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The neurons in your brain

are linked into neural paradigms...

...that are influencing your mind.


In this section:



The effect of paradigm

Extracted from the book: SELF-Empowerment by Lawrence Poole

The current jargon says brain/mind but the truer summary is Brain + Consciousness = Mind. The brain and central nervous system contain some 100 billion neurons and these are linked together into patterns by consciousness.

The result of the interaction is perceived as mind... but perception itself occurs this way: Brain + Consciousness. And of those 2, relatively speaking, brain is not really needed. Consciousness has been known to survive brain trauma... and even death.

We are aware that we think. What is interesting to note is that our mind does not exist outside of that interaction. Without thinking, mind collapses. That is - without thinking, your essential energy - the consciousness now interacting with your brain - stops interacting with your brain... but does not cease to exist. (At least not right away.)

Mind is not the brain. Mind is not inside of neurons or cell tissue. Mind « emerges » in the interaction between consciousness and brain. Like a hologram produced by laser light, at dizzying speeds, our consciousness is zipping around our brain assembling awareness patterns to make up our mind.

You may have a billion neurons but if you habitually link only a fraction of a small percentage of them, you are severely limiting your mind. If you aren't aware of something, then - for you - that something doesn't exist. If you assemble “I can't do that!” - well then you are not assembling “Yes I can!”.

Brain/mind is a self-organizing system but « consciousness » is the mitigator. How SELF-aware are you? Do you want to learn more about sorcery?

That's a loaded question. I already know the answer. Self-aware, we self-direct our perceptions and our beliefs about those perceptions. If sorcery didn't attract you before it may not now.

And that's the rub! We get very possessive about our mind's interactions and how we make stuff up...

Here's what I mean - One day, Suzy and I were called in to discuss tourism with officials at a Provincial Park. Listening to their problem, we were struck by the two diametrically opposing points of view they held. A team of managers was at loggerheads over their perceptions. Divided, one side perceived a need to purchase new canoes in order to meet increased visitor demand.

The other maintained the notion that their budget could not afford the expenditure. One side focused on the unbudgeted costs while the other saw an investment that would earn increased revenue. The two perceptions came from two logical but paradigmatically opposite sources.

Sometimes our way of seeing is so powerful that it pushes us to reject new data, or label it impossible or inadequate. Since our pathways are neurological, any mind that refuses to adjust has logical reasons for doing so.

The effect of paradigm explains that it is impossible for us to consider something that's not part of our conscious mind. There are basic rules to explain it:

  • Neural paradigms use language, syntax and imagery to describe a personal reality.
  • Neural paradigms behave like self-organizing and closed loop systems.
  • Paradigms are templates for manifestations of our subconscious mind.
  • Our neural paradigms determine our mind's authorities and beliefs.
  • Our neural paradigms are reflected in our behavior.
  • Differences in paradigms make communication between persons difficult
  • Our paradigms influence our reaction to outside stimulus.

Personal paradigms describe how your brain's neurons are assembled in patterns. Creative thinkers set aside their personal paradigms, to assemble new neural links. If we experience new information our mind becomes more alert to anything associated with that information. Consider your purchase of a new car. Settle on a model that you consider unique, and you'll find yourself surrounded by the identical model as soon as you drive off the lot. Similarly, I never noticed so many disabled people around until I was disabled myself, and my daughter, who's made me a proud grandfather, told me she never noticed so many women in her small town were pregnant until she was too.

An experiment in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century gives us a glimpse of the power of the effect of paradigm to delude us. Sometimes our paradigms filter information so well that, instead of opening and adjusting to include it, we manipulate it so it conforms to expectations. Paradigms can provoke mind tricks.

In the experiment, several subjects were asked to wear special glasses designed to invert their perception, causing them to see the world upside down. None were given any warning, nor were allowed to adjust their vision. Strangely though, everyone reported that they could see the world normally, or right side up! The brain unconsciously modifies data it receives so it conforms to expected patterns.

Are you open to new ideas? Do you realize how your old ideas are influencing you? When was the last time an event met your expectation? How do your assumptions affect data that's coming from others?


Some paradigms are hardwired

When we don't stop to think about it, our mind is largely made up.

Our genetic code wired physical and survival circuits in our brain. Imagine that the genes you inherited from your father and mother are like decks of playing cards that are marked with your parents' entire history. At the moment of your conception, those two decks - dad's sperm and ma's egg) are shuffled into a new code: you.

Just think - your DNA code is a brand new assemblage made from older cards - that largely determine your physical characteristics, intellectual attributes, health and organic strengths and weaknesses. Will you be bald or golden tressed? Strong or not, and good lookin' ???

Your genetic physical baggage is also composed of metaphysical traits. Studies suggest that we inherit nearly 70% of ancestral qualities, like an aptitude for leadership or particular talents. Maternal and paternal characteristics or even more distant ancestors can be manifested in traits that mold our character. That doesn't stop anyone from indeed becoming a leader, but for certain individuals tracing leadership pathways in their brain is less natural.

Our survival circuits prime us for overcoming our limits though... or else don't survive.

Studying a person's family tree, we can determine the prevalence of a particular trait and predict its dominance in that person's children. We each come into this world weighed down with ancestral baggage. I'm 6'4'' tall, my younger brother is about the same height and we had a great-grandfather even taller than that. So I prepared my daughter by telling her that she was growing up to become a tall, beautiful... and I steered her towards seeing a positive image of tall woman in the media. She stopped growing at 5'9'' - but will stretch it when asked by replying: I'm almost 6' ...with heels!

Are you aware of your genetic history? Do diseases like cancer or cardiovascular illness run in your family? What is your own state of health? What character traits have you inherited, and which ones do you find difficult to develop? What gifts did life give you? What challenges?

Environmental and emotional imprints

Our environment helps fashion our emotional circuits and our responses. We learned about good and bad, what to think, say and do. Most of us were probably subjected to a multitude of taboos and bans that reflected the beliefs of the time, our ancestral paradigms. Some kids are told they are handsome or pretty, that they are skilled or talented or that they have worth and great expectations. Others are abused or learn they have little to offer, that they are stupid, or bad, or have no value.

Many of us were shaped by a rather significant degree of negative conditioning, told - Don't do that! Don't touch that! - as if we secretly knew how to act properly but were purposely refusing to do be good. How many of us actually had someone to guide us for an extended time so that we could develop our highest potential‚ our creative intelligence, our capacity to love and our personal power?

A home environment can break your spirit. This is not a moral judgment but a simple observation. Children don't come into the world with an instruction manual, and parents learn parenting through trial and error. Children who constantly hear that they are no good, that they can't succeed, or other such negative comments, will incorporate them into their self-talk. Self-talk is how we re-view our perceptions to create our self-image; it's the inner dialogue where assess our potential, our options and our direction. Studies repeatedly show how negative expectations contribute to negative results.

On the other hand, when children are encouraged to try, persevere and put their best effort into every task - and rewarded when they do - you can rest assured they'll successfully complete any project they undertake when they become adults. This is neither prophecy nor miracle. It's just neuro logical!

What were you told by your loved ones? What emotional mirror did you see as a child? What engrams created in your past dictate your reactions today? Are they still appropriate? Did your emotional apprenticeship nourish you and boost your self-esteem?

Social and semantic imprints

We also form social and semantic imprints that become our intellectual pathways. We humans are largely tribal - we are very dependent on others for a long time, learn through mimicry by copying others, and must be cued and corrected in social interaction by our significant relationships. Since time immemorial, we've been brought into line by the threat of social rejection.

Conform or be ostracized from the tribe triggers our deepest fears and influences the way we participate in the community..

Our semantic neural circuits register the value we give to words, ideas and concepts. Conscious of an alphabet effect on the brain, linguists have long known that reading and writing are not the only consequences of learning a language. By mastering syntax, our relationship to words changes by allowing us to code and decode thoughts. We transform auditory stimuli into visual concepts, reason in deductive ways, sort and classify information, and give a semblance of order by giving priority to our ideas.

Have you ever conversed with someone only to find that the meaning and emotional charge they gave your words differed from what you intended? Because I'm fluently bilingual - I was raised in both the French and English languages - I know what a minefield words are. My society has been debating words for my whole life.

I sometimes challenge people in workshops with the idea that words shape a wordview by stating, “I love fish. Do you love fish?” If the person answers yes, I push the idea until they reveal why they love fish.

Some will answer - It's delicious with garlic butter! - or some such, and then I'll spin my pun. I'll act horrified and explain that I have an aquarium at home worth a small fortune and that I love fish so much I'd never eat them. My point is that even though we trade words that have a meaning we know, agree to and understand, it doesn't mean we are trading ideas.

Large numbers of people have inherited a vision of the world that is reactive and that suggests life just happens to them. They are victims, whether they like it or not, or they have little or no control over the events in their life. Other people are fortunate enough to have learned that they are completely responsible for their life and their after-life.

You use language, but are you trading ideas? Does your conditioning encourage you to fully participate in the creation of your life? Is your destiny your own, or have you surrendered to a life that's dictated by external circumstances? Are you a leader or a follower? Is that your own mind you are making up?

Moral and spiritual imprints

Formed by what we believe is the ideal, our moral imprints form our spiritual circuits. To some, the spiritual circuits link beliefs, others have business ethics and others still live with God or with Nature. Some people experience life as if it they get a practice period, and this existence is not so very important. Some believe they'll reincarnate later and experience an ultimate life in another cycle. Some folks believe we die and then experience heaven; their religions promise people a sort of pie-in-the-sky-after-you-die reward for suffering now. Still other people think we're entering a New Age and that angels, spirits or aliens will soon come to save us from ourselves. Some think life a long, thankless struggle and then we die. The End.

Beliefs, from the traditional and fundamental to the latest trends, suggest that a kingdom of good is at hand. But first we need a behavioral change. In fact, few of us experience our religious truths or our moral ideals, and few of us realize our spiritual or magical potential.

A significantly more empowering view can explain how human life is part of universal order. We participate in life and evolve over time, creatively or not. As we keep doing the same old thing, the same old way, we'll keep getting the same old results. If we have a new experience, we trace new neural pathways and gain choice -between old and new.. Experiencing choice is the beginning of the creative process.

Morality doesn't have universal agreement. A shaman from deep in the Amazon jungle might consider our modern funeral rites to be rather immoral. He believes that putting a body in a hole in the ground and visiting it once in awhile shows absolutely no respect for the individual soul we profess to love and cherish. His custom is completely different: he'll burn the body, blend its ashes with plantain banana and eat the mixture. This, according to his spiritual imprints, allows him to keep his friends and family members with him forever.

What protocol is most acceptable to the universe of energy and molecule? Who decides the morals or other matters of spirit for whom? Who is the arbiter of what's right and wrong?

The only real answers are the ones that satisfy the subjective paradigm. Many people are discovering that love really does have all the answers but, without judging their belief, one thing that's certain is that anyone not actively loving can't possibly assemble their reality.

What do you believe? Do you have spiritual circuits that ease your passage through life and help you overcome its obstacles and meet its challenges? Is your personal worldview expansive or is it restrictive? Does the creating Spirit bring you joy or confusion? Do you walk the talk with regards to your own belief structures and their ethical requirements?

Experimental imprints

How do you experience life? Do you react to the rules imposed by out can transform your life by becoming more self-aware, by being conscious of your limits and then challenging those limits? A person who is afraid should first develop courage, for example, and then experience the profoundly different paradigm that exists beyond that limit. The future of someone who is stopped by fear isn't the same future as the one of a liberated person.

There's an ordered universe and a whole other view just beyond limits like anger, hatred and doubt. We don't have to keep using the same neural pathways. We can and do affect them throughout our life with positive and negative experiences anyway. Now we can do it consciously.

Certain people inherited heart problems, for example, others have a body that's more susceptible to cancer or to getting fat. They can avoid the many health problems that are waiting for them by adopting preventative measures now.

By examining our genetic baggage to establish a profile of our physical strengths and weaknesses, we can, to a large extent, prevent potential harm and/or otherwise strongly influence our life in very positive ways. We can trace new emotional and intellectual pathways and change moral and spiritual values. Prisoners of our intellectual limits, most of us aren't very aware of the real power embracing change can bring.

Every day, without even thinking about it, we create new neural-pathways; we'll complete a new chore or try a unique culinary experience or visit a far-off country, even if it's only on TV! Each of the new neural pathways contributes to our transformation.

Choose what you'll be when you grow up, and then invest time etching the neural links that can make your wish come true.

Similarly, we can add any kind of neural links we want - physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual -by structuring an experience that will supply them.

As long as you are changing anyway, why not do it consciously, by choosing what you want to change into? Do you have physical changes to consider? Do you have moods that need adjusting? What about any old ideas? How will you choose to experience tomorrow?

The language of paradigms

Molded by our neural imprints, our minds form visions of the world.

We then act on those visions. This amazing discovery has caused researchers and therapists of every stripe to meet and discuss its consequences.

A language is evolving to help us understand the paradigmatic principles and behaviors related to, and associated with, those imprints.

We have a tendency to think that nothing exists outside of what we perceive. Nothing could be more wrong; what we perceive is a function of how we are doing it. In one mindset, it's difficult to imagine that other ways of perceiving might exist. When we are totally focused on using a red crayon, for example, that doing will prevent us from considering a blue, a green or a yellow one.

Married couples are sometimes shocked to realize that a mood can totally affect the mind. Feelings like jealousy, anger or hurt will cause the mind to entertain the most negatively biased view of their mate and in another mood, their lover, seem unreal when love is in the air.

A paradigmatic complex

Language and syntax are related to how they connect in our brain. A paradigmatic complex describes the way we often generalize and project our feelings on a situation. When we're frustrated, we'll punctuate a conversation with absolutes - as in : You're always too busy when I ask; or : You'll never change; or: Everybody says so! Calling on absolutes to make a point is a paradigmatic complex.

The tendency allows us to avoid taking personal responsibility for the moment. If it's always or never, then that's where any discussion ends. If it's everybody or nobody, your majority position is justified. You are right. You win.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that, in order for the mind to maintain an absolute position, it must cut off its own access to any part of the brain that might point to another realization. While we are busy reacting to a situation, there's no energy to expand beyond our limits to be creative.

Do you tend to paint everything with the same brush? Do you have to be right? Do you feel a need to share popular opinions? Do you keep having the same kinds of arguments with others?

Paradigmatic authority

The Pope's infallibility is a classic example of this idea. A billion Catholic people purport to believe that the Pope is God's sole authority for truth here on Earth, that he is God's temporal head of state. In order to hold fast to that belief, they are expected to obey papal proclamations on a lot of significant ideas. They are to surrender their reason to his. A billion people would rather surrender theirs to Buddhism. A billion more will do it for Islam.

Those terrorists from 9-11 believed a radical who assured them that paradise waited for them just beyond their suicidal mission.

Everywhere, in daily life, great numbers of people are weighed down by the ultimate rules or laws they believe should not be questioned. Consider how their creative spirit is stifled because, The boss said we can't! or The marketing department indicates that... or The way we always do things around here is...

History is filled with tales of new thinkers who bucked against the local authority and were crucified for their effort. As long as great majority of folks think death and high taxes are unavoidable, we'll never question them, we won't rebel against them and will quietly accept their authority, paying through the nose and dying at the end of the script.

An American yogi by the name of Da Free John believes we can become enlightened and shake off the shackles of our karma in short order, by constantly asking ourselves the following question: - Who is the master (authority, belief or habit, etc.) I am serving now?

On whose authority do you endorse the paradigms you apply to your life? What absolute truths dictate your choices, and to whom are you surrendering your spirit? Is your moral sense dictated by what they say out there or by what you feel in here?

Paradigm paralysis

This phenomenon describes the bottleneck caused by too narrow a vision of the world. Author Joel Barker adds that it's the mortal disease caused by certainty. Paradigm paralysis pushes an individual or a group to believe that their way is the only way - the one correct and true way - to see an event, a situation, a problem or a circumstance.

Cults and sects of every description have a field day with this phenomenon but they don't have exclusivity on it. The certainty of having the ultimate answers has provoked holy wars, destroyed corporations and halted personal evolution. The aforementioned madmen were flagrant examples.

Having the answer is convenient because it requires no further thinking, but it causes an incredible variety of neuroses, psychoses and unhappiness. You might know some people who can't get over their version of a past event and insist on their way of remembering it, even if evidence suggests otherwise. Paradigm paralysis is delusion.

One form to that kind of mental paralysis is people who have what I call a victim's paradigm. Sympathize for them when they say - You make me mad! - because, seeing themselves as victims condemns them to feel bad. Because they are not the authors of their emotions, there's no possibility of self-adjustment and correction. Others will control theirs moods and mind.

Is your mind the only one to see correctly? Is there only one way of expressing truth? When was the last time you were sure about something?

Paradigmatic behavior

A person who adopts a look - be it macho, preppy, hip-hop, princess, rocker or other is using paradigmatic behavior. We learn through mimicry, or copying what seems to work, and we act out according to a given paradigm’s rules of engagement. Teens, for example, might rebel to assert their own style and values. Remember beatniks and hippies? How about grunge, or Goth?

I remember being clued-in by an executive at a company where I worked, when I was just starting out. Newly promoted, I attended a social function and when I ordered a beer, was told that I should drink something more adult now that I was management.

Business types learn to behave like business types, doctors learn to act like doctors and police officers become police officers by mimicking other police officers. Watch politicians for easy examples of paradigms linked to behavior. You'll see them think, say, promise and do pretty much whatever it takes to get reelected. I know a couple of them who have proudly worn every political stripe. So many sell out the our trust along with their quest for individuality, by surrendering to the party-line.

A paradigm's rules demands behavior. So, what look are you going for? Do you ever feel obliged to act or to react in a certain way? Do you enjoy being unique or do you tend to adopt trendy attitudes? What rules of behavior do you impose on others? What kind of examples are you getting your behavior from? Can you distinguish between your beliefs and universal truths?

Paradigmatic exchanges

You'll notice that a group of computer geeks can trade great amounts of data in a short amount of time by using the code particular

to their field of interest, while the rest of us neophytes won’t have a clue as to what they are talking about. Jocks do they same thing with their sport gab, and gardeners talk about flowers and shrubs with words we know little about. If we share a paradigm, we exchange values, depositing and drawing worth where others will not.

Observe how people with opposing points of view trade infor¬‚mation, and you‚Äôll note that some try to impose their perceptual limits on others. Notice how communication tends to break down when people hold fast to their ideas, not opening their mind to others. Also note how debate loses all coherence when sides have a hidden agenda.

Even if we know the words and procedures, it’s difficult to have meaningful exchanges with someone whose mind is closed. On the other hand, the skillful use of communication tools lets people from a wide variety of backgrounds trade information and prosper from their exchanges. There are several of them in the Toolbox at the back of this book.

There's a very funny scene in a Simpson‚Äôs cartoon that illus¬‚trates a paradigmatic exchange. Marge is visiting a tavern in Australia and she orders something to drink.

The bartender asks what she'll have, and she answers - A coffee please.
To which he replies - Right-o! A beer.
Marge says that no, no, she wants a coffee.
He says - O.K. A beer.
She stands up to him and repeats - I want a coff-fee.
And he says - You want a bee-er.
Nose to nose with him, she says - Coff-feee.
And he answers - Beee - urr.

Their paradigms were trading words but not a shred of understanding

Do you have tools to help you see inside worldviews other than your habitual ones? Do you use jargon from a particular paradigm? Can you exchange with other ways of seeing?

Paradigm flexibility

This refers to the ability to consider new and different ways of thinking - to examine a whole thought as well as its component parts, to evaluate both sides of an argument, and to draw creative or expansive syntheses from scant information.

Imagine the CEO of a major corporation who changes his mind as the result of a comment made by a janitor. Such paradigm flexibility is indispensable in order to develop more creative intelligence.

This requires high self-esteem and the ability to grow and to transform oneself. This is a keyattribute in real leaders.

Do you change your mind easily? Do you find it a challenge to adapt to new situations? Do you think your paradigm is rigid or flexible? What do others think of it?

Paradigm pioneers

Pioneers are those persons who, against all odds, explore and define the rules of a new paradigm. Steven Jobs, founder of Apple, reduced the corporate computer to personal size and invented the new paradigm of personal computers. Bill Gates thinks everyone should have an operating system to run a business from a PC, and is revolutionizing ways of conducting commercial exchanges.

Pioneers extend the boundaries of the known. They ask - Why not? - and are not satisfied with the status quo. They create new paradigms by disrupting comfort zones and old thinking habits, and in some cases they may even revolutionize the world. Paradigm pioneers believe in the power of one, the power of the individual. Mickael Gorbachev initiated the collapse of communism with his book Perestroika, for example, and Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black President in spite of having been imprisoned for 27 years.

Limits are waiting to be broken. A few years ago I had a jungle wheelchair made with an innovative design. It was completely anti-rust, built of stainless steel with mountain bike wheels and many other rainforest features. Soon after it was ready, the builder was swamped with orders. I may have been the first paralyzed jungle trekker, but I'm no longer the only one!

Are you a prisoner of your habits? Are beliefs limiting your development? Are you a pioneer, accepting new ideas? Or are you a protector of the past, one of the old guard?


This term describe both a personal and a social phenomenon. Personally, the expression refers to the expansion of one's mind - from being relatively reactive to life's events and circumstances, to a state of being self-aware, self-directed and co-creative with those events and circumstances, to even leading them magically.

Socially, the paradigm-shift refers to that same kind of evolution of the collective mind - our memes, as described by journalist Marilyn Ferguson in her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy.

The new paradigm paradox

A paradox resolves a seeming contradiction by obliging the perceiver to shift paradigms. Because an unknown is, of course, unknown, anyone choosing change must paradigm-shift with no guarantee that the new paradigm will be any better than the old one.

Change that's provoked by an unexpected situation, like my car accident, or that is demanded by a sudden input of new data, should fundamentally alter your way of seeing. The only requirement to a paradigm-shift is the realization that your old way of being/seeing/doing just isn't good enough. If your mindset isn't serving you anymore, change it.

Suzy came home from a panel discussion on the escalation in high school drop out rates one night and told me about a student who spoke about his own experience. At the age of 16, under the impression he was going nowhere, he quit high school and spent the next two years doing whatever he wanted, namely nothing much. His worldview was limited by his lack of experience and his life offered nothing to inspire him so he just quit on it.

One day a friend invited him to a conference on anthropology. The profession and its aims were a revelation to him. Fascinated by what he learned, he decided to do everything in his power to get a high school diploma and then work towards a Master's degree in anthropology.

A single thing had changed in his paradigm: he knew what he wanted. But that realization propelled him into an evolutionary shift, from being a reactive thinker to a proactive one. His options now included - I want to and I will - and that triggered a desire to change in him, and the motivation to acquire the discipline to accomplish his goals.

Can you list the neural paradigms that are affecting you? Are you satisfied with all your paradigms? Are you realizing your dreams? Paradigm shifting is an answer to Nature's call.

The wisdom book says, Many are called and a few are chosen... but paradigmatic thinking wonders - Who chooses whom?

The sorcerer's paradigm
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