a tour of the diversity of American religiosity. Seems we in the U.S., have not strayed too much from our turn of the century predecessors.As James is one of my favorite American thinkers, I can’t help but think he would be totally turned on by the big movements in neuroscience and neuro-education — the sort Taylor insinuates in using neuro-anatomy to tell her deeply personal story of survival and transformation! I only wish James were alive today to join me at the upcoming 2008 Neuroleadership Summit in NY. I will be blogging on the event — and upon my return will be offering my services to those looking for consultants to design and set up neuroleadership and neuro-fitness programs in their companies and institutions
In the meantime: to embolden your own neuro-leadership program, try and practice a few of the basic “brain tips” mentioned on this site:
Bringing breath awareness to your athletic or other human performance training
Spinal rolls: juicing up the joints of the spine for greater blood and chi flow!
And a new one to be discussed in future blogs: Think Popeye and eat your spinach!
May the Breath Be With You!
Quick Notice of Schedule change:
I just received word from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, noting her taped interview on the upcoming Sept 23 Oprah show is being postponed. No future date has been given.
As soon as I have word, I will be sure to share the updated news with all you somanauts!
In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that Dr. Taylor’s message has traveled wide and far as MY STROKE OF INSIGHT has been translated into 20 different languages! This is really important as translation brings to greater public awareness, the role contemporary neuroscience, and a personal commitment to healing plays in turning a tragedy into an inspiring story that uplifts and transforms other people’s lives.
Great week ahead! Stay Whole-Brained, Stay Hydrated and remember to Breath!
P.S. Those interested in personal or corporate training in whole-brain health or neuro-leadership practices, please leave a comment or contact me through The George Greenstein Institute link (in the right hand column of this blog.
On the question of mental practice, meditation and athletic training: I noted yesterday that the great Olympic star Michael Phelps was seen as a child who lacked the necessary focus to 3rd grade academic tasks. With that in mind, much made of the fact that Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD and it was the practice of lane swimming that helped him “channel” his all over the map energy.
I won’t debate the cultural psychology or politics of the ADHD diagnosis, but its safe to say that in listening to Phelps speak about his own training methods, we hear the mantra “focus, focus, focus.” Dedicated goal setting, avoiding negative mental chatter, and being with the very moment of his action (a.k.a. the ole Ram Dass mantra “Be Here Now”) — this is the stuff of Olympic athletic mental training.
We also learn that Phelps has the gift of maintaining a relaxed state before a meet and there’s talk that he produces less lactic acid build up in his muscles that most athletes. No doubt, there are many online (yours truly included) who are curious to comb through the details of Phelps Olympic genius.
And what can we learn from this athletic genius? Mental training of Olympic athletes has long been of interested to sports trainers, kinesiologists and sport psychologists but more to the point: Phelps’s own minimalist theory (“Set a goal. Focus only on that goal”) insinuates the brain technology involved in peak body performance. Sports psychologist Steve Ungerleider offers a somanautic perspective culled from years of researching Olympic athlete training::
From his 1996/2005 book MENTAL TRAINING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE:
Breath, Meditation and Forming Mental Snapshots are two of the four mental practice traits shared amongst Olympic athletes. (The other two being building confidence by means of positive self-talk and learning to use relaxation to cool down and revvv up!) Yep, taking time to find the natural rhythm of ordinary breathing and picturing the goal — using your imagination to see the goal accomplished — even visualizing all of the steps in getting to the goal — the power of creating a mental “snapshot” cannot be under-estimated by anyone engaged in sport or movement training.
Here then are glorious mind/brain/body fruits for digesting: Those fascinated by the challenge of peak performance, be you swimmer, biker, dancer, designer, entrepreneur, corporate leader or yogic journey woman/man of health, fitness and well-being, the kernel of Olympic truth seems to lie in the story told by those who have imagined and accomplished their goals:
SpaceSuit Yoga/Olympic Mantra:
Make a goal.
Focus on the Goal.
Breath into the orchestrated unity of Mind/Body/Brain.
Visualize the Goal.
Feel into the Goal.
Be the Goal.
The vast frontier of mental practice is before us — with neuroscience unlocking the neuronal mysteries of the brain/body mapping, and showing the neural networking engaged by meditation, guided imagery and right brain talents like mental practice visualization — students, parents, teachers, coaches, thought leaders and all those seeking the 21 century path of enlightenment are bound to reap the benefits!
May the Breath Be With You!
Well the summer solstice is here bringing with it much news from the neuroscience sector. 2008 is truly proving to be the Year of the Brain!!!!
In case you haven’t noticed, more brain empowerment and anti-aging gizmos and gadgets are entering the internet market designed to increase neuroplasticity. (Look for my upcoming blogs on sharpbrains.com and on the recent UCLA conference on anti-aging and regenerative medicine!)
Yet the more compelling story is the heightened critical mass awareness of brain function and brain injury made possible by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk (see my coverage of Bolte Taylor’s talk and the generous comments to issue forth since I reported on Taylor’s TED presentation — February and March archives of this blog.).
I am emboldened by the fact that Dr. Taylor’s talk has reached numbers of people whose lives have been challenged by stroke and other traumatic brain injuries. Much to my surprise however, is the way Taylor’s talk has inspired others to come forward with stories of spiritual enlightenment. To those of you who have generously shared your thoughts and stories vis a vis Taylor’s life story, thank you. I will continue to use this blog as a vehicle for bringing the most up to date news and links to info concerning all things “brainy’ and brain-related.
For those have not seen Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED presentation, simple go to
http://www.ted.com and search for Jill Bolte Taylor talk
or copy the link below and place it in your url searchbox
With the issue of stroke in mind, readers please consider the critical implications a new bill recently introduced into Congress for immediate consideration, namely, the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act.
The NNTI is a $200M/year initiative designed to foster new discoveries and accelerate the development of new and safer treatments for the one in three Americans living with a brain-related illness, injury or disease. Championing the NNTI are Senators Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI 1st) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 18th) who have called upon Congress to act quickly on this important legislation.
According to the NNIT Act website, this legislation will accelerate the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, autism, addiction, ALS, anxiety, depressive disorders, epilepsy, hearing loss, migraine, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pain, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, age-related macular degeneration, sensory disorders, sleep disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury and many orphan diseases of the brain and nervous system.
One can only image the medical advancements to benefit from the passing of the bill. And in during this savage war-time, with scores of American troops returning home with traumatic brain injury and PTSD, enlightened legislation promises to up the ante on neurological research and application. Think of Bolte Taylor’s talk and take action!!
A neurotech advocacy group – http://www.neurotechindustry.org –– has provided sample letters to use to write to Congress men and women in your districts and states, asking them to approve the bill. PLEASE CLICK ON THIS WEBSITE FOR LETTERS AND ACCESS TO YOUR CONGRESS MEN AND WOMEN!
More to come on brain matters.
In the meantime, may the long days of summer ahead provide you with a chance to take time out to nourish, empower and embody brain!