Session 1: Interpersonal Neurobiology: The Social Brain and the Embodied Relational Mind
This presentation will provide an overview of the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology and its view of the mind as an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information. This perspective of a mind broader than the brain and bigger than the body will be contrasted to studies of neuroscience, and in particular to views of the social brain. Is mind simply an “output of brain firing” as is so often stated? Or is the mind and its several facets of subjective experience, consciousness, information processing, and self-organization actually part of a system that includes the brain in the head, but extends far beyond that skull-encased organ of the body?
Session 2: Mindsight: A fundamental and teachable core process shared by emotional and social intelligence
In this presentation, the notion of the mind's capacity to make maps of mental experience and to move that experience toward a process called "integration" will be discussed. This capacity to monitor and modify mental processes can be called, mindsight, and it can be seen as the shared mechanism underlying emotional and social intelligence. The conceptual framework of interpersonal neurobiology, drawing on a wide array of sciences to create a consilient view of the human mind and mental health, will be used to explore integration at the heart of health in the nervous system and in our social relationships. In this way, mindsight promotes integration and enables social and emotional learning to help individuals and relationships to thrive. At the heart of this perspective is offering a definition of the mind, which can be seen as a self-organizing, emergent process that regulates energy and information flow both within the individual and within relationships. This embodied and relational process moves the internal and interpersonal systems toward integration, resulting in adaptive and flexible functioning. When not linking differentiated parts of the system, when not integrated, the system moves toward chaos or rigidity. Emotional and social intelligence can be seen as outcomes of integration. Impediments lead to non-optimal functioning, internally and interpersonally. Practical applications and research implications will be discussed in exploring how a healthy mind can be cultivated.
Session 3: Aware: The science and practice of Presence
In this workshop we will explore and experience the ways in which our inner subjective lives, our interpersonal relationships, and our objective empirical knowledge can be woven together to illuminate the importance for meaning, connection, and equanimity in our lives. We’ll explore the notion that the mind may be an “emergent process” that arises from energy and information flow. Seeing the mind this way will help us illuminate the nature of consciousness and the central role of being aware, of being present in life. Linking differentiated elements into a coherent whole is what integration is—and integration may be at the heart of well-being. Our workshop will provide the setting for integrating consciousness itself with a Wheel of Awareness practice in which we will differentiate the knowns of consciousness on the rim of a metaphoric wheel from the knowing in the hub and systematically link them with a spoke of attention. Come join me in this exploration of well-being in our lives!
We’ll dive deeply into the nature of presence, and how learning a reflective practice such as the Wheel of Awareness can build the mental skills of focused attention, open awareness, and kind intention that research suggests are three pillars of mind training that have been empirically shown to cultivate important aspects of social, psychological, and physiological flourishing.
Session 4: Mindfulness, MWe, and Our Interconnected Reality
A systematic survey of consciousness has revealed a first-person experiential pattern of descriptions consistent with ancient wisdom teachings—that awareness, interconnection, and love appear to be three interwoven threads forming a tapestry of the deep fabric of life. These scientific observations have emerged with a practice in which the knowing of consciousness is differentiated and then linked with the knowns, utilizing the visual metaphor of a “wheel of awareness” in which the hub is the experience of being aware, the rim that which we can be aware of. With both biological and physics perspectives suggesting that the human perspective of a “separate self”, reinforced with the messages of modern culture, may be only one part of a much larger view of the deeply interconnected nature of reality and the reality of nature, we can propose that part of the journey forward for humanity on this precious planet is to expand our consciousness and integrate our identity—with practices like mindfulness— to embrace a wider view of who we truly are. In many ways, we are more like interconnected verb-like events rather than only noun-like separate entities. The symbolic term MWe integrates the inner aspect of a “me” with the interconnected facet of our lives as a “we.” With this more integrated sense of our identity, MWe can move forward to cultivate personal, interpersonal, and even planetary health and flourishing.