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Consciousness

Can A Robot (Artificial Intelligence) Have A Soul? Can It Have Consciousness?

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The existence of the soul has been written and contemplated on since the beginning of time. The idea that there are multiple components which make up a human being that are non-physical in nature is nothing new. Can we prove the existence of the soul? Not really, but if we look into studies that have been published within the realm of non-material science and quantum physics, it becomes hard to see otherwise.

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If one couples this with all of the literature written about the soul, and its supposed journey after we pass away, then there is some serious room for discussion.

Through quantum physics, neuroscience and parapsychology, we know that consciousness, or at least factors associated with consciousness, can and do have a direct effect on our physical material world. Not only that, it appears that consciousness itself might not be a product of our biology, but something that is indestructible and eternal. This has been said about the soul as well and has been demonstrated by experiments conducted where participants are able to project their consciousness into other places (like the remote viewing program), and more.

Science is starting to show the reality of spirituality, and this may be more than a mere interpretation, but it’s often greeted with a harsh response.

“Get over it, and accept the in arguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” (“The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005)

Is this simply their consciousness? Is it the soul? Who knows, but something seems to continue on after we pass.

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According to several ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato, when the soul comes into the body, it forgets what it is and where it came from. The soul belongs to the non material world, and simply chooses to experience a life in a body, but it becomes blinded by human senses.

On a personal level, I believe there is a massive shift in consciousness happening in our planet, and it involves many different things. The simple awareness that we are spiritual beings, on a collective level, is vital for humanity to recognize and explore if it wants to move forward.

When one examines the literature associated with Near Death Experiences (NDE’s), it’s fascinating. There are no shortage of scientists and doctors who’ve had patients describe what was happening to them on the operating table and during cardiac arrest. Some doctors have described the patients ability to relay facts about what was happening that should be impossible to know.

Large studies have shown that a significant amount of people who have been clinically dead, experience some type of ‘awareness’ during that time. For example, one patient – a 57-year-old man at the time, despite being pronounced “dead” and completely unconscious, with no detectable biological activity going on, recalled watching the entire process of his resuscitation.

This type of research suggests that biology, or a living entity, is necessary for consciousness to exist. Therefore, it may be possible for whatever it is, to exist in a robot. We’ll talk about that a bit below, as well as why it may not be possible for a robot to have whatever it is that we have.

“The nearly absolute dominance of materialism in the academic world has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the scientific study of mind and spirituality. Faith in this ideology, as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality, has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.” –Dr Gary Schwartz 

Can A Robot Have Consciousness? Can A Robot Have A Soul?

If consciousness is described as perception, awareness, having your own thoughts and the ability to discern and learn, then yes, a robot can posses consciousness. Even today, artificial intelligence that can learn on its own is in existence. After all, quantum experiments show that the smallest bits of matter might be aware, almost as if they know they are being watched. This was exemplified by the famous, ‘double slit’ experiment. If this is true, that means all matter could posses some type of consciousness, and every material ‘thing’ possess what we refer to as consciousness, because they are all made out of tiny bits of matter.

You can read more about that in this article.

Is a biological system necessary for consciousness, or for the soul to exist? Could that system be artificial? If our consciousness is not a product of our biology, and something completely separate from it, which is what parapsychology is showing us, who is to say that the soul or consciousness could not exist within a non-organic life form?

Related CE Article: Is Consciousness A Product of the Brain, or a Receiver of It?

In that sense, then yes, perhaps a robot could have a soul.

It’s also believed by many within the spiritual community, and those who resonate with spiritual traditions, that consciousness, or the soul, chooses its parents and the body before it enters into the material experience.

There are some interesting examples of people using hypnotic regression  to account for supposed past lives, and a human being was not the common denominator. Some people have recalled past lives as, what we would call, extraterrestrials. They’ve had experiences as animals, trees, plants, insects and more. This comes from the work of many, most notably, Delores Cannon.

Differentiating between the soul and consciousness is a long philosophical discussion, and perhaps I’ll save that for another article. I am using them interchangeably  here, but it’s not always correct to do so.

In Buddhism, for example, there are 10 realms, and it’s not a death experience, but simply a transformative experience. According to Buddhist belief systems, the separation of consciousness from the body can happen at any time, and one can be trained to do so. They also believe that consciousness from one body, can be transferred into another. This is interesting, and makes me wonder if one day, our consciousness will be able to take on another form. Would we ever be able to transfer our consciousness into a robot?

Who knows.

In some Buddhist traditions, the soul cannot be viewed separately from the body and mind, but also cannot be said to have a beginning or an end. It’s quite confusing to wrap your head around once you get into it.

There are several sects of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and more. Most of the teachings intertwine in many ways, and they also differ in many ways as well.

This just goes to show that, perhaps we have a slight idea but not quite a concrete answer. It may be safe to say that, at this point, with all of the research that’s been conducted, there is something that happens, we just don’t know what.

Related Ce Article: Where Do We Go When We Die?

There have been ten’s of thousands of published articles written about consciousness, but to be honest, nobody really has a suitable definition for it. I don’t think consciousness can be defined, and perhaps what we call the soul has something to do with consciousness, but it seems like they are two separate concepts.

According to an article written in the LA Times,

“Tibetan Buddhism teaches that after death, nearly all of us are flung back into the world of the living under the influence of harmful impulses and desires. But through compassion and prayer, a few can choose the time, place and the parents to whom they return. This affirms Buddhist teachings that one’s spirit can return to benefit humanity; it also serves to maintain a strong theological and political structure based around monasticism and celibacy.” 

I come back to my main point. Whatever the soul is, or consciousness is, it’s not part of what we perceive as the physical material world and it doesn’t seem like it’s a product of our biology, and therefore it’s possible that, regardless of the physical form, be it organic or not, anything has the potential to poses a soul or consciousness and have a physical material experience.

Or Is It?

At the same time, what we as humans haven’t recognized yet is that we have non-material aspects lying dormant within us. Some examples would be meditation techniques, which allow this non-physical aspect within us to experience other realms, and more.

That being said, if we look at quantum biology, for example, these spiritual aspects of ourselves are directly correlated with our biology in many ways. We see this when we examine the concept of chakras, and meridian points, flows of energy (non material) within the body and more. From this standpoint, a robot cannot poses a soul, or a ‘spiritual’ part within it because a robot wouldn’t have meridians, or chakras, or other factors which connect their physical body and biology to these non-material world, because you have to have biology to experience the benefits of the mind-body connection.

Perhaps a robot could have chakras? I don’t know.

So, can we really know the answer? Probably not, at least not yet. But I do believe, especially after doing research into parapsychology and mind-body connection for more than a decade, that the existence of something after we ‘pass’ is undeniable at this point. Perhaps we are here learning some lessons we need to learn, and there is a greater picture we are unaware of. I also believe that, given the fact that we are spiritual beings, and the spiritual aspects of our-selves seems to be intertwined with our biology, but not dependant on it, an organic biological system, not necessarily human, is required to house what we refer to as consciousness, or the soul.

But again, there are many arguments on both sides of the coin.

On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, we are all made up of tiny bits of matter that, despite having no biological system, could in fact be self-aware to some extent.

So, it’s confusing to say the least. Many people seem to just know, but can we ever really know for sure? What do you think?

 

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 16: The Choreographer)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

16. The Choreographer

With only a few weeks of rehearsals remaining before the premiere of the annual musical, the artistic director entered the village playhouse very excited. He went to the stage where all the dancers were in the process of stretching and warming up.

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“I have a new idea,” he said, “an idea so advanced that it will revolutionize the way you dance with your partners.”

“You’re going to make the floor move while we stand still?” asked one, provoking snickers around the stage.

“Pay attention, I’m serious,” snapped the director. “Now tell me, what is the main theme of this show?”

One of the dancers answered, “It’s about a girl who starts off as a slave and eventually becomes a member of—”

Equality,” interrupted the director, “the main theme of this show is equality between people. Now I’ve been thinking about this and suddenly it struck me that when you dance with your partner there is inequality, because one person is leading and the other is following. So starting today, when you practice your dances for this show I want to see both partners leading.”

“At the same time?” asked one of the dancers.

“Yes, of course,” said the director.

The dancers looked at each other in confusion. They had never heard of such a thing. Meanwhile the choreographer, who was taking in the scene from the second row, started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” asked the director.

“Your idea is ridiculous. Absurdly ridiculous,” she replied.

The director was stunned. He was not used to being challenged, especially by his choreographer, who he got along very well with. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying it will never work.”

“It might, if you try it.”

“We’re not going to try it,” the choreographer said.

“Well, I think you owe it to me to at least try it.”

“It’s not going to happen,” the choreographer replied sarcastically.

“Need I remind you that I am the director, and you have to follow what I say?”

“Well, this time I want you to follow me.”

The director was getting red-faced with frustration. He moved to the front of the stage to address the choreographer. “Why are you doing this?”

“What—you don’t want me to keep arguing with you?” asked the choreographer slyly.

“Of course not!”

“Because we’re not getting anywhere?”

“Exactly.”

“Then why would you ever want to see two people try to lead the same dance?”

While I have suggested that the time has come for us all to be leaders, this does not mean that we should all be leading simultaneously. That would be like a conversation where people were all talking at the same time, which is not a conversation at all. Taking on roles like leader and follower is an essential aspect of the human drama. Life would not be capable of producing excitement, wonder and profound learning if we were all self-identical creatures doing exactly the same things. If life flows from dualities, through pairs of opposites like leader and follower, then it is important for each of us to play our roles when required.

Mind you, nobody has to be told to assume roles—it comes quite naturally to us. Our Ego Self is designed to separate and distinguish us from one another. The perception of many of our differences is immediate, and we are already in the habit of grounding our interactions in these differences. What we may need to be reminded of sometimes is that this is only half of the story. The other half comes to us from the perspective of the Dao Self where we can see past the distinctions that separate us. When we come from this higher place we see that these roles will best help us move forward in our lives when we don’t take them so seriously.

When we live solely from the Ego Self our roles can easily fall into stereotypes and become the source of value judgment and comparison. We start believing that one side of the duality is better than the other, more capable, or more right. We may think that the teacher must always be wiser than the student, and so the student should simply be quiet and listen; that the servant is weaker than the master, and therefore must obey; that without the leader the follower is clueless, bereft of inspiration or direction.

As followers we are likely to harbor resentment towards leaders when this kind of stereotype is at play. We will feel that our ability to be an important part of any process is limited, and we will have few opportunities to express ourselves as individuals or feel that we are making a contribution. Even if we disagree with our leader’s approach, we will be forced to play a game that only rewards us if we try to elevate the leader’s already inflated status (see: brown-nosing).

But when we become leaders we’re not necessarily better off. The stereotypical leadership role puts us under tremendous pressure, both from ourselves and the outside environment. We are supposed to know everything, and we are not allowed to show doubt. We are expected to be responsible for things beyond our control. Worst of all, we are not allowed to make mistakes. When we do, we hide them: our shame makes us try to cover them up, lest anyone find out that we are not up for what is expected of us.

What a relief it is when we are able to step back into the realm of the Dao Self. From here the roles we have taken on lose their rigidity. Suddenly teachers are learning from students, masters can be the ones who serve, and leaders encourage followers to become leaders themselves. When leaders and followers rise above stereotype, their interactions move into the flow of life. Followers are able to make a greater contribution and take on more responsibility. Leaders are able to relax and allow themselves to be human, to show and voice their doubts, and admit their mistakes to themselves and others. When leaders are not afraid to show their ignorance and vulnerability it is inspiring, and actually serves as an invitation for their followers to enter into the process in a more meaningful capacity.

As humanity evolves, the status gap between leaders and followers is closing. Leadership is moving away from command-and-obey and towards a collaboration in which the insights, opinions, values and beliefs of both sides of the dichotomy are honored. Where there is a sense of equality between teacher and student, boss and subordinate, speaker and listener, there we find the new conversation.

When I look back on my academic life, I realize that the new conversation was not often a feature of the classroom. In fact the higher up I went, the more that professors seemed set in their ways, even condescending at times. I remember the lifeless discussions in class, where students—including me—favored intellectual questions that would make them look smart. Professors would then answer with similar pretense. On the odd occasion that someone would ask a question from the heart or simply state that they didn’t understand, eyes would roll and sighs of intolerance could be heard. There may have been some lively debates, but these were far from a collaborative effort to understand each other and discover new perspectives. Students and teachers alike were afraid to really open their own personal ideologies to honest scrutiny, and so most of the energy was used to defend and protect these ideologies.

When it was time to look into PhD programs, the curricula I saw left me cold: more intellectualizing about other people’s ideas, and more rehashing the past in a way that did not impact how I lived my life. I had an uneasy feeling growing inside me that continuing my formal education would be like purchasing a one-way ticket to the proverbial Ivory tower. So I walked away, despite being told that I had no teaching prospects at all if I didn’t pursue a PhD. It felt like I had gotten tired of learning. But I realize now that I was just looking for other ways to learn.

Over the past twenty years, I have enjoyed a host of non-academic programs, seminars, and transformational workshops, some of which had a big influence on me. Instead of just talking about different perspectives, some of these programs actually created the conditions that enabled me to shift my perspective—with all the discomfort that this entailed. It sometimes felt like the rug was being pulled out from under my feet, because the whole way I looked at the world, where I was coming from, was challenged.

What I found was that it was always worth the discomfort. Whenever I was able to shift my perspective, I saw myself and the world in a more powerful way. I became happier, more confident. My vision was expanded, and I was able to let go of ideas and attitudes that were no longer serving me. All this would not have been possible if the new perspective was presented in a dogmatic way—if, in other words, it was presented as absolute and irrefutable. It needed to be offered as a possibility. Significant transformation would not have occurred if someone was simply telling me what to do, think, or believe. I had to be given a real choice, and from a place of choice I was allowed to step into what I could handle and own the changes that were happening to me.

More and more I saw facilitators opening their workshops with the stipulation that the material is presented as one way of looking at the subject, and participants should question anything that doesn’t resonate with them and only take to heart that which serves them. This idea was reinforced when a facilitator acknowledged that they have as much to learn from the experience as everyone else. Rather than following a rigid set of procedures, the more skilled facilitators focused on building an atmosphere of trust and openness in which people felt safe and confident enough to share their unique perspectives, insights, and experiences. This gave rise to authentic conversation, which energized those who participated.

Over time I gained a growing interest in how these workshops were presented and facilitated, and paid close attention to whether the facilitators themselves were attempting to deliver the material as possibilities or as statements of fact. I got into the habit of putting myself in the seat of the facilitator, wondering how I would handle the questions and situations that came up, and thinking about how I might present the material differently. I have come to appreciate that it is exceedingly difficult—just from the standpoint of language, let alone personal bias—to present material in such a way that it is only one possible perspective rather than a statement of fact. But this is really the only way to go if we are going to move forward.

When I actually began to fulfill a long-time dream of facilitating transformational workshops myself, I was eager to bring forward this new conversation. I was very fortunate to work with someone who already had experience exploring this in her own facilitation. My good friend Carole really helped me over some of the initial rough patches when I wanted to be right or fretted when I didn’t have all the answers. I saw that it was more important to make people feel comfortable than to look smart. I saw that the skill of listening and learning to be with all the participants was at least as important as the material that was to be covered. In fact, we even enlisted the help of the participants to determine some of the content and context of the material that would be delivered.

It was hard for me to grasp that I didn’t have to convince everyone to agree with all the information and insights that I had prepared. I had to accept that some people couldn’t or didn’t want to get it. If some chose to tune out, to be obstinate or to complain, I needed to learn to flow with it, to be with what is, to keep things open. Sometimes I made the mistake of vigorously trying to defend my point of view. However I learned that being wrong and making mistakes was not only all right, it could often be turned into something beneficial for the group if it was handled with humility and humor. Carole sometimes made fun of my habits and tendencies during the session itself and this helped everyone including me to relax. Our co-facilitation itself became a dance, which was especially powerful since we thought and expressed ourselves in very different ways.

While I saw that leading people into the new conversation still required some direction and boundaries, it seemed to work best when these boundaries were almost invisible, when the space that we created was a circle of trust and communication in which everyone was learning and benefiting from each others’ experience and perspective. I learned that leadership in the new conversation was about modeling—walking the talk. If I showed an openness to learning then it helped to create an environment of trust and exploration. When I cleared away personal issues before facilitating I was able to be more present with the participants. Facilitating the new conversation has opened an ongoing examination of who I am being in my life, and particularly in my conversations.

This is a possibility the new conversation offers all of us. As we become more conscious and self-directed, I believe we will strive to move our discourses away from unyielding structure and towards the creation of an open space in which we all can reflect, discover, and create. The more each one of us tastes from the cup of the new conversation, the more I believe we will be looking to bring it into all of our human interactions.

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Consciousness

Studies on Plants Suggest Consciousness Exists As A Separate Entity From The Brain

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Monica Gagliano, a thirty-seven-year-old animal ecologist at the University of Western Australia has conducted multiple experiments with plants that suggest they are a living, thinking, feeling and emotional beings.

  • Reflect On:

    Does consciousness reside in all things? Is a brain necessary to posses consciousness? Is consciousness dependant on a brain?

When it comes to the topic of consciousness, it’s something, in my opinion, all living life forms posses. Including plants, and I believe there is conclusive evidence for that. In fact, the question of whether consciousness is something that resides outside of the brain, or is a product of it, has long been the subject of scientific debate. Parapsychological studies, which have gone through rigorous testing and according to statistics professor, Dr Jessica Utts at UC Irvine, have tighter controls than any other area of science, hint to the idea that consciousness is not solely located within us. This is evident by the fact that humans have the ability to “perceive” remote locations regardless of geographical distance (remote viewing) and it’s also evident by the fact that human thoughts and intentions can alter physical material reality at a distant location, at both the quantum level and at the human level.

For example, a paper published in Physics Essays explains how the double slit experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality. The results clearly indicated that human intention, via meditators, were able to collapse the quantum wave function in that experiment, similar to the way observation or measurement does. The study received a 5 Sigma result, the same result that was given to CERN when they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle, which turned out not to be Higgs after all).

I also like to point towards this document I found in the CIA’s electronic reading room titled “Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers” as another example that goes beyond the quantum scale.

Again, the point I am trying to hammer home is that I don’t believe biology is necessary for consciousness, but perhaps sometimes acts like a vessel for it without consciousness being dependant on biology. Near Death Experiences (NDE’S) are also a great great example hinting to the idea that consciousness is not dependant on biology, and perhaps one of the best.

But what if plants are conscious? But they don’t have a brain. Would that destroy the idea of the brain being a vessel of consciousness?

What comes to mind instantly here are the books written by hypnotherapist Delores Cannon. She has hypnotically regressed thousands of people with regards to supposed past lives, and found that many people have experienced past lives on our planet as well as on other planets as multiple different life forms, including trees, animals and plants. Now, how would one in a regressed state access these experiences? Where are they stored? These are questions that remain unanswered. The regression sessions are legit in the fact that the patient is actually in a hypnotic state sharing these experiences, there is no question about that, but we have no way of knowing whether or not what they are sharing is real, but the consistency with regards to past life regression among thousands of subjects is interesting. Many children also share stories that can even be verified regarding their past lives.

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When it comes to plants, I’ve always thought that they were living, thinking, breathing, conscious beings. Grover Cleveland Backster Jr., was an interrogation specialist for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who became well known for his experiments with plants using a lie-detector machine. Through his research, he believed that plants feel pain and have extrasensory perception (ESP). Author Michael Polan describes his experiments quite well in a piece he wrote for the New Yorker a few years ago regarding plant intelligence:

(Cleve) hooked up a galvanometer to the leaf of a dracaena, a houseplant that he kept in his office. To his astonishment, Backster found that simply by imagining the dracaena being set on fire he could make it rouse the needle of the polygraph machine, registering a surge of electrical activity suggesting that the plant felt stress. “Could the plant have been reading his mind?” the authors ask. “Backster felt like running into the street and shouting to the world, ‘Plants can think!’ ”

Backster and his collaborators went on to hook up polygraph machines to dozens of plants, including lettuces, onions, oranges, and bananas. He claimed that plants reacted to the thoughts (good or ill) of humans in close proximity and, in the case of humans familiar to them, over a great distance. In one experiment designed to test plant memory, Backster found that a plant that had witnessed the murder (by stomping) of another plant could pick out the killer from a lineup of six suspects, registering a surge of electrical activity when the murderer was brought before it. Backster’s plants also displayed a strong aversion to interspecies violence. Some had a stressful response when an egg was cracked in their presence, or when live shrimp were dropped into boiling water

His (Backster’s) work on this was published in the International Journal of Parapsychology. 

Poland also describes the work of  Monica Gagliano, a thirty-seven-year-old animal ecologist at the University of Western Australia. He describes an experiment she conducted with the plant Mimosa pudica, a fast moving plant that can be seen by the naked eye, kind of like the Venus Fly Trap.

Gagliano potted fifty-six of these plants, and had a system that dropped them from 15 centimetres every five seconds. When they are in danger, these plans curl up, and close their leaves. The plants did this after a few drops, but then realized that the drops weren’t really harmful so they remained open after that. It wasn’t just fatigue either, when the plants were shaken they closed up, and furthermore, the plants retained this knowledge because Gagliano tried again a month later and got the same response.

Gagliano said, imagining these events from the plants’ point of view. “You see, you want to be attuned to something new coming in. Then we went back to the drops, and they didn’t respond.” Gagliano reported that she retested her plants after a week and found that they continued to disregard the drop stimulus, indicating that they “remembered” (source)

Clearly, they learn, remember and apply that knowledge. These are all factors associated with consciousness and thinking. There has to be something or someone in there that’s responsible for that learning.

Fascinating isn’t it? Brains and neurons don’t seem to be a necessary requirement for factors associated with consciousness. What makes us assume that we need brains and neurons to be conscious? Why can’t we see any other type of possibility?

It sort of reminds me of the idea that planets have to be “Earth-like” to sustain or have life. How do we know? How do we know there aren’t beings that breath some sort of gas we’ve never even discovered? How do we know there aren’t beings that don’t need to breath?

Humans and their assumptions/limited imaginations…We are conditioned to ‘see’ things a certain way.

In the video below, in the second half of her interesting talk, Gagliano describes another experiment that suggests “someone” is in there. She conducted a similar experiment as Pavlov did with his dogs and makes some very interesting points.

“There is someone in there.”

The Takeaway

Consciousness is not limited to humans and animals. It’s something that extends to plants, trees, insects, perhaps even the soil we walk on and much more that we take for granted. Perhaps our entire planet is awake and aware in ways we have barely yet to understand, perhaps our entire universe is?

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Awareness

50 Things You Could Be Doing Instead Of Staring At A Screen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The average adult spends as much as 12 hours a day in front of a screen while at home.

  • Reflect On:

    How much of our screen time is providing value to our lives? Is our screen time benefiting us or taking time away from doing what we love and spending real, quality time connecting with friends and family?

There is no doubt about it, screens have become a central part of many of our lives. From the moment we wake up and turn off our alarms and do a quick check of Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter notifications, email, and other apps — screens have the capacity to suck us in, right from the start of the day. The act of checking our screens has become so common nowadays that many of us spend the majority of our waking lives staring at various screens including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

There are some people who argue that before smartphones and tablets, it was the television set, and before that, the radio, and before that, the newspaper. However, we can’t ignore the fact that it is currently an epidemic, as many people (myself included at times) are so sucked into this virtual reality, they do not realize that it is a potentially harmful addiction.

Some believe that this type of technology is just a natural part of human evolution and that in may ways it benefits our lives. To a degree, this is true, as there are many amazing perks of technology and it absolutely can be used to benefit our lives — being able to access any information we are seeking, learning a new language, instrument, or practically anything we want, attending online courses, webinars or education programs, connecting with loved ones that are far way. But really think about your screen time and how it’s spent. Is it benefiting your life in any way? Or is it a compulsive habit? Whenever you have a spare moment–waiting in line, in an elevator, whenever you feel that you are bored–is that when you reach for your phone? Are you mindlessly scrolling through your Newsfeed, photofeed or Twitter feed? Potentially comparing your life to others, getting lost looking at the pictures from people you hardly know? Obsessing over celebrities and “influencers” that actually provide no value to your life? Sometimes we might have the T.V. on, watching a show, whilst at the same time mindlessly scrolling through our feeds. This is a double screen-time wham-o! Essentially getting lost in whatever is available to take you away from yourself and basically inhibit your ability to give love, care and attention to yourself.

We Are Wasting Valuable Time

Many of us, again often including myself, have dealt with a deep dissatisfaction with our lives — maybe we are not happy with our careers or our relationships, or perhaps we lack purpose, passion and drive. Yet, instead of doing something that could benefit ourselves, we instead choose to escape those feelings. We reach for our screens in a desperate attempt to get our next “fix,” our dopamine hit that gives us temporary relief from our dissatisfaction with our lives. This IS an addiction and it is important to be aware of that. What would happen if instead, we leaned into our feelings of discomfort and spent time in deep reflection about what is working in our lives and what’s not?

Using Tech To Help Moderate Our Use Of Tech

A great tool for me has been an app called “Moment” that basically tracks your screen time and how much time has been spent on each app. Without consciously trying to change your screen time habits, I challenge you to download this app and check out your screen time at the end of each day. Much like I was, you may be surprised to learn how much time you might be completely throwing away on social media.

After all, “Lost time is never found again.”

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If you’re like me, you may be thinking, “Well, what the heck else am I supposed to be doing?” And you may still enjoy spending some time on social media, but as with pretty much everything else in life, moderation is key! You may want to try setting a daily limit for screen time for yourself and sticking to it. If you can’t, then you know you may have a problem worth exploring.

50 Things You Can Do Instead Of Staring At A Screen

Below I have provided a list of 50 things you could be doing instead of scrolling or staring at a screen. While some of these are going to seem extremely obvious, you may not always think of them when you are sucked into the glowing light of a screen. This is meant to be a quick reference, it may be even beneficial to print this list off or copy it onto a physical piece of paper so that you ironically don’t need a screen to view it.

  1. Read a book
  2. Read a magazine
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Go for a hike
  5. Clean out your closet
  6. Write in your journal
  7. Play an instrument
  8. Play with your pet
  9. Practice a new language
  10. Listen to a podcast
  11. Draw a picture
  12. Paint a picture
  13. Literally sit and do nothing
  14. Meditate
  15. Stretch
  16. Do yoga
  17. Go to the gym
  18. Workout from home
  19. Call up a friend (use headphones or speakerphone to chat)
  20. Write a letter you intend to send
  21. Write a letter you don’t intend to send
  22. Plan out tasks you intend to accomplish within the next week
  23. Bake something
  24. Cook something
  25. Meet a friend for tea
  26. Play a board game or cards
  27. Go swimming
  28. Do a massage exchange with a friend
  29. Redecorate your home
  30. Give yourself an opportunity to really feel your feelings
  31. Notice the urge to reach for your phone
  32. Practice grounding
  33. Volunteer your time
  34. Go to a comedy show
  35. Listen to music
  36. Color
  37. Write a list of 10 things you are grateful for
  38. Go to the library
  39. Try something new
  40. Sit in quiet reflection
  41. Study something that sparks your interest using books
  42. Get clear on your vision for the next 5 years of your life
  43. Go to a Meetup group
  44. Dance around your living room
  45. Practice eye-gazing with yourself in the mirror, or with someone else
  46. Clean out your fridge
  47. Take a cold shower
  48. Have a bath
  49. Downsize your belongings
  50. Repair something that is broken

Bonus* Make a list of things that you’ve always wanted to do, but felt like you haven’t had the time.

Much Love

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