Being my own Best Friend

The next couple of weeks, or maybe months, I’m going to return to changing my own brain — yes, that’s right, my brain. I’ll do so by embodied and lived inquiry, contemplation and open focus. And I know that it works because I trust the new science of Neuroplasticity, and because the first experiment of a week+ in which I looked at “love” along these lines have been very enlightening in practice. It was during the last day of the experiment I discovered a deeply hidden resentment of the world and most of all all the idiots that co-create and prolong suffering for others. I saw how this resentment informed and motivated most of my projects in life. And, at this point the newly formed pathways in my brain played a decisive role, where formerly I would have simply observed this ‘fact’ now I spontaneously forgave myself for this foundational resentment. [I know, to some of my readers love is situated in the heart, and I won’t deny that it may play a role, but it seems the brain plays a major role in all our emotions; and yet, inasmuch as love is not an emotion, but rather a natural force, like gravity, it may be the imaginal heart that is its major conduit.]

This week I’m going to experiment with “Being my own best friend.”
I’ve chosen to strengthen, enhance, grow this particular “brain-area” as it seems foundational to what I’m planning to embark upon. You see, one of the effects of loosing my resentment of the world and its huge population of idiots and ignorants and just plain bad guys and girls has been that I’ve lost quite some motivating energy which was caught in my rebellion. Part of my character is crumbling. The sense I made, These ignorants and suffer-makers are to be resented!, doesn’t make it anymore. So I want to re-build my character along other lines, that have yet to reveal themselves to me. Being my own best friend seems like a good place to start.

As the first day of doing this (sketching the way I go about this at present below) unfolds, and I’m writing this blog, I now see that, it may sound absurd, I resent myself somewhat. “I’m not good enough,” you may know the sentiment.
Exploring this feeling what pops up first is my utter imperfection: I’m too dreamy, I lack perseverance, mostly I’m not doing my best but settle for the mediocre,  I’m lazy, often act automatic, unaware, kind of scattered, and more.
Yet, when now I think about my friends, my few close friends, than surely they are not perfect, some of them are dreamy, settle often for less than doing their very best, etc. Does that effect my friendship? Do I therefor embrace them less? Really, these questions bring a smile to my face, Of course not! They are my friends just the way they are.

So how do I proceed for now, being my own best friend?

Every day - at the same time - cat waits for dog, and when he comes they go for a walk

When I wake up in the morning I remember whom I’m being with: My best friend! And I embody the feelings I have when I’m with a best friend; we hug and it feels good to be in his/her presence, enjoying the presence of the friend.
At any time during the day I remember to “be with me”, considering whatever I do as I would if my best friend would do this. How does the world look, how does my body feel, what spirit I’m in, when I regard my present moment – just now – with the eyes of the best friend?
When I contemplate and meditate, it’s a friendly exploration of whatever is the case – so when I’m aware of my breathing, it’s my friend’s breathing or, if I’m contemplating a matter than I’m as clear and honest as ever, only I’m contemplating before a friendly back-ground.
And before I go to sleep I’ll look at the days events and meetings and doings and non-doings as I would look at a friend’s day.



Right Brain Enlightenment

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

Meditation and Kindness go hand in hand

New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that we can acquire a greater capacity for compassion through meditation training, in much the same way as athletes or musicians train to improve their skill.

We’re in the midst of a revolution in brain science. The long-held dogma that brain connections are unchangeable after age five, is being usurped with findings that the brain is more plastic than we thought.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a study in PLoS One this week, showing that our capacity for empathy can be learned and mastered – as one might learn to play soccer or piano. The skill here comes from meditation.

They studied the fMRI scans of 32 subjects, half were trained meditators including the Olympians of meditation, the Tibetan monks. The others were age-matched novices.

In the brain scanner, all were subjected to emotional sounds (like a baby laughing or woman screaming.)

They found that the insula (the area of the brain responsible for physical feelings of compassion) was highly active in the experts. And the right temporal-parietal juncture (an area connected to understanding anothers’ emotional state) was also much more active in experts than in the novices.

It may not be proof that we can turn a schoolyard bully into Ghandi, but it shows meditative training has a significant impact.