Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Brain Plasticity in Adults

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Until recently, it has been believed in mainstream neuroscience, that plasticity in the brain is present only in children. The younger years are considered critical in brain development because once we become an adult, the brain wiring is permanent, localized. Therefore, parts of the brain have been mapped. Localizationist, Torsten Wiesel, won the Nobel Prize for determining where visual processing occurs in the adult brain.

But, along comes experimental and open-minded Michael Merzenich, to discover that plasticity is found in the adult brain also. However, Nobel Prize winner, Torsten Wiesel opposed the idea and his opposition frustrated Merzenich because many other neuroscientists automatically accepted the position of the peer majority supported by Wiesel, even though the position was arrogant and weak.

Years later, Wiesel did accept adult brain plasticity and did graciously acknowledge in print that for a long time he was wrong and that Merzenich’s brave experiments ultimately commanded attention. In other words, Wiesel’s brain changed.

But, what did other hardcore localizationists do? They believed in adult brain plasticity because Wiesel did.

I learned two lessons from this real life story: One, when I am wrong, gracefully, publicly admit it and move forward with an appreciation and respect for the brave soul who brought the wrongness to my attention. Two, think for myself and don’t believe someone because they are technically in a position of authority.

 

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Getting Back Up after being Shot Down

posted by Cheryl Petersen

My ears were being assaulted by profanity voiced somewhere in the house. I went to investigate the uncommon occurrence and discovered the profanity was coming from the TV. A show called “Bulls**t”, hosted by Penn & Teller, was on.

Penn & Teller’s show is devoted to aggressively shooting down fuzzy thinking or the blind following the blind. (My cat opinion is that their next show should shoot down the inane belief that irrepressible profanity adds character or strength to thought movement forward)

This particular show being aired on TV involved a perspective of Mother Teresa (1910-1997) of Calcutta. Born in 1910, baptized Gonxha Agnes, she left home at the age of 18 years to become a missionary. She became famous as Mother Teresa over a six decade period of time during when she helped people, especially the poor. The intent to help people was also manifest to found Centers which are operating today.

Penn & Teller apparently agreed with the view that Mother Teresa had an ulterior motive—self-aggrandizement. So, these TV celebrities felt it their calling to expose Mother Teresa as a fraud.

Granted, the public needs to be aware of many views and avoid problematic issues such as hero worship. Mother Teresa did help many people, and the public needs to learn from her behavior instead of rely on her.

We can also learn from Penn & Teller, that even when people are doing helpful things in the world, they are still vulnerable to attacks by disapproving loud thinkers.

An inclusive prayer is to do the best we can each day with truth, coupled with a prayer of strength not to be shot down. If we do get shot down, the spiritual resolve to get back up with dignity and grace can be acted on.

Zen Kitty

Inconvenient Complaint

posted by Cheryl Petersen

I got home late after working with a moody person, and so ate a quick cold dinner. I did warm up some tea in the microwave but got the tea too hot so burned my tongue. Ugh. I put a load of dirty laundry in the machine, trying to make a dent in the laundry pile, and then went outside to mow the lawn in the hot humid air. My thoughts were tainted with complaint.

Before going to bed, I read Washington’s Crossing,” by David Hackett Fischer.

George Washington and his troops stayed up all night to cross an icy river, then they trudged for miles through the woods to surprise attack the enemy and fight a battle, just as a snow storm hit. Dinner? Tea? Warm clothes?

My conscience was pricked. A complaining mind starts objecting to everything, including success. The goal of freedom to independence, health, and spirituality is reached as I want to fight for it, even when it is inconvenient.

Courtesy of allposters.com

 

A Song About Trust

posted by Cheryl Petersen

My husband wrote a song in which he sings a verse that intrigues me. The verse says, “You become the expression of the power you trust.”

I ask myself, “Who, or what, power do I trust?”

Money, my job, my physical senses, electricity, anger, revenge, peers, seclusion, sleep, a set of rules, dieting, a lifestyle, my own plans, meditation…the list can go on.

I don’t really want to be an expression of any these powers. I want to be Cheryl, the expression of Love, Life, Truth, God. I want to trust God. Then I read in Science and Health, “Material wealth, fame, and social organizations have no authority or influence in the presence of God.”

So, I don’t have to “mistrust” money, my job, my physical senses …but every day realize the trust I have in God and my expression will be, me.

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