Chapter 2, part 3, Perception and Focus. The Hunter Gatherer and the Schoolyard.

Let’s start off by looking at you when you were young.

Imagine you are five years old going to kindergarten. Once there, you are vulnerable. This is the first time you have been away from your family members for long periods of time. At first you may try to be strong, though eventually most children end up either being picked on or they have to face an embarrassing situation. As an example, let’s say you get up in front of the class and the other children pick on you.

The brain will now make logic of this situation. It gathers the emotions you are feeling, connects them with the five senses you have, and then it creates a perception of what has occurred. The first and obvious response by a child is to think that all the kids in the class are jerks, yet the brain is doing much more than coming to one simplistic conclusion.

This new experience has triggered off a neural response inside your brain. Because the event was new and emotionally charged, the effects of this simplistic childish interaction may have ongoing wounding’s that will continue into your adult life. The neurotransmitters (conductors of information) will instantly make parts of this experience into strong connections much like the 4 lane highways we were talking about earlier. Put simply, the strongest emotions you feel are the ones that leave the most resilient imprints in your mind.

So exactly what is it that stays in the mind? Well, this is where it gets very interesting. As you get older you may not even remember this story. Because you are young and life is full of little moments, the experience of being embarrassed in front of your classmates may fade away very easily, yet the neurotransmitters this tale created will not. In fact, the neurotransmitters have begun connecting the dots, and now that these dots are connected they will not go away until something conflicts with them. Instead, they may possibly gain further strength by linking other similar experiences to it, and therefore gaining a more distorted belief system regarding your perception on reality.

What I am saying here, is that this one simple experience will not turn you into a future Hitler. Such powerful shifts to your psyche could only occur when a distorted belief is reinforced over and over again (which we will talk about soon) or when an occurrence is traumatic. As for this childish bullying situation, I would call it nothing more than a catalyst. It precedes what is to come next. Essentially the brain has stored a feeling along with the story in your mind, and now, to avoid future pain, it will link A and B together to try to avoid the same problem from occurring again in the future.

So what is A and B?

A = The emotions felt from getting up in front of the class.

B = This could be anything else. It could be the smell in the air, the faces people pulled, the experience of being at school, the feelings of insecurity or vulnerability, the size and/or shape of the room, being away from family, the jam sandwich you had for lunch and so on and so on… Remember there are over 100 billion neurons in your brain and each one can link to 10 thousand others. There is no shortage of space to link up random experiences.

Although the things that I linked up in B sound a little silly, it is actually true. When we are in heightened emotional states our surroundings and feelings are all connected together as an experience. Imagine being a hunter and walking into a similar cane field where previously you were bitten by a snake. You would want your nervous system to become instantly focused wouldn’t you? Well, you are in luck because this is exactly how the mind works. After the first experience it remembered the cane field plus the pain you felt, it then stimulated the mind to become focused. After this it tightens up the muscles so that the body is prepared to move quickly to prevent another possible attack.

In the hunter gatherer situation it sounds a lot more impressive. Yet the mind works the exact same way in the schoolyard. Your embarrassment was a form of discomfort that you did not want to feel again. Therefore your mind remembers faces, smells and it may even remember the time of day that this occurred. And ALL of this is to avoid one little thing in the future. Pain…


Chapter 2, part 2, Perception and Focus. Today we talk about Neurotransmitters.

To fully grasp how we differ in our perception from others we must start at the very beginning.

It is a well-known fact that brain development in youth is beyond what we experience through the rest of our lives. Within the first three years our brain will actually grow to 80% of what will be its full size, and we will have 90% before the age of five. Along with this growth also come’s structure. This structure will be part of the creation of a belief system which will design our individual reality.

Now obviously we can’t remember being born, yet from the moment we awaken into this strange world, our senses open up to an alien existence that makes absolutely no sense at all. Our mother connects to us instantly (most of the time) due to the pheromones we produce, and we ourselves connect to our mother for survival.

From here our brain has to structure, adapt, learn and start forming. On the outside looking in we are growing physically and appear to start understanding how things work. We get familiar with faces and between six to ten months from when we were born, most of us learn to crawl. What is even more staggering is the fact that by twelve months most of us learn to take our first steps.

Now I am sure that this is fascinating to many new or up and coming parents out there, yet it is how the brain works during these early years that make me go ga ga.

Let’s get into a little science. Inside of a child’s brain there are things called neurons. Neurons are nerve cells that work like electricity inside of the brain as they transmit information between each other. To give you an example of how this works lets analyse how a baby learns to walk for the first time.

Walking is a simple task for most people. We decide we want to go somewhere, we stand up and then we walk from A to B. Yet for a baby that has never walked before, this so called simple task is not so easy. First the baby has to learn to stand, and then they learn to balance. After this they take their first step and then another, before eventually making multiple steps without falling over. Seemingly this is just a natural occurrence, yet there is a lot happening within our brain at this time. The first step will not only affect the babies early years, it will make a profound difference to the rest of its adult life.

Now let’s get back to those neurons that I was talking about earlier.

When we are born our brain is obviously smaller, yet the amount of neurons inside of our brain is very similar to the amount we will have as an adult. That’s right, size does not matter. Our brains capacity to take on information is just as capable at infancy as it is in adulthood.  This in many ways means that we are ready to start soaking up information from the moment we are born.

So how many neurons do we have?

We have approximately 100 billion neurons inside of our brain. That is 100,000,000,000 neurons which is surprisingly the same amount of stars that there are in the Milky Way Galaxy. Is this a coincidence? I’ll leave that up to your own perception J

So how do these neurons work and what do they have to do with perception?

As stated earlier, neurons transmit information throughout the brain. They do this through what is called neurotransmitters. Each individual neuron can connect with up to ten thousand other neurons within the brain. That’s ten thousand different electrical charges coming out of one tiny little neuron that is no larger than 0.1 of a millimetre.

Now the brain is always active, even when we sleep, though when we try something for the first time it is not just lighting up, it is creating new neurotransmitters. And this is where our little rabbit hole begins.

Every time a baby tries to stand and yet fails, it learns a little more about what it did wrong. Although the baby will not over analyse it’s failures and problems as much as an adult would, the baby still understands intuitively that they leant too far forward, or that the left foot was too far away from the right and so on. Each attempt will reinforce a new lesson and a new rule. Then, each of these lessons will become new neurotransmitters. That’s right. Each lesson you learn becomes a new creation within the brain.

After these neurotransmitters are connected they may be reinforced with a second failure or success. This means that they will get stronger. Each time you learn the same lesson, the connection between neurons strengthens, and once it is created, in many cases it can remain for the rest of your life.

Try to think of it like building roads within your mind. If it’s a new road that doesn’t get used much then the council will leave it as a windy dirt track. But if this road is used a lot, or the council decides that it is a very important road for transport, then this simple dirt road will be converted to a four lane highway. And as you can imagine, a lesson such as walking becomes one of the most important highways within your brain.

It is important to remember that without neurotransmitters you couldn’t lift your arm, chew your food, make decisions, feel pain and even focus. It is because of the lessons we learn when we are young, that the neurotransmitters become connected strongly, and then simple tasks become second nature for us. Dementia in the elderly is the opposite of this. Dementia is when these neurotransmitters begin to break down and you lose abilities that were once so easy. Access to memories and simple tasks like walking and talking can become complicated or break down completely.

So now that you know how important neurotransmitters are, it’s time to look into how they will affect your entire belief in reality… This is where it is going to get fun. This is also when you will start to wonder about the limitations your perception causes to your current life. Your whole belief system about how your mind works is about to be questioned…


Chapter 2, Perception and Focus

I have placed this topic close to the beginning of the book because understanding the full complexities of focus and perception are paramount to our daily existence. Every single day we have a certain perception about how we look, what social status we have, how positive or negative life is, how much we have to struggle, how hard we have to work and also how much we have to sacrifice just to get through each day. These perceptions are mostly egoic responses that become our focus, and our focus becomes our reality. Simply put, our overall happiness, enjoyment and success is defined by our perception.

Let me put it another way. YOUR perception is YOUR truth. And what is truth? According to the dictionary, truth is defined by fact or reality. But in a world where we create our own reality, how can we define what is true or not? Essentially, whatever you perceive to be true… IS true! And even scientific proof pointing towards the other direction may not be enough to convince you otherwise. Why? Because your belief is your universe and only you see life through your eyes. You are unique.

Let’s use an example. Do you believe in ghosts? Some people might say yes and others might say no. So who is right? On a spiritual level it is truth because not only do many people see the afterlife, they also feel its presence. On a scientific level we can’t completely rule ghosts out either. Although we can state psychologically that a person can create these images within their mind, there are also other theories within science where ghosts can exist. Thanks to string theory you may say that they belong in parallel universes which we can’t understand because we are limited in our duality, which is restricted by our five senses.

So if all of the above is true, then who is right and who is wrong? Do ghosts exist or do they not? Well, without science giving us an answer it is purely up to speculation. There is no right or wrong, there are only different beliefs.  In many ways the meaning of life falls into the same category. Because there is no proof, there is no ultimate and infinite answer that we can all agree on (yet). It all comes down to our own perception, and we can’t demand or expect others to believe in the same things we do.

It is for this reason that some of the greatest theorists of our time speculate that we ourselves are gods. It is important to realise that we only see the universe through our own eyes, and there is no one else on this Earth that can understand how we view and perceive our unique universe. You might even say that we have CREATED our own universe. Without knowing it we have shaped a belief system, moral and value driven perception derived from simply existing. That is an impressive way of saying we were born and we learned things…

We choose what we believe in, design a structure of life which suits us, pay attention to what we want to focus on and we can also ignore what we don’t want to focus on. Most of the time, we don’t even do this consciously, we are simply running old patterns that we learned a long time ago. The funny thing about all of this is that many of our conceptualised ideas were created before we were even able to speak. After this the weights began to be added, one by one, year by year and experience by experience. This is why we are all so different. There are 1440 minutes in each day, or 86,400 seconds, during which our thoughts and experiences grow and then individualise our reality from everyone else’s. It’s surprising that society agrees on as much as we do…

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