Conceptual and Research Notes around Shared Fields, Attunement, Healing, and Different Kinds of Interactive Spaces
Part I, from Dr Daniel Siegel’s “The Neurobiology of We”:
How we share energy and information flow across two people involves RESONANCE CIRCUITRY.
The parts of brain involved include mirror neurons, the insula and the prefrontal cortex.
This resonance circuitry is the core of the social brain.
There is scientific evidence to suggest that the brain is hard-wired to connect with the brains of others, from the beginning of life.
The way we become aware of others’ minds is also hard-wired into our brains, in a way that we come to resonate with others’ states.
- take that information from the resonance,
- examine our own internal states,
- then make a guess ( based upon what we think is going on inside of us) as to what is going on with the other person.
This is the route of empathy.
Notice the relationship between insight (“in-sight”, seeing inside of us) and empathy (sensing another).
One is needed for the other.
Mirror neurons allow the brain to connect with at least what we perceive as an ACTION WITH INTENTION in someone else, with our own readiness to carry it out. These neurons link perception, with the motor areas of brain. Not only do these neurons fire in imitating another’s action, but affective (feeling) states are picked up.
These mirror neurons form a simulation in us of another person’s state of mind, or their feeling state.
Mirror neurons are part of a much larger brain circuitry. As they interact with other areas of brain, this leads to the creation of a “map” of what is about to happen next.
All of this is subcortical, meaning that it is below our usual conscious awareness.
These subcortical shifts change our state of mind.
And that information, of the awareness of some change in mind or feeling in the body, brainstem and limbic system are brought up through the insula, and then to the medial prefrontal cortex.
Some call this interoception - the process where we are sensing inside (consciously or unconsciously) and asking what is going on in the body, asking what the body is trying to signal now.
To quote Dr Siegel: “So, if we are wise enough, we will ask our bodies ‘what are we feeling?’… ‘What are you trying to tell me now?’”
[ Does this sound like any process you are familiar with J ]
This shows how we can invite the signals, the energy and information from another, to actually enter us.
In a way, the energy and information from another become a part of us LITERALLY, by becoming part of the energy and information flow INSIDE OF OUR OWN SUBCORTICAL AREAS.
[He is not using Focusing language here, but you can make the connections to it]:
We can consciously access and influence this process if we have the sensitivity and courage to:
- be aware of our own mind/body signals ….
- allow the in-sights that we have to mix with the empathy for another …
- Then, as we have “images” of another’s mind, we can allow ourselves to send signals to them;
…..that, we see them
….. that we are caring about them
……and, that we are also changed because of them.
This is the essence of the “neurobiology of We”.
This really is a deep way of opening our bodily selves and the essence of our “mental/emotional experience” is opened to joining.
(How this happens is more elaborate than simply mirror neurons. They are a small part of the circuit. The larger part is about joining and resonating, NOT about becoming the other person (fusion).)
Joining is not the same as mirroring. This is, ideally, we as separate individuals linking our integrated selves, with another person in a functional whole in that moment.
In a relationship, one is trying to promote the integration of 2 differentiated beings. I become a part of you, but I don’t become you. The idea is to honor differences, and, link into a wholeness.
If I let the resonance circuitry do its job (developed over millions of years of evolution), then I will be able to be present.
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Part 2, love as “feeling felt” by another.
Attunement and connection….
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson Love 2.0 “love as micro-moments of connection”
Christian Pankhurst (HeartIQ): “Love is me, feeling you feeling me”
…. ……………. ……………….. ……………………..
Part 3 Our capacities to support and inter-affect each other can help each other move towards more wholeness/healing …
Going back to this sentence of Dr Siegel’s:
“The idea is: to honor differences,
and, link into a wholeness …”
Most descriptions of “healing” involve re-connecting to a wholeness, to some larger experience than what we are identified with in that moment.
Many healing processes involve connecting with some larger fabric, be it within oneself, with the earth and other life forms, with others and community, or with spiritual dimensions of existence.
….from 2011 Folio article “Zigzagging Our Way Into Expanded Possibilities for Focusing”
http://serviceoflife.info/focusing/findex.html (and scroll down to “Zigzagging…”)
In a study in 1987, two researchers describe how brainwave patterns between people can coordinate and align, in their study on brain wave synchrony between two people. (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, J. & Ramos, J. 1987. Patterns of interhemispheric correlation during human communication. International Journal of Neuroscience 36: 41-52)
Each person in their pairs was instructed to close their eyes and “try to become aware of the other’s presence”.
During the periods when both people reported that they had developed this awareness, the inter-hemispheric correlation brain wave patterns of each brain were very similar to the other.
If partners reported that “it feels like we have blended”, the EEG patterns were nearly identical.
There was no such synchrony when they just sat in silence alone without holding an intention to connect/attune with the other.
In addition, the researchers found that the person with the higher amount of initial right brain-left brain synchrony, was the one who most influenced the sessions.
The implication is that, if we center and ground more deeply, we can contribute to a partner, client or group’s increased well-being and level of connection.
You may have experienced how one person in a group who speaks from a deeply connected place can bring other participants to a more connected level within themselves and in the group as a whole.
Perhaps what one person brings in terms of an embodied understanding can resonate with others, allowing a synchrony to occur, an alignment, a healing or growing….
Some spiritual traditions utilize the capacity of a master teacher to transmit a blessing or a state of consciousness to students and devotees – such as in offering darshan (a Sanskrit term meaning "sight" or “seeing”). The student attempts to open to, and attune to, the teacher’s energy. At times, a transmission is received that affects the consciousness of the student.
Notice similar elements here to the brainwave study - intention, opening, attuning to another….
The findings that the one with the most synchrony is the one more likely to influence the other, suggests that, through attunement and resonance, the teacher can help the student enter into, or closer to, the teacher’s level of synchrony/integration (at least temporarily.)
Taking this into more subtle realms…
Dr Lawrence LeShan (past president of Association for Humanistic Psychology) has done research into the particular worldviews of psychic healers when in the healing state. He has found that shifting one’s own worldview (understanding and relationship with the universe) can allow certain kinds of healing to occur7.
Based on this finding, he was able to learn and teach healing based on principles most healers had in common:
- centering, grounding oneself
- making an intention to connect with, and to be of service to a particular person or group
- holding an image (a worldview, an experiential belief) of connectedness and wholeness in one’s awareness.
Greg Braden describes a form of healing where either the client, the “healer”, or both, hold a multi-sensory image (felt, visual, etc.) of a desired or ideal state in which they experience the client as if already healed, as if the healing has already occurred in the present. (Braden, 2011 – video reference), transmitting a pattern of wholeness.
Gandhi’s “Be the change that you want to see happen” is an application of these the same principles to spiritual activism. If one lives as if something were already true, that pattern helps organize life energies in accordance with it.
Within Focusing, two examples of intentionally calling forth a positive outcome from the body, and then attuning to what comes, are:
- the question: “What would come in my body if this were all ok?”
- the Widening step in Recovery Focusing (experiencing "what could be" and expanding that felt sense.)
As we see here, in Focusing, the ‘vision’ comes primarily from the body, rather than being held primarily by one’s conscious mind. These allow the possibility of a additional source of information and integration (bodily-felt) than one might achieve by using mental intention alone.
Part 4 - Otto Scharmer “Presencing” and “Uncovering the Grammar of the Social Field”
Here are a few segments of this magnificent article:
15. Mirroring. To change the operating levels of a social field, people need a mechanism that helps them bend the beam of observation back onto the observing self. When this happens for the individual (micro), we call it mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the capacity to pay attention to your attention.
When this happens in a group, we call it dialogue. Dialogue is not people talking to each other. Dialogue is the capacity of a system to see itself. ….
In the moment that the deeper interiority of the social field opens up, the first-person experience for those inside the field tends to shift.
Table 1 (next page) tracks these changes in how we experience reality along seven different dimensions that each keep shifting as the degree of interiority of a social field deepens:
12. Non-locality. Generative social fields regenerate and to some degree replicate or multiply themselves over time - -often over many, many years; they also transcend the boundary of space by becoming non-local.
Being non-local means that, once I have a deep heart-to-heart connection with the other, I can feel the impact of this relationship and its real-time changes regardless of our spatial proximity.
16. Holding Spaces for Courage, Love, Listening. In early 2015, we asked the 10,000 plus participants in a global U.Lab what it would take to realize their "highest future possibility." What would it take to bring it into reality "as it desires" (Martin Buber)? Their resounding answer was simple and clear: courage!
Then we asked them what support they would need from others in order to actually make it happen, to make it work. Again their answers very clear: love, listening and trust!
Profound shifts in small groups tend to happen when the two following conditions are in place:
(1) individual courage and vulnerability, and
(2) a holding space of deep listening with unconditional love.
Table 1: Four Social Fields, Seven Dimensions of First-Person Experience