Perplexing Questions

Does music intrinsically create a feeling in us? OR is the feeling due to association from the past? Do we consciously recreate the visuals/talk in the mind or is it automatic from the subconscious? Can we learn to detach from associations? Are we programmed according to our genetic makeup that makes hearing certain kinds of music an intrinsically rewarding experience? OR do all these 3 aspects feed on each other?

What arises first – feelings or does memory create a feeling? Is it like the ‘what came first – chicken or egg’ Q? Are all our feelings – memory associations mostly created in childhood after which we spend most of our lives trying to get them back? Is that what decides our love-map? Is it in our genes or biological makeup to derive good feelings/pleasures from certain activities? What is the impact of social conditioning vs our basic hardware? Do all 3 feed on each other?

Is our whole life just about chemical reactions?Avoiding the unpleasant one and seeking the pleasurable ones, most of which has been refined through evolution? Is meaning just an illusion, or can all the complexity that we have in our lives today be traced to simple evolutionary desires? As a counter argument, we have consciousness that we use to take actions which results in chemicals. So consciousness is the driver. In that case, can consciousness exist independent of a brain? I think a brain transplant will open up some fascinating insights into the consciousness/mind/brain relationships.

Aftermath of watching a movie and problems with theater watching

A good movie completely grips your attention and is cathartic is ways. The emotional and deep movies make you ride a roller coaster of emotions (provided you allow yourself to be fully sensitive) and bring you to a deep alpha state at the end of it. I believe that along with enjoying the movie, the state of mind just after watching it is to be relished too. I think this state can last pretty long up to 1/2-1hr after, if you allow it to stay.

I’ve always found movie watching in the theater to be an incomplete experience. Incomplete to quite a degree, but I couldn’t really conceptualize what the problems were. After repeated analysis, I think I hit upon the main points. Here they are:

1. In theaters, firstly the interval is distracting and frankly,
2. Constantly munching something is a distraction from the real movie experience. Your attention needs to be gripped and locked all through for you to really feel its depth and cathartic effect.
3. Additionally, when you go with friends, there is this small talk that you need to keep doing now and then. Even a single interruption breaks the thread of alpha state.
4. After the movie is over, the subtitles start and usually the music/visuals is stimulating and flowing but in the theater you need to immediately start moving. This feels really uncomfortable and abrupt in so many ways, according to me. Not only do you not get to dwell in that awesome mental state, you miss out on the ending music/visuals and you have to start hearing the chatter of everyone around you. 5. The social energy around immediately shifts you back to beta state.
6. Then you have to encounter road noise, have some discussion or small talk with friends and that’s the last nail in the coffin for the alpha state.

A highly enjoyable and desirable state we pursue in life is “A State of flow”. Gripping Movies/Novels take us really close to it which is why they are so popular. So I think this feeling needs to be experienced in its entirety with full awareness to derive maximum fulfillment and satisfaction.

Concentration and Love

I think love that we know colloquially is attachment which could easily transform into hate. For e,g.: If you put 2 ‘Ex lovers’ together and monitor their brain activity, even if there are 10 other people in the room, they would be giving each other at least 50% of their attention, partly subconsciously. Somehow, in my experience, even if I try hard not to, my attention is drawn towards the people I concentrate / have concentrated upon in the past.

So its like, you concentrate on the good things initially for a long period of time and your mind gets stuck with it and you subconscious begin to give much greater attention to this person. Once the breakup happens, you try to detach by trying to see only the ugly in the person which makes the relationship transform into hate. But you are still concentrating on the ugly. That’s what makes detachment paradoxical. Hate and love might just be the same thing. Maybe if we fully concentrate on something for whatever it is with full acceptance, that might be true love.

We all concentrate upon those things we love, and we love those things upon which we concentrate our minds. To detach is the skill that’ll prevent hate from happening and also free the attention for the next object/next moment. Plain observation without judgment I think is the only way to detach.

Unusual things that I really enjoy

Possessing measuring instruments in all domains thinkable. I would like to use them in varied situations and really study phenomena. I would like it to have maximal resolution and range.
1. Measuring light level – LUX meter, Range – 0 LUX to Extreme sunlight
2. Measuring sound – Decibel meter, Range – 15db to 140db
3. Measuring weight in 3 ranges – 2kg to 200kg, 1gm – 5kg, 1/1000gm level
4. Measuring wind speed – Barometer – from 0.1kmph to 150kmph
5. Measuring brain waves 1hz – 200hz Portable EEG
6. Measuring electricity – A simple multimeter
7. Measuring Temperature – Pointer type or normal, range – -50 deg C to 150deg C
8. Measuring Basal metabolic rate, Fat %, muscle mass, Calories in food, Other health related stuf
9. Also like measuring(subjective) emotions and mood using scales like x/10
10. Like to measure the distance between memoriesĀ  – not by the clock time passed but just by comparing how vivid and real it feels

Instruments that help extend senses.
1. Seeing – Binoculars, Telescope, Microscope, Night vision, Digital camera for storing
2. Hearing – Stethoscope, Sound amplifier and Recorder
3. Smell – I wish something existed, perfumes maybe
4. Taste – Something that would help enhance it, e.g.: some wines
5. Touch – The only think that helps here is concentration or taking weed etc.
6. Mind – Anything on the computer is an extension of the mind and can also store stuff

Anything related to astronomy and comparing interstellar distances.
1. Science fiction stuff like e.g.: Warp drives, space sails
2. Concepts like Black holes, Star formation, Wormholes
3. Space-time fabric and gravity concepts
4. Imagining the magnitudes of distances by shrinking to imaginable scales

Work on creating analogies and interrelating day to day concepts with my findings. I believe analogies serve as a higher form of communication in the order “Analogies < Advanced vocabulary < Simple words". After reading on totally open ended subjects, I like to synthesize everything in the form of analogies. E.g.: Analogy between studying and driving: India vs US.

I enjoy making creative connections using mind maps. Basically totally exploiting the visual medium along with the verbal one we used most often.

Cerebral movies

I really enjoy watching movies that are highly intellectually stimulating and that keep you speculating till the end like inception and shutter island. After searching on the net, finally I hit upon the right term “Cerebral movies”.

Here are some of the recent ones which Ive really enjoyed:

  1. Lost in Translation
  2. Being John Malcovich
  3. Mr Nobody
  4. Travelers and Magicians
  5. Siddharta 1974
  6. Seven years in Tibet
  7. A Man from earth
  8. Inception
  9. Waking life
  10. Shutter island
  11. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
  12. Vanilla sky, Open your eyes
  13. Matrix
  14. Truman show
  15. Before sunrise
  16. Before sunset
  17. Batman Begins, The dark knight, Batman Returns
  18. Children of men
  19. The lives of others
  20. Altered states 1980
  21. eXisTenz (kina mind fucking but has scope for metaphors)
  22. The incredible shrinking man
  23. Into the wild
  24. Powder 1995
  25. The Exam
  26. Donnie Drako
  27. In timeĀ 
  28. Before Midnight
  29. Cider house rules
  30. Groundhog day
  31. Perfect Sense
  32. Click
  33. Phenomenon
  34. Meetings with Remarkable men
  35. Good Will Hunting
  36. Groundhog day
  37. Being John Malkovich
  38. The Never Ending Story
  39. A clockwork orange
  40. Life of Pie
  41. Cube
  42. Exam
  43. The lives of others
  44. The Tree of Life
  45. Zenith
  46. Limitless
  47. Cast Away
  48. My Dinner with Andre

Dreaming and Intuition

For a long time I believed intuition is something to do with intense visualization. I would think that the intuition was basically a short mental video that would play in the person’s mind which would contain all the information.

The truth turned out to be quite contrary to that. The mental imagery we generate or dream like visuals are actually mental conceptualizations and intuition exists in the non-conceptual space. It happens when you intensely concentrate on your sense perceptions without using the conceptual part of the mind like dream like visuals, mental chatter or talk etc. Something like, you just feel it, but you cannot logically explain the feeling and its reason at that moment.

Stopping obsessive thoughts

This problem seems to come on and off for me. It lasts for quite long like 3-4 days at a time. The problem is even if I think to myself “I will definitely not think about xyz”, that exact things just keeps coming back. I was trying this technique of neutral observation and simply labeling the thoughts as mental image, talk etc whenever they arise. This technique works better than the former but nevertheless the habit is so strong and the thoughts are really subtle that most of the time, I realize the forming images and mental talk many seconds later.

I was reading about the mindfulness technique – Shinzen Young who follows an algorithmic approach which kind of suites my learning style. There he talks about watching the entrance of the mind like watching the mouse hole. This concept seemed to be highly useful when I read it but its really vague. Where do I watch?. The mind is non physical. Its like the obsessive thoughts just pops up from nowhere again and again. I read that there is a silent undercurrent from which all thoughts originate. Maybe I need to reach that depth of observation to “watch the entrance”.

There is another issue. If I really decide to sit in a place and concentrate, no thought pops up. These thoughts pop up usually when I’m busy doing something else, a neutral activity or something which I don’t particularly enjoy. Ive also read that this is common, meaning when we really concentrate on watching thoughts they don’t come up. They come out only when the mind is in the twilight zone – thoughts called twilight demons. It seems like a tricky thing to learn.