Saturday, 18 September 2010
More about maps. Neuroscientists tell us that the maps in our minds tend to operate via prediction. That means perception is not a process of passive absorption but of active construction. Incoming information is always fragmentary and ambiguous. Our understanding of reality is constructed in large part according to ones expectations and beliefs, which are based on past experience and are held in the brain cortex as predictive memory.
Many years ago I read of a biofeedback experiment that involved a large group of people. They were all wired to equipment which recorded internal subconscious reactions to a clicking noise that occured at regular intervals while they listened to a musical recording.. It was found that while most people responded to the click initially,but their bodies quickly 'learned' to ignore it.This was not so for the Zen adepts in the group. Their bodies responded to each click as if it were the first. Their brains were not operating in the usual predictive mode. This experiment has inspired many years dedicated practice to tai chi as a means of awakening this ability to live each day fresh and new.
I was due to give a workshop in Mestre today and spent many hours over the summer developing Italian 'maps'in my brain, ways to express tai chi and open focus exercises in that language. The workshop had to be cancelled at the last moment much to my disappointment and that of Professor Giovanni Marchioro who had invited us. At times like this I am very grateful for my practice which has taught me that no training is ever wasted and that life always knows what is best (even when our mind protests).
This practice has taught me to welcome all feelings up into awareness,not to use the practice to avoid pain, repress or indulge in it, but to let it teach me what I need to learn.