Shake up the snow globe

Most of us will agree that we’re connected in one way or another. In your relationships, the more you connect with others the happier and more fulfilled you’ll be. The whole appeal of social media is to build connections (however shallow they may be). Politicians and religions exploit the need for connection by creating fear of the ‘other’ group and telling people that only ‘we’ have the right answer.

These are examples of our external connections– the connections we experience outside of our bodies. Often we think about the internal connections that keep our minds and bodies functioning the way they do. Our circulatory system connects all the vital organs by delivering oxygen and nutrients and exporting carbon dioxide and waste products. Our neural system is the information superhighway that has local and executive control over the entire ecosystem.

But do we ever question if the connections are doing us any good? Just because there’s a well-worn pathway, does that mean we should keep taking that route? If you’re like me, there’s plenty of internal connections that don’t improve your life. Habits, fears, anxiety, false beliefs– I’ve created them over the years to get me where I am, but which ones are useful?

In the journal of Anesthesiology last month, researchers looked at the way our brains are connected during anesthesia. They induced 30 patients with propofol and kept them asleep with gas anesthesia. Then they measured the areas of activity in the brain.

We’ve known for a while that there’s still some activity in the brain during anesthesia– we call this burst suppression. Areas of the brain will have no electrical activity, then ‘burst’ with energy for a short period. The researchers in this study found that brains enjoyed being in a state of rest. What’s interesting about this study is that researchers found areas of the brain would switch on and off in a regulated pattern. All the time, the patients were asleep and had no recollection of what was occurring.

What does this mean for those of us in a normal, waking state? It suggests that our brains are more likely to engage in regular, patterned activity. Our brains, just like the rest of us, prefers inertia. If it rests, it prefers to stay in a state of rest. And it wants to maintain the same patterns that it’s developed over the years.

How do we introduce entropy into the system?

If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us feel a sense of lack. It could be for relationships, for money, for power. But the root cause is often a lack of meaning. And at some point, the Self will invite us to become empowered. To answer the call for adventure and live our own lives. A life that is individual and not determined by the many competing voices around us.

Once we hear the call, though, it’s up to us not to walk down the same paths.

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