CARYN GRIDLAND: “The Age Of Consciousness”

The Age Of Consciousness

Some argue that we, as a human race, are regressing. We are destroying the planet with mindless acts of deforestation and ever-increasing mining, forcing species to extinction, and emitting tons of carbon. Causing ocean acidification, depleting food, water and energy supplies and so on. Interestingly, despite these, and other horrifically destructive acts, more people than ever before are entering a new age of knowing or awareness. Has the Age of Consciousness arrived?

More people understand the meaning of the word consciousness and its implications than ever before. Has the tipping point finally been reached? If so, why now? Is it the result of increasing numbers of people searching for meaning, purpose and connection in their lives? Can we thank Quantum Physics and Neuroscience for answering questions that once divided spiritual and scientific thinkers? Or is it that people have had enough of current ways of doing things and the devastating effects on the planet? The list of possibilities is endless.

While the reason may be elusive, there is no denying that, as a human race, our awareness is evolving at an alarming rate. A few years ago the word “conscious” meant being awake and aware of what was going on around you in your immediate environment. Unconscious meant being asleep, knocked out, or unaware of what was going on around you.

In the new Age of Consciousness, “conscious” means something much more. It may be more akin to mindfulness – awareness of one’s existence, thoughts, feelings and environment. And it goes even further – being awake, alive, accepting of life as it is, connecting with others on deeper levels, being present to the bigger picture, and the greater good for all. It is the recognition of interconnection between ourselves and our world. The most profound level of responsibility imaginable – that each of us, and our thoughts, feelings, and intentions create the world we live in.

What evidence is there for the Age of Consciousness?

By now some of you may be thinking where has this hippy been hanging out? No I didn’t just step off a plane from Byron Bay or Ibud, Bali, to find evidence for my assertion. I didn’t need to.

The Age of Consciousness is gradually unfolding in all areas of society from our daily lives to our business practices. It seems that everywhere we turn there is reference to mindfulness, or consciousness, people making a difference, changing our world, or giving back in some form or another. Conscious philosophies and practices are gradually finding their way into mainstream society. In time, this can only lead to a huge shift in humanity.

Only last week I was visiting the Head Office of an international bank and a beautiful painting caught my eye. Admiringly, I walked closer and noticed there was a Hindu God in the center of the painting. To the left was an image of the chakras. I have come to expect to see paintings like this in retreats in exotic places, not in banks in the middle of Sydney CBD.

Two weeks ago I heard a story about a café on Sydney’s Northern beaches with a quote from Erkhart Tolle on a blackboard inside. When my friend told the chef she liked it, he told her of his passionate plans for developing consciousness in children around the world.

A few weeks ago a client forwarded me a brochure for a Mindful Leadership program advertised to the public sector. Is mindfulness moving into the public sector too?

A few months ago an electrician arrived at a client’s office with “compassion” written on the sleeve of his shirt. I asked him why and he told me it was a charity his company supports.

And these are just a few local examples – what about the Bangladeshi bank focused on ending world poverty? Or the increasing cafes around the world that operate on donation only? Or the vast number of businesses around the world that donate to charities when you purchase a coffee, or have an introductory meeting with an accountant, and so on?

More people than ever before are talking about consciousness, mindfulness and social change. It is not uncommon to have deep, connected conversations with strangers about the raised awareness of many people on the planet.

These are only a few examples of widespread change that is affecting the way we view and operate in the world. We are operating in a different paradigm. Whole disciplines or fields are also metamorphosing into more conscious practices.

Heart connection

The heart is no longer just the organ that pumps blood through the body. It is no longer something that must be left at home, with your emotions when you go to work. And no longer considered second to reason. Increasingly we are hearing about the precious influence of heart wisdom. A voice not to be ignored. Heart nourishing is now seen as vital to every aspect of our lives – from disease prevention to ensuring brand loyalty.

People are connecting more and more through heart-based dialogue – even in executive boardrooms. There is also strong recognition of the importance of vulnerability and heart-based dialogue for connection with others. Only a few weeks ago I saw a post by a CEO asking for feedback on the connection between vulnerability and the influence of leaders.

Research is mounting that mindfulness and conscious practices can benefit each of us in all aspects of our lives. Corporations and law firms are hiring teachers to teach their staff mindfulness and other meditation practices all around the world. What a shift! Leaders are being taught these skills in leadership programs (sometimes under different names so as not to scare them off!).

There are measures of spiritual intelligence, calls for spiritually-based and compassionate organizations, and references to spiritual and holistic leadership. It all sounds very left field, however, these days it is not so uncommon to see the words spirituality, mindfulness, consciousness in mainstream venues and on mainstream programs in a variety of industries and domains.

No longer are yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and conscious practices just optional extras at “hippy” health retreats in beautiful remote areas around the world. They are now mainstream activities. And they are not only popular activities outside of work. They are also now an important part of corporate well-being programs.

People are calling for mindful mediators and psychotherapists, and groups are forming that promote conscious business practices. Coaches, counselors and psychologists alike are recommending mindfulness and conscious-based practices for stress relief, aiding mental clarity, the management of depression and anxiety, and the treatment of some personality disorders and so on. We have mindful eating practices to assist with weight loss and food enjoyment.

Conscious Psychology

We are also seeing the infiltration of mindfulness and meditation into the very scientifically guarded field of psychology, as ever-increasing evidence mounts for the benefits of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. Therapies that are mindfully-based, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, are quickly increasing in popularity in clinical and organizational settings. I predict that these therapies will one-day rival Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the leading psychological treatment for depression, anxiety and a range of other issues.

Conscious Business

Business has not been left out of the shift to the Age of Consciousness. There are movements around the world from some of the most successful companies (Google, Amazon, Pepsi and so on) to shift away from traditional shareholder models to ecological models of business. When leaders of organizations view their corporation, organization or business as an ecosystem, they view each of the parts as equal to the other parts. Employees are just as important as customers, who are just as important as the community, who are just as important as suppliers, who are just as important as shareholders and so on. Some of the most successful businesses around are following these principles. Competitors that do not follow suit may find traditional business models unsustainable. People want to know that businesses care.

Conscious Law

It must be the final frontier when the legal system recognizes the need for the law to take the well-being of individuals and society into consideration. Judges and magistrates around the world are now taking well-being into account in their determinations. Get used to it – therapeutic jurisprudence is growing. Some lawyers in the US are now seeing their role as healers rather than warriors. They are now considering, not only legal rights, but the mental, emotional and physical health when advising their clients. Wow!

Times are changing and gradually a huge shift in humanity is taking place. And surely, in time, as the power shifts to those more consciously aware, as one day it will, so too, these destructive patterns of human behavior will cease or miniseries. We can only hope.

These are only a few examples of widespread change that is affecting the way we view and operate in the world. We are operating in a different paradigm. Whole disciplines or fields are also metamorphosing into more conscious practices.

 

 

 

 

~via In5D.com

 

 

 

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JOE BATTAGLIA: “If You Want To Accelerate Brain Development In Children — Teach Them Music”

violin (2)

Alternative and complementary treatments such as creative art, meditation, and yoga have been proposed to bridge many gaps that conventional medicine cannot. But music, because of its ubiquity in our society as well as its ease of transmission, has perhaps the greatest potential among alternative therapies to reach people in deep and profound ways. Music matters and it heals.

Music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills, according to initial results of a five-year study by USC neuroscientists.

We now know through controlled treatment outcome studies that listening to and playing music is a potent treatment for mental health issues. 400 published scientific papers have proven the old adage that “music is medicine.”

Research demonstrates that adding music therapy to treatment improves symptoms and social functioning among schizophrenics. Further, music therapy has demonstrated efficacy as an independent treatment for reducing depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

The Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at USC began the five-year study in 2012 in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) to examine the impact of music instruction on children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.

These initial study results, published recently in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, provide evidence of the benefits of music education at a time when many schools around the nation have either eliminated or reduced music and arts programs. The study shows music instruction speeds up the maturation of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases its efficiency.

“We are broadly interested in the impact of music training on cognitive, socio-emotional and brain development of children,” said Assal Habibi, the study’s lead author and a senior research associate at the BCI in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “These results reflect that children with music training, compared with the two other comparison groups, were more accurate in processing sound.”

For this longitudinal study, the neuroscientists are monitoring brain development and behavior in a group of 37 children from underprivileged neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Thirteen of the children, at 6 or 7 years old, began to receive music instruction through the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles program at HOLA. The community music training program was inspired by the El Sistema method, one that LA Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel had been in when he was growing up in Venezuela.


Learning the Violin

The children earn to play instruments, such as the violin, in ensembles and groups, and they practice up to seven hours a week.

The scientists are comparing the budding musicians with peers in two other groups: 11 children in a community soccer program, and 13 children who are not involved in any specific after-school programs.

The neuroscientists are using several tools to monitor changes in them as they grow: MRI to monitor changes through brain scans, EEG to track electrical activity in the brains, behavioral testing and other such techniques.

Within two years of the study, the neuroscientists found the auditory systems of children in the music program were maturing faster in them than in the other children. The fine-tuning of their auditory pathway could accelerate their development of language and reading, as well as other abilities – a potential effect which the scientists are continuing to study.

The enhanced maturity reflects an increase in neuroplasticity – a physiological change in the brain in response to its environment – in this case, exposure to music and music instruction.

“The auditory system is stimulated by music,” Habibi said. “This system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.”


Ear to Brain

The auditory system connects our ear to our brain to process sound. When we hear something, our ears receive it in the form of vibrations that it converts into a neural signal. That signal is then sent to the brainstem, up to the thalamus at the center of the brain, and outward to its final destination, the primary auditory cortex, located near the sides of the brain.

The progress of a child’s developing auditory pathway can be measured by EEG, which tracks electrical signals, specifically those referred to as “auditory evoked potentials.”

In this study, the scientists focused on an evoked potential called P1. They tracked amplitude – the number of neurons firing – as well as latency – the speed that the signal is transmitted. Both measures infer the maturity of the brain’s auditory pathways.

As children develop, both amplitude and the latency of P1 tend to decrease. This means that that they are becoming more efficient at processing sound.

At the beginning of the study and again two years later, the children completed a task measuring their abilities to distinguish tone. As the EEG was recording their electrical signals, they listened to violin tones, piano tones and single-frequency (pure) tones played.

The children also competed a tonal and rhythm discrimination task in which they were asked to identify similar and different melodies. Twice, they heard 24 melodies in randomized order and were asked to identify which ones differed in tone and rhythm, and which were the same in tone and rhythm.

Children who were in the youth orchestra program were more accurate at detecting pitch changes in the melodies than the other two groups. All three groups were able to identify easily when the melodies were the same. However, children with music training had smaller P1 potential amplitude compared to the other children, indicating a faster rate of maturation.

“We observed a decrease in P1 amplitude and latency that was the largest in the music group compared to age-matched control groups after two years of training,” the scientists wrote. “In addition, focusing just on the (second) year data, the music group showed the smallest amplitude of P1 compared to both the control and sports group, in combination with the accelerated development of the N1 component.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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