Food For Thought: How Our Minds Blossom

By James Wadman


One of the most remarkable legacies of human evolution is the design of the cerebral cortex, or the outermost region of our mammalian brain responsible for complex perceptual function. Somewhere in the history of evolution, it became favorable for the brain to cease outward growth and begin to fold in on itself in the formation of notable grooves and bumps, responsible for increasing the surface area and capacity for function within a confined space. Think of the evolution of the brain like the growth of a marvelous tree. The tree’s roots, or the brain’s equivalent the hindbrain and attached spinal cord, play an integral role in survival but in an evolutionary race for development and adaptive advantage, survival is only half the battle. Then there is the trunk, the transportation center for nutrients, or the brain’s equivalent the midbrain. This is the site of sensory convergence from the body. The flowers at the tips of the branches, however, are what make us human. The human equivalent here would therefore be the forebrain, which is where our cerebral cortex is found. While the furthest reaches of the tree’s branches still rely on sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water just as the cerebral cortex feeds on the transduced signals of our five senses, human consciousness takes it one step further. Our brains do more than just absorb stimuli from the environment, we make sense of and reflect on sensation. This is the advantage bequeathed by a pivotal moment in evolutionary history, where the brain stopped growing and began to fold, just as a marvelous tree uses of its energy to grow higher and higher, but one day it stops growing and blossoms.

 

The best part is, in the scope of the conscious, neural networking, the subconscious, the molecular, and macroscopic, this is not even close to the whole story.

Food for Thought: Neuroscience is Not There Yet

Neuroscience — by James Wadman


There is a fascinating topic of conversation in the world of neuroscience that covers the ideology that fully understanding all connections in the brain will only reveal yet another small fraction of all there is to know about how our minds work. I hope to convey this point gently, however, because this is not to say that the ingenious work of decoding the brain is an irrelevant endeavor. Instead, what I am saying is that many neuroscientists and I believe that once we understand how the brain’s systems connect and consolidate, we will open a million new doors to further questions and complications that we cannot presently foresee. (Find great related content in this Reddit AMA)

This simultaneously brilliant and horrific revelation is something that is seen in virtually every field of complex science. Physics was thought to be a mastered art in the 19th century before novel discoveries led us to seeing the world in a new and unusual way, thanks to Quantum Mechanics. The completion of the human genome project was thought to revolutionize medicine, but ultimately proved that molecular biology was a lot more “molecular” than we previously thought.

I want to introduce a new mini-series of articles for my blog based on this idea. There is so much effort going on in the world right now to prove things and to conduct research with scientific etiquette, and there are few things in the world I believe in more than the scientific method. However, I also want to open up discussion on things that can’t be provided with direct evidence or can’t be tested just yet. Every great leap of mankind begins with an idea, and I want to take a risk and throw out some grand ideas just as food for thought.

Conditional, a poem

Poem by James Wadman


Unarmed

Original Photos: Ana Gómez de León and Cosmic Time Traveler (see instagram)

I touched her cheek as if I could take her
away from the secrets that claw at her heart,
when sorrow climbs from her own creations
unseen to the world aside from her maker,
they settle like white snow on her coat.
She says there is no prayer or beauty
if her story ends in sorrow and snow.
And when I can’t steal her from dark,
she says the face of a hero does not suit me.
But these little if’s and when’s mean nothing.
I still see the sun on the snow in the skies
and a glimpse of the remedy in your eyes.

Q&A Biological and Metaphysical Function of Dreams:

What I would say to someone struggling with his or her dreams:


 By James Wadman


I have long advocated the biological and metaphysical significance of reoccurring dreams and the enlightenment that can be gained from paying attention to the storylines, the characters, and the emotions of your dreams. Despite the skepticism by many other scientists on the relevance of dreams to the waking consciousness or deeply seeded emotions, I would argue that, relevant or not, dreams can be inspiring as long as you are there to listen. However, there come times when reoccurring dreams challenge us, and they may fill us with fear or contempt, and it becomes difficult to listen – or the message is so loud that it hurts. The funny thing is, these are the dreams that are easiest to pinpoint to our actual emotions and fears, and addressing these emotions can allow you to confront your nightmares both in daylight and at night.

Identifying the real world problem is the first step, which requires a different strategy for each person—that is, a lighthouse will not always mean the same thing from person to person. If you can’t identify it, that is okay. We can still move on to the next step. I have the pleasure of seeing many people who talk on this subject execute the next step perfectly, and that is to face your dreams with strength. If you are honest with your fears of the subject matter or of your dreams in general, you are already working toward overcoming your nightmares. Fear of your dreams is never a reason to not sleep because then you will never get the chance to face your dreams. This is where the road may diverge for some people. The final step is to actually confront your dreams after contemplating the dream’s value in the real world. For some people this will mean having that dream one last time and never seeing it again, and for others that reoccurring dream will never truly go away but they will have the strength to face it whenever it surfaces.

The skeptic says, “Why is this important? After all, they are just dreams.”

Actually, it is more than that. So many people in the modern world burden stress that is too difficult to face, one of the obvious and most detrimental examples being post-traumatic stress disorder, and some of the more common examples being childhood/family issues, break-ups, and stress from the hierarchy of their job/career. All of these examples encompass emotions that can backpack straight into your dreams.

As always, I am available for questions on these guides and Q&A’s. Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with a comment or an entire post like this one!

On Andromeda

By James Wadman


 

If you had removed a bristle from van Gogh’s paintbrush, would it have impacted his work? If you removed a single gigapixel from the masterpiece of our universe, would we miss it? These ideas sank in as I peered into the depths of the Andromeda galaxy, thanks to Hubble’s newest phenomenal snapshot of our universe. The pixels got smaller and smaller, the likelihood of life existing in our neighboring galaxy seemed to multiply, and my sense of wonder was enlightened. It truly makes me step back and enjoy acknowledging the opportunity we have here on earth, our temperate little patio with a spectacular view.

Are we significant? Who are we to the universe? A bristle of a paintbrush? A pixel? Our significance does not lie in our size, for we are minute creatures in a vast universe. Our significance lies in our capacity, and our capacity is infinite. If our role in the universe is to stay collectively focused on the earth, dancing amuck cycles of artificial fiascos occupied by the lethal concoction of intolerance and apathy, then perhaps we will only ever be the missing bristle in the paintbrush of a masterpiece. If we can transcend our understanding of humanity beyond the mundane and disastrous and allow ourselves to be naturally inspired by the stars instead of hiding them behind the curtains we build to distract ourselves from wonder, then the legacy that we leave behind will be one that shapes this masterpiece.

To Lucid Dream, Part Six: Final Frontiers (Advanced Technique)

By James Wadman


Hit play below to make the guide a whole lot more fun to read:


If you have made it this far, I offer you my congratulations. Ahead of us is the final frontier, as we stand in a vivid dream on the brink of the unlimited exploration within our creative minds. Herein lies one of the most challenging feats known to any dreamer. In this guide I must confess that the science is muddled in the unlocked mysteries of human consciousness and there is no evidence I can support other than trial and error. However, this last technique is one that few people can execute, and those that can often stumble upon it by chance, but I want to offer advice that few people possess.

I spoke of the time bomb effect in my second guide, where I blamed consciousness for why we wake up so swiftly after the lucid dream begins. While this is not untrue, it is not the whole story. I recently had a lucid dream in which I was caught in a purely white world, a world that allowed only observation. Yet I was conscious in this dream and there was no direct threat of waking up because of it. It seemed almost as if I were gingerly placed in the purgatory of dream states. I was without emotion,and  I was without the physical structures that make me human. I could only observe, as a transparent mind floating in an abstract vision. What I took from this was the simple idea that consciousness and dream states do not have to be mutually exclusive. While consciousness triggers wakefulness, it is not the only the dominating force in the termination of our lucid dreams.

So, now I ask, what was missing from my lucid dream purgatory that protected me from waking up? There are many factors, perhaps too many to count, that can be a danger to the stability of lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming is exciting, maybe a little frightening. They inspire wonder and happiness. All of these factors play a role in the time bomb effect, but still all of these factors were predominantly absent in my white world. Then it hit me. Movement. The key is movement.

Now for the best kept secret of lucid dreaming. In To Lucid Dream, part 5 I addressed the first step of lucid dreaming as Learn to run before you can fly, not yet knowing the importance and literal significance of these words. In a dream you are a construct solely designed by your mind, meaning you are independent of the physical structures that make you human. You a pattern of plasticity, a consolidation of relevant systems in your brain, but you are not your arms and legs. Your arms and legs, your fingertips and toes, are all tools of the conscious mind and have no use in dream state landscapes. Therefore, if your conscious mind tries to utilize these tools of the physical world, you will almost certainly wake up and the boundaries between your physical self and your dream self will dissipate. Staying awake in lucid dreams is only possible if you learn to fly. Don’t try to run from point A to point B, simply imagine yourself being at point B and the rest will work itself out. Imagine yourself as a videogame character and you are holding a controller. You do not need to use the legs of the character; you only need to signify the direction or the destination.

I understand the challenges and the potential for skepticism in this final step. However, as I have said before, with my experiences in lucid dreams and the inspiration I have gained by seeing beautiful worlds so unique from our own, I often wonder why more people don’t try to lucid dream. Sleeping patterns and dreams are not fully understood biologically and evolutionarily, but as humans we have the opportunity to explore hidden worlds every single night.

As always with my guides and posts on dreaming, I will address all questions and comments by either responding or writing new posts that provide answers. You can also reach me through email or send a message on Tumblr. Good luck and safe travels.

Piano Rift EP

By James Wadman


I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas. I figured today would be as good a day as any to share something very special that I’ve worked on for quite some time. My Piano Rift EP includes the very first two songs I wrote and produced on Ableton Live, which I have been waiting to release.  I finished up the project the last week in Park City, UT and I am very happy with the results. I released the EP for streaming on soundcloud and a download will be available very soon from Itunes. Let me know what you think and don’t forget to follow me on soundcloud and Instagram!

In other news, 2015 will be filled with new material, including poetry, music, new lucid dream guides, and more. Stay up to date by subscribing via email or on wordpress. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

 

Interstellar

By James Wadman


I firmly believe that our story lingers in the stars, cosmically intertwined with our origin and our fate. Therein lies the message I received from the recent film, Interstellar, that the future will be built by ideas barely conceivable, derived only from those who “dare to aim higher,” and that the revolutions that will one day save our planet from great adversity will be built on the science and technology that surpasses the believable. Humanity’s true purpose depends on the virtue of daringness to explore the open cosmic frontier. Our purpose here on earth is not to solve all the issues that divide us. Our purpose is to rise above the elements of division that break us apart and unite us under one mission into the future: the exploration of space.

When I write music, I strive for the same message through a different medium. If I can convince someone that there is more to life than our daily rituals and that something incredible exists far beyond the scope of humanity, then I’ve had a successful day with my music. Please enjoy my very first musical release with Eric Averetta, an unofficial theme for the Interstellar movie at a modest 138bpm.

 

 

One Goal in Mind

 

My writing comes in waves of availability. Recent times have come with no lack of inspiration; however, I have not published much writing and I would like to share with you the reason why. In the recent months my effort has been in applying to medical school, where I hope to start a brand new chapter of my life. It is such that I have one goal in mind right now. I hope to share with you my recent works soon, but for now all of my effort needs to be where it has been and where it will be for just a short while longer: in getting into the best school for me. I know I can count of my frequent readers and any newcomers to check back time to time because when the time is right I will show you all some exciting new projects I have worked on in my spare time. If you would like to keep up in the meantime, follow me on Instagram @Jhwadman or Tumblr.

 

-Jw

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