by Richard Boyd, Body Mind Psychotherapist, Energetics Institute, Perth, West Australia
The world is experiencing a period of unrest. The public is being empowered through social media to expose the darker side of leadership in business and politics. The rising level of individual and the collective consciousness has seen through their facade and image rendering and has become disgusted with the extravagance, manipulations and excesses of business, political regimes, and their leaders.
The wave of revolution through the Middle East has also shown that despotic regimes overseen by narcissistic leaders has had its collective day. There is a shift in the collective unconscious of society as we evolve in the face of tectonic shifts in the way societies organise themselves.
Inside each one of us lies images and worldviews which filter and reshape the “out there” world into our own personal versions of reality. These too are becoming affected by recent world events. For a time our filters of reality operate to dismiss new or emerging shifts in awareness or environments.
Importantly it is emotions that drive core beliefs rather than rational logic or information. Recent studies by the Cultural Cognition Project(CCP) run out of Yale University have shown that facts exert only a weak influence on a person’s beliefs and opinions and also do not touch those deeply ingrained emotional convictions. Logic and facts are useful to create conceptual ideas where no previous equivalents exist.
Neuroscience understands that our brain will take on new information and run it past pre-existing cognitive filters. These filters will evaluate information and act to either confirm that information as aligned to current knowledge and belief, thus reinforcing those neural circuits, or positioning the information as new and novel.
Researcher Joe Dispensa states that new and novel information is treated by the brain as an “incidence” which may retain it in short term memory, a second encounter as “coincidence” which deepens short term memory context, and only after third and subsequent experiences will our brain truly act to lay down new long term memory neural circuits around that knowledge or belief.
Bessel Van De Kolk has pointed out in his long career in neuroscience that emotions that arise as the new information is received by the brain will influence the brain’s retention and meaning making of that new information. Neuroscience researchers such as Stephen Porges(Polyvagal theory) also come to similar conclusions in their work.
On interesting fact is that the reality filters buried in our subconscious mind can be barriers to change and act by filtering out information that contradicts what we already believe of know. We will tend to disregard new information when it conflicts with the belief we already hold. People can easily go into a form of denial or remain unconscious to presented new information.
They also normalise new beliefs when confronted with strong actions and images such as violence where a strong emotional context originally exists. In this process we can subsequently “numb out” to the emotional context as we normalise the experience and integrate it into our reality..
Take Syria for example. The world has collectively stood by as Syria has turned against its own population. Many people have not been moved to outrage or action as the “facts” about the matter follow on from the recent Libyan situation where the public became normalised to the violence going on there. The public more or less adopted a belief that war was inevitable and normalised it into their reality. Politicians then did not feel pressure to act.
What does move people is when a new emotional based event occurs or their deeper belief systems are confronted and challenged in some way. The turning point in Syria has been the emotional expression of outrage at the targeted massacre and killing of 40 women and 48 children in a single recent atrocity in the town of Houla, and the subsequent reported new massacre in Qubair.
This reported event shook people out of their complacency as it presented war in a new context that violated core values. The conscious targeting of innocent women and children is not codified into the rules of war. This change in context bypassed filters as it triggered protective beliefs about the sanctioned murder of innocent women and children.
Researchers such as Antonio Demasi have shown that for many other mundane events there exists a basis for resistance to new incoming data which may be hardwired into our brains. All of us may reject new data when it is presented and instead refer back to the safety of our old status quo of current reality. I have noticed this is common in the context of healing and therapy.
A part of the brain known as the Anterior Cingulate Cortex has been associated with perception making in humans. Research is now showing that this part of the brain appears to edit out portions of incoming data which is dissonant to current belief and appears to inhibits retention of new correct data and concepts.
Researchers have found that this process also activates the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex part of the brain which seems to perform the actual suppression of sensory data from further processing. Maintaining an open mind is actually not congruent to our nature and must be cultivated. Dogmatic or blind adherence to views seems to be an unconscious basis of self which activates this area of the brain.
In therapy one often sees clients who hold firm views on reality about life which are not correct, adaptive or supported by the facts. However when one explains the facts, shows them books, or credible arguments they nod their heads but simply disregard the information. They tend to “forget” to do homework or investigations recommended to them, and passively resist change. A form of filtering appears to prevent this new information taking root in their reality.
Such people often find “nothing works for them” or “no one has been able to help me”. They tend to place the blame “out there” but fail to see how their own nature is working against change and in being able to assimilate new ideas. We all need to have a conscious mindfulness about our own nature as it represents a sabotage that we all can subconsciously fall into.
Many people only jolt themselves out of their complacent reality when a crisis or strong emotionally charged event occurs. They may get very sick, face death, lose their partner, have their partner leave their relationship, lose their job, or get charged with a crime due to a previously unacknowledged behaviour, or have an addiction or personality disorder.
As a therapist I can identify with this problem. This form of inertia is best countered by enacting a daily ritual to override any filtering and to deepen new beliefs which serve the healing role. I have personally adopted the practice of the medicine Buddha for which I have taken empowerments to do.
This is not the only way but we each need a way to overcome the inbuilt bias in our brain which limits our reality to current beliefs. I recommend the practice of meditation and mindfulness to all my clients so as to cultivate a more positive mindset and a conscious moment to moment awareness of their own mental processes.
A therapist must remain open to each client for each client is unique. It is not an easy job as our human tendency is to make the “out there” conform to our reality. In the same way the challenge for the client is to shake off the old reality which is somehow not serving them and which is the cause of what is driving that person into therapy.
We must face the inertia of our own minds and work hard to transform consciousness by reshaping filters and creating more adaptive beliefs and conclusions about our self, others and life. This is essentially a lifelong task as we never ever really arrive at some milestone but instead keep expanding our awareness and opening where possible to new beliefs and potentialities as we are able to stop filtering them out, and start letting them in.
Neuroscience does tend to support the spiritual wisdom that the things we seek are always there in front of us if only we would see them. Manifesting is much less about popping objects out of some quantum wave form state into materialism than it is about noticing what material things, what factual constructs and truths, are and have always been ever present all along.
We see them when we have stopped filtering them out through the subconscious brain as supported by redundant old beliefs. Let us begin to start fully seeing what is there before we start to believe we need to conjure up something else. You might just be pleasantly surprised that what you see is all you will ever need to see and know anyway!!
Neuroscience shows that you can teach an old dog new tricks and we can actively work on ourselves throughout our whole life journey to make that experience a happier one!! What is there in your reality that filters out what you would be better served letting in?
We are adept at helping clients expose these mental filters and old beliefs which are getting in the way of clients having their goals fulfilled. Please contact us if you would like to work on yourself to become more aware, conscious and alive to what is really out there moment to moment for you to experience!!