One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Involuntary Meditation

What really interests me is that, "the metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time (In case of sleep deprivation or electrical stimulants, it definitely changes), and despite its relatively small (in the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight), the brain consume about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body"1. The heavy investment of energy in the brain is just an illustration of what "we already know", the survival value of brain and for sure, there are several defensive mechanisms for its protections. If the skull is the physical defense of brain, there must be some behavioral defenses for the functions of brain. One of the behavioral defenses of brain is sleeping, that has mainly a energy restorative function; " Compared with wakefulness, sleep reduces brain glucose demands to 44% and oxygen demands to 25%. Although, ATP (cellular energy currency) levels are maintained at a steady state levels during spontaneous waking but the levels exhibit a surge in the initial hours of sleep in brain regions with predominantly wake-active neuronal activity."2 

OK, it is understood that, sleeping has an energy restorative function, but what about dreams? What is their function? Beck defines it, "dream is a visual phenomenon occurring during sleep. Its content is relatively uninfluenced by the immediate external environment." and immediately clarifies the vague nature of its reporting by subjects, "The interpretation of dreams, unlike certain other phenomena, is so dependent on the introspective report of the subject that there is no inter rater reliability regarding the phenomenon of the dream itself. In other words, it is a “private”—as opposed to a “public”—experience". 3 Despite of the limitation in dream interpretations, Beck thinks that, there are correlations between the contents of waking fantasies (waking ideation),  contents of dreams during sleeping and personality and hypothesizes that, it is a continuum process of spontaneous thoughts from verbal to visual.

From this introduction, two points becomes somewhat obvious; (a) high  energy consumption of brain and sleeping as a energy restorative behavior, (b) there appears to be a correlation between spontaneous thoughts from verbal (memory pop ups), to verbal-visual thoughts (daydreaming) to visual (dreams during sleep) with personality. If personality is a cohesive force among a range of spontaneous thoughts, then there  is the likelihood of  continuity from involuntary thoughts to voluntary thoughts as is suggested by Freudian structural division of personality between id, ego and superego; While id is involuntary instinctual needs, the ego is voluntary part, making them communicable and agreeable to external world's demands and superego refines them most agreeing to conscience. Coming back to our topic, if dreaming during sleep and wake ideations during wake-sleep are spontaneous thoughts to restore energy then, are voluntary behaviors, consciously acting for energy restoration? Prayer and active meditation come as two universal behaviors (irrespective of diversity in practices and underlying philosophies or the questions on their rationales  but, they differ from involuntary thoughts in consumption of energy. Still, the results or the consequences of these involuntary and voluntary behaviors are the same; "significant effect" on blood circulation and metabolism of nervous system. 4 Having said all these, it is noteworthy that, most of the hypotheses about mind and associated processes are speculative and mind-body/brain problem is still not resolved. It was just an effort to make a sense of common experiences. Although, structural divisions of mind and linking spontaneous and non-spontaneous meditations to them is mostly speculative but they are at least explaining vaguely understood phenomena for time being. Any sort of rational commentary or clarifications are most welcomed.

Speculative diagram of "structural inter-relationship of energy restorative behaviors"; KD

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