Most people can’t run their own mind, BECAUSE they can’t run their own body.
Yep … it’s really that simple …
If you can’t run your body well,
you’ll never run your mind well.
[WARNING: While I believe that the performance benefits that will accrue from reading this post fully far outweigh the time you will put into getting them, it may require more than a single reading to fully grasp the complete discussion I'm presenting below. Be prepared for a long and sometimes complex, deep post regarding how we process experience and how to take control of that process. I recommend you set aside time for a full and complete reading of this post to fully get the content, and until you can do that you may be best served simply by scanning the contents.]
Okay, so what exactly does that (profound) statement about running your body well above mean?
Let’s start at the beginning BEFORE that statement applies directly …
There are some folks who’ve come before me who referred to “Reality Tunnels” like Timothy Leary (who coined the phrase as far as I know) and Robert Anton Wilson (who popularized it greatly after the fact) – meaning multiple simultaneous views of reality were possible and the one we are operating in and from is merely one of many we could potentially be in, or better yet choose. Simply put reality tunnels are what are known in the philosophy of mind “indirect realism” and in the study of epistemology as “dualism.”
Indirect realism is a reference to the conception that we can only know and experience our perceptions, as opposed to direct realism or naive realism, that suggests we hold a miniature version of reality in our mind, i.e.: a one to one, “isomorphic,” representation of reality.
Virtually all cognitive scientists I know, and/or whose work I’ve read about, agree that indirect realism is more representative of how we know and experience reality, which also coincides with what seems to consistently hold true from my own work as a cognitive scientist as well.
To avoid a long philosophical discussion debating direct reality and indirect realism just understand that the entire discussion I’m pursuing here is based in indirect realism and the idea that all we can ever know or experience are our perceptions of reality and NOT reality itself. Now to be perfectly clear about it this does not mean to suggest that our perceptions about reality are divorced from reality or disconnected from what is “real” in terms of the physical universe, or other inputs we encounter such as systems or interpersonal dynamics.
The inputs we encounter that exist outside of us directly influence what we perceive … BUT (and this is what makes this discussion profound from a cognitive science point of view) … we make up ourselves what we believe we know and experience about the “reality” we encounter. For all intents and purposes it’s essential to understand that we are the creators of everything we believe to be real, even what seems to be indisputably real, e.g.: the “blueness” of the sky, or the “greenness of a leaf” … and even the “warmth” of someone’s hand in our own.
Starting from there, with the idea that we create our own realities, a deep question about this could be, “What is the ground of our personal reality? I’ve referred to this ground, as ontology, i.e.: a way of being. In order for us to speak about a ground to our ‘representational realities’ the ground must be pre-representational, or before we create our epistemology – our way of knowing what we believe we know.
The ground of personal reality is somatically organized, i.e.: how we are in our being somatically … in our direct body experience BEFORE we represent it.
In other words before we even “know” how we are in our bodies, we are in our bodies. Even in our deepest sleep, beyond any conscious awareness whatsoever … maybe in contact with the “Bardo” of the Buddhists. In any case we are between conscious states, or possibly “before” the next conscious state of awareness we will experience. In these states, “between” or “before” conscious awareness of our experience, we are having some kind of direct body experience and from the work I’ve done with clients and in my research this “direct body experience” provides the ground of our awareness.
Taken another way I’m suggesting that the way we are in our bodies “between” or “before” our conscious awareness of the events we encounter, e.g.: the sensory experience of the physical world or the interactions we have in the systems that we reside in or the people we engage with, determines how we experience those things. When we shift our pre-representational ground, i.e.: how we are in our bodies – or how our bodies are organized “between” or “before” our conscious states in relation to being this way, we shift our experience of reality. For all intents and purposes we create different realities based on how we are in our bodies – and in turn how we interact with the world in (and through) our bodies.
Now here’s another question (although not necessarily as deep as “What is the ground of reality?” … but then again who really knows), “If we are only aware in the way that we are, i.e.: knowing what know and experiencing what we experience, based on how we are in our bodies … how can we shift the somatic ground we are operating from if “IT” creates the knowing and experience we are having?”
The simple answer is …
“We can’t reset our experience of reality BEFORE the fact … but we can track what has occurred and shift AFTER the fact … re-experiencing the events of our lives from a new position … and gain new knowledge too.”
However, the possibility of making such a shift is predicated on knowing how to operate our bodies, and before that knowing how to track how we are in our bodies. This is the first and most essential key to controlling your mind: learning how to track the experience you are having in your body, or put another way, i.e.: how you are in your body, at any given moment in time. When you can do this you begin to take control of the way you know and experience reality. By choosing the position you experience the events in your life from you take control of the reality you are creating – understanding that creating you’re reality is not a choice but a given.
When you know how to choose the way you are in your body, i.e.: the ground, you have the choice of the reality you will experience.
Most people either miss this point, or simply get it wrong, within the context of this discussion. They think of control, i.e.: control of what they believe they know and experience, in terms of an ordinary conscious experience. By “ordinary conscious experience” here I mean ordinary, cortical cognition, i.e.: “thinking” as most people consider representational consciousness. I’m referring to a kind of “non-ordinary consciousness” here that occurs before representational thinking, i.e.: direct somatic experience. Almost immediately, regardless of whatever “direct somatic experience” may be, we become aware of “IT” as conscious representation.
For example if we touch a hot stove we experience something directly at the somatic level. A neural experience occurs, there may be changes to the physical structure of cells that are affected by the heat … AND we call all that “being burned” when we refer to our own (or others) experience of it. We have a sense of what we mean by “being burned” – but, before this experience has any “meaning” something has happened that we can call the “direct somatic experience.”
Direct somatic experience lies beyond our conscious access and therefore control. We can however control our conscious experience of direct somatic experience. Then, immediately after we have a direct somatic experience we become aware of our representation of that experience and create a semantic form, i.e.: we label, or name, what we just experience – and with semantic form comes meaning.
REMEMBER: There is no meaning in the experience … the only meaning that exists is the meaning we apply to our experience, i.e.: we create whatever meaning our experiences have for us (and logically this should indicate that we can choose what meaning they have, but seldom in practice does it turn out this way for most people).
Our understanding of direct somatic experience can (and should) be extended to include all direct sensory experience prior to representation, e.g.: the actual neural experience of sound ways creating the pressure waves striking the ear drum (tympanic membrane) creating the mechanical process that we interpret as sound, a direct somatic experience … that occurs prior to our awareness of sound, our naming the sound as something or giving it a meaning. We can apply this same examination to each of our sensory experiences; vision, feeling, taste, scent, balance, motion, position/posture … yet it would be fair to say that we know nothing of our direct somatic experience, only the effects of it on our awareness.
It is in this moment that we assign semantic form and meaning to our experiences, when we become aware of them – until this moment the experience never happens from our conscious point of view, at best we can only propose that it has happened imaginally. However everything we “know” about what we call “real” comes down to this singular moment. Somatic experience and semantic experience meet in this moment, after direct somatic experience and when we assign a meaning to the experience.
- Recognizing that the meaning we apply to our experience resides on somatic ground gives us the possibility of choice regarding the meaning we apply to the experiences we have that rise to our awareness where we become conscious of them. In other words if we can train ourselves to catch ourselves in the moment where we become conscious of our experience and applying meaning, i.e.: creating the semantic form, we can choose how we operate that process consciously – i.e.: with intention … intentionally.
- This moment then becomes transformational for us as we move from reacting reflexively to becoming aware of the effect of direct somatic experience to responding with intentionality regarding the meaning we apply to our emergent awareness of the experience we are having (that of course we’ve actually already had, and we are simultaneously aware that we are applying meaning to an experience that has already happened and that we are only now experiencing consciously).
We make the choice to NOT to apply a particular meaning to our emergent awareness of experience (that would just be delusional). We make the choice to notice how we are (and likely just were) regarding the experience we’re having. It becomes critical to take control of two aspects of our emergent experience in this moment:
- The way we are in our bodies and how our bodily experience continues to unfold
- The sense of meaning we are applying to our experience AND whether this meaning remains aligned with the intention we hold for the experience
When we take control of these two aspects we gain control of the meaning we apply to our experiences, and we gain the ability to choose the experiences we have. In this way we gain control of our own mind via awareness and taking control of our body. I mean this last comment literally, “we gain control of our own mind via awareness and taking control of our body” in that we manipulate how we are in our bodies by manipulating our bodies, e.g.:
- through movement and moving
- changing position/posture
- more subtly by relaxing or contracting specific muscles or sets of muscles … and
- at an extremely finite level making micro-muscular adjustments with and within our bodies
This level of awareness and control remains as much art as science and must be learned and practiced to be perfected, but with perfection of this art comes exquisite levels of elite performance … literally the capacity to out perform anything you’ve accomplished in your personal history, including the ability to circumvent any previously perceived personal limitation.
Black Ops Mind Control 101 refers first to the art of learning to control one’s own mind NOT to the control of the minds of others. From there however the movement to recognizing how others operate their minds becomes obvious – and the leap from there to influencing the way they do that (operate their mind) becomes accessible as well.
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D., Princeton, NJ
Architect and Designer of the MythoSelf Process and Soma-Semantics