January 15th, 2008
Welcome to the Inaugural Living Hero Podcast!
Sleep, Memory, Creativity and Dreams, an interview with Dr. Robert Stickgold
• How sleeps helps us learn
• Creativity and stress
• Meaning and insight
• Deep sleep and consciousness
• Sleep and meditation
• Lucid dreaming
• Symptoms of sleep deprivation
Enjoy the podcast! (you can download the mp3 file, which will play in iTunes, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and other media players). The interview is 57 minutes. You can also listen to it right here by double clicking on the purple media player below.
AND SOME BREAKING SLEEP RESEARCH NEWS:
By demonstrating that worms sleep, David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, in collaboration with other researchers at the Penn Center for Sleep have not only demonstrated the ubiquity of sleep in nature, but also propose a compelling hypothesis for the purpose for sleep.
They propose that sleep is a state required for the nervous system to grow and change, there must be down time of active behavior.
Other researchers at Penn have shown that, in mammals, synaptic changes occur during sleep and that deprivation of sleep results in a disruption of these synaptic changes.
Listen whenever it's convenient!
Want the 21-page transcript of this first Living Hero interview in PDF format? Just ask! Please use the questions/comments box on the right side bar and leave me your name and email so I can send it to you.
January 13th, 2008
We have a biological and psychological need to sleep and dream; and in our dreams we synthesize life experience through symbolic, metaphorical and associative imagery. If denied this activity for even a few days, we become irritable, imbalanced and upset. Eventually, we will start hallucinating (dreaming while awake), dissociating from reality for awhile.
In our waking lives, as in our dream states, it is a support to our mental and physical well-being to process our experience metaphorically. In our society, however, the preoccupations of thought, the constant influx of music, TV and other media, the noise of our busy lives, prevents the active circuitry of the brain from receiving deeper, more subtle intimations of the self and engaging creatively with them.
Given the opportunity, these intimations and their imagery will surface and become active in the brain. Allowing for such opportunities, and actually encouraging, cultivating and nurturing them, brings joy, enthusiasm, understanding, and a sense of well-being, as well as bearing forth powerful new raw material for innovative, artistic and creative projects.
Lynn White, Jr., in her Frontiers of Knowledge in the Study of Man tells us "We are beginning to see that the distinctive thing about the human species is that we are a symbol-making animal, homo signifex, and that without this function we could never have become sapiens. We have not only the capacity to make symbols; we are under the necessity to create them in order to cope humanly with our experience."
This post is my prelude to our upcoming Podcast featuring sleep and dream researcher Dr. Robert Stickgold, scheduled for this Wednesday, January 16th.
January 4th, 2008
As I've been reviewing the material for the first two Living Hero shows, I find a common thread that ought to be of interest to artists, scientists, educators, caregivers and business people alike: the capacity of our minds to recognize patterns and harness the advantage of having done so and, most importantly, how to develop this capacity.
Dr. Robert Stickgold, who studies the brain in relation to sleep, memory and dreaming, tells us that in sleep the brain processes the new information received during the day and indexes it in relation to that to which it has already has been exposed, adding to its "maps of probability" and better equipping it to recognize patterns of relationship in the future.
We are urged by Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future to develop our capacity to not only see the big picture, but also to perceive the many relationships that can make a whole coherent and satisfying, which he calls “Symphony.”
My interest is in HOW we develop these abilities. I think that one key answer lies in both physical activity and deep relaxation.
My work involves teaching people to use integrative movements, acupressure and self-massage, breathing and stress reduction techniques to foster an ideal state for creative work or performance of any kind. There’s a teacher named William Westney who uses movement in what he calls his “unmaster classes” with musicians. Actors, athletes, and body-oriented performers have always used physical warm-ups to reduce anxiety and do a better job.
I am suggesting that physical warm-ups boost performance for all kinds of work, and evidence of this has not shown up in practice enough in schools and in the workplace—yet!
Mindfulness and meditative practices also help develop your capacity for R-directed thinking and you can stay tuned here for more in-depth coverage and exploration of these subjects!