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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Sunday, 23 March 2008 17:31
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 1 - Basics & Golden Rules
Brains and Networks
The Golden Rules
When Things Go Wrong (Anxiety)
Basics About Intelligence
NHA Guide To Methods and Tech
Summary
Hacks and Exercices
All Pages

 

BEFORE BEGINNING THESE TUTORIALS IT HELPS TO READ:

 

Introduction to Tutorials

 

INTAL

 

Homeworld Logo

 

This program and the information and techniques in it are open source and can be used by anyone for anything with the following exceptions:

It is not to be sold or used for making financial profit in any way.

It is not to be used with intentions of coercion or any deliberate attempt to control others, including children.

Any person breaking these conditions will be denied access to the NHA community and all connected sites

 


 

Neurohacking Tutorial 1

The Golden Rules

Updated: Jul 2009

 

In this tutorial we’re going to explain the golden rules of neurohacking (NH), because neurohacking for health and development is what we're doing here. We’re also going to tell you the basics about your brain, your intelligence and how it works, because NH works with your biology; that’s what makes it so effective. We call this tutorial program “Intal” (for ‘Interactional’).

 


 

rabbit

 

Follow the Right Habit

First, forget everything you think you know about intelligence. Clear your thoughts and begin in a calm, interested, playful state of mind.

We'll start with an overview:

The deliberate development of anything towards its optimal potential is called entelechy [pronounced en-tel-eh-key]. In Japan this is known as ‘Kaizen’. You may have heard of Kaizen in the context of business, but in fact it is applicable to all areas of life. Practising Entelechy (or Kaizen) is about deliberately interacting with nature (including your biology) for improvement in all areas of your life, it affects everything you come into contact with, and it works by creating the right conditions for healthy interaction and ‘emergence’ to take place.

Emergence is the natural process by which things use beneficial conditions to grow and develop and fulfill their potential. Life and intelligence move in this direction automatically when they’re healthy.

 

entelechy ex.

 

The opposite is movement towards deterioration, decay, and extinction. No growth or repair can take place when things are moving in this direction. Health fails, life deteriorates, and things begin to fall apart.

 

Entropy ex.

 

With simple common sense we can see the benefit of things developing their optimal potential for life, wellbeing and intelligence; including our personal selves, the planet, ecology, our culture, our relationships, our abilities, and humanity in general. And we find it’s really bad news when any of these things starts to fall apart and decay. Because we’re biological creatures, we know innately why decay means danger, and we also know that all things are inter-related.

Our bodies and minds move towards deterioration whenever we are sick or injured, but our immune and repair systems (evolved for our wellbeing) automatically notice and tweak us back towards entelechy, and we “get better”. In living things, our evolved biology always moves us naturally towards entelechy, growth and development unless something gets in the way.

This is also true of intelligence; it will always grow and develop and improve itself naturally unless something gets in the way. Our big problem, and the cause of all our current ills, is that a lot of things do get in the way and push us towards deterioration. For example, in many societies, deterioration of the mind with age is considered ‘normal’, but this is only so because so many people are making the habits that lead to deterioration a way of life.

This is no new trend. Throughout history, people have accidentally or unknowingly adopted bad habits of behavior that cause deterioration, decay and sickness, often because they knew no better, or because they followed the majority without thinking. We have seen plagues, famines, pollution and disasters that could have been avoided if people had known more about the nature of disease, our ecology and biology and adopted more beneficial habits.

During the last century we’ve learned a lot more about ecology and pollution and about hygiene and how disease spreads, but today we still see a lot of degradation in mental health, relationships, success and happiness and most people still don’t know enough to figure out why. We have begun to realize how much our lifestyles and attitudes have damaged our planet, how much they can damage our bodies and our physical health, but most people have not yet realized how much our lifestyles, environment and habits of behavior can affect our minds and the quality of our intelligence. Brain science is only just catching up with body science, because we have only recently had the tools to reveal how our minds work and what intelligence really is.

In developing and growing your intelligence, then, you are going to find out how various things affect your brain and mind. You will then be able to recognize things that will assist your success and move you towards entelechy, and things that will get in the way of your success and move you towards deterioration.

Things that are “on your side” is anything (including habits) that will help to develop your intelligence and keep your mind healthy. Working against you is anything that destroys or retards intelligence.

We now know that every single thing we do, say and think moves us (and our brain) in one of these directions or the other; towards development or decay. Successful neurohacking is the simple practice of knowing what these ‘beneficial’ or ‘harmful’ things are, and adapting ourselves and our environment in order to use the developmental ones and avoid the ones that cause deterioration. This is one of the first techniques you will learn, known as ‘Input control’. Input control uses a series of hacks and self-directed adaptations to help us stay in the entelechy zone, or 'green zone'.

The 'green zone' for the mind is a healthy balance between extremes:

 

No growth (decay)

Healthy growth

Unhealthy growth (eg cancer)

Relaxation only (apathy)

Stress/relaxation

Stress only (anxiety)

No learning

Natural learning

Forced learning

Weak immunity

Strong immunity

Hyper immunity (eg allergies)

No interests

Healthy interests

Obsessions

Depression

Balanced mind

Mania

 

You can probably think of individuals you know who have slipped outside the green zone in either (or both) directions, or you may have experienced this yourself. Our hacks and exercises are designed to keep you inside the green zone or to move you back into balance if you have slipped outside.

  

doitnowrat 

DO IT NOW

 

Go somewhere private to do this; it only takes a minute. Take a pen or pencil with you.

Put the blunt end of the pen between your front teeth as though it were a cigar. Do not allow your lips to touch the pen for one minute. Don’t worry if it makes you laugh; it is a bit of a strange feeling.

The reason we do this exercise in private is because the expression it causes you to pull looks rather strange, but are you aware of what else you’ve just done?

You’ve just hacked your brain! The facial expression you have to pull with a pen in your teeth without the lips touching uses muscles that send signals to your brain, to tell it that you’re ‘smiling’ for quite a long period of time (a minute is a long time, to the brain). Of course, you know consciously that you’re not really smiling, you’re doing some strange exercise with a pen. But for the unconscious part of the brain that reads muscular signals, it’s ‘close enough’, in other words this is a hack. You’re basically fooling the brain into thinking that something good is happening “out there” in your real life.

When the brain gets these signals from the muscles in your face, and concludes that something fun must be going on ‘out there’, it prepares your mind and body to interact with it. It releases chemicals into your bloodstream that increase your confidence, focus your attention and boost your immune system (just in case whatever is going on out there might be fun and exciting but also dangerous.)

These changes last only for a short while because this was a one-off exercise, and you haven't made a habit of it yet. When you get into habits of thought and behavior you can make permanent changes so that you don’t need to do weird exercises like this any more.

This is a simple example of input control. You controlled the ‘input’ to your brain by changing your facial expression for a short time.

We’re now going to take a look inside the brain so that you will know where its various bits are when we refer to them.

  


  

brain

 

Brains and Networks

Intal works with individual brain networks (because they all do different things). Below is a picture of a brain, cut in half from front to back, showing you the different areas we call “networks” and a basic idea of their responsibilities.

 

 

COLOR KEY:

NETWORK 1

N1 processes sensory data about material, physical things and holds sensorimotor (‘muscle’) memories. It plays a main part in attention, self-care, and perception.

NETWORK 2

N2 processes all basic survival behaviors and holds spatial memories. It plays a main part in alertness, observation, orientation, navigation and perception.

NETWORK 3

N3 processes translation, relay and continuity and holds eidetic memories. It plays a main part in concentration, association, imagination, perception, all memory, communication, empathy and emotional stability.

NETWORK 4

N4 processes procedures and holds long term procedural memories. It plays a main part in your creativity, invention, timing, construction, interaction, humor, language, dexterity and ability to use tools.

NETWORK 5

(N5 cannot be seen in this diagram as it is the ‘removed’ half of the brain opposite network 4). N5 processes facts and figures and holds long term declarative memories. It plays a main part in analysis, computation, logic, deconstruction, language, self esteem, resource assessment and intellect.

NETWORK 6

N6 processes prediction and strategy, and uses working memory. It plays a main part in planning, association, morality, spirituality, judgment, problem solving and decisions.

Note that the picture above is a rough sketch; networks are much more complex than this IRL and much more intermingled. In fact, networks really look a bit like bramble bushes whose branches have grown so entwined it is impossible to separate them.

Networks are made up of neurons, or nerve cells. Although the neurons in the brain are all mixed together like a bundle of spaghetti, they do have their main parts [called their ‘cell bodies’] in certain areas. Most of the “grey matter” in your brain is nerve cell bodies, the “white matter” is made of their long tails, or “axons”. Neurons also have bushy protuberances called “dendrites”. The places where neuron cell bodies group together into communities are called the network cores or ‘hubs’. This is what you have six of.

An useful thing to remember about neurons is that they’re [mostly] electro-chemical, like batteries. They behave like an EMP [ElectroMagnetic Pulse] weapon; in that they build up a charge and only fire if the charge is sufficient. Exactly like the EMP, after firing they have to recharge before they can fire again, but fortunately for us this happens very, very fast [speeds of up to 120 metres per second!] A cell 'firing' is called an action potential, and we can change the sensitivity of cells so that they fire in response to less input (we do this when we increase our awareness of detail, like listening specifically to one person at a party) or more input (we do this when blocking out boring or harmful conversation at a party). We can fine-tune these responses.

Here are some greatly magnified neurons firing below:

 

beautiful_neurons

A neuron ‘firing’ makes it release chemicals that transmit the ‘message’ in code to the next neuron along, and they do not actually touch; the chemicals have to ‘bridge a gap’, and that gap is called a synapse. (Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the names of brain parts; that isn’t important at this stage).

The Cell Body is the ‘command centre’ of the neuron. Axons make up the long fibres that we normally think of as ‘nerves’, and they spread out all over the body. In the brain, axons form the ‘white matter’. Axons are output lines. Dendrites are input lines, and they look like leafless trees.

It’s important not to get confused by the fact that axons send information both from and to the brain (they relay the output of sensory organs as well as the output of the brain itself). Axons can be an output line from anywhere, but when they get to their destination, they pass their information over to dendrites or directly to the cell bodies. Dendrites are receivers of data and Axons are transmitters of data…now you’ve got it. Input data to brain cells are mainly output data from different cells.

 

What Determines Your Intelligence

We now know that the variety and density of connections in neural networks is what determines intelligence, and we also know that this is determined by how much those networks are used and what they are used for. The type of use determines their architecture and the differences between us. The pattern of connections (synapses) each neuron makes with other neurons is unique and determines the path taken by future signals as they travel inside the brain. This is what we have the ability to change.

Small changes in the patterns of brain connectivity constantly occur; for example by the brain increasing or decreasing the number of connections or even rewiring an entire network (a good example of this is blind people -they still use the visual cortex when reading braille, it has been rewired to accept input from touch instead of from the eyes).

The differences in the arrangement and density of connections, which can be altered deliberately when we know what we are doing, distinctly influence the flow of information and the way it is processed by the brain. This adaptive ability of the brain is known as plasticity, and it plays an important role in the mechanisms underlying memory, learning and intelligence. We’ll be finding out more about plasticity later, (If you want to know more before going on, read “Plasticity & Epigenetics: The Basics", in the Basics section of the library).

  

rabbit

 

Neurohackers work with the brain as a series of neural networks because we can work on individual or sets of nets that correspond to particular brain functions, such as memory or emotion. The main networks controlling the factors required for intelligence are only a few in number, which makes our work much easier.

There are six main networks we work on in neurohacking (NH), as outlined above. There’s loads more information about what they do in these tutorials so you will get to know them as we are going along. (If you want to know more before going on, read “Anatomy, Physiology and Brain Networks”, in the Basics section of the library).

 

Q – What is ‘plasticity’?

A - ‘Plasticity’ generally means “ability to be shaped or formed”. Because of brain plasticity, brain cells, connections, and entire brain structures can change and adapt to better cope with the environment and circumstances. Plasticity is one of the important foundations of learning and memory, and can be used in NH for overwriting harmful habits of thought.

 

doitnowrat

DO IT NOW

 

Start an NH diary. Use a notebook (at least A5 size] or a word processing application like MSWord. This will be your "Captain's Log" for neurohacking, and you can add to it whenever you please.

As you go through the section below, on the top of the first page of your diary write the first golden rule (there is a list of the golden rules below). Go to page two, and write the second golden rule, and so on until you have all eight.

As you read the next bit of this tutorial, you can fill in key bits of information and details about the golden rules to help you understand more and more how they are applied and exactly what they mean. This will be some of the most valuable information in NH that you will ever need.

If you want to, you can also keep a record in it of what you’re doing, a ‘hacks and exercises’ log, and any points that particularly interest you, but there’s no need to do so unless you enjoy it. We’ll let you know what the important bits are to remember as we get to them (Follow the white rabbit).

 


  

brain

 

It’s Time to Take a Look at the Golden Rules.

Throughout the program you will encounter the following themes, that we call the golden rules:

  1. If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want
  2. Behave as though it’s happening and the brain will think it’s happening
  3. You will become more like whatever you are surrounded by
  4. Cells that fire together wire together
  5. Know yourself
  6. Always do things in the right order
  7. Use it in the right way or lose it
  8. From time to time, you will forget all this

 

The Golden Rules are all you need to learn at first, because they summarize all that we need to know in order to start making beneficial changes. You’ll find that as you get to know them, they’ll remind you of how the brain and biology work and that will help you to understand how and why Intal works.

The golden rules will be explained in detail below. We suggest that you read this section again carefully if you encounter any problems or fail to get results, because not remembering these rules is the cause of most problems and lack of progress in neurohacking! That’s why we want you to put them somewhere that you will see them often, preferably every day. If you try something in NH and it doesn’t seem to work, the first place to look to find out why is at the golden rules.

Now we’ll go through the basics of why these rules are so important:

 

If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want

Your brain is an electrochemical-dependent biological organ. Providing the correct nutrients and fuel for it to perform well and making sure it gets what it needs is the first step in NH without which you won’t get lasting results. Worse, you can even damage your brain if you push it too hard without sufficient nutrients and sleep, particularly your memory. If you want to ‘go for gold’ as a mental athlete the first things you’ll have to pay attention to are your brain’s biological needs.

This is one area in which the brain does behave somewhat like a machine. You wouldn’t put jelly in your CD drive or your car and expect good results, would you? Your brain is just as fussy about what goes into it.

We get energy from machines by burning hydrocarbons. We get energy from biology by burning carbohydrates. In both, the correct ‘grade’ of fuel strongly affects the performance. We’ll look into this more in tutorial 2. (If you want to know more before going on, read “Optimal nutrition for beginners” in the Nutrition section of the library.)

The brain has other needs in order to work efficiently, because most machines don’t grow or repair themselves, but brains and bodies do. As well as fuel and water, we need nutrients and sleep. The mind also needs input that is clear and that makes sense, which calls on our ability to pay attention and to interpret things correctly, because if your perception doesn’t get what it needs, your mind won’t fully understand what’s really going on in the world around you.

 

Behave as though it's happening, and the brain will think it's happening

You may think of yourself as a critical, rational or logical thinker, but the unconscious mind is incredibly gullible and can be fooled very easily because the networks it uses don’t bother separating fact from fiction. (Animals that rely mainly on the rear (unconscious) networks mistake their own reflection in a mirror for another real animal for this reason).

Surprisingly, just over 40% of the brain, mostly rear networks, uses unconscious thought (as opposed to conscious thought). It’s very useful to know about this, firstly because the secrets behind both human creativity and the ‘placebo effect’ will reveal to you how incredibly powerful unconscious intelligence can be, and secondly because once you know how unconscious thought works you’ll know how to recognize and defend yourself against indoctrination, coercion, deception, undue influence, trickery, cons, head games, emotional blackmail and lies.

We like you, you see, and we want you to be able to protect yourself against anyone trying to mess with your mind against your will or without your informed consent. Only you should ever be in charge of you, and anyone telling you otherwise or practising coercion is heading mentally in the direction of decay.

 

You will become more like whatever you are surrounded by

There is much more to our environment, other people, things, and their effects on us, than meets the eye. This rule is important, because if we forget it we can fall or be pushed into bad habits that slow us down. We have to start taking control of our personal environment in more than just the physical sense. Understanding how you can use input control to enhance your memory, communication, learning and social skills through increasing emotional stability and empathy will speed up your progress and increase your abilities.

We also have to start taking control of our behavior! Employing good habits -behaving in habitual ways that will help us to achieve our aims- and removing obstacles to our intelligence such as anxiety, apathy or depression, is the aim here. There are three basic ways to behave, but only one successful way to interact, and we’ll talk more about that later. (If you want to know more before going on, read “Interaction and core conditions: the basics”, in the Basics section of the library).

 

Cells that fire together wire together

Things have to be associated in time as well as in space. Being a biological organism is all about timing -growth & development, self-repair, moving about, eating, communicating, learning things, having sex and reproducing. Being an intelligent mammal gives us extra abilities to establish successful relationships, solve problems, strategize, and work well in groups as well as individually. Our intelligence enables us to create things, understand abstract concepts, attain spiritual ecstasy and figure out stuff like how to compose great symphonies or walk on the moon.

This describes how we learn. Brain networks adjust themselves with experience and make new associations between things. When networks fire together, they build more brain connections from one to the other.

Imagine that you’re learning to drive or ride a bike. At first, all the different individual body movements with pedals, wheel and gear shift are not coordinated. You have to look down to figure out where the gear shift or handbrake is, and so on. When you first begin, the movements of your arms and your legs, your head and your eyes, are all run by different networks that are all firing individually at the same time as each other. There are not many connections between them because the brain has never used this combination of networks in association with each other before. It has to process them all individually and that takes time, so you’re slow and a little clumsy at the task.

With practice though, you find yourself able to carry out the various physical movements more and more in synchronisation and eventually they become smooth and automatic. What is happening in the brain is that the networks responsible for each of those movements are literally connecting themselves together. With feedback from each other, the networks can time their responses to coordinate movements with each other. The movements are becoming associated as one unit; a ‘procedure’ instead of lots of bits. When the connections become dense enough, transference of information in parallel at high speeds makes the task “go automatic”. This is how you learn to walk, drive or ride a bike. It is natural learning, and it can be used to learn absolutely anything once you know how it works.

Association is the secret of all learning and of how human beings are so marvelously adaptable. Our awareness of everything in our experience depends on the associations in our memory, and the strength of our memory depends on the quality of those associations. There are many different types of memory and later we are going to look at each of them, how memories are made, and our own natural learning cycle with its specific stages. (If you want to know more before going on, read: “Learning & memory: the basics” in the Basics section of the library). If we use the brain as biology intended we will find ourselves able to learn, remember and recall all things more easily.

 

Know yourself

A part of this means knowing basically how your brain works and what can influence it for better and for worse. This part of NH is the same for everybody, (because we all share the same basic biology and the human genome).

Another part of knowing yourself is self-assessment and analysis, which only applies to you personally (because we don’t all share the same genes or the same mind).

Accepting that there are some things you can’t yet do is the first step to mastering those abilities. Critical self-assessment is the key to building confidence and personal integrity (fooling yourself just slows you down). Understanding why most of us are probably not performing with optimal mental potential at first shows you how you can change things and the quickest ways to get there.

In other words, knowing clearly where you are at now, where you are going next and how to get there is always a good idea before beginning any journey.

To practice NH successfully we must have a very clear awareness about the state of our own mind and our current abilities, so after tutorial 2 we do an analysis to find that out. An awareness of your own current limitations gives you not only faster progress in NH but an exciting glimpse of how much more you will improve!


Always do things in the right order

 

The human mind is able to master multiple skills, as long as it remains in good working condition. But the really amazing thing is that the brain uses exactly the same processes in exactly the same order to achieve all these aims.

If we work with this natural order of processing, when learning, we can achieve permanent results quickly and with ease. Once you know about timing and the cycle of learning, you’ll realize that there’s an easy way to learn anything, and there’s a hard way. The easy way is natural learning; it works with biology, and it’s fast. The hard way also works eventually despite biology, but at the expense of other functions, and it’s slow, and usually non-permanent. (Chances are, you’ve always done it the hard way, because that’s the way you were taught in school. How much of what you were taught in school can you now remember? It's likely to be only the stuff that you still use all the time!)

To learn in the fast, easy way, we must understand the order of learning that aligns with the brain’s natural biology and we must follow that order. That means developing rear nets to optimal performance before working on higher abstract skills.

Our executive abilities of prediction, judgment, decision and competent strategy are the hallmarks of strong intelligence and ‘muscular-mindedness’, along with a powerful memory and a creative, flexible logic, and these abilities largely depend on the pre frontal cortex (the networks at the front end of the brain). Those frontal networks however depend on all that has gone before –every network that we have fully developed so far. And all of them depend on networks 1 & 2. That’s why we start with these supporting networks, and develop things in the right order for optimal potential. This way, no abilities or memories are lost as more are gained.

 

 

Use it in the right way or lose it

Just like your body’s muscles, your brain will degrade in performance not only if you don’t use each network regularly, but also if you use them in the wrong way (like muscles if they’re overstretched, strained or forced).

Muscles waste away when they’re not used, and so does brain tissue. We must use all of our networks regularly for our brains to stay healthy, and we must use them in the right way. If you exercise the body in the wrong way you get strains and injuries that slow down your progress towards total fitness. When we use the brain in the wrong way the same kind of thing happens.

There are good habits of thinking as well as good habits of behavior. A part of input control is learning how to exchange bad thinking habits for good ones that produce beneficial results both in our brains and our lives.
 

 

From time to time, you will forget all this

During your progress, and especially during times of unexpected problems, something called ‘snapback’ may happen; in which the brain tries to return to old familiar habits of thought. This is a very familiar thing to neurohackers (and also happens to athletes training up the body). If you notice a sudden decrease in your ability in any way, or you’ve been feeling good and then suddenly your mood plummets, snapback is almost certainly why.

During such times (or if you get overly distracted by anything else), you are likely to forget these rules. They are however vital if you are to succeed in permanent cognitive improvement, and that’s why it’s so important to regularly remind yourself. Cultivate the good habit of looking at the rules any time you don’t feel things are improving or any time you feel stuck or confused. Label your NH diary “Captain's Log -When stuck, look here”.

 

 

doitnowrat

DO IT NOW

 

In your Captain's log, put the following questions under your golden rule headings. You can use shorthand notes or your own words if you prefer:

 

If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want.

Am I eating and sleeping properly?

Am I able to relax properly?

Am I taking in or paying attention to anything that could be slowing my brain down?

Am I getting distracted by irritating physical problems that I need to deal with first?

 

 

Behave as though it’s happening, and the brain will think it’s happening.

Can I imagine this really well as though I am acting it out and living the part?

Am I approaching this as a child would approach an interesting new game?

Have I considered other interpretations of what is going on? How many can I think of?

 

You will become more like whatever you are surrounded by

What things, people and places make me feel interested, inspired, invigorated and good?

What things, people and places make me feel tired, bored, confused or depressed?

How much of my time am I spending with each?

How long is it since I looked for new things that might interest and inspire me?


Cells that fire together wire together

What is associated with the habit I most want to change?

Am I clear about what I am replacing this habit with and why?

Am I practicing regularly or making excuses?

  

Know yourself

Am I able to be objective and emotionally stable when considering my mental abilities and lack of abilities?

Am I under the influence of anything that might cloud my perception?

Have I made sure to reduce unconscious anxiety?

 

Always do things in the right order

Have I built up the foundations before trying to build up networks on top of them?

Am I making sure all of my networks get exercised but focusing mostly on the first one I need to develop?

 

Use it in the right way, or lose it

Have I been following bad habits of thought that don't really make sense?

Have I been getting apathetic, too fatigued or too anxious?

 

From time to time, you will forget all this

Is there something I’ve forgotten?

Have I looked through the rules to see what it might be?

 

Some of these basics may seem very simple, but don’t skip over them. Remember, everything that comes after depends on these foundations. The stronger and better balanced your foundations are, the more you can develop your intelligence.

At the moment, don’t worry if you are not sure exactly what some of the questions mean, we will come back to them as you learn more.

In fact, these notes are the beginning of your ‘troubleshooting’ pages and in future, if anything isn’t working the way you expected you will be able to use it to figure out why that might be so by answering these questions. And speaking of that, let's have a look at what happens when things don't go as they should.

 


  

 

What Happens If Things Go Wrong?

When a brain develops optimally and nothing gets in the way, all the abilities of intelligence unfold in the right order and the mind grows ever more finely-tuned and ever more intelligent. For most of us though, this didn’t happen; all sorts of things have got in the way of our biology and slowed us down. Many different things can do this, but the important thing to remember is that there are only two ways any network can go wrong.

These two ways are called ‘nonuse’ and ‘wronguse’, and their names speak for themselves. Nonuse happens when a network is not used enough, and Wronguse happens when a network is being used for the wrong things or at the wrong times (eg networks are being forced to do processing jobs that other nets should be doing, or getting inappropriate information, or being forced to develop or perform in the wrong order).

It gets even easier, both these kinds of problem share the same major cause, and this is Public Enemy Number One for neurohackers: Anxiety.

"Do you want to know what it is?"

"Anxiety is everywhere, its all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your TV. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth".

(Paraphrased from Morpheus, 'The Matrix')

 

Often anxiety is thought of as “stress” by the general public, because it is presented like that in the popular media. Medically though, “stress” and “anxiety” are worlds apart, much like ‘surprise’ and ‘shock’. They are both particular clinical states with clear physiological differences. And it is important for you to learn the difference between stress and anxiety right away, because stress is vital for your intelligence and anxiety is deadly to it.

Stress and relaxation are both healthy physical responses; we exercise a muscle by stressing and relaxing it repeatedly, and we stress and relax intelligence by learning new things and understanding them and by doing new things and mastering them. This affects the brain’s plasticity and we build new brain cell connections. Chronic stress though (where there is no physiological & hormonal relaxation) is anxiety, and anxiety prevents plasticity and is a killer, of both body and mind. Medically, anxiety pushes the body into a state of endocrine (hormonal) shock, causing immune deficiency, rapid aging, exhaustion and mental confusion.

Currently, 95% of people have raised levels of anxiety hormones that are harmful to their immunity, are risk factors in mental and physical health, constantly kill off brain cells, and accelerate the process of aging. If you are not among the 95%, you’re very unusual (or probably neurohacking already). For the rest of us, once we recognize anxiety for what it really is and start to control it, we will progress much faster.

The techniques in these tutorials for anxiety control and input control will help you return your brain chemistry to a healthy natural balance –and this is most people’s first neurohacking step. (If you want to know more about anxiety before going on, read “Anxiety & input control: the basics”, in the Basics section of the library.)

  

rabbit

 

We can have unconscious anxiety and never even know it’s there, but it’s still affecting your hormones, your brain chemistry and your intelligence.

It’s easy to think that chronic anxiety doesn’t matter, or simply forget about it, especially if most of it is unconscious and we don’t feel consciously fearful, worried or nervous. We just assume we haven’t got it (or rather, it hasn’t got us). But unconscious anxiety affects all of us; not just worriers or nervous people.

Once you realize how much anxiety affects intelligence you’ll realize how even unconsciously it can hold you back (and how much smarter you can be without it!) and you’ll also see how much it is affecting other people and consequently whole societies. Even if you never feel insecure, sail through life serenely and refuse to worry about a thing, other people’s anxiety (and consequently their judgements and decisions) are going to affect your life and health bigtime.

That’s why we encourage the DIY approach and self-responsibility, but that does NOT mean that you’re responsible for anybody else! The best gift you can give to others in NH is an example of how to live intelligently and well without anxiety, and you should never ‘preach’ to others and never try to coerce them “for their own good”. Intelligence includes respect for other minds and understanding what should be under your control and what should not.

 

Okay, now that you have some tools to work with, we’ll take a look at the intelligence you’ll be working on.

 


  

brain 

The Basics About Intelligence

The most popular questions most people ask when beginning NH come in two categories. One is ‘concrete’ and personal, applying only to yourself, such as, “How can I improve my intelligence?" or "How can I tell if my memory's getting worse?" or "How come I always wake up bad-tempered in the mornings?" or "What are my options in neurohacking for treating depression?” 

The other is a more abstract line of enquiry which asks collective questions that apply to everybody, such as: “Do people really make free choices or is their behavior the outcome of predetermined factors?” “Do our genes determine our intelligence?” “What makes people go senile?” and “Do people have to learn a lot of science to do neurohacking?” 

Maybe you have questions of both kinds, so we’ll start by saying that you do need to know a small amount of science if you’re going to go very far in neurohacking, but certainly not loads.

Ultimately all of our questions about intelligence are addressed in some ways by scientific research. Science isn’t our only source of information, obviously, but what it provides for us is explanations of how things work in terms that most of us can relate to and understand. We try not to use too many scientific terms in these tutorials because they are mainly practical and if you want more in-depth facts and theory you can use the library files.

In learning about intelligence itself, the first thing you may have to get used to is a whole new perspective on what intelligence actually IS, and this is because of the current astonishingly rapid rate of discovery in neuroscience. People like us are exploring right at the cutting edge of new research, and it takes months or more usually years for new information to “go public”. We have access to technology that is still experimental and that is going through clinical trials long before it hits the newspapers or hospitals.

This is why the first thing we asked you to do was “forget everything you think you know about intelligence”. When people begin NH, they are usually not up to date with what science actually knows now about the brain. So this next section is to bring you quickly up to date and to help dispel any misinformation you may have heard about the brain and intelligence.

Take your time, because catching up with the basic facts here & now will help you a lot. 

 

rabbit

 

Myth Busting and Updating Your Knowledge - Changes in What We Know

Apart from complete nonsense (such as, “people only use 10% of their brains” –an apocryphal rumor which is probably only spread by those who do), some much older and more widespread beliefs about intelligence have been busted recently. Here’s an update: 

Intelligence is NOT IQ –This fact is going to take a long time to overwrite the old belief. The false belief that intellect equals intelligence is incorporated into everything, from education to personal self esteem and our understanding of ourselves, and it's a belief that has caused a great deal of unconscious anxiety.

IQ is a measure of intellect, which is only one small factor of intelligence. We now know that an optimal intelligence requires the following factors to be developed in the order listed below, to achieve its maximum potential:

  • Your physical senses and the brain’s physical condition [mainly N 1 & 2]
  • Your attention and orientation [mainly N1 & 2]
  • Your imagination and association skills [mainly N3]
  • Your perception [mainly N1, 2 & 3]
  • Your memory [mainly N3]
  • Your emotional stability [mainly N3]
  • Your creativity and ability to use tools [mainly N4]
  • Your intellect / IQ [mainly N5]
  • Your prediction, planning and strategy skills [mainly N6] 

 

Mimicry, procedural learning, social skills, empathy, decision making and judgment, natural morality and so on are also part of a healthy intelligence, but as we proceed we shall see that they all, without exception, rely on the same set of networks and on the few crucial factors listed above.

 

People who talk about their IQ are losers”

(Steven Hawking)

 

In the popular sense, evolutionary psychology often defines intelligence as the general mental ability to learn and apply knowledge to adapt to and creatively manipulate our environment, as well as the ability to reason and have abstract thought. A superior ability to interact with the environment and overcome its challenges is often seen as the most important sign of intelligence.

In this case, 'the environment' does not just refer to your physical landscape (eg. mountains, forests) or your surroundings (eg. home, workspace) but also to new circumstances, social contacts such as colleagues, friends, acquaintances and family, and complete strangers. The capacity to face the unknown in new experiences and learning, without fear and with eagerness to discover, is a hallmark of strong intelligence.

The split brain hypothesis: It is debunked. Basically it wasn’t true. We now know that the brain’s left and right hemispheres actually process different parts of the same tasks, instead of with the sharp specialization that was suspected formerly. The left hemisphere does indeed contain the “language centers” such as Broca's area that we knew of formerly, but the right hemisphere has symmetric language processing areas dedicated to understanding different aspects of language, and so on.

Freuds ‘archetypes’ and other Freudian terms: They are no longer used. Freud is now generally considered ‘pre-scientific’. You will not find any Freudian or Jungian or Pavlovian terms in the neurohacking tutorials or files, such as ‘ego’ or ‘subconscious’’, because they don’t describe in any useful way what is really going on, and they can confuse (like a map where the roads are in the wrong place). We use the word ‘archetypes’ in its original sense, referring to eidetic memory images, and this is unconnected to Freudian, Jungian, magickal, religious or any other systems.

 

All children are born geniuses, and we spend the first six years of their lives degeniusing them.” - (Buckminster Fuller)

 

The “nature or nurture” argument is over. The genome is not “fixed”. The discovery of the brain’s plasticity has shown us that both genes and an appropriately enriched environment are necessary for intelligence to develop and that sections of your genome can be turned on and off by making physical and environmental changes. (This is what “epigenetics” is all about.)

The question, “Are people born with genius or do they acquire it?” has been answered. Regardless of what we are born with, the optimal nurturing of intelligence’s development results in an optimal mind. And optimal development can be achieved at any age.

When Einstein died in 1955, neurologists almost got stuck in the mortuary door in their frantic dash to examine his brain, which he had considerately donated to science. It was found that most features of Einstein’s brain were pretty ordinary, not unusual at all, but that one specific network had much denser connections than do most of us, and this was the area associated with the spatial manipulation of visual imagery.

“Aha!” Cried the researchers, “That’s really important in mathematics! -This denser network must be what gave him his genius, because other people don’t have this!” It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately they were dead wrong. But they didn’t have fMRI in those days so we can forgive them for mistaking a correlation for cause and effect. The reality of the matter turns out to be the other way round; it is mainly what we are doing, experiencing and thinking about that changes the architecture of our brain.

That particular network grew dense connections in Einstein’s brain only because he used it so much for so long. Likewise, a violinist doesn’t take up the violin because s/he has an enlarged section of motor cortex in the brain for the dominant hand; s/he develops an enlarged piece of motor cortex in the brain because of using that network so much. That’s how plasticity works. Deliberate habits of thought and behavior can alter the genome, turning beneficial genes on and ‘rogue’ ones off.

This is a pivotal discovery that will be of vital importance to humanity’s future, and its potential has as yet only been grasped by a few. Fortunately, we are among them.

In the 21st century, the word "habit" carries a negative connotation. We forget that we can also use the word ‘habits’ in the context of things that are good for us. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks and enable new abilities.

So rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside “the known”— the more intelligent we can become. New habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass the “old habit” roads.

Even our personality is not ‘fixed’. –Old ‘trait’ theories of personality have been proved inept. There is no such thing as ‘a creative person’ or ‘a bad-tempered person’. Everyone can be creative or bad tempered in different circumstances and with different (accidental or deliberate) development. Human ‘nature’ is malleable by nurture (and by lack of it!)

And now that you’ve read this section, we don’t expect to hear you using outdated terms!

 

What Can Neuroscientists Do Now that We Couldn’t Before?

We can associate structure with function. Researchers are now able to image and record the activity of networks and relate this to both neurochemistry and behavior, for example recognizing a face or a word, feeling an emotion, remembering a number, planning an interaction, empathizing, learning, or understanding an idea. As a result of all this, biological psychologists have now got a pretty expedient grasp of the links between the brain, the mind, moods and behavior.

We can see that brains and computers have limitations in analogy. People are fond of likening brains to computers and vice-versa. Your brain is organized very differently from your PC, however. Your brain, your mind, your thoughts, your intelligence, your awareness and your consciousness are all different things!

The brain is a self-organizing, general-purpose information processing system far more robust and adaptable than any computer. Most importantly, the brain is dynamic –it can change its own hardware as well as rewrite its own ‘software’. This is 'plasticity'; one of the most important things to know about in neurohacking.

We have a more holistic view: the mind-brain-body link. Many scientists once rejected the idea that the body’s immune system worked closely with the brain and endocrine systems to carry out its tasks. Such a finding would suggest that our mind could influence illness. Now we know that this is true, and an increasing number of studies show that the immune system is tightly connected to the nervous system, as well as to another communication network that uses hormones, known as the endocrine system. It appears that their three-way communication is vital for adequate health and performance of the body and brain.

This has led to further discoveries, for example on how emotions and attitude (and behavior) can influence illness, how toxins in the system lead to disease, and how the whole is influenced by communication between its parts and in relation to the environment.

NH has developed too. For thousands of years humanity has used natural substances and techniques for neurohacking to achieve the enhancement of intelligence or to treat mental problems. Those techniques and methods are equally effective today, but the 21st century neurohacker has a broader choice. Neural implants, pharmacology, biofeedback, neural stimulation, memory wiping, deliberate ‘paranormal’ experiences, sleep avoidance, medications that target transmitters, and even prostheses for parts of the brain are happening now. It’s a very exciting time, so welcome aboard!

 


  

NHAGuide

 

NHA Guide To Methods and Technology

Here we introduce you to some of the methods used in NH.

Most of us don’t have our own MRI scanners! The ways in which we can work with the brain are still many and varied:

Physiology: Many popular forms of neurohacking are based on diet, exercise and supplements and are sometimes aligned with physical health programs. Martial arts and yoga are two of the most popular fitness and relaxation techniques. Massage, bodywork and dancing are all used by some for NH. (These are covered in the 'Methods and Technology' section of the library)

Psychology: By means of what is termed ’introspection’, we can gain some insight into our own minds. Our conscious mind is perhaps the aspect of ourselves about which we have the most awareness. Sometimes our awareness is captured by ongoing events, sometimes it is contemplative or creative. We can use psychological techniques and therapies to explore both the conscious and unconscious mind. Meditation has shown some excellent benefits, as has hypnosis or suggestion. Cognitive behavior therapy, psychoanalysis, ritual, lucid dreaming and altered states are just some of the techniques employed. (These are also covered in the “methods & tech” section of the library).

Biological Psychology: It is one of the most useful branches of study for neurohackers because it builds a picture of the brain that draws upon and integrates inputs from, unsurprisingly, biology and psychology. That means it's partly concerned with the ‘big picture’ (the nature of the complex interdependence between brains, the bodies of which they form a part, and their environment.) But it also looks at how stuff works inside individual networks, how processes such as memory and learning take place on an individual level, and these are facts that are important to grasp about intelligence before we can start planning development effectively and making improvements. (This is covered in the 'Basics' and 'Theory & Research' sections of the library).

Chemicals: Neurohackers may want to take advantage of how chemical manipulations alter mood, as they do for instance in anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, or with ‘recreational’ drugs. (This is covered in the 'Drugs & Chemicals' section of the library.)

Vitamins, herbal formulas, and aromatherapy: They are used by some. (This is covered in the “Nutrition” section of the library).

Technology: When it comes to brains, n-hackers can use objective science in measuring such things as electrical activity in the brain as well as tension in the muscles, which led to the development of biofeedback devices and the many ‘mind machines’. (This is covered in the 'Methods & Technology' section of the library, as is other technology employed in NH such as REST pods, flotation tanks, TENS, NMS and TMS).

 

Don’t worry if you don’t even know what these are yet; they’ll be introduced and explained as we’re going along. And don’t worry that you’ll need any expensive supplements or machines; there are always choices in NH for any procedure, including options for the financially challenged!

 

 

Practical Assignment

Learning the Relaxation Response

The “relaxation response” is the ‘fulfilment’ half of the brain’s pleasure system. It occurs when your brain chemistry changes in response to assimilation, success, satisfaction, fulfilment or understanding. During this response, heart rate and blood pressure slow, and cortisol (anxiety hormone) production is turned off. Natural opioids and serotonin are released in the brain, making us feel very comfortable and satisfied, yet still ready to interact.

During natural learning, this response occurs naturally. When there is too much cortisol present in the bloodstream, it can’t. Effectively the response is turned off. We have to hack in there, and turn it back on, because it reduces anxiety levels faster than anything else.

To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should always be activated after the stress response occurs. You can learn the relaxation response with various techniques (see below), and you can learn control in order to keep your mind from habitually reacting with anxiety in the first place.

The Relaxation Response is something some people find very easy and, unfairly, others may find really difficult! A lot will depend on where you’re starting from and what sort of methods you feel attracted to. The relaxation response is something that has to be experienced to be properly understood, and is often only understood in retrospect. Once you can make the response happen on purpose you will become more conscious of the change of mood and understand what it is doing to your body and mind.

 

Here is one simple method:

Lie down somewhere comfortable and relax. Turn off the phone, radio and/or TV.

Close your eyes. Pay attention to any areas of your body that are tense. Breathe calmly and as you breathe naturally out, deliberately relax the tense areas, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.

Go over them all again and keep them relaxed.

Breathe through your nose if you can, unless it is blocked. Become aware of and listen to your breathing. Each time you breathe out, it may help you focus if you silently say the word, "ONE" to yourself.

Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.

When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating "ONE" silently to yourself.

When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.

 

Sometimes the relaxation response takes a while to get control of because when many people first start neurohacking, their nervous system is fatigued and they may find exercises like the one above just send them to sleep. This is good; it also happens when we are recovering from illness or trauma, and is a sign of the healing process taking advantage of your relaxed state. Let yourself sleep; give yourself time and space to sleep, eat foods supportive of healthy brain growth and functioning and this ‘sleepy’ phase will pass.

 

 

buddhabrot

 

Towards Entelechy

There is no ‘background philosophy’ or any particular set of beliefs or morals necessary to practise Intal. Common sense explanations and simple analogies are used throughout that you can apply to your own beliefs, ideals, morals and philosophies, whatever they are. Physical exercise is healthy for anyone’s body, and mental exercise is healthy for anyone’s brain. The only side effect is getting smarter.

If you would rather call it ‘becoming enlightened’, that’s fine by us. Some have found following this program comparable to a ‘shaman’s journey’…we say, “Whatever blows your hair back, man!”

We do proceed however from our own awareness that although we should be free to do whatever we wish with our own minds, this does not extend to pushing it upon others. We are firmly against coercion. Changing someone’s mind should only ever be done with that person’s fully informed consent, because anything else will more than likely cause them harm. We also believe that you are responsible for making informed choices about anything you do to yourself and you must therefore make sure that you are informed. That’s what the tutorials are for.

 


 

rabbit 

 

The Most Important Things to Remember From this Tutorial

 

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man.”

(Albert Einstein)

 

The 'green zone' for the mind is a healthy balance between extremes: 

No growth (decay)

Healthy growth

Unhealthy growth (eg cancer)

Relaxation only (apathy)

Stress/relaxation

Stress only (anxiety)

No learning

Natural learning

Forced learning

Weak immunity

Strong immunity

Hyper immunity (eg allergies)

No interests

Healthy interests

Obsessions

Depression

Balanced mind

Mania

 

We now know that an optimal intelligence requires the following factors to be developed in this order to optimal condition. The main networks controlling them are listed in brackets: 

  • Your physical senses and the brain’s physical condition [mainly N 1 & 2]
  • Your attention and orientation [mainly N1 & 2]
  • Your imagination and association skills [mainly N3]
  • Your perception [mainly N1, 2 & 3]
  • Your memory [mainly N3]
  • Your emotional stability [mainly N3]
  • Your creativity and ability to use tools [mainly N4]
  • Your intellect / IQ [mainly N5]
  • Your prediction, planning and strategy skills [mainly N6]

 

All these factors are dependent on their networks. You can have a look at where they are on the picture we introduced them in above. As we work through the tutorials we’ll cover each network and each of these factors in the correct order to develop your intelligence to its optimal potential:

NETWORK 1

N1 processes sensory data about material, physical things and holds sensorimotor (‘muscle’) memories. It plays a main part in attention, self-care, and perception.

NETWORK 2

N2 processes all basic survival behaviors and holds spatial memories. It plays a main part in alertness, observation, orientation, navigation and perception.

NETWORK 3

N3 processes translation, relay and continuity and holds eidetic memories. It plays a main part in concentration, association, imagination, perception, all memory, communication, empathy and emotional stability.

NETWORK 4

N4 processes procedures and holds long term procedural memories. It plays a main part in your creativity, invention, timing, construction, interaction, humor, language, dexterity and ability to use tools.

NETWORK 5

N5 processes facts and figures and holds long term declarative memories. It plays a main part in analysis, computation, logic, deconstruction, language, self esteem, resource assessment and intellect.

NETWORK 6

N6 processes prediction and strategy, and uses working memory. It plays a main part in planning, association, morality, spirituality, judgment, problem solving and decisions.

 

And we now have the golden rules to guide our steps:

  1. If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want
  2. Behave as though it’s happening and the brain will think it’s happening
  3. You will become more like whatever you are surrounded by
  4. Cells that fire together wire together
  5. Know yourself
  6. Always do things in the right order
  7. Use it in the right way or lose it
  8. From time to time, you will forget all this

 

Besides, we also learned that anxiety was not only at the heart of the problem but was the very problem and that the best gift you can give to others around you is an example of how to live intelligently and well without anxiety, and you should never ‘preach’ to others and never try to coerce them “for their own good”. Intelligence includes respect for other minds and understanding what should be under your control and what should not.

 


 

 

doitnowrat

 

Hacks & Exercices

Reducing Anxiety Hormones:

Here's a summary of your choices of methods:

Physical & spatial methods: Exercise, yoga, nutrition , massage, breathing exercises, chanting, dancing, retreats.

Chemical & supplementary methods: Drugs, medication, dietary supplements, herbs. (For more info see the ‘drugs & chemicals’ section in the library.)

Tech (“mind machines”): EEG, Bio or Neurofeedback, light & sound, GSR (Galvanic Skin Response biofeedback), NMS (Neuro-Magnetic Stimulation), TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), CES (Cranial Electrical Stimulation) REST & flotation tanks and many other devices. (For more info see the “Methods & Technology” section of the library).

Scientific, cognitive & psychological methods: CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), FA (Functional Analysis or Assessment), NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), DA (Discourse Analysis), IA (Interactional Analysis) (For more info see the ‘methods & tech’ section in the library).

Physiological, spiritual & imaginative methods: Meditation, self-hypnosis, visualization, martial arts, acupressure/puncture, lucid dreaming, modeling. (For more information see the ‘Methods & Technology’ section in the library.)

All these methods can be affective against anxiety and can help balance brain chemistry. As soon as you find one that works for you start using it regularly, but do keep exploring other methods because you may find a better, even more effective one, or a method with fewer side effects. You may like to alternate between methods. That is what NH is often about; finding exactly the right techniques for you personally to use to achieve optimal mental health and strong intelligence.

 

Exercises to Improve Physical Senses and the Brain’s Physical Condition

Unless otherwise directed do not do these exercises more than once a day.

 

If You Have Poor Sight

Eyeball muscle exercise: Moving the eyeballs in all the directions they can go (including round and round) for a few seconds each day (be precise and increase time gradually to avoid strain) will restore flexibility to the eyeball. The exercise will also massage the eyeball. Be methodical. Up, down, left, right, diagonals, round and round. Movements between the positions should be slow and steady, the eye focusing naturally. Do not neglect to blink regularly.

Lense muscle exercise: The other muscular operation of the eye is the focusing of the lense inside the eyeball. People often tire their eyes by using them for long periods at a fixed focal length. If this tends to happen in your occupation, take some time out to smoothly shift your focus from near to far objects. Repeat this many times (start with 30 seconds and increase slowly to whatever is comfortable. Then try and relax your eyes so that everything goes out of focus, and after a few seconds snap back into focusing on something within range.


Exercises to Improve Attention

Color Composition: Collect objects and scraps of similar but not identical color. Cut areas from colored packaging, materials and plastic, leaves, wood, flowers until you have filled a small cardboard box. Then arrange the pieces in a long line, in a sequence so that one color will flow into the next.

Using Peripheral Vision (needs assistant): Stand staring straight ahead. The assistant introduces objects into your cone of vision from behind. Say when you first see the object and then try to identify it without moving you eyeballs. Start with large brightly colored geometric objects and move on to smaller more camouflaged objects. Assess each other's progress.

Ambient Sound attention training (can also be used as a meditation exercise): For this exercise and each of the following developments it is suggested that you repeat it once a day for ten days and then note any improvements. It is essential to work gradually and methodically, or little useful progress will be achieved.

  1. Sit outdoors or open a window. Sit still and comfortably and relax. How many sounds can you hear? Count them. Write them down. Distinguish for each sound - direction and cause.... differences in tone and strength... rhythmic qualities... groupings.
  2. Select one of the most obvious sounds and list everything you can imaginably say about it. (next time, select a new sound.)
  3. Detect one of the faintest sounds you are hearing. List everything you can say about it.
  4. Select the most pleasant sound you are hearing. Note every reason why you feel it is pleasant.

 

Focusing on one sound amongst many: Collect together four sources of sound; TV, radios, clock, music players etc. Put them all on at a quiet but equal volume and different programs. Shut your eyes and listen attentively to one of them only for about one minute. Switch attention to another sound source for one minute. Every minute switch your attention. It doesn't matter how interested you become (within reason) ... switch. If you find this too difficult move the sound sources further apart and turn to face the one you are paying attention to. If you find it too easy add more sound sources. A super exercise to do at dull meetings or boring parties!

 

Exercises to Improve Touch Sensitivity

Two Point Discrimination: Obtain a pair of blunt compasses or tweezers or a short piece of firm wire bent in half. Open them so the points are about 3mm apart, with this gap you will probably still be able to discriminate two separate points touching the skin of your fingertips or lips, but if you now place the compasses on your chest you can only feel one poke. Adjust the gap until you can feel two separate points on your chest. Measure this gap. In this way a chart may be made of the sensitivity of the skin in different parts of your body. Having made a chart, repeat this exercise for a minimum of ten days, in different areas, and see if there is any increase of sensitivity. What conditions change the sensitivity of your skin to touch? If you get improvement quickly or are very sensitive to start with, you can try a harder version if you can find an assistant. Do the exercise with the assistant placing the compasses on the skin and keep your eyes closed.

Tactile enhancement: Choose an area or a room that contains nothing that could be knocked over and broken or spilled, or trip you up. Spend 15-30 minutes exploring the room blindfolded. Be sure to make a good job of the blindfold, putting cotton wool pads over the eyelids if the contours of our face make it difficult to get a good seal. Identity all objects by touch alone. Estimate the weight and dimensions of various chosen objects, checking your guesses later. If an object you know well surprises you with the way it feels, spend some time with it. Notice the exact position of fittings such as handles, relief design, indentations, holes, robustness, flexibility, articulation etc. Gradually increase the speed and confidence with which you can move about the room. Repeat this exercise once a week, until you can move around the room with as much ease as if you were not wearing a blindfold. After a break of a week or so move on to a new room, area or place. 

Object Identification: Procure many similar sized objects covering a range of basic forms. Do not include sharp objects. Put them in a bag or a box. Wearing a blindfold, tip them out carefully onto a table or the floor in front of you and without picking them up, examine them by touch alone. Become readily conversant with their different shapes, textures and details. (needs assistant) Sitting comfortably before a table, wearing a blindfold, ask a friend to place on the table several surprise small objects from around the room, which you touch in the same way, without picking up. Try to determine what the articles are.

Repeat for ten days, and note down changes in touch perception.

 

Exercises for Increasing Smell or Taste Sensitivity

Explore your room/apartment/house/hut systematically for smells: Note down as many smells as you can and try to describe them in a couple of words. Can these smells be organized into groups in any way? This initial exploration will give you plenty of information on where to find smells for doing the following exercise. It will also give you a most extraordinary odor-based mental plan of your home.

The personal associations and mental effects of smells: Sit with a particular pleasant smell within effective range. Think about its associations and note them down. What other things smell similar? Then further involve yourself with the sensation and notice any attitude effects - does it elevate, excite or relax you?

Touch/taste discrimination: Using a mirror, with a small spoon put a bit of honey onto the tongue. Is it the slippery feeling or the sweet taste that is first perceived? Dab your dampened little finger into pepper and put a very little pepper onto the tongue. Pinch the nostrils with the other hand. Is there a taste separate from the irritation? Experiment with other edibles. List them, and note the components of the sensation that they give.

Odor type discrimination: Put half a dozen different flowers on the table before you. Pick up each flower in turn, and savor its scent. Then with your eyes closed shuffle the blooms about, and then taking each one separately try to identify it by its smell. Afterwards reconstruct these smells in your imagination, remember what they were like, relating each to the flower to which it belongs. If you find this too hard, try it with different essential oils dribbled on tissues or cotton with their names written on the back (so you can check you’re right). Practice discriminating between them. Take two of your samples at random. Inhale the odor of one. Do the same with the other. Then moving away from them, think of the first smell- then think of the second. In your mind compare them, noting the difference. Repeat with different kinds of extracts (in pairs).

Detail Differentiation: Take one particular category of taste/smell and sample 6-10 varieties. If these may be sampled simultaneously - as in the case of cheeses - note the unique characteristics of each sample. Then arrange it so you may sample each without seeing it - of course it is difficult to hide cheese textures - and guess which it is. If several may not practicably be tested simultaneously, as with bottles of wine - although wine tasting parties are a good excuse to do this - then make notes on the taste at the time. Then compare your notes and memory of this taste with the next.

Olfactory (sense of smell) sensitivity: Using aromatic oils or essences; find the smallest amount that you can detect by putting a drop into a pint of water. If you can smell it, dilute with another pint of water and throw 1/2 of the solution - ie. 1 pint - away. Repeat dilutions until smell is no longer detectable. If one drop is not detectable add more drops and count them. Repeat for 10 days, making a graph of your results. Why can you smell better on some days than others? Does your sensitivity increase by the tenth day? Repeat with different smells. Compare results.

Thermal (heat) sensitivity: Surface Temperature Variations. The simplest way of stretching the body’s heat control mechanisms out of their 'central heating slumber' is to vary the surface temperature of the skin quickly without allowing serious heat losses. The best way to do this is to go to a shower with separate hot and cold controls - set the heat full on, then adjust the cold until you can comfortably bear it. When you are well heated step out of the shower and turn off the hot. Then dive back under the rapidly cooling shower, for as long as you can bear it, or until you are well cooled off. (The first time you may only be able to bear a quick splash, but regular repeated practice makes the practice a pleasant and invigorating one). Then repeat this quickly 3 or 4 times until you feel yourself tingling all over. This tingling is the lazy old thermo-nerve endings spluttering their way back into operation. The refreshing effect initiated by the tingling will continue for about half an hour. (Sauna, Russian and Turkish baths can do a similar job, but require more time and money. Outdoor sweat lodges and swimming in Spring and Autumn will be as good, if you make sure you get well warmed up between dips).

Assessing Conduction of Materials: Different materials have the capacity to hold different amounts of heat. Metal holds lots and wood holds little. So, even when it is at the same room temperature, a metal bar will feel colder than a wooden rod. Go around your room (blindfold helps) or your house (the parts of it that are at a similar temperature) and check out the comparative temperature of different materials. List them in order of cold to warm. Floors, walls, plastic, water, glass etc. will all be at roughly the same temperature but will feel different because of their different heat capacity.


DIY Head & Face Massage

A great one for in the bath or shower, or before bed.

Relax your hands. Massage and shake them out until they feel tingly. Rub them together... fronts, backs and between the fingers.

Begin by slapping your scalp all over with loose wrist and limp fingers. Then massage the scalp using the fingertips. Think of tension being released in the back of the neck; as it releases it lengthens. Fingertip massage around the hairline. Stroke the forehead. Place the palms of the hands over your eyes and imagine the eyelids relaxing under your hands.

Brush the skin back from center temple around to the ears. Continue this down the face pulling the skin back from the center line in slow rhythmic waves.

Such simple pleasure can seem unworthy of the effort of self discipline and not functional enough to be included in your self-care. To find out why they are, repeat this exercise daily for ten days and note the effect.


Just For Fun

We now know that emergence can result from the mere repetition of some pretty simple rules This can be viewed in the example of ‘Langton’s Ant’ at: http://www.theory.org/software/ant/


Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 17:58