“PB”: You have combined engineering, 15 years working in the IT industry and 30 years of meditation experience to help people develop their minds and spirits. Where did the idea come from?
Kamila Orlinkska: The brain, like other parts of the body, needs exercise. Some of us see the need to develop our minds: cognitive flexibility, concentration, memory, but we don’t know how to go about it. With the help of technology, progress in this area can be much faster and more sustainable.
Until recently, nerve cells were thought to form only during childhood. Today we know that is not true. The so-called even the elderly are affected by the neuroplasticity of the brain.
Really. Knowledge of the brain has developed enormously over the past 20 to 30 years. Until recently, it was said that neuroplasticity was important until the age of 21 or 22, that is to say the end of adolescence, and then there were only degradations due to the alcohol, addictions, accidents and other harmful factors. We now know that neuroplasticity can last until the end of our days, even if it is no longer as spectacular as in adolescence. There are children who, because of epilepsy, have had half of their brain removed, which has also lost their speech center. They reconstructed it in the other part of the brain and even mastered two languages later. In older people, neuroplasticity keeps the brain healthy and sometimes aids in recovery. After a stroke, you can completely rebuild the connections between your neurons.
On the other hand, there is a myth that we only use 10%. your brain.
It’s not true. The capacity of this complex organ is also much greater than believed until recently. In 2017, Swiss neuroscientists created a mathematical model that shows the brain can function in 11 dimensions. The first is a line, the second is flat numbers, the third is the world we live in.
At the same time, our perception can go beyond three physical data: length, width and height, as well as the fourth spatial dimension, which is time…
Exactly. I explain it to myself so that we can add dimensions to finally be able to look at a given problem from 11 points of view. We are not limited to the space-time we know. It is very liberating to realize this. Another discovery of recent years is that our brain functions less in points than in a systemic way, like a coherent ecosystem.
What does it mean?
We used to talk about points in our brain, for example, the one responsible for hand movement and sensation. However, it is common to look at this organ as a whole. Yes, you can select specific parts, centers, but everyone works in specific networks. That’s all about science, but the practical benefits of such discoveries are important to us. Here the question arises: how to obtain as much neuroplasticity as possible?
What are the answers?
We have limited our brains a lot since the industrial revolution. This is partly due to the use of technology and its abandonment. There is even such a thing as digital dementia. We use tablets, smartphones and game consoles so much that it has led to short-term memory problems. Routine also makes our mind lazy. Some, even for several decades, carry out the same activities over and over again. Another problem concerns the default network mode, which becomes active when we are not working on a task but letting our thoughts take their own course. Then we begin to understand our past, our function, our social role and our obligations. In these moments, only our selves count. And what we lack today is the ability to look at ourselves in a larger context. The problem is that we have removed spirituality and tribal life from our horizon. People are more and more isolated, they decide to start a family later and later. Everyone feels that playing solo gives us efficiency and develops us, but actually limits us.
But isn’t spirituality a luxury of isolation, an escape from society? I have often heard someone refer to monks as profiteers and Buddhist meditation as gazing at one’s navel…
In the West, we have a very superficial approach to spirituality, both Christian and Far Eastern. The final element of Buddhist meditation is compassion, that is, wishing good luck and happiness to others. Based on his research, neurobiologist Andrew Newberg concluded that our brains are designed for mystical experiences. Without them, it’s harder to break free from the network in the aforementioned default mode, and we’re still hanging around ourselves.
Back to technology. Why, despite so many reservations about computer tools, do you use them in meditation, concentration and creativity classes?
Neurofeedback and meditation give us the opportunity to accelerate our development. Each of us is different, which means Kowalski isn’t necessarily happy with Nowak’s progress. Technology helps determine what kind of exercise brings a person closer to states of heightened awareness characteristic of mystics.
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is based on the fact that we have equipment to measure brain waves, software and a computer, thanks to which we can observe the brain of the participant in real time. We get immediate feedback on how someone responds to specific instructions. This allows the exercise program to be tailored to specific people. This approach also works in therapy. I will give an example of the use of neurofeedback in working with children with ADHD. It turns out 70 percent. of them can stop taking medication. They are not cured, but it is easier for them to concentrate on what the teacher is saying during the lesson. They tolerate distractions better.
Instead of feeling in the dark, do you use something like a map, compass, or even GPS?
For me, the comparison with the gym is the most relevant. Much like building muscle in the gym, new neural connections are formed in the brain through neurofeedback. There are different ways to do it: passion, meditation, getting into a state of flow. As a result, our brain works better and we are happier.
this week: “Transhumanism – Pushing back the frontiers of humanity!”
guests: Marcin Przybyłek – science fiction writer, Joanna Bensz – Longivity Center, Kamila Orlińska – Global AI Foundation, Edi Pyrek – iMind Institute.