Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Optical Illusion of Our Separateness: A Workshop Brain Dump

I recently saw Dan Siegel in action, a brief, 3-hour workshop on the whole-brain child. What follows is my brain dump from this event, threads of which have been (and likely will continue to be) interspersed throughout my posts. Why? Because he is The Messenger. Well, one of them, in any case. He works at the intersection of physiology, neurology, evolutionary biology, psychology, psychiatry, physics, biochemistry, and probably a few others that escape me now (or seem far-fetched but likely plausible). Remarkably, this plurality of interests and abilities to inter/relate hasn't gone to his head and he is one of the true ones, you know, the ones who are so smart and interesting but ... warmly genuine. Nice... Rare.

I'll unpack the collection of bullets in subsequent posts, but I feel a need to disseminate this information now. Again, apologies for ... bulleted list; do hope you find it helpful.

(Oh, yeah, um, it's a long-ish post. Read when brain fresh and steamy coffee tickles nose hairs :)


Workshop: Raising the Whole-Brain Child
Academic discipline: Interpersonal Neurobiology
·         Book: Archaeology of the Mind by ; Subcortical processes and how they influence behavior
·         Book: The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind, by Dan Siegel

·         - What is the mind? Definition?
·         - Q: What are you trying to develop in your students? A: A strong, healthy, creative mind
·        -  The model: Separate things (brain/CNS, body structures) working together as a functional whole; the “embodied brain”
·         - Mind     -              Brain      -              (Interpersonal) Relationship
·        -  Parents share information (energy flow) in such a way that children can self-regulate and learn
·       -   Energy, information flow – basic units; they are both relational and embodied
·         - Relationships shape your brain and mental experience
·         - Emergence – mind-regulatory process in a self-organized system;
-          - Emergence arises from within and returns to the system to regulate it
·        -  Interior of body     -         lamina I     -          Vagus nerve       -      limbic system  -         RT hemisphere
·        -  3 brains: stomach brain, heart brain, head brain
·         Book: Polyvagal Theory by ;
·         Think tank: Garrison Institute
·        -  Spectrum: chaos              -              integration          -              rigidity
·         - DSM is a book describing impaired integration
·        -   Integrative fibers of the brain can grow with mindfulness training
o   Integrative fibers connect neocortex with limbic system
o   Promoting generation of integrative fibers promotes self-regulation
·         SIFTing through the experience/mind with kids so as to help them reflect on the internal world
o   Sensations 
o   Images                
o   Feelings
o   Thoughts
·         Honoring differences     -              integration         -              promoting linkages
·         Book: Mindsight, Siegel, 9 domains of integration
·         Mindsight
o   Inside/insight/empathy
o   Develop this as a skill to help kids integrate
·         Book: The Master and His Emissary, Ian McGilchrist; the hemispheric difference is not so important vis-a-vis what they do as it is with respect to who they shape you be
·        -  Moments of challenge are the deepest opportunities to optimize integration
·         RT hemisphere is indicative of internal affective (emotional) state
o   Eye contact
o   Facial expression
o   Body posture
o   Gestures
o   Timing
o   Intensity
·         Strategy: When high emotion, connect (w/ RT brain), then redirect (w/ LT brain)
·         Strategy: When high emotion, the whole organism calms down when LT brain is used to name the feeling (Name it to tame it)
·         Strategy: Taking control of the images in our mind (Altering energy patterns in the brain to help the child control mental landscape)
·         To teach regulation, teach
o   Monitoring
o   Modification
·         - Implicit memory (dissociation, high adrenaline) vs. explicit memory
·         - Narrative integration
·         2 circuits in the brain
o   Observing circuit (witnessing and narrating)
o   Experiential circuit
·         Integration
o   Bi-lateral
o   Vertical
o   Narrative
o   State/consciousness integration
o   Integration made visible is kindness and compassion
·         State integration/consciousness
o   A state of knowing
o   That which is known
o   Ex: anger: 1) awareness of anger; 2) feeling of anger
·         Wheel of Awareness
o   Exercise to do with kids to structure and integrate consciousness
·         Strategy: Let the clouds of emotion roll by
·         - The science of how energy flows and is modulated by consciousness
·       -   Emotion – shifts in integration
·         Positive emotion              -       negative emotion (integration toward emotional regulation)
·         Book: Mothers and Others by Sarah Hrdy; alloparenting, which is “it takes a village” concept to raise a healthy child; nuclear family does not provide enough support to raise healthy children
·          Adolescence
o   Decrease in neurons (gray matter)
o   Increase in myelination of new circuits (white matter)
o   Increase in neuronal integration
o   Huge increase in dopamine
o   Future of planet is teenagers
o   Instead of contradicting and fighting teens, instead of encouraging competition amongst each other, task them to take on challenges together with support of adults, while they separate from parents
·         Strategy: Increase the family fun factor
o   Playfulness creates integration
·         Strategy: Connect through conflict
·         Book: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do,
·       - What’s the new human story? The human being has evolved because of collaboration. Einstein, “The optical illusion of our separateness.”
·       -   3G, 2P: gratitude, generosity, giving to people and planet
·         Siegel’s brain in a fist
o   The prefrontal cortex touches the brain stem (autonomic processes: heartbeat, breathing, sleep regulation) and the limbic system (feeling, fight, flight, freeze, faint)
o   Secure attachment is made possible by integrative capacity of prefrontal cortex
§  Regulates the body
§  Calms fears
§  Self-insight                              
§  Empathy                                   
§  Morality
§  Intuition
·         A child’s 3 Ss lead to 4th S:  Secure
o   Seen
o   Soothed              
o   Safe                                                                      

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