Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
A Journey to Explore the Mind
Category:
Mind

What exactly is the mind? Neuropsychiatrist, best-selling author, and Esalen teacher Daniel Siegel poses this question – and invites readers to join him on a personal and professional journey to discover possible answers – in his new book, MIND: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.

His latest work expands on topics he’s addressed in previous Esalen workshops on the science of compassion, gratitude, and mindfulness, and includes some of his personal thoughts while in Big Sur. “Being human is more than being a brain at the helm of an isolated ship lost at sea,” Dan writes, “We are fully embedded in our social world and fully embodied beyond the solo skull.”

eNews: In MIND you weave your personal journey and experiences with your professional research and work. How would you define this book?

Dan:  It is quite different from other books I’ve written. Part of MIND includes the subject’s experience, it includes consciousness to allow you to know you are having an experience. I wanted to somehow invite the reader to go on journey. I thought about it as a writer, and that  I needed to have a relationship with the reader that would be part of the communication.

This isn’t a book you read only for knowledge, it’s a book that gives you an experience. The book itself is a journey. This is really a book that invites you, as the reader, to open your own mind as to what your own mind is. The book begins with the word “Hello” because this is going to be a relationship.

eNews: In exploring the state of dis-ease when we are struggling with either rigidity or chaos, if the natural drive of the mind is to self-organize to harmony what creates the automatic patterns that keep us stuck in one of those two states?

Dan: We live in a body that has inherited all sorts of things that my colleague Paul Gilbert called “tricky circuitry”. Unlike the dogs I have, who are pretty happy when they get their food, take a walk, take a nap, we humans have internal inflections. We can worry about stuff and feel complicated feelings, top down recollections where the mind is both conduit and constructor. Our evolutionary body is prone to lead us to chaos or rigidity.

At some of the workshops at Esalen I have spoken about the use of awareness, synonymous with consciousness, to rise above the brain’s proclivity for tricky circuitry. One example is our tendency to treat people who are more like us with kindness, and treat those not like us with less. But if we are to survive on this planet,  we need to awaken our minds to rise above the brain’s propensity for this and move us away from differentiation.

Our mind is not the same as the brain, our mind in its consciousness can rise above it, and allow integration to occur. This is yet another reason we all need to work together to say “How do you awaken the mind so that the hope for humanity on this planet can go beyond our initial tendencies”?

eNews: You state that integration is a journey, not a destination. So what state are we all striving to achieve?

Dan: When I was writing that chapter of MIND, my son was staying with me at Esalen and doing a lot of songwriting and playing. And that process of writing songs is an integrated process. It’s not like he’s going to write the final song and be done. And so in a way the idea for me – the deep learning experience for me about this book – is that I’m a writer on the journey too.

In terms of integration, it’s about being in this moment which is a common spiritual statement but not commonly said in science. When I ask what is bringing me to a rigid place or a chaotic place, and then exploring it, it goes away. This is the gist of the “why” of the mind.

If you do look at the mind as a self-organizing process, at least in my life, it really has been so clarifying and grounding to say that the journey is the path of integration. It’s not a place you end up at, it is always leading to more intricate levels of integration that has its own chaos and rigidity as well as more possibilities. I’m not fully integrated, but I’m present, and being present in life sometimes means working in chaos and rigidity.

So you say to yourself: I’m still alive and I still have work to do on this planet. It’s a process you embrace, rather than an endpoint that you arrive. Once you start to think of an endpoint, you miss the path of life.

eNews: In describing your experience in writing your first book, The Developing Mind, you share that it was almost like the book was writing you and was an outcome of a phase of loss and grief for you. What we can learn from this experience when we consciously are in a state of dis-ease? How do we step out of our own way to allow our mind to self-organize to reach integration and healing?

Dan: This is why it was so exciting to finish a study on the Wheel of Awareness, the last bit of it which was done at Esalen. We saw that when you can differentiate the knowing from the known – which can be things like judgment – you can gain access to the plane of possibility.

The Wheel is metaphoric but it is a practice that everyone can access where it becomes a way of seeing where consciousness arises from. If the hypothesis is true, when you learn to enter this plane, or hub of the wheel, then all the things that get you in trouble –  that throw you in chaos and rigidity – these things are processed naturally.

It would be like when I write in MIND of losing a close friend and mentor, and I said to myself  “Don’t be sad. Why are you so upset?” These beliefs would keep me from entering into a natural process, of dropping in a place of spaciousness, openness, receptive awareness, which lets the natural process arise. It is a comforting view, for me anyways, that there is a place you can learn to go to stop being in charge. Just let it happen.

eNews: You write of how compassionate action can connect us, and how integration makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. In this time of heightened polarization, how do we support this idea of integrated identity?

Dan: I’ve been teaching in Europe for awhile, and watching what is going on in the US has been painful to see. The world is in a tough spot. For me, the fundamental process of integration is a principle to help you look past ideological difference and ethical questions, and ask very profound basic questions about humanity. The move to create the wellbeing that is everyone’s birthright requires a higher order of behaving and conceptualizing.

Whether it’s about climate change, racial issues, or economic diversity, you can show in research paradigms that you will achieve more well being the more you try to be in service to reduce suffering to other people. We as a nation really need to think deeply about the kind of world we’re creating.

Yet here’s the fundamental problem, the tricky circuitry we spoke about earlier, when you’re under threat, there is an increase in group distinctions. It’s one of those proclivities of the brain that we need to rise above.

eNews: What would you like readers to ultimately take away from MIND?

Dan: There is a quote from Maya Angelou which says: People won’t remember what you say, but how they felt when you said it. I hope that the feeling in reading this book invites an opening in the reader and an opportunity to grow integration for the individual’s well being, to grow more integration for immediate relationships with families and friends, and then realize how deeply connected we all are in larger communities and the whole planet.

I’m hopeful that as humanity we use this amazing mind to wake ourselves up to the interconnected nature of ourselves and realize this m/we identity.  It is a win-win, for the individual to realize that interconnection is deeply gratifying, and for the people around you it is positive. For when the whole world is living as m/we we realize our planet is not a trashcan, but a sanctuary.

MIND: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human is now on sale. Learn more about Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness at http://www.drdansiegel.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

A Journey to Explore the Mind

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Mind

What exactly is the mind? Neuropsychiatrist, best-selling author, and Esalen teacher Daniel Siegel poses this question – and invites readers to join him on a personal and professional journey to discover possible answers – in his new book, MIND: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.

His latest work expands on topics he’s addressed in previous Esalen workshops on the science of compassion, gratitude, and mindfulness, and includes some of his personal thoughts while in Big Sur. “Being human is more than being a brain at the helm of an isolated ship lost at sea,” Dan writes, “We are fully embedded in our social world and fully embodied beyond the solo skull.”

eNews: In MIND you weave your personal journey and experiences with your professional research and work. How would you define this book?

Dan:  It is quite different from other books I’ve written. Part of MIND includes the subject’s experience, it includes consciousness to allow you to know you are having an experience. I wanted to somehow invite the reader to go on journey. I thought about it as a writer, and that  I needed to have a relationship with the reader that would be part of the communication.

This isn’t a book you read only for knowledge, it’s a book that gives you an experience. The book itself is a journey. This is really a book that invites you, as the reader, to open your own mind as to what your own mind is. The book begins with the word “Hello” because this is going to be a relationship.

eNews: In exploring the state of dis-ease when we are struggling with either rigidity or chaos, if the natural drive of the mind is to self-organize to harmony what creates the automatic patterns that keep us stuck in one of those two states?

Dan: We live in a body that has inherited all sorts of things that my colleague Paul Gilbert called “tricky circuitry”. Unlike the dogs I have, who are pretty happy when they get their food, take a walk, take a nap, we humans have internal inflections. We can worry about stuff and feel complicated feelings, top down recollections where the mind is both conduit and constructor. Our evolutionary body is prone to lead us to chaos or rigidity.

At some of the workshops at Esalen I have spoken about the use of awareness, synonymous with consciousness, to rise above the brain’s proclivity for tricky circuitry. One example is our tendency to treat people who are more like us with kindness, and treat those not like us with less. But if we are to survive on this planet,  we need to awaken our minds to rise above the brain’s propensity for this and move us away from differentiation.

Our mind is not the same as the brain, our mind in its consciousness can rise above it, and allow integration to occur. This is yet another reason we all need to work together to say “How do you awaken the mind so that the hope for humanity on this planet can go beyond our initial tendencies”?

eNews: You state that integration is a journey, not a destination. So what state are we all striving to achieve?

Dan: When I was writing that chapter of MIND, my son was staying with me at Esalen and doing a lot of songwriting and playing. And that process of writing songs is an integrated process. It’s not like he’s going to write the final song and be done. And so in a way the idea for me – the deep learning experience for me about this book – is that I’m a writer on the journey too.

In terms of integration, it’s about being in this moment which is a common spiritual statement but not commonly said in science. When I ask what is bringing me to a rigid place or a chaotic place, and then exploring it, it goes away. This is the gist of the “why” of the mind.

If you do look at the mind as a self-organizing process, at least in my life, it really has been so clarifying and grounding to say that the journey is the path of integration. It’s not a place you end up at, it is always leading to more intricate levels of integration that has its own chaos and rigidity as well as more possibilities. I’m not fully integrated, but I’m present, and being present in life sometimes means working in chaos and rigidity.

So you say to yourself: I’m still alive and I still have work to do on this planet. It’s a process you embrace, rather than an endpoint that you arrive. Once you start to think of an endpoint, you miss the path of life.

eNews: In describing your experience in writing your first book, The Developing Mind, you share that it was almost like the book was writing you and was an outcome of a phase of loss and grief for you. What we can learn from this experience when we consciously are in a state of dis-ease? How do we step out of our own way to allow our mind to self-organize to reach integration and healing?

Dan: This is why it was so exciting to finish a study on the Wheel of Awareness, the last bit of it which was done at Esalen. We saw that when you can differentiate the knowing from the known – which can be things like judgment – you can gain access to the plane of possibility.

The Wheel is metaphoric but it is a practice that everyone can access where it becomes a way of seeing where consciousness arises from. If the hypothesis is true, when you learn to enter this plane, or hub of the wheel, then all the things that get you in trouble –  that throw you in chaos and rigidity – these things are processed naturally.

It would be like when I write in MIND of losing a close friend and mentor, and I said to myself  “Don’t be sad. Why are you so upset?” These beliefs would keep me from entering into a natural process, of dropping in a place of spaciousness, openness, receptive awareness, which lets the natural process arise. It is a comforting view, for me anyways, that there is a place you can learn to go to stop being in charge. Just let it happen.

eNews: You write of how compassionate action can connect us, and how integration makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. In this time of heightened polarization, how do we support this idea of integrated identity?

Dan: I’ve been teaching in Europe for awhile, and watching what is going on in the US has been painful to see. The world is in a tough spot. For me, the fundamental process of integration is a principle to help you look past ideological difference and ethical questions, and ask very profound basic questions about humanity. The move to create the wellbeing that is everyone’s birthright requires a higher order of behaving and conceptualizing.

Whether it’s about climate change, racial issues, or economic diversity, you can show in research paradigms that you will achieve more well being the more you try to be in service to reduce suffering to other people. We as a nation really need to think deeply about the kind of world we’re creating.

Yet here’s the fundamental problem, the tricky circuitry we spoke about earlier, when you’re under threat, there is an increase in group distinctions. It’s one of those proclivities of the brain that we need to rise above.

eNews: What would you like readers to ultimately take away from MIND?

Dan: There is a quote from Maya Angelou which says: People won’t remember what you say, but how they felt when you said it. I hope that the feeling in reading this book invites an opening in the reader and an opportunity to grow integration for the individual’s well being, to grow more integration for immediate relationships with families and friends, and then realize how deeply connected we all are in larger communities and the whole planet.

I’m hopeful that as humanity we use this amazing mind to wake ourselves up to the interconnected nature of ourselves and realize this m/we identity.  It is a win-win, for the individual to realize that interconnection is deeply gratifying, and for the people around you it is positive. For when the whole world is living as m/we we realize our planet is not a trashcan, but a sanctuary.

MIND: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human is now on sale. Learn more about Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness at http://www.drdansiegel.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
A Journey to Explore the Mind
Category:
Mind

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About

Esalen Team

A Journey to Explore the Mind

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Esalen Team

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