Consciousness – Somatic Control – Other People

by pre., Friday, September 18th, 2009.

Last week we discussed the placebo effect, and saw how mere belief that you are being treated can improve your chances of recovery from an illness, likely by causing your brain to stimulate the appropriate glands to release hormones to control the immune system.

Alternative medicine providers from witch doctors and shamen through to herbalists and homeopaths use this mechanism, usually unwittingly, to help other people. That is to say, their actions produce a change in the workings of the immune system of people who aren’t even themselves.

In fact, they do a better job of it than the person they treat was doing on their own.

Don’t let’s get carried away here though. They only do a bit of a better job. Pretty much all of their treatments are no better than a properly administered sham alternative. Only some people are helped, only some of the time. Pain and otherwise subjectively measured things are influenced more than more concrete objective measures. Nobody has ever regrown an amputated limb through a placebo treatment.

But still, given those limits, placebo-treatment results are impressive. Certainly it’s useful to be able to understand how they work and be in a position to produce some these effects in your friends.

Prediction, Anticipation, Suggestion

It’s interesting to note that one of the major placebo effects can be produced by classical conditioning. If you, for example, give a patient an injection of opiates each day, the level of endorphins in their brains increase as a result of the drug. After you have done this for a while, if you secretly replace the opiate with plain saline solution, the level of endorphins still increases.

The key here is that opiate injections don’t directly cause an increase in endorphin levels in your brain. The opiates latch onto cell receptors, which cause reactions in the cells, which cause other molecular neurotransmitters to be released, which cause yet more cells to react. A complex cascade of action and reaction flows through the brain until it eventually reaches the cells which release the endorphins.

Of course, many of the major ‘inputs’ to this process come directly from feedback loops within the brain itself. In fact most neurons aren’t sense neurons, aren’t even directly connected to sense neurons. Most of the circuits in your brain are connected only to other brain circuits.

This sets up your brain perfectly to fall for a self fulfilling prophecy. Since your neurons are constantly trying to predict the future, and they are all linked in a big spaghetti pile of feedback loops, the very expectation of some signal, the anticipation of it can bring that signal about.

So when the sham opiate injection is administered, many of the neural cells in this jumbled mess of connections are receiving similar inputs to the half dozen times in which they received this injection before. It looks the same, you’re in the same place, the same time of day, the same mood, you feel that same pin-prick, the flow of liquid through the syringe, a huge number of the signals to the neurons of your brain are near-as-damnit the same as during the genuine injection. Is it any wonder that the cells at the end of this chain, those that actually release the endorphins, end up behaving in the same way?

Belief, then, can cause the brain to act differently. If you believe you’re likely to feel less pain, your pain-sensing circuits will likely act accordingly. If you think you’ll start to feel healthier, you are more likely to do so. If you believe your immune system will gain a boost, it may well find an increase in the production of white cells. If you believe your T-Cells will concentrate in a particular area of your body, that they may be more efficiently directed to the site of an injury, then exactly the appropriate signals can be produced by your brain.


The key, then, to using these effects to help others, to help them feel relaxed, happy, pain-free, fill their mind with endorphins, is to generate the expectation and belief that this is exactly what will happen.

Alternative medical practitioners generally do this through a complicated story about the origins of their art, the supposed mechanisms of the effects of the treatment, through making a patient feel comfortable and relaxed, giving them care and lots of attention. Convincing them that someone is helping.

The more the practitioner can make the patient anticipate and predict that they will feel better, that their immune system will help them get better, the more healthy they are likely to feel.

Modern medical ethics forbids outright lying to a patient. A doctor can’t prescribe a sugar pill and claim it’s a miraculous cure that will stop your symptoms forever within a week. However a homeopath suffers no such restriction, if only because they, in general, swallow their own line. The practitioners themselves believe their art is real, which makes their act for the patients real, reinforcing the sense that something is being done, the patient’s prediction that they will get better, or at the very least feel better.

Likewise, making up weird stories about chi energy or chakra points or water memory or the healing power of crystals isn’t likely to be helpful when coming from a skeptic.

This story though, the true story of how the placebo effect works through expectation and suggestion and through attempting to put your brain into a state in which it will found a self-fulfilling-prophecy, this story can be explained. It can empower someone to take control of their own treatment.

Inducing Expectation

How do you put a person’s brain into a state in which it predicts getting better? By having them imagine what it would be like to feel better. Encourage them to visualize it strongly, to see it in their minds, to feel it in their body. The longer, and more powerfully, you can encourage someone to pretend to feel better, the more their brain will expect to feel better.

Furthermore, this can be done whether you explain how it works or not. Just by encouraging someone to fantasize about being healthy, about achieving their goals, you can help that happen through the power of Placebo. Explaining how this is supposed to help, explaining the truth of the treatment, won’t alter it’s effect on the subject’s prediction at all.

The Meditation

In the guided lucid dream presented next week you’ll spend time using this placebo effect, the power of generating expectation, to generate the expectation that you’ll use that power more.

You’ll dream what it is like to feel fitter, stronger, more energetic and happier. You’ll dream what it’s like to encourage others to spend time imagining the same, training your mind to help improve your own health and well-being, and the health and well-being of those around you.

Consciousness – Somatic Control – The Meditation

by pre., Friday, September 25th, 2009.

This week we present a guided meditation, a guided lucid dream really, designed to improve your control over your health and well-being. You will use your dreams to push your body towards a more healthy, energetic and fit state.

You will learn to intuitively understand the neuro-somatic connection between mind and body, to understand how the connection works, and to begin to manipulate it at will to reduce pain, boost your immune system and feel more alive.

You will also dream about putting others, those people around you, into happy, healthy states of mind, encouraging their expectation that they’ll feel well and so improving the placebo effect in them too.


If you are sick then go to a doctor. Neuro-somatic control can do no more than your own immune system can do. It is not as effective as modern antibiotics. It’s not as effective as blood transfusions and dialysis machines and keyhole surgical operations and chemotherapy and radiotherepy and laser surgery.

Modern science has extended the average lifetime by nearly twice as much as before the development of proper health care, where millennia of placebo medicine helped little. If you feel unwell go and see a doctor, take his or her advice, any medicine they hand out, and then meditate after you get back.

A transcended person isn’t one that needs no medicine, or can rely on herself. She’s one who knows when to seek help, and takes whatever help she can get. Including all the range of things modern science and medicine can provide.

The Meditation

As with all the meditations during this lap, this week’s meditation is designed to be started ten minutes or so before you have to awaken. It starts slowly and quietly, gradually bringing you into the realization that you’re dreaming, that you can control your dream.

For the next few minutes you’ll dream that you are fitter, stronger, more powerful, healthier. This will help your brain state to move towards these moods, these feelings.

You’ll dream that you can control your immune system directly, seeing each step in the chain of causation as your mere thoughts and expectations effect the control of disease and ill heath in your body, pushing out infection and affliction, encouraging growth and health.

You’ll dream that you can see the effects of those thoughts, the changes to your endocrine system, the hormones released on demand by glands stimulated by the neruons of your mind, energizing your immune system, building muscle, reducing fat, generally becoming more fit and healthy.

You’ll dream that you influence others around you, learning to reassure and comfort them, activating their own neuro-somatic processes, positively affecting the health and wellbeing of those around you.

The meditation also, of course, includes many suggestions that you’ll also practice these skills, this visualization, during wakefulness. Learning to control the neruo-somatic interface.

Download The Meditation:

Guided Meditation File 20 – Consciousness – Somatic Control
Backing Music “Intemporal” By Sbut
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Consciousness – Integration – Self Possession

by pre., Friday, June 4th, 2010.

This month we will be looking at consciousness, and trying to understand how consciousness fits into the spiral. How it binds and improves all the other transcendence skills, links them together to form and transform a mind.

As usual this lap, at the end of the month we’ll present a guided walking meditation, this time designed to increase your sentience, sapience and raise your consciousness up towards another level while you walk.

In the first lap around the spiral when examining consciousness we talked about self possession, learning to control your mood and condition your reflexes.

You learned that you can use your memory to influence your mood, by replaying happy events in your mind. By doing this in as big, loud and colourful a visualisation as you can, you can push your mood closer towards the happiness which that event inspired. Likewise calmness, confidence or even terror and pain if you should desire.

You also learned how you could condition your reflexes. Once again this is done by rehearsing, imagining, visualising and remembering instances when you automatically took the cause of action you would wish to take in some quick-thinking situation. You learned how you can spend time considering the best way to behave and then train yourself to take that course of action when circumstances arrive.


So how do these skills help to prop up the rest of the spiral? How do they interact with it and exaggerate all the other facilities?

The mood that you are in affects your awareness of the world. Depressed or sad people see colours less brightly, they notice details less easily. Meanwhile happy and excited people bounce through their world interested in and exploring every last detail. Clearly spending time in the moods which make you more aware will lead to greater awareness, so being in control of your mood is vital.

The better your memory is the more you’ll be able to use it to change your moods, and to condition your reflexes to behave in the most profitable manner. Further, being able to condition yourself to pay attention and remember things improves your memory in turn.

These techniques can be used to increase your body awareness by conditioning yourself to pay more attention to your body’s posture and position. By building a reflex to automatically eat and exercise as you’d want to.

We even discussed in that first lap how to condition yourself to stop and think when there was no urgent rush to action. Doing so, increasing the amount of thinking you do, will surely help you to improve your cognition skills, to think more clearly, more quickly.

You’ll have likely noticed that some times you’re in a mood to talk, and sometimes in a mood to listen, sometimes more in a mood to hide in a cave and avoid everybody. Now since people aren’t always in synch with your desires, you’ll sometimes have to do these things even when not really in the mood to do so. Being able to control your mood thus allows a disproportionate increase in your social skills. Helping you to make friends and alliances, to ethically gain trust and so influence, to give help and so get help.

The Meditation

Clearly, then, these skills are important to your mental development, and as such you will, in this month’s meditation, spend a few minutes walking around learning to better understand and control your mood and reflexes.

Consciousness – Integration – Sentience

by pre., Friday, June 11th, 2010.

In the second lap around the spiral you studied sentience, the ability to feel, to have an emotional state, to be aware. You smashed yourself in the face with a book, hard, to know what the pain felt like. To grasp, on a gut level, exactly what the experience, what sentience, is all about.

Then we pondered what happens if you turn sentience on itself. If you become aware of the process of being aware. If you focus your attention not on your senses, but on the process of sensing. If you learn not only how the world works, but how your own sense of the world works. This, of course, is “Sapience”

Further even than this, we discussed raising consciousness even higher, learning to model and increase control of both sapience and sentience. To use your understanding of your own mind to improve and guide that mind.

These skills are the foundation of consciousness, of awareness, understanding and interacting with the world. Which means that improving them will improve your abilities at all the other skills in the spiral.

Sentience is, if not simply awareness, then at the very least awareness of your awareness, and being aware, as we have already mentioned this lap, is the foundation for learning to put things into a memory store. Burning them into the connections in your brain.

Cognition itself is built from sapience, by learning how your brain learns, observing the rules of logic and common sense in action and then applying those rules outside the normal domains of sense perception and reflex, you create thought itself. And that thought, along with the awareness that you can influence how your brain works by controlling it’s environment and processes, allows you to begin to learn the skill of bio-programming.

Your sapience also, when applied to other people rather than just yourself, provides the basis for empathy and so for social skills. Understanding how brains work in one case, your own case, allows you to apply that understanding to grasp the communications and intent of others.

That empathy is also the foundation for ethics, for understanding that we are all alive, thinking, worthwhile beings in our own right.

The Meditation

In our walking meditation presented at the end of this month, you’ll concentrate for a while on what it feels like to be sentient, and then on what it feels like to understand that sentience, to model yourself, to become sapient, then finally you’ll concentrate on trying to turn that modelling on itself, to raise your consciousness still further.

Consciousness – Integration – Development

by pre., Friday, June 18th, 2010.

Having explored the ways that consciousness can effect your life and improve your abilities at all the other spiral skills, you may wonder exactly how such a thing would develop. How it could evolve in a complex creature, how it develops as a newborn grows into adulthood and beyond. We’ll attempt to address some of those issues this week.

Evolution Of Consciousness

When animals became complex enough to have senses (touch was likely first), and to react to the things which those senses perceived, it was of course no good to just react randomly to whatever they could feel. A reflex to just withdraw or approach whatever is touching you randomly is as pointless as an aid to survival as having no senses at all. Simply approaching all things which touch was likely a good first reflex, but this would of course mean approaching predators as well as food. Soon a combination of mutations would arise which allowed a creature to discriminate, to tell when it’s surroundings are pleasant and move towards those kinds of situations, or tell when it’s unpleasant or threatening and move away from those situations.

Creatures gradually built more and more sense systems into their increasingly complex bodies. Temperature as well as pressure. Smell and taste (which are much the same thing). Eventually hearing (just specialized pressure sensors) and sight. All the time, those which were lucky enough to be born with the mutations which gave them those increasingly complex senses were more successful at reproducing than those who were not so blessed.

As more and more complex combinations of sense data were being discovered by the creatures, it would have eventually stopped being a survival advantage unless it some somehow able to collate all this information in one place, to process it, to summarize and analyse it. Creatures aren’t then making decisions based on a simple reading of the temperature or pressure from a single point on it’s skin. They are building up a more complex representation of the world around them, and using that representation to decide a course of action.

This summary, this evolved abstract representation of the creature and it’s environment, gives the creature a mood, a way of feeling, changing it’s responses to stimulus depending on previous stimulus. When the system for compressing, collating, remembering and processing those senses gets complex enough, those processes actually begin to have an understanding of the world. The model inside processes and emulates just exactly how the universe outside it’s sense data operates.

Note that the creatures are not just modelling the world that they live in, but themselves. Right from the beginning this understanding can only progress if it’s an understanding not only of the external environment, but also the way the creature itself works. It’s own likely responses and actions, the way it’s own mood will change as a result of it’s decisions, are an integral process to actually making those decisions. A learning creature has to learn some things about itself, about it’s own operation, in order to be able to effectively predict the future well enough to navigate though into it.

The process described so far, of course, applies to creatures as simple as fish and snails, they have some basic self understanding, some basic ways of reflecting the world they live in to a virtual model inside their heads. But this model can be more or less complex. A tadpole’s map is less developed than a cod’s map, is less developed than a crab’s map, is less developed than a lizard’s map, etc. etc. Consciousness, at least sentience, is not a singularly human trait, and it is also not a black and white issue. There are greys of consciousness. The amount of consciousness in a creature is a dial, not a switch. A dial which has been slowly turning up in some paths through the evolutionary tree, perhaps especially those lines which lead through Reptiles.

The R-Complex, the deep brain-stem and basic inner parts of the brain are probably more than enough to get that dial turning up from zero, but the Reptiles found a way to push it up even more.

The reptiles effectively have two brains. On top of the R-Complex systems the reptiles grew more sophisticated systems, now known as the Limbic System. While the R-Complex collates and analyzes and processes data from the senses and distributes this around the body as a mood, a feeling, the Limbic system takes most of it’s input from the R-Complex itself. It literally grows around the brain-stem, building a system to analyse and learn not directly from the world, but from the creature’s consciousness itself. If the R-System is a brain which lives by direct experience with the world, the Limbic system is a brain which lives in the virtual model world created by that R-Complex. A consciousness directed primarily at a another consciousness, interacting with it and magnifying it’s complexity.

Could this process go further? In the lines leading through the Mammals, it did just that. Mammals have three brains. An R-Complex, with a Limbic system grown around the top of it, and then a neo-cortex grown up around that.

The Mammals of course all have different shapes and sizes of the different areas of the neo-cortex. Simpler mammals tend to have less of it, while primates have a very complex neo-cortex and a human neo-cortex is so distorted, elongated and expanded at the front it’s brains look freakish and weird compared to the rest of the mammal class. The Mammals continued to turn up the consciousness dial, becoming more and more conscious, more and more sentient.

Very roughly speaking, it seems probable that animals first evolved an R-Complex, giving them reflexes and basic information about the world. Then they evolved a Limbic system, giving them sentience, a way to learn about the world and themselves. Eventually, turning this sentience in on itself over and over again, cranking up the sentienceometer as the generations passed, the forebrains of some mammals grew such complicated models of the world and themselves that they developed symbolic systems to manipulate.

In one species, and likely in a few other related species now extinct, sapience was the result. Not only experience, not only sentience (an understanding of that experience), but also sapience (an understanding of that understanding). This led to language, a way to communicate that understanding of the understanding of experience.

Language, in turn, led to creatures who could learn about things far from their own direct experience. About far away lands, distant times, whole new planets and scales from the quantum to the galactic and beyond. A creature who could, through absorbing language and applying it, come to understand the world and her part in it to a greater degree than the planet had ever seen before.

This is the story of consciousness, how it evolved, and the story is recreated in miniature by the development and life of every human being that lives. The obvious question is how far will it go in your life? How far can you push your understanding of yourself and the cosmos you find yourself in?

Next week’s meditation might be able to help you push it just that bit further, nudge up that dial just a scrap more.

Consciousness – Integration – The Meditation

by pre., Friday, June 25th, 2010.

This week we present a guided meditation designed to help you understand the role of experience, sentience and sapience and to help you push these skills further, to a higher level of consciousness.

As usual in this last lap it’s a walking meditation, to be played thorough earphones and a personal music player of some description while you walk in a relaxed way through the world. A walk to work will be plenty, though a bimble around the neighbourhood, or around the countryside, may be better still.

After a brief introduction to remind you to walk casually, with stomach engaged and a light smile on your face, you’ll be encouraged to take note of your experience, and to introspect and examine your consciousness, starting at the basest level and raising towards a higher consciousness than you’ve ever experienced so far.

You’ll spend a couple of minutes doing direct observation, paying attention to the world as you walk through it, your direct sensory experience..

Next you’ll ponder the way your environment makes you feel, your consciousness of that experience, your moods and feelings and the way the environment affects those things, your sentience.

After that a few minutes will be spent considering sapience, your understanding of how your sentience affects itself, how you can control your sentience through mindful processes.

Next you’ll spend a couple of minutes trying to gain an understanding of your sapience itself, your self consciousness, your understanding of who you are and why you behave the way you do.

Finally you’ll try to project that understanding further than you have ever done before, thinking of ways you can use your sapience, your understanding to affect, control and improve your experience, sentience and sapience in turn.

Guided Meditation File 28 – Consciousness – Integration
Backing Music “Revolution” By Oniric
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