"For the first time in human evolution, the individual life is long enough, and the cultural transformation swift enough, that the individual mind is now a constituent player in the global transformation of human culture."
I chuckle with the rest of the family when we rewatch the Sci Fi shows that I watched as a child. So much of Star Trek The Original Series, for example has either become ridiculous or reality. The real world has out-paced science fiction.
Defining and Describing Binaural Beats
Have you ever thought about the complex effects of sound on your brain? What does your brain experience when listening to 50 Cent as opposed to Mozart?
Advances in modern neuro and cognitive sciences have revealed startling and controversial findings about the human brain and body, including the effects of sounds on humans.
Specifically, scientists have uncovered physical effects on the brain made by running closely related pure-tones (a single, constant frequency) into both ears through headphones. The tones are only slightly different than one another.
Binaural beats are generated:
by playing two loud tones in each ear that are very close in frequency. The brain processes this by filling in the difference and creating a third tone that is roughly the difference of the two. For instance, if you play a 400 Hz tone in one ear and 410 Hz tone in the other, your brain will create a binaural tone of 10 Hz. The theory behind this is that you can create specific audio clips that when played in your ears will stimulate your brain to produce a tone that corresponds with one of the naturally occurring brain states.
So, the brain creates and "hears" a beating tone that is generated by the two different, but closely related tones. The theory and research suggests that the binaural beating tone generated in the mind physically affects the state of the brain.
The image above depicts binaural beats visually. The important frequency is the one in the middle created by the brain. This is the frequency that influences the brainwaves generated by the brain.
Foundations of culture in the human mind
People toss around the terms "viral" and "meme" on websites, blogs and in conversation, and we understand what is meant by them.
On the internet, going viral means everybody is watching or reading something, and a meme is an iconic image someone creates. However, did you know that the roots of viral and meme dig into the cognitive and evolutionary sciences?
Memetics is the science that explores brain viruses, memes, and cultural evolution, and many sciences discuss this theme. Yes, a real science, and an important one that helps us to understand how culture and society evolve over time, while it also explains how a tune can get stuck in your mind for an entire day or week.
You must first accept the fact that cultures evolve over time in a way that is analogous to, but not the same as, genetic evolution. It seems obvious that cultures evolve. After all, we are not still riding around in horse and buggy, nor do we live in caves. Our culture has evolved and progressed towards homes and vehicles.
As time passes, cultures retain certain traits and lose others. This is why we have iPods, but no longer have out-houses. Cultures progress, adapt, change, and evolve. Although the foundation of the science of memetics lies in Charles Darwin and natural selection, he did not develop the concept.
Charles Darwin did so well in getting us started with biological evolution, but he did not want to confuse cultural evolution with genetic evolution. Only recently, in 1976, Richard Dawkins brought cultural evolution out of the closet in his book The Selfish Gene. He believed that it was time to seriously consider how and what evolves in culture.
He found cultural similar to genetic evolution, but he lacked the words to talk about it. This was groundbreaking science, and the language itself had not been developed to discuss the science of memetics.
In his book, Dawkins humorously discusses the need for words to talk about cultures evolving. He called genes replicators because that is their sole purpose – to replicate and reproduce. When he turned to culture, he considered what replicators reproduce, compared to the way genes reproduce in the body:
We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. "Mimeme" comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like "gene." I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. (192)
Life is what happens when you are blogging
I am most alive and mindful when I am stringing words together on thin threads in a blog post. This is not an experience unique to me - you have felt it, haven't you? If you are an authentic writer, then you have. Not all the time maybe, but sometimes.
The feeling in those moments is paradoxical. The heightened awareness is painful as we experience the pleasure of it. Our minds are generally not in the habit of focusing on the solely on the present. In fact, the brain resists it, preferring to multitask.
So, writing is painful because it pushes your mind to an intensified focus on the present. Your brain prefers to think about the past and future, but writing pins you to the page in the present. The pleasure and pain are closely connected, or are they the same? In blogging, the pain and pleasure are one in the moment, and yet are separate from you:
Mindful awareness has shown me that stillness, the deeper space inside oneself that is away from all of the emotions, the peaceful space that watches. I try to bring mindfulness to all I do, and the present moment is always my priority.
Mindfulness separates you from the pain and pleasure of writing. Pain and pleasure both distract the mind, so the ideal place to be when writing is in a state of awareness where you are disconnected from emotion. You know it's there, but you do not focus on it.
Hope and happiness for my faithful readers
If you read my blog regularly,which I'm sure you do, I tend to focus on the hardships in life and writing. I struggled yesterday to write a post on depression and work. Depression is something I deal with daily, but I realized when I came across the idea to "take a break" that I needed one.
I write from the heart and mind, and so it is painful for me. If you are a true writer you are probably in a similar situation. Writing about important issues is taxing. But, writing isn't always painful, and I overgeneralize when I place too much emphasis on the negatives and the aches.
Whatever the cause of pain might be, I realized that writing can be many things, including enjoyable. Yes, downright fun. Maybe not always, but you can have fun at times regardless of your approach to blogging.
The surprising benefits of play
In writing my post yesterday, I became conscious of my emotions and actions. I was surprised to find that I focus on the negative so much when the benefits of fun are solidly proven.
Play is the highest form of research.
The greatest minds advocate the need for play in innovation and ingenuity. Einstein came up with some of his greatest breakthroughs by playing mind games or mental experiments. For example, he imagined flying past earth on a rocket at the speed of light in order to think about what might happen.
A basic reason for having fun while writing is that great minds praise it.
What do most Nobel Laureates, innovative entrepreneurs, artists and performers, well-adjusted children, happy couples and families, and the most successfully adapted mammals have in common? They play enthusiastically throughout their lives.
It's useful to explore why fun is productive because it sounds counter-intuitive. Fun and play have more than just a few benefits in the workplace: