Connect with us

Philosophy

This Should End The Debate Between Diet Types – Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo etc.

Published

on

“Vegans Are Too Weak & Are Too Low Energy To Train With Me.” The man who said these words is Ido Portal, an amazingly talented individual who has mastered the art of movement. But why would he say such a thing? This is what I want to address today. The reason why I say “end the debate” is because it’s become more about identities and emotion than anything scientific or knowledge based.

advertisement - learn more

Stop The Fight Between Diet Types

As you can see in the video below, Ido said these words during a Skype call with a guy who follows the 80/10/10 diet. Clearly he’s not seen Frank Medrano.

It’s this type of stuff, including emotionally charged judgments from even the vegan crowd, that causes a right fight between various people who represent different diet types. The reality is, every vegan or vegetarian was probably once a meat eater and through their journey started cutting it out. And likewise, a meat eater could have once been a vegan or vegetarian and felt it wasn’t for them. Or that meat eater could be on their own journey of one day maybe switching their diet. The same could be said for the vegan or vegetarian who may also one day switch.

The reason why we fight about it is because we identify with it and then become emotional about it. Someone says something and we lump ourselves into that crowd and immediately take it as a personal attack.

No matter which side you are on, does it make sense to judge someone else because of the food they are eating? Do you actually know the journey of the other person and why they eat the way that they do? Is it possible that maybe they could one day adjust their diet to be just like yours? And would that make them any better of a person?

advertisement - learn more

The reality is, the ignorance on both sides of the “diet wars” is astonishing. You have people like Ido saying vegans can’t be strong and aren’t fit enough to train with him and you have vegans or vegetarians who might say meat eaters are animal haters who are going to die young because of their choices.

Either way, neither perception or opinion serves a purpose and both can be very incorrect.

It’s OK To Talk About It, But Switch The Perspective

I myself don’t eat meat or dairy products. My diet is pretty much considered vegan but it’s not 100% strict. But do I call myself vegan? No. Why? Because I choose to eat what I feel will keep me healthy and that’s simply how I look at it. I also choose to not consume animal products because I don’t wish to support it. But I wouldn’t judge anyone who does. I also don’t call myself anything because the “diet war” has created such a negative stigma on various diet types because of ignorance and a lack of care in understanding each other, that calling yourself something can create some really awkward social moments, and that’s a sad thing.

No matter what diet type you follow, find out information for yourself before generating opinions and judging others. I’ve heard so many stories of  “this person tried this diet and got sick” that I could write an encyclopedia. The challenge is that the vast majority of the time the people who trying different diets are not doing it “right” to begin with. Too much food, too little, not balanced, too much processed foods etc.

The truth is, until we educate ourselves on the full implications, health, environment and social, of our diet we are simply talking from an uneducated space that often turns emotional. Like with any solution, even if we find out what is a better route for us all as a whole, does it make sense to cast out others who don’t follow the new understandings?

Let’s remember that at the core, we’re all the same. All human beings and we are all here for the same purpose. Whether it’s something like diet or even a political view, let go of the differences and just accept each other. Talk about things, learn from one another, be open, move things forward, but let’s stop fighting about who is right and wrong. It’s not helping much of anything.

Image Credit: http://www.benmedder.com/

Advertisement
advertisement - learn more

Consciousness

Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates

Published

on

The basic idea of rehabilitation through imprisonment is that a person who has been incarcerated will never want to be sent back to prison after they have been set free. It is hoped that an inmate’s experiences while locked up will leave such a lasting impression that a former prisoner will do whatever it takes to avoid a second term.

Unfortunately, research has consistently shown that time spent in prison does not successfully rehabilitate most inmates, and the majority of criminals return to a life of crime almost immediately. Many argue that most prisoners will actually learn new and better ways to commit crimes while they are locked up with their fellow convicts. They can also make connections and become more deeply involved in the criminal world. (source)

Ignorance is so convenient. But time’s up. We all have a choice to make, and hopefully, it will be an informed one.

Chances are we all probably fall into one of two populations. One: thoughtful, compassionate, aware and self-aware, or two: thoughtless, selfish, unaware, and self-righteous.

Creating Criminals

So, where do criminals come from? When we believed slavery was proper, we believed some people were given to us to righteously use and abuse. Today, in its place we have what I call The Tulip Theory. When I was newly married about 35 years ago, my husband and I were into gardening and we sent away for 100 tulip bulbs from Holland, never mind that we lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County or that climate change was yet to be considered.

The Tulip Theory

The endeavor to garden was life-changing for me. The bulbs arrived. I opened the box and there, on top of 100 tulip bulbs, was a note: “The wonderful thing about these bulbs is you can’t go wrong. They don’t need any care. You don’t have to water them, feed them or put them into the ground. Whatever you do or don’t do, they will still blossom into beautiful blooms even if you leave them on a shelf in the dark.” I put down the piece of paper and said to my husband, “Oh, my God. I was raised on The Tulip Theory.”

advertisement - learn more

Prisoners were raised on The Tulip Theory, and some of us look at them as though they were given to us to righteously despise or to give us the illusion of superiority, when we’re not doing so well, ourselves. Today, lots of us share the philosophy of the tulip farmers, even professors, attorneys, and doctors, who may end up raising unhappy children by setting expectations without nurturing and coaching their children into achievement with regular prompts such as, “I know you can do this.”

Some parents raise ‘timebombs’ and shooters, in part because we leave our babies in the hands of daycare providers or rotating neighbors and relatives – this can be very psychologically damaging for some children.  The economy requires a two-income household now, so it is easy to see why both parents do end up working.  Working during the formative first five years of our children’s lives used to be a choice. Now, not so much.

The very wealthy want even more money. What they have is never enough. The pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the educational industry all want you to believe in The Tulip Theory aka take the side of Nature in the Nature vs. Nurture debate. You have been told that the jury is in and the scientific evidence supports genetic programming of personality.

When I was a young, new therapist, I didn’t believe it, but my clients did. They brought me articles about evidence that their personalities were inborn. They brought articles about the Scandinavian Studies, the Schizophrenic Studies, the Babies Separated at Birth Studies, and the Adoption Studies.

I was never a science major. That wasn’t my thing. However, it appeared to me I had no choice. So, for twenty-five years, more or less, I researched the research. I had to teach myself how to read a study because they were written so that few would ever understand them. I finally got it down, and I uncovered and listed about 20 techniques that scientists use repeatedly to get the results they are paid to get (Snyder, The Search for the Unholy Grail, 2016).

I listed these techniques so that anyone could read, assess and see through a behavioral study. The best-designed studies and research questions can be replicated. The worst cannot. The best studies represent childhood causes. The worst represent genetic alleged causality. Some scientists from the Human Genome Project admitted that finding such genetic instruction isn’t supported by research or the design of the human brain to include inborn behavioral programs, after all.

All this is to say the jury is in, whether you want to know it or not. Criminals are made, not born. Sometimes, even with good parenting, a community can be so saturated with survival behavior, a parent can’t win. Still, there are consequences to parenting choices. Most of us don’t know them. So, we depend upon The Tulip Theory. How we raise a child will determine how successful and praiseworthy they become or how damned they will be. There but for the grace of God go I, right?

Not convinced? In another book I wrote about how anyone—parent, judge, school counselor, therapist, forensic evaluator—could assess a childhood on a single sheet of paper, and within a 10% margin of error, predict forward a person’s aptitude for a successful life or not (Snyder, Predicting and Understanding Behavior According to Critical Childhood Experiences, 2016). The same measures can help us understand backward how a person became the way they are.

Criminals Are Made, Not Born

Criminals are made, not born. In this book I evaluate the childhoods of 25 famous people known for extreme behaviors, so the reader can see how their childhoods created who they became.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, El Paso, ad infinitum, all had killers who were predictable and understandable, yet we continue to wonder how a person could do such a horrible thing. In 1988, I spent about twenty hours interviewing The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, and realized that no one honors thy father and mother like a serial killer. I studied the childhood of Jeffrey Dahmer in depth only to discover he killed in order to keep from being left. As an infant, his mother wouldn’t touch him. Even after he was old enough to climb out of his crib, she pushed him away from her. I watched the Menendez Brothers trial from beginning to end and heard jurors say afterwards, “I was abused, and I didn’t grow up to kill my parents.”

We don’t understand cause and effect yet.

How To Make A Criminal

Over the years, I developed a formula of not only what critical childhood experiences it takes to turn out to be dangerous or amazing people but in what combinations and orders these events need to take place.

Attachment Is The Foundation

A violent person has to have had an insecure attachment, to have been physically abused, and probably emotionally shamed as well. They too have to have been raised in a family with a repression ethic, as the underground child, but they also have to have been raised within a family blame ethic versus a family self-reflection ethic. If all three of these factors are present, there will be violence. If one factor is missing, there will not be violence without provocation. Repeat: If a child has had a secure attachment, she will never have the drive to exploit or harm another person, even after a high dose of abuse.

Put another way, a secure attachment in the first five years of life makes a child not only immune to long-term effects of abuse, but just about guarantees resilience as well. I could go on, but that’s not what I came to tell you today. I came to talk about why people become criminals and what we can do about it, if we care to invest in the quality of human development.

Criminal behavior involves a legacy of abuse, like slavery, racism, devaluations, and survival, but it can also be linked to families who simply fail to form an attachment with their child, employ abusive discipline, judge and blame others, and then insist their child not complain.

Insecure Attachment

To create a poverty-based criminal, start with an insecure attachment because most of these moms and dads have to work. Add issues of deprivation and chronic concerns of survival. Add emotional abuse, a blame ethic (versus a self-reflection ethic), and a repression ethic (versus an expression ethic). Depending upon the seriousness of the crime, some or all of these features will be formative in childhood.

Then, there are the adult ‘modifiers’. The adult child could run into a wonderful group of friends or a religious environment of ethics and character, or the adult child could hang with drug addicts or gang members that influence them in another direction.

Majority Of Criminals Come From Deprivation and Broken Attachments

Note that the way to create the majority of criminals comes from broken attachments, deprivation and a lack of parental investment, but the way to create some of the most brutal criminals in the world is to give them broken attachments, to not give the child a stable and constant parental figure, as well as to over-indulge them with an entitlement to exploit and abuse others. The most terrible people on the planet murder, torture, exploit and abuse others. They are our dictators. Supporting them are business people without scruples, who invest in the entitled exploitation of others.

Prevention, Recovery And Forgiveness

How do you feel about punishment and retribution? Have you thought you would like to rub someone into the ground for their harmful choices? Have you ever asked, “How could someone do this?” That question reveals that one doesn’t yet consider that meanness comes from a different way of thinking born of a different set of experiences and history.

This has to be Awareness 101.

The language we use, the values we have, the understandings we reference are not inborn. We don’t know what we don’t know. And even if we had some peripheral exposure to ethics, we disregard them, because those ethics never protected us. As a matter of fact, it may enrage us that others get to have such pretty lives, and we didn’t. We believe what we experience.

We take as true what we are taught unless we are given permission to question. If you want a person to think differently or better, you have to ensure they have the wherewithal or freedom to think differently.

Would we be willing to rehabilitate them in a controlled environment rather than punish them? Of course, we need a multi-tiered program where people earn their ways into more privileged populations. The hardcore prisoners don’t get to go up to the next tier unless they soften.

Can we then grant them trauma therapy and classes on adulting and relationship skills? Can we grant them an education? Can we grant them an opportunity to have relationships?

Can we find pleasure in the satisfaction they discover from praise for a job well done? Would we grant them a permanent companion, a dog, who loves them and only them (given the dog is safe)? Would we allow them to enjoy playing tennis?

Would we grant them a television to watch the news or educational programming? Would we want them to have good books to read, especially literature and sociological studies? Would we grant them the right to vote if it makes them feel a part of the system to which they never thought they could belong?

What do you think about redemption?

Can we grant them another round to try to live a better life? If a person learns to think differently and comes to regret their bad and harmful choices, are we capable of forgiving them? Can we take our boot off their neck? Can we grant them some guarded faith that they can turn their lives around? Or, would we insist that they couldn’t possibly change and should therefore never be forgiven?

Can we give them the opportunities we had that they never had? Can we believe in them, or would we be the people who refuse to believe in redemption? Would we, then, be hypocrites?

How would we assess whether a person has changed or could change? Do we have criteria by which we evaluate whether or not a person has genuinely changed? Can we recognize true remorse? Can we credit humility? Can we look for different choices? Do we recognize the dangers of negative mirrors, wherein a person can never outgrow their reputation? Can we identify a healthy dialogue supported by virtuous values? Can we praise new choices and show appreciation?

Rather than holding them as people we self-righteously despise, we might find our own reward in helping them take the high road and consider that a person never chose their own fate but lived out only what they knew. If we give them new experiences, we might find that we are richer ourselves, and capable of investing in a world of better people. Our planet is down to the final challenges between the enlightened and the greedy.

What side will you be on?

This article was written for Collective Evolution by Dr Faye Snyder.

Dr. Faye Snyder is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and forensic evaluator. She is the founder and clinical director of the non-profit Parenting and Relationship Counseling (PaRC) Foundation in Granada Hills, California. She has taught developmental psychology at the California State University, Northridge. Most importantly, Dr. Faye, as she prefers to be called, along with her husband, Ron, is the proud parent of daytime Emmy winning Scott Clifton, her laboratory and her evidence. Dr. Faye is a late bloomer and is rapidly producing products designed to help parents heal their children from previous injuries or raise their children for greatness.

Start Your Free 7 Day Trial To CETV!

Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network!

It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows.

Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anywhere else.

Continue Reading

Consciousness

What Christianity Looked Like Before The Birth of Jesus Christ

Published

on

One of the things that always intrigues me is the historical basis for certain philosophical and metaphysical concepts. We often simply take for granted that the memes or ideas of our time have always been the basis for “truth” – and in our scientific age that can be a huge distortion.

I remember when I read A New Earth and Oprah hosted Eckhart Tolle in a webcast series, and many people calling in wondered at his references to the parables of Jesus, and whether there was a connection with Christianity.

Oprah tried to soft pedal the fact that Eckhart’s teaching is secular, which is problematic for fundamentalist Christians – but is there a connection going further back?

One of my favorite ideas from Eckhart’s work is his interpretation of the notion of the “Kingdom of Heaven” not as “someplace else” or in the sky, but rather as a state of being resulting from questioning, and ultimately not believing your thoughts.

In the 20th century a major discovery was the Dead Sea Scrolls and similar documents that revealed the Gnostic Gospels – a different set of historical interpretations of the teachings of Jesus, that looked at sin as believing your thoughts – and resisting what is with mental struggle and turmoil.

This resistance and suffering would, of course, be the opposite of the “Kingdom of Heaven”.

advertisement - learn more

In The Gnostic Mystery by Randy Davila, the author weaves an interesting thriller around such a newly discovered scroll and also takes the opportunity to summarize this discovery of an ancient Christian doctrine as a psychological teaching along the same lines – the researcher in the book says that the key to Gnosticism was nonresistance to reality, and suffering was viewed in the teaching as the result of struggling with what is and hypothesizing alternate realities that “weren’t”.

This made me think of Gurdjieff, who was ever mysterious and veiled in his claims about the source of his teaching–which also included deep physical and psychological inquiry into the nature of thought. Gurdjieff posited the existence of three brains that need to work harmoniously in order to connect to higher wisdom and suggested that modern humans are asleep and oblivious to their true nature.

But in addition to mentioning a map to “pre-sand” Egypt which fueled his journey to the pyramids (where he worked as a guide) Gurdjieff would suggest that his teaching was the “true” Christianity – preceding the life of Jesus, as well as the Egypt of the pharaohs with its source in “prehistory.”

While much of Gurdjieff’s ideology can be viewed as “Eastern” and he may have traveled to India and Tibet, a deeper look at his cosmology and biological notions suggest that what he brought to light may have been the original and undistorted teaching of a superior civilization that eventually gave way to both Egyptian and Meso-American cultures that attempted to preserve its scientific wisdom.

A modern philosopher and scholar who writes in depth about Gurdjieff in relation to modern issues, Jacob Needleman probes this aspect of the teaching in his book, Lost Christianity.

In this book Needleman engages with a scholar and monk whose research has taken him deeply into the sources of Eastern Orthodoxy and more esoteric interpretations of scripture. Needleman writes:

“What has been lost everywhere in the life of man is the confrontation within oneself of the two fundamental forces of the cosmic order: the movement of creation and the movement of return, the outer and the inner. The whole of what is known as “progress” in the modern world may be broadly characterized as an imbalanced attention to the outward-directed force of life, combined with a false identification of the “inner” as the realm of thought and emotion. The thoughts and emotions that are given the name of ‘inwardness” actually serve, as has been shown, the movement outward and degradation of psychic energy. In Christian terms, this is “flesh.” Thoughts and emotions are not the soul.”  (222)

What this suggests is that the original “pre-Christian” teaching was about inner energetic knowledge and the discovery of man’s true nature through deep inquiry and concrete experience.

The quote above actually suggests the Advaita inquiry of Neti Neti – “not this, not this” – in the pursuit of reality and the resulting recognition that what “I am” as not my thoughts, not my emotions, and not my sensations; the body is experienced as yet another “external” object to one’s true being.

This is indeed a very timeless notion of truth that we now may see as “eastern” or “mystical,” but one that has been preserved in stories since the dawn of time. Joseph Campbell brought many of these stories to light in his work (which inspired the Star Wars films) and one can find more information in Bernardo Kastrup’s latest book, More Than Allegory: On Religious Myth, Truth And Belief.

Bernardo, who also wrote Why Materialism is Baloney eschews the low hanging fruit of fundamentalist religious dogma to probe more deeply the sources of wisdom in our psyche and in our historic heritage of myth that suggest connection to higher energies and influences.

Of course science itself has given us the basis for this – we know that we use wifi (wireless) transmission of energy every day and our computer software encodes active conceptual intentions and produces results without human intervention – suggesting that mental energy and truth does not need a physical foundation in order to “exist.”

In addition to these connected efforts to unearth the sources of wisdom that may have been lost, the actual historical civilizations that modern history seems to avoid even mentioning are covered books like Chariots of the Gods, by Erik von Daniken and more recently in Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock.

It may well be that we are on the verge of rewriting not only our history of science and religion, but in fact the history of the origin of our species as we connect these various dots and rethink even the basis of religions we have always taken for granted: Judaism (with the Kabala and its mystical aspects) and Christianity as being sourced not in the teachings of Jesus, but in the ancient history of mankind itself.

Start Your Free 7 Day Trial To CETV!

Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network!

It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows.

Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anywhere else.

Continue Reading

Consciousness

What Anesthesia Reveals To Us About Human Consciousness: Does It Have Long-Lasting Irreversible Effects?

Published

on

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Anesthesia is commonly used to put people to "sleep." This article is an interesting examination of why we do it, going deep into awareness, consciousness and fear.

  • Reflect On:

    Can awareness continually exists without interruption regardless of the fact that we are not always able to access our experiences, or remember them when given Anesthetic? What is awareness? Can we really be 'awake' when we are acting out of fear?

When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.

This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.

How does Anesthesia work ?

From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.

In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds. 

Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.

Why we still don’t know…

If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?

advertisement - learn more

These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.

First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.

The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.

We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness?  Can consciousness ever be represented materially?

A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it.  To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.

What happens when someone goes “under”?

The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.

Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.

There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.

How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively

During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?

What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?

If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.

Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.

What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?

The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.” 

By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.

Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?

Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?

Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.

In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.

Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.

Start Your Free 7 Day Trial To CETV!

Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network!

It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows.

Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anywhere else.

Continue Reading
advertisement - learn more
advertisement - learn more

Video

Pod

Censorship is hiding us from you.

Get breaking conscious news articles sent directly to your inbox!

Choose your topics of interest below:

You have Successfully Subscribed!