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  • #140691
    Kol Drake
    Moderator
    Quote:
    Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
             Neo: What truth?
    Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
             Neo: There is no spoon?
    Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

                             -The Matrix, 1999

    Are you still using the same old brain you had when you started on the Path to ‘Jedi-hood’?  Probably not.

    Until nearly the end of the Twentieth Century, most neuroscientists believed that once a human brain was formed in childhood, it would remain pretty much the same throughout its life. Injury or disease could kill off brain cells but, other than that, what was in your head was yours, for better or worse, until the day you died. When sophisticated brain-imaging technology appeared in the 1980s, however, scientists changed their minds about brain change. We now know that the brain not only can rewire itself very quickly, it can also grow new cells. The ability of the brain to change itself is called and the growth of new cells is called neurogenesis. 1

    So what does this have to do with being a Jedi and working with the Force?  
    When we talk about using the Force (working with energies) to change ourselves, our lives, or our perception, we are talking, in part, about neurological change. Our brains must change if our experience of the world is to change.  If we want more fun, inspiration, wisdom, compassion, or knowledge, then we must teach our neurology to organize itself for more inspiration, wisdom, compassion, or knowledge.   If we invoke the Force,  we do so because we hope that that ‘contact’ with the energies of Life will change us or change our lives in some way.  The sensory experience of being “One with the Force” impresses itself upon our being and physically upon the structure of our brains.

    The idea of magick as brain-change is quite a bit older than our modern concept of neuroplasticity.  In the introduction to the 1904 edition of The Goetia of Solomon the King, occultist Aleister Crowley wrote that the spirits of the Goetia, the “demons” summoned forth by the rituals of evocation, were “parts of the human brain.”2     A radical concept at the time, that’s about as far as Uncle Al’s neuroscientific speculation went, but the implications were extensive. If we are able to exert influence over these entities, we must also be influencing the parts of the brain that they represent. If the entity changes, then the area of the brain that it represents also changes. The traditional magician was encouraged to believe that he or she would be, in some way, permanently changed by this kind of magical experience. In fact, some ritual techniques seem so well-designed toward increasing neuroplasticity that we might suggest that the magicians of the past had a pretty good idea how the human brain learns, changes, and grows.

    Recall in other posts, we see the word ‘magic/magick’ but for the most part, we are speaking of utilizing and affecting change with ‘energies’.  In our specific case, energies each of us has within us and tapping the greater energies of the Living and Universal Force.  The techniques taught at the IJRS are ones which (we hope) become ‘habits’ (or rituals – to use the older terms) which you use to grab the Force ‘lightning’ within and without.   Most systems of magick have at least the presupposition that one can make fundamental changes to one’s consciousness and life.  Similarly, the IJRS emphasizes practicing daily which we hold forth as the means to develop new skills and new functions.  In time, one may learn to perceive the astral, communicate with entities, and develop strategies for self-knowledge and motivation, among much else.  One works to come away from our Force (and self) explorations wiser, happier, and more adaptable to the circumstances that life hands to us. These skills and functions are at least partly based in our brains and bodies and they may be tracked and understood through physiological and neurological changes.  

    In short, if the goal of ‘becoming a Jedi’ is to change your reality, the change begins in the brain and both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis may play a part.  Even better, if we can design our techniques with brain change in mind, we may find that our practices are that much more powerful.  

    There are many ways to encourage both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. Almost any kind of learning will change neural pathways.  Drugs of various kinds encourage growth and change in the brain.  For instance, recent genomic research into LSD demonstrated that the chemical activates genes responsible for neuroplasticity. 3 That seems to suggest that psychedelics tap directly into the brain’s ability to learn. Some antidepressant drugs activate neurogenesis in the hippocampus (which may be a more important mode of action in the treatment of depression than serotonin uptake inhibition). 4  

    *The IJRS does NOT advocate using alcohol or drugs in any of it’s teachings.  It is mentioned only for the academic awareness of recent clinical studies.*    

    Movement and exercise promote both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. 5

    For our purposes, we should consider three factors of perceptual experience that encourage neuroplasticity and neurogenesis: intensity, duration, and novelty. 6  

    It is simple enough:   if an experience is intense enough, we remember it.
    How easy is it to recall a particularly intense experience that you’ve had recently or in the past?  

    If an experience lasts long enough, we remember it.  
    How easy is it to recall the things that you do every day of your life?  

    If an experience is new and different enough, we remember it.  
    How easy is it to recall your first kiss, your first rock concert, or your first time driving a car?  Intense experiences change us and so do new and different experiences, as does repetition and rehearsal.

    Aleister Crowley summarized the technique of invocation as “Enflame thyself with praying,” suggesting intensity and duration, at the least. 7    

    A ritual or meditation practice that continues over time may partake of all three factors.  The discipline of daily practice supplies duration;  the change of state created by the practice creates novelty;  and continued improvement in concentration and technique can increase intensity.   Indeed, brain imaging studies of experienced meditators demonstrate physical changes in the brain.  A 2005 study of experienced practitioners of Vipassana (“insight” or “mindfulness” meditation) conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, for instance, demonstrated that the practice appeared to encourage neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in particular areas of the cerebral cortex associated with attention, memory, and integration of emotions. The brain scans showed that these areas were thicker in experienced Vipassana practitioners than in the non-meditating control group. 8

    When learning or creating a technique or practice, attention to intensity, duration, and novelty can yield even more powerful results.  As you begin to practice, ask yourself:  Is this intense enough?  Do I spend enough time practicing it?  Am I learning or creating something new to me?  

    The intensity of a practice can be increased by adding details or complexity, including (but not limited to) techniques for altering consciousness, more participants, deeper breathing, gestures, dances and other physical movements, chants, music, images, incense and narrative flow.  Add components to your ritual that excite your sensibilities and promote your passion.

    The duration of an exercise or practice is often best when guided by the goals and content of the work. Some will be conducive to very quick and efficient practice and some will benefit from lengthier involvement. The element of duration can be added to even short exercises, of course, by repeated practice over time.

    Novelty can always be found by learning new things and exposing yourself to new experiences. Learning new movements of any kind can be a powerful way to promote neurogenesis. Learn a new skill and incorporate it into your daily ‘habits’:  drawing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, writing a poem, performing mathematical feats, translating a foreign language, twisting your body into yogic puzzles, martial arts, kayaking.  Do things you’ve never done before!

    Now, the old pros from the magick community reading this have probably already realized that these are all things traditionally recommended in their typical ‘magickal’ ritual practice.  The slight difference for us here at the IJRS is that, with some understanding of how our brains respond to these ‘ritual’ elements, we can design or improvise methods with increased brain-change in mind. By keeping the factors of intensity, duration, and novelty in mind, we can assure that we learn and grow from our connection to the Force.

    Notes:
    1. LeDoux, Joseph E. Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are. New York: Viking, 2002.
    2. Crowley, Aleister. Ed. The Goetia of Solomon the King. Foyers, England: The Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, 1904. Reprint. New York: Magickal Childe Publications, 1992.
    3. Nichols, CD and Sanders-Bush, E. “A Single Dose of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Influences Gene Expression Within the Mammalian Brain.” Neuropsychopharmacology. Vol. 26/5, pp. 634-642, 2002.
    4. Santarelli L, Saxe M, Gross C, et al. “Requirement of Hippocampal Neurogenesis for the Behavioral Effects of Antidepressants.” Science 301 (5634): 805–9, August 2003.
    5. van Praag, Henriette. “Neurogenesis and Exercise: Past and Future Directions.” NeuroMolecular Medicine, Volume 10, Number 2, June 2008. pp. 128-140
    6. Farber, Philip H. Brain Magick: Exercises in Meta-Magick and Invocation, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011.
    7. Crowley, Aleister. Magick in Theory and Practice. London, 1929.
    8. Davidson, Richard and Lutz, Antoine, “Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, January 2008. pp 172-6.

    #162814
    Kol Drake
    Moderator

    Meditation Alters Neural Activity
    Psychological Science, a journal edited by the Association for Psychological Science, 2011

    A scientific investigation reported that practicing meditation for just a few weeks has discernible effects on neural activity. The work showed that people should not be swayed from meditating by the fact that hardcore practitioners spend years mastering their ‘special’ techniques.  

    The origins of this study span back more than two decades, when Jane Anderson was struggling with seasonal affective disorders that affected her during the long Minnesota winters.   Within a month after she began meditating, she noticed her overall condition improved. This represented the anecdotal evidence which the research team tried to validate or infirm in this study.   Recently, as a undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Anderson coauthored the new work, which tested this hypothesis rigorously.  Together with UWS colleague Christopher Moyer, PhD, and other researchers, she conducted the new research on the effects of meditation on a dozen people.

    Previous studies touting the benefits of meditation have looked at changes in brain activity in Buddhist monks, who have spent tens of thousands of hours of meditating. But Anderson wanted to know if one could see a change in brain activity after a shorter period.

    At the beginning of the study, each participant had an EEG to measure the brain’s electrical activity.   They were told: “Relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath.”   Then 11 people were invited to take part in meditation training, while the other 10 were told they would be trained later.   The 11 were offered two half-hour sessions a week, and encouraged to practice as much as they could between sessions, but there wasn’t any particular requirement for how much they should practice.

    After five weeks, the researchers did an EEG on each person again. Each person had done, on average, about seven hours of training and practice. But even with that little meditation practice, their brain activity was different from the 10 people who hadn’t had training yet.  People who had done the meditation training showed greater activity in the left frontal region of the brain in response to subsequent attempts to meditate. Other research has found that this pattern of brain activity is associated with positive moods.

    *****

    The brain is ‘teachable’.   It is capable of so much more then what little we tend to give it to ‘do’.  Meditation and creative visualization are just two tools for working on yourself and your brain.

    So, do not worry about having to meditate for 23 hours a day.  Or that you must live in a cave.  Or do it until you are 99 years old.  
    As we say in all our courses, ‘just do it’.  The scientific data is out there but, it is the personal experience that matters — and does YOU the most good.  

    Aum  — and enjoy the benefits.

    #162914
    Kol Drake
    Moderator

    Big deal.  Technical double talk.  What does this have to do with ‘me’ and becoming a Jedi?

    Here at the IJRS, we emphasize self inspection and self awareness;  meditation for centering, balance, and grounding — as well as for problem solving and self examination;  trying to ‘see’ and ‘think’ way outside the ‘box’ so you are stretching yourself mentally, emotionally, and even physically.   Why?  Because studies are being published which prove mental activity can physically change the human brain for the better — and, at the IJRS, we emphasize POSITIVE change rather then negative reinforcing of old patterns.    Changing the brain for the better — it is no New Age pie-in-the-sky promise.

    The research is still considered cutting-edge but, is fast coming into general acceptance as the results are coming out of some of the most prestigious neuroscience labs around the country.  Much of the research is being conducted by researchers in collaboration with the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist monks who are long-time practitioners of meditation. Much of the collaborative research is generated by dialogues between scientists and Buddhist monks who belong to a professional research organization called the Mind and Life Institute, based in Colorado.

    What the scientists are finding in the labs as they “wire up” and study the brain activity of the Buddhist monks through functional MRIs (a way of picturing the activity of the brain), is that the long-term practice of meditation and mindfulness dramatically changes the brain for the better. In one set of experiments, researchers found sharp increases in gamma waves in the brains of seasoned meditators, suggesting “the power of mental training to produce a heightened brain state associated with perception, program solving and consciousness.”

    This heightened gamma activity, curiously, was present in the monks’ brains even when they were NOT meditating. The more hours the monks had meditated, the stronger was the baseline gamma reading.  The monks’ brains also showed a greater activity in those portions of the brain associated with generating compassion for others.

    For years, the prevailing wisdom among scientists, as well as the general public, was that the adult brain was, in the words of a famous Spanish neuroanatomist named Santiago Ramón y Cajal, “fixed, ended and immutable.”  As late as 1999, neurologists writing in Science magazine declared that no new brain cells (neurons) could be generated in the adult brain, and that the functions assigned to different portions of the brain were fixed and not changeable.  If something happened to damage that part of the brain that controlled the movement of your left arm, for example, well, then, so be it. You couldn’t expect another part of the brain to morph in such a way that it took over the control of the left arm.

    New research has now disproved that old dogma of the fixed and immutable brain and instead shown that the brain has enormous plasticity. In Sharon Begley’s book, TRAIN YOUR MIND CHANGE YOUR BRAIN, she writes,  “The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma, compensate for disabilities, rewire itself to overcome dyslexia, and break cycles of depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.”

    There are suggestions coming out of the research that the corollary is true, that negative thinking can change the brain for the worse. Researcher Fred Gage at the Salk Institute suggests that the hippocampus — a seahorse-shaped part of the brain which plays a role in processing memory and emotions — is shrunken in the brains of depressed people. (Of course it could be that the physical dictates the emotional.)

    This good news for young or old Jedi pathwalkers.  Imagine, by keeping active, and challenging ourselves with mental activity — playing piano, for example — can have direct, positive benefits.  The latest findings are indicating direct evidence that by learning new ways of thinking — particularly mindfulness, which is really awareness — we can rewire the physical meat of our minds.  

    Quote:
    “By thinking differently about the thoughts that threaten to send them back into the abyss of despair, patients with depression have dialed up activity in one region of the brain and quieted it in another, reducing their risk of relapse. Something as insubstantial as a thought has the ability to act back on the very stuff of the brain, altering neuronal connections in a way that can lead to recovery from mental illness and perhaps to a greater capacity for empathy and compassion.”

    Research continues.  Until something comes along to prove otherwise, I think the IJRS is on the ‘right track’ as far as training people to ‘think differently and think positively’.  Obviously, the research is coming as an affirmation of the concept.  AND, ‘we’ get to share in the positive results of changing our brains for the better.  

    *****

    Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves
    by Sharon Begley, 2007  Ballantine Books

    Beyond the Brain, Written by James Shreeve
    article republished online from the pages of National Geographic magazine
    >>  http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/mind-brain/#page=1  <<

    #163206
    Kol Drake
    Moderator
    Doing the same things over and over expecting different results is insanity.

    The only way to get different results is to change what we do. The process of change begins in our minds. Our thoughts help shape and create our circumstances in life. “As A Man Thinketh, So Is He.” When we change our thinking we change our lives.

    What does it mean to change?

    Change = to transform or convert

    When we find ourselves stuck in a rut or not quite where we want to be in life, it is time for change. Old habits, old thoughts, and old ways of thinking must go. We literally have to cleanse our minds of negativity, scars, conditioning, and mental blocks.

    Living life abundantly is a continuous process of training and transforming our minds to achieve optimal living. There are many ways to begin the process of changing the way we think. Here are two time tested and approved methods for changing your thinking to change your life:

    1. Brain Food

    2. Meditation

    What we feed our minds affect how and what we think. When we bombard the mind with negative images, fears, bad news, violence, pain, and suffering etc…our mind responds by conjuring up matching thoughts. When we feed our minds with positive images, good news, peace, happiness, and prosperity …our mind responds accordingly.

    Our mind will produce thoughts based on the information we provide it with. The thoughts that our mind produces set a wheel of events in motion. Thoughts are creative and whatever thoughts we find ourselves preoccupied with always manifest in our lives.
    .
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    Are you living your life to the fullest or are you going through the motions? Are you living a purpose driven life or are you searching for your purpose as you pursue happiness? Living involves active participation in life. Living means growing and thriving not just day-to-day surviving. This “Fuller Living” is much of what the IJRS teaching is all about.  Although we plant the ‘seeds’ — new thoughts, new ideas, new tools for growth (self analysis, meditation, energy sensing) — it is you who must take that seed and place it in fertile ground – or in this case, a fertile mind.

    Change and Begin Living today.  Life is your Most Valuable Gift and it is the gift that keeps on giving. What you do with your life is up to you. Life is what you make it. You have everything you need to create life, destroy life, improve life, and touch the lives of others. The choice is yours. For every cause there is an effect.? Every life represents a mission, a purpose, a cause.  Become the Jedi you have been inspired to ‘Be’.  Change your thinking and your habits and Live a Jedi Inspired Life.

    ***

    Change Your Thinking; Change Your Life – by Brian Tracy

    Change Your Thoughts; Change Your Life – by Dr. Wayne Dyer

    #163340
    Kol Drake
    Moderator
    Left-vs-Right-Brain.jpg

    .
    .

    The structure and functions of the mind suggests that the two different sides of the brain control two different “modes” of thinking.  It also suggests that each of us prefers one mode over the other.  Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking.
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    .

                                                  Left Brain                              Right Brain
                                                  Logical                                      Random
                                                  Sequential

                                                  Rational                                      Intuitive

                                                  Analytical                                  Holistic
                                                                                                    Synthesizing

                                                  Objective                                  Subjective

                                                  Looks at parts                            Look at wholes (Big Picture)

    Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking.  Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain ones. Left-brain scholastic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained subjects, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.

    A lot of what the lessons in the 101s are working toward are getting BOTH sides to work together.  Flexing those intuitive muscles;  learning to ‘see’ the big picture as well as the step-by-step aspects of certain things, etc. 

    There is ‘hope’.  Our brains are hyper resilient and there are those who have lost half a brain — literally — who have ‘learned’ to get all the functionality of the missing ‘side’ back. 

    #163341
    Kol Drake
    Moderator

    How to use both sides of your brain if you were left brained

    The following is what you should do in order to use both sides of your brain if you were left brained:

    Avoid using logic only: If you were thinking of a problem or if you were about to take a decision then avoid using logic only, don’t just try to gather information in an overly intensive way, instead gather as much information as you can then take the decision based on the available information even if the seemed incomplete, in that case your left brain will use the information while the intuition of your right brain will compensate for the missing information

    Use images and visualization: While studying or reading try to draw images or to visualize the situation, by using both the visual images and the written text you will be training both sides of your brain to work together

    Listen to music: while reading try to listen to music in order to allow the right brain to get involved
       
    Try to find any hobby that requires creativity: Try to find if you are interested in drawing, painting or writing poems, whatever the hobby that requires creativity that you can find, it can help you to train your right brain
       
    Break the routine: If you were an accountant who always works with numbers each day from 9 to 5 then you may lose all of your creative abilities, try to break this routine by doing something random in between, try to go the beach and sit in front of the sea to think randomly, try to close your eyes then imagine your future or imagine anything that you would like, just break that routine using any method that you can think of.

    How to use both sides of your brain if you were Right brained

    The following is what you should do in order to use both sides of your brain if you were right brained:

    Try to get deeper into details: I know you may not be liking it but just try as much as you can to think of problems or situations in a little more detail rather than just looking at the full picture, try to gather more information even if you felt like already knowing what are you going to do
       
    Plan your life: Try to make schedules and follow them, try to set goals and record your progress in reaching them, if you already have goals try to write them down, and if they are long term ones divide them into smaller short term ones that are more detailed
       
    Play complex games: Try to find if there is any complex game that interests you, like chess for example, these types of games stress on the left brain functions and so allows you to use both sides of your brain.

    Work with numbers: You should feel good while studying accounting or mathematics because you will be training your left brain and so increasing your ability to use your whole brain, try not to avoid numbers because they can help you in developing both of your brain hemispheres

    ***

    left – right comparison from
    http://www.2knowmyself.com/The_brain/learn_how_use_both_sides_of_your_brain_left_right

    ***

    I know.. sounds simplistic but… it does help.

    Musicians tend to use both sides more — they have to be ‘logical’ about how sounds, tones, timber, rhythms ‘work’ but also have to use their ‘creative/intuitive’ side to get the ‘feel’ as they play.  Other artists tend to use the ‘creative’ side but then swap to the logical to ‘do’ the business aspect of selling their works.  We can look at any occupation we do and noodle out ways to ‘work’ both sides of our brains.

    HOW one ‘side’ speaks to the other?

    Depends.  If you are primarily left sided (logical/analytical) — you have to be ‘listening’ for gut feelings, ‘internal’ red flags, spidey sense tingling, Force nudges, and in some cases, hear the wee tiny voice of ‘the guide’/your higher consciousness thwacking you with a two by four.

    If you are timey whimmey, whibbley wobbley about things (intuitive), then you have to consciously take the time to make yourself knuckle down and ‘do the work — step-by-step’ instead of doing the typical ‘intuitive leap’ from bare facts to eureka moment.

    The brain as an organ and structure is pretty amazing.  The mind — is out of this world.  Take time to explore yours and have fun.

    #164279
    Kol Drake
    Moderator
    Change Your Thinking; Change Your Life

    We have touched on this topic before – self talk – how it can be constructive or destructive. Nearly all of it is a choice we make even those we are not consciously aware of. We still choose. We have chosen to accept most of our beliefs “without argument.” That is, we unconsciously buy into what others have told us about ourselves and the world around us. Or we simply accept a certain interpretation of a past experience and assume that future events hold the same meaning.

    For the most part, this allows us to function in a relatively healthy manner. Can you imagine trying to evaluate every teeny detail of every decision we make every day to determine if we truly believe it so that we can act on it. Brain Lock! Total paralysis. Instead – we pretty much live life on faith and, for the most part, I suppose this is good thing. (( Not having to decide if standing in the middle of the road is a ‘wise thing’ while a truck is zooming at you. Debate *after* you get out of the way! ))

    But, as we tend to observe here at the IJRS, ‘we’ should all consider challenging our beliefs. Especially when we begin to realize that we’re holding negative and self-limiting beliefs because “that’s what I’ve always been told.” Beliefs like: “I’m no good at math.” ~ “I’m not a people person.” ~ “I’ve never been good with directions.” ~ “I’m a terrible cook.” ~”I can never do that.” ~ “That is too hard for me to learn.”

    ding ding ding ~~ Warning, Will Robinson!
    Who says?! Who told you that? Probably a person, a cultural expectation, or past experience. BUT we can choose a different belief. It means we can challenge our beliefs and make meaningful changes to our way of thinking (and living) and NOT be victims to past influences or patterns of behavior.

    So how do we change our beliefs?
    We talk about it all the time in the IJRS. The answer is by thinking about our thoughts. Whenever we make a statement to ourselves or about ourselves, become aware of that self-talk. Bring it to light and then change your thinking about it. Turn negatives to positives.
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    When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs;

    When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations;

    When you change your expectations, you change your attitude;

    When you change your attitude, you change your behavior;

    When you change your behavior, you change your performance;

    When you change your performance, you change your life!

    – John C. Maxwell

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