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Friday, January 30, 2015

Livingness/aliveness and being in one's body

At least one important aspect of "aliveness/livingness" is illustrated by the vividness of life episodes. A common example of this is having some sort of physical threat such as being in a car accident where we have shocks that light up those moments. Neurological studies have indicated that in order to have episodic memories we need to feel that we are in our own body which is choiceless when the body is under threat.
A little patience is require here to understand the "aliveness/livingness" connection to physical embodiment.
Familiarity is a simple way to decrease bodily danger but it also decreases the "requirement" for the physical embodiment. Ease of lifestyle reduces the exterior threats. But there are also ongoing minor or under the radar threats to our continued physical existence which the sense of embodiment is not required as much but are illuminated with this physical embodiment. Our physical positions, balance, tensions, pain, taste, etc. are noticed more when there is the sense of physical embodiment that is connected to our conceptual self awareness. However conceptual self awareness and physical embodiment are separate functions and are switched between and that switch carries information between the two. They are not simultaneous. This change can be very rapid and repeating and carry more or less information between the two or the connection can become almost unused. The driver, reins, horse, and carriage may be a metaphor for this.
The body image that is included in our mental life (conceptual self awareness) is not as stable as one might think. We learn our body positions and movements. The mental body image also contains a sense of ownership. The body image (schema) can be changed and often is with tool use such as driving a car or using a paint brush and being able to "feel" the road or the tip of the brush. It can also be "fooled" such as sensing a prosthetic limb as one's own. Even out of body experiences can be artificially induced.
What we usually call emotions also have a physical element. The sensation of an emotion intensifies it by a form of repeating it. There appears to be common locations in the body where various emotions are felt. (How emotions are mapped in the body) The dilemma is that regulation of emotion (not expressing negative emotions?) is more possible when one has the sensation of it. The mode of attention (consciousness) discerns the outcome.
Two things have to be noted here. One is that names for emotions and sensations are limited by common conceptions. The range is infinitely greater. The other is that the sense of sensation location is not limited to the physical body.
Emotion occurs with interaction with the perceptional environment. There's simply no names for the range and subtlety of sensation or its more encompassing and speedier counterpart emotions. Metaphors and myths many times are attempts to express verbally or point to some of these subtleties. The study of the interaction of colors (art) and sound (music) give some indication of the almost infinite variety and form. These studies also show the possible intelligence (information contained) in sensation and emotions.
The sense of location of sensation and emotion can extend far greater than the physical body. Examples might be knowing the texture or weight of an object before touching it or the perception of other's emotions and states (mirror neurons).
None of this is set in stone. Every step can be questioned. It is simply one viewpoint on the subject. And it only illustrates subjective consciousness (which is not to be undervalued). But I hope it points to the possible aliveness of the relationship of the self and the world in one's perception. All our perceptions, our emotions, our sensations, even our conceptual thoughts and our individuality require this relationship.
And it may be that this points also to this higher form of love that is often spoken of but difficult to access or express. Where resides this great conscience, faith, love, and hope when I am not separated from all else and all and everything are one?
On the embodiment of emotion regulation: interoceptive awareness facilitates reappraisal
http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/8/911.full
Body Sense: The Science and Practice of Embodied Self-Awareness by Alan Fogel (Chapter three)
http://www.amazon.com/Body-Sense-Self-Awarenes…/…/0393708667
People can be tricked into the false perception of owning another body.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/bodyswap-illusion-tricks-_n…
Sense of touch, vision and receptors in the muscles and joints help the brain keep track of the body. Research shows the brain develops a map of what belongs to it.
http://news.discovery.com/…/brain-human-body-biology-110620…

James Taylor