Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The Wandering Mind
I have always had one foot in science and one foot in spirit. Finally, at least in this instance, the two have come together. Which always makes me happy.
Researchers have determined that they can now map our brains during an "aha" moment. An article in the Wall Street Journal, (that bastion of scientific discovery), has written that findings show that our brains are actually very active during seeming inactive times. All those daydreams you have? Not bad anymore. They are actually providing more insight (a burst of mental clarity), crucial to intellect, than previously supposed. It happened to Archimedes in the the bath, Descarts while lying in bed watching flies on the ceiling, and Newton while standing in an orchard watching an apple fall from a tree. Of course insight favors a prepared mind, and in all of these instances, the minds had been honed, you might say. But we also have the ability to prepare.
Mapping brain waves is nothing new, but now researchers are able to document the brains behavior during these "aha" moments by recording brain-wave patterns and imaging neural circuits. These moments of clarity (insight) utilize different parts of the brain, including the right frontal cortex. EEG's have shown that an intense and complex series of brain states are more involved than previously thought, while daydreaming. Networks become very busy and Gamma Waves emanating from the right hemisphere of the brain flash about 1/3 of a second before the "aha" moment. "An eternity at the speed of light," stated one researcher.
Of course all of this is nothing new in the world of spirit. All the great teachers have taught how to quiet the mind through meditation, controlling the ego, going into the stillness that lies behind the mind's chatter. Evidently insight also favors a positive attitude, something we have already known to be essential to mental and spiritual health.
It is always nice when science catches up, and we can revel in the realization that science doesn't know everything. We knew it first.
"You want to quiet the noise in your head to solidify that fragile gem of an idea", says Dr. Jung-Beeman at Northwestern."
Bottom line? Be positive, work at what you love, and enjoy letting your mind wander. Take time to smell the roses. It's all in a days work.