Beyond the Beginning (The Potentials of Consciousness Book 3)

Mindfulness Meditation
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We should thus expect that the self, if it exists, is mostly unconscious. When we ignore this point and think of the self as a conscious or worse, Cartesian self, then all sorts of paradoxes arise, as we have seen. Any organism needs to demarcate self from other, but in more complex organisms, such as mammals, meeting that need goes beyond the responses of the immune system, for it requires the coordination of external information with information about the internal states of the organism.

Such coordination, to be useful, must take into account the previous experience of the organism, as well as its genetic inheritance in the form, for example, of basic emotions that will guide it to survive, reproduce, etc. And as he pointed out, experience must be interpreted on the basis of what the organism takes itself to be, but this is, once again, a mostly subconscious task assigned mainly to the central nervous system and particularly to the brain.

It might, for instance, have difficulty learning or remembering crucial facts about its environment, or it might not be able to disambiguate key perceptual information. This is an unconscious process that has counterparts in human beings as well. But the brain does it unconsciously or subconsciously for the most part. It seems that, given that the brain is distributive, and given the myriad of ways in which the individual needs to be distinguished from others, the self is likely to be distributive as well. And since we are social animals, the evolutionary account also explains why, in the self-attribution experiment used for purposes of illustration above, the contrasts Self—Bill Gates and Best Friend—Bill Gates both activated the ACC although at different intensities.

We tend to identify with those who are close to us. Orientation is crucial to organisms evolved for action. Some puzzles remain, though. To do so we would have to be aware that we are dreaming, and we generally are not. Some individuals, sometimes, are aware that they are dreaming. But most people most of the time do not have lucid dreams.

But what that part may be still needs to be elucidated. One interesting hypothesis, already mentioned, is to consider consciousness as akin to an internal perception, and on occasion an internal perception of the self, subject to vagaries and illusions as all other perceptions are. Tononi, London: Academic Press, 3—14, doi: Libet , Benjamin [], Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action, Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 8, —, doi: Similarly, young children in this age range can give sensible answers to questions about the difference between the insides and outsides of animals, machines, and natural inanimate objects; see Figure 4.

These are only a handful of findings from a large body of research that goes a long way to challenge the idea that young children are incapable of considering non-perceptual data in scientific areas. Given that there is a mounting body of evidence showing that youngsters are busy constructing coherent accounts of their physical and biological worlds, one needs to ask to what extent these early competencies serve as a bridge for further learning when they enter school.

An ever-increasing body of evidence shows that the human mind is endowed with an implicit mental ability that facilitates attention to and use of representations of the number of items in a visual array, sequence of drumbeats, jumps of a toy bunny, numerical values represented in arrays, etc. For example, Starkey et al. Each successive picture showed different household items, including combs, pipes, lemons, scissors, and corkscrews that varied in color, shape, size, and texture and spatial position.

Half of the infants saw a series of two-item displays while the other half were shown a series of three-item displays. When they became bored, their looking times dropped by 50 percent they habituated. At this point, they were then shown displays that alternated between two and three items, and if the displays showed a different number of items from what they had seen before, the infants began to show interest by looking again.

The only common characteristic within the two-item and three-item displays was their numerical value, so one can say the infants habituated to the set of two or three things and then recovered interest when they were shown a different number of things. The infants could have focused on perceptual attributes of the items such as their shapes, motion, textural complexity, and so on, but they did not. This is an important clue that they are able to process information that represents number at a rather abstract level.

Other researchers have shown that infants pay attention to the number of times a toy rabbit jumps up and down, so long as the number of jumping events they have to keep track of is kept between two and four jumps Wynn, They found that 5-month-old infants used visual expectation see previous section to show that infants are able to distinguish three pictures presented in one location from two pictures in another. Through their surprise or search reactions, young children are able to tell us when an item is added or subtracted from what they expected Wynn, , a, b; Starkey, For example, 5-month-old infants first saw two objects repeatedly; then a screen covered the objects and they watched as an experimenter proceeded to add another object or remove one from the hidden display.

The screen was then removed, revealing one more or one less item than before.

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Experimental evidence of this kind implies a psychological process that relates the effect of adding or removing items to a numerical representation of the initial display. A similar line of evidence with preschool children indicates that very young children are actively engaged in using their implicit knowledge of number to attend to and make sense of novel examples of numerical data in their environments; see Box 4.

Together, the findings indicate that even young children can actively participate in their own learning and problem solving about number. But just because children have some knowledge of numbers before they enter school is not to say that there is little need for careful learning later.

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Remember, the law of attraction states that the Universe is a giant copy machine; it does not judge your desires, it simply responds to your thoughts by giving you more of the same. Although making the entry levels easier, these early number concepts can also be problematic when it comes to the transitions to higher-level mathematics. What do you think he would need? A one-page plan makes it easy for you to check in often. A copy of the article follows in the panel below.

Early understanding of numbers can guide their entry into school-based learning about number concepts. Successful programs based on developmental psychology already exist, notably the Right Start Program Griffin and Case, Although making the entry levels easier, these early number concepts can also be problematic when it comes to the transitions to higher-level mathematics. Rational numbers fractions do not behave like whole numbers, and attempting to treat them as such leads to serious problems. We introduced the idea that children come equipped with the means necessary for understanding their worlds when considering physical and biological concepts.

It should not be surprising that infants also possess. How do 3- to 5-year old children react when they encounter unexpected changes in the number of items? Before the dialog below, children had been playing with five toy mice that were on a plate; the plate and mice were then covered and the experimenter surreptitiously took away two mice before uncovering the plate Gelman and Gallistel, One, two, three, four, five; no—one, two, three, four. Uh…there were five, right? They begin at an early age to develop knowledge of their linguistic environments, using a set of specific mechanisms that guide language development.

Infants have to be able to distinguish linguistic information from nonlinguistic stimuli: they attribute meaning and linguistic function to words and not to dog barks or telephone rings Mehler and Christophe, By 4 months of age, infants clearly show a preference for listening to words over other sounds Colombo and Bundy, And they can distinguish changes in language. For example, after being habituated to English sentences, infants detected the shift to a different language, such as Spanish; they did not register shifts to different English utterances Bahrick and Pickens, , which indicates that they noticed the novel Spanish utterances. Figure 4. Young infants learn to pay attention to the features of speech, such as intonation and rhythm, that help them obtain critical information about language and meaning. As they get older, they concentrate on utterances that share a structure that corresponds to their maternal language, and they neglect utterances that do not.

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By 6 months of age, infants distinguish some of the properties that characterize the language of their immediate environment Kuhl et al. Around 8—10 months of age, infants stop treating speech as consisting of mere sounds and begin to represent only the linguistically relevant contrasts Mehler and Christophe, For example, Kuhl et al. Mean latencies of initiation of a visual saccade in the direction of the sound for American 2-month-olds listening to French and English sentences. Such studies illustrate that the learning environment is critical for determining what is learned even when the basic learning mechanisms do not vary.

Young infants are also predisposed to attend to the language spoken by others around them.

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They are attracted to human faces, and look especially often at the lips of the person speaking. They appear to expect certain types of coordination between mouth movements and speech. When shown videos of people talking, infants can detect the differences between lip movements that are synchronized with the sounds and those that are not. Young children also actively attempt to understand the meaning of the language that is spoken around them. Parents of 1-year-olds report that their children understand much of what is said to them, although there is obviously a great deal of information that children really do not understand Chapman, For example, Lewis and Freedle analyzed the comprehension abilities of a month-old child.

In everyday settings, young children have rich opportunities for learning because they can use context to figure out what someone must mean by various sentence structures and words. The child uses meaning as a clue to language rather than language as a clue to meaning MacNamara, The biological underpinnings enable children to become fluent in language by about age three, but if they are not in a language-using environment, they will not develop this capacity. Experience is important; but the opportunity to use the skills— practice—is also important. Janellen Huttenlocher, for example, has shown that language has to be practiced as an ongoing and active process and not merely passively observed by watching television Huttenlocher, cited in Newsweek, These predispositions help prepare human infants for the complex challenges of adaptive learning that come later in life.

In order to thrive, children must still engage in self-directed and other-directed learning, even in areas of early competence. In this section we look at how children learn about things that they would not be predisposed to attend to, such as chess or the capital cities of countries. We discuss how children come to be able to learn almost anything through effort and will. It has generally been assumed that in the arena of deliberate, intentional, mindful, and strategic learning, young children are woefully inadequate.

But recent scientific studies have revealed hitherto unsuspected strategic competence and metacognitive knowledge in young children. A traditional view of learning and development was that young children know and can do little, but with age maturation and experience of any kind they become increasingly competent. From this view, learning is development and development is learning.

There is no need to postulate special forms of learning nor for learners to be particularly active see Bijou and Baer, ; Skinner, Yet even in privileged domains, as described above, this passive view does not fully apply. In addition, research in another major area began to show how learners process information, remember, and solve problems in nonprivileged domains.

All human learners have limitations to their. Simon and others e. The crucial argument for developmental psychologists is whether young learners are particularly hampered by memory limitations and whether, compared with adults, they are less able to overcome general limitations through the clever use of strategies or by lack of relevant knowledge factors. One view of learning in children is that they have a less memory capacity than adults. With more mental space, they can retain more information and perform more complex mental operations. A complementary view is that the mental operations of older children are more rapid, enabling them to make use of their limited capacity more effectively Case, If one holds either of these positions, one would expect relatively uniform improvement in performance across domains of learning Case, ; Piaget, A second view is that children and adults have roughly the same mental capacity, but that with development children acquire knowledge and develop effective activities to use their minds well.

Such activities are often called strategies.


There are a variety of well-known strategies that increase remembering, such as rehearsal repeating items over and over , which tends to improve rote recall Belmont and Butterfield, ; elaboration Reder and Anderson, , which improves retention of more meaningful units such as sentences; and summarization Brown and Day, , which increases retention and comprehension. These are just three of many strategies. Perhaps the most pervasive strategy used to improve memory performance is clustering: organizing disparate pieces of information into meaningful units. Clustering is a strategy that depends on organizing knowledge.

Given a list of numbers to remember, sounds phonemes to distinguish from one another, or a set of unrelated facts to recall, there is a critical change in performance at around seven items. A prototype experiment would involve, for example, presenting 4- to year-olds with long lists of pictures to remember, far more than they could if they simply tried to remember them individually.

Such a list might consist of pictures of a cat, rose, train, hat, airplane, horse, tulip, boat, coat, etc. Given a item list, older children remember more than younger children, but the factor responsible for better recall is not age per se, but whether the child notices that the list consists of four categories animals, plants, means of transportation, and articles of clothing. If the categories are noticed, young children often recall the entire list.

In the absence of category recognition, performance is poorer and shows the age effect. Younger children employ categorization strategies less often than older ones. However, the skill is knowledge related, not age related; the more complex the categories, the older the child is before noticing the structure. One has to know a structure before one can use it. If one believes that learning differences are determined by gradual increases in capacity or speed of processing, one would expect relatively uniform increases in learning across most domains.

The importance of prior knowledge in determining performance, crucial to adults as well as children, includes knowledge about learning, knowledge of their own learning strengths and weaknesses, and the demands of the learning task at hand. Whereas self-regulation may appear quite early, reflection appears to be late developing. If children lack insight to their own learning abilities, they can hardly be expected to plan or self-regulate efficiently. The evidence suggests that, like other forms of learning, metacognition develops gradually and is as dependent on knowledge as experience.

It is difficult to engage in self-regulation and reflection in areas that one does not understand. However, on topics that children know, primitive forms of self-regulation and reflection appear early Brown and DeLoache, Attempts at deliberate remembering in preschool children provide glimpses of the early emergence of the ability to plan, orchestrate, and apply strategies. In a famous example, 3- and 4-year-old children were asked to watch while a small toy dog was hidden under one of three cups. The children were instructed to remember where the dog was.

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The children were anything but passive as they waited alone during a delay interval Wellman et al. Some children displayed various behaviors that resemble well-known mnemonic strategies, including clear attempts at retrieval practice, such as looking at the target cup and nodding yes, looking at the non-target cups and nodding no, and retrieval cueing, such as marking the correct cup by resting a hand on it or moving it to a salient position.

Both of these strategies are precursors to more mature rehearsal activities. These efforts were rewarded: children who prepared actively for retrieval in these ways more often remembered the location of the hidden dog. Box 4. These attempts to aid remembering involve a dawning awareness of metacognition—that without some effort, forgetting would occur.

And the strategies involved resemble the more mature forms of strategic intervention, such as rehearsal, used by older school-aged children. By recognizing this dawning understanding in children, one can begin to design learning activities in the early school years that build on and strengthen their understanding of what it means to learn and remember. The strategies that children use to memorize, conceptualize, reason, and solve problems grow increasingly effective and flexible, and are applied more broadly, with age and experience.

But different strategies are not solely related to age. To demonstrate the variety, we consider the specific case of the addition of single-digit numbers, which has been the subject of a great deal of cognitive research. For a group of and month-old children, an attractive toy, Big Bird, was hidden in a variety of locations in a playroom, such as behind a pillow, on a couch, or under a chair. Instead, they often interrupted their play with a variety of activities that showed they were still preoccupied with the memory task.

More recently, however, a more complex and interesting picture has emerged Siegler, On a problem-by-problem basis, children of the same age often use a wide variety of strategies. This finding has emerged in domains as diverse as arithmetic Cooney et al. Even the same child presented the same problem on two successive days often uses different strategies Siegler and McGilly, For example, when 5-year-olds add numbers, they sometimes count from 1, as noted above, but they also sometimes retrieve answers from memory, and sometimes they count from the larger number Siegler, The fact that children use diverse strategies is not a mere idiosyncrasy of human cognition.

Good reasons exist for people to know and use multiple strategies. Strategies differ in their accuracy, in the amounts of time their execution requires, in their processing demands, and in the range of problems to which they apply. Strategy choices involve tradeoffs among these. The broader the range of strategies that children know and can appreciate where they apply, the more precisely they can shape their approaches to the demands of particular circumstances.

Even young children can capitalize on the strengths of different strategies and use each one for the problems for which its advantages are greatest. The adaptiveness of these strategy choices increases as children gain experience with the domain, though it is obvious even in early years Lemaire and Siegler, Once it is recognized that children know multiple strategies and choose among them, the question arises: How do they construct such strategies in the first place?

This question is answered through studies in which individual children who do not yet know a strategy are given prolonged experiences weeks or months in the subject matter; in this way, researchers can study how children devise their various strategies Kuhn, ; Siegler and Crowley, ; see also DeLoache et al, a. In this approach, one can identify when a new strategy is first used, which in turn allows examination of what the experience of discovery was like, what led to the discovery, and how the discovery was generalized beyond its initial use.

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Three key findings have emerged from these studies: 1 discoveries are often made not in response to impasses or failures but rather in the context of successful performance; 2 short-lived transition strategies often precede more enduring approaches; and 3 generalization of new approaches often occurs very slowly, even when children can provide compelling rationales for their usefulness Karmiloff-Smith, ; Kuhn, ; Siegler and Crowley, Children often generate useful new strategies without ever having generated conceptually flawed ones.

They seem to seek conceptual understanding of the requisites of appropriate strategies in a domain. On such tasks as single-digit addition, multidigit subtraction, and the game of tic-tactoe, children possess such understanding, which allows them to recognize the usefulness of new, more advanced strategies before they generate them spontaneously Hatano and Inagaki, ; Siegler and Crowley, A common feature of such innovations as reciprocal teaching Palincsar and Brown, , communities of learners Brown and Campione, , ; Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, , the ideal student Pressley et al.

These programs differ, but all are aimed at helping students to understand how strategies can help them solve problems, to recognize when each strategy is likely to be most useful, and to transfer strategies to novel situations. The considerable success that these instructional programs have enjoyed, with young as well as older children and with low-income as well as middle-income children, attests to the fact that the development of a repertoire of flexible strategies has practical significance for learning.

In his theory of multiple intelligences, Gardner , proposed the existence of seven relatively autonomous intelligences: linguistic, logical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The theory of multiple intelligences was developed as a psychological theory, but it sparked a great deal of interest among educators, in this country and abroad, in its implications for teaching and learning.

The experimental educational programs based on the theory have focused generally in two ways.

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Some educators believe that all children should have each intelligence nurtured; on this basis, they have devised curricula that address each intelligence directly. Others educators have focused on the development of specific intelligences, like the personal ones, because they believe these intelligences receive short shrift in American education. There are strengths and weaknesses to each approach. The application of multiple intelligences to education is a grass roots movement among teachers that is only just beginning.

An interesting development is the attempt to modify traditional curricula: whether one is teaching history, science, or the arts, the theory of multiple intelligences offers a teacher a number of different approaches to the topic, several modes of representing key concepts, and a variety of ways in which students can demonstrate their understandings Gardner, Children with entity theories believe that intelligence is a fixed property of individuals; children with incremental theories believe that intelligence is malleable see also Resnick and Nelson-LeGall, Children who are entity theorists tend to hold performance goals in learning situations: they strive to perform well or appear to perform well, attain positive judgments of their competence, and avoid assessments.

They avoid challenges that will reflect them in poor light. They show little persistence in the face of failure. Their aim is to perform well. Loving- kindness in all , resulting from samyama on friendliness, compassion, or sympathetic joy.

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This can be interpreted to mean that when one is imbued with joy, that state may induce similar feelings in others. This may be interpreted as an unintentional or field like form of psychokinesis. This could be interpreted as an exceptional form of mindbody control or as a mind-matter interaction effect.

Do it; try it. A more detailed translation of this siddhi would require a major diversion into esoteric yogic concepts where aspects of the human body, some physical and others more subtle, are mapped onto aspects of the cosmos. This arcane symbolism is outside the scope of the present book, so we may simply interpret this siddhi as clairvoyance of macroscopic objects and systems.

Knowledge of the composition and coordination of bodily energies , through samyama on the navel chakra or manipura chakra. This siddhi may be interpreted as an exceptional mind- body connection, or as a self- healing ability. Liberation from hunger and thirst , through samyama on the throat. This siddhi is known as inedia within the Catholic tradition, or more popularly as breatharianism living on breath alone, without food, and in extreme cases, without water. Exceptional stability, balance, or health , through samyama on the kurma nadi, the root of the tongue. This siddhi refers to mind-body knowledge leading to exceptional health or self-healing.

Vision of higher beings, knowledge of everything that is knowable, knowing of the origins of all things, knowledge of the true self , through samyama on the crown of the head, intuition, the spiritual heart, the self, or the nature of existence. These siddhis are forms of refined clairvoyance. Siddhis may appear to be supernormal , but they are normal.

This is not a description of a siddhi, but rather a caution to avoid regarding or attaining the siddhis as unnatural or supernormal, as that could become a distraction to sustaining and deepening samadhi. Influencing others. This siddhi suggests that a highly realized yogi who is adept with the previously described siddhis can not only know about others, but also influence them. This siddhi is also related to a sutra described in the second book of the Yoga Sutras, Sadhana Pada.

The translation of Sutra II. Levitation , through samyama on the feeling of lightness. This siddhi is said to allow the yogi to float, hover, fly, or walk on water. It could be interpreted as a highly advanced form of psychokinesis. This has been interpreted in several ways, as possession of exceptional charisma, as an exceptional digestive ability that would allow one to eat huge amounts of food or withstand toxic substances without harm, or as exceptional control of bodily energies.

We will interpret it as an exceptional form of mind- body control. Clairaudience , through samyama on the area behind the ear. Freedom from bodily awareness and temporal attachments. This could be interpreted as a state of perception from out- of- the- body, or as a form of clairvoyance. Mastery over the elements , through samyama on the elements, enabling manipulation of matter, including the size, appearance, and condition of the body.

Variations of these abilities include the fulfillment of any desire, or to create or destroy material manifestations; a highly refined version of psychokinesis. Perfection of the body. This could be interpreted as a melding of exceptional mind-body control combined with psychokinesis.

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They include bilocation the ability to simultaneously appear in more than one location ; the ability to move very fast or cover great distances in a short time; the ability to stay comfortably warm in extremely cold temperatures ; the ability to suspend breathing or to hibernate indefinitely; the ability to bestow siddhis to others; the ability not to be harmed by fire; and the ability to change the weather. Before we begin our scientific examination of the siddhis, it is noteworthy that Patanjali and others specifically highlighted the dangers of dwelling on the siddhis.

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Patanjali states in Sutra III. There are many ways that this trap can manifest. This means that from a scientific perspective it may be exceptionally difficult to find people who have achieved these rarified states and are willing to demonstrate them, because paradoxically they have reached those states precisely because they have not demonstrated them in public. When I have asked yogis who appear to have reached some level of mastery to participate in laboratory tests, only on very rare occasions have they agreed to do so.

They usually performed remarkably well, but when I ask how they did it, or to do it again, they just smiled. Fortunately, attaining siddhis is not an all-or-nothing affair.