With the statement ‘It’s all about feeling felt,’ Dan Siegel starts the 3 day workshop in the Garrison Institute along the Hudson river, New York State (opposite of West Point where 4000 soldiers get a weekly haircut by 30 barbers).
10 years ago I felt that I needed to go to Boston after reading Synchronicity by Joseph Jaworski. The book about what these 10 years have brought me, is almost done and will be published next month. This time my father gave me the book ‘Mindsight’ by Dan Siegel and I was very impressed. I checked the internet again (just like 10 years ago), found out he would give a workshop ‘Soul and Synaps’ at the East Coast and bought a ticket.
I immersed myself with 100 participants in the Soul, the wheel of awareness, synapses, brainstems the neo cortex and the 8th (!) sense. It was impressive and just like my time in Boston many years ago I find it hard to summarize. That’s not so surprising since Dan needed 3 days of continuous talking to get the message across to us. Indeed his voice was gone by Sunday. It was a workshop without dialogue walks, check-ins, small subgroup work or reporting back from flip charts. Very refreshing to see something wonderful happening without any Theory U practices. He just talked. We meditated, experienced first person inner experiences that we shared and so became second person stories and these led to third person objective data. A very scientific approach as he was keen to tell us. He had so much to share that we had only one break in 3 days. The ‘blasts’ as he calls them -short scientific theory lectures- went on in a very interactive way for three hours at a time. Nice. Saturday evening was only one hour scheduled. He asked our permission to make it 3 and a half hours since he needed more time. I was so tired by then that I missed a large part of the last meditation: ‘Hey why are they all leaving the room? Ooh I must have fallen asleep while lying down…’
The objective of the meeting was to solve the barrier between science and spirituality. He is a neuro biologist and psychiater and shared many stories about the brain and explained the wisdom from Buddhism and religions through the functioning of the brain. It went from epigenetic molecules that influence the DNA over different generations, to slavery in Africa, how you change your brain (growing neurons, modify synapses, grow myelin, and the epigenetic molecules) to presence. He calls ‘presence’ from Theory u (or at least as I describe it in my forthcoming book): the ‘open plane of possibility.’ But we find it hard to connect to this plane since we live our lives in the peaks (emotions, thoughts) and plateaus (moods and intention) far above. We believe that the peaks and plateaus are our identity and we are often fearful to rest in the ambiguity and not knowing of the plane of opportunity. He explained this in a convincing ‘blast’ about quantum mechanics that I can’t repeat overhere. During the 3 days he only made use of three drawings on the flip charts…
Mindfulness practices with the focus on breathing stimulate the mirror neurons in our brain. The function of the mirror neurons is to find ‘the immediate next of now.’ So these neurons are activated when you focus consciously on your breathing: after breathing out, the next thing that will happen is breathing in. By doing this consciously regions in your brain are stimulated and this will support you with the integration of your self. So get your ass on that cushion for 5 minutes a day!
I am sure that in 10 years I can explain it way better than at the moment. It has been a great experience that will be followed up. Within 3 weeks already when we will talk about his last book: ‘Brainstorm’ It’s about the adolescent brain and what is happening in there and how to support yourself as an adult and your child in the best possible way.
In the end it’s about feeling felt. Mindfulness practices that stimulate your mind and change your brain, support you to come to better relationships with others and yourself. My book ‘I am back-with love’ is proven scientifically. And that feels good.