Heidi’s Video Series on the Neuroscience of Awareness

See the below videos–to get updated on new videos hit the red “subscribe” button on my channel, by clicking here.

2 Minute introduction to the video series:

I’ve been using neurobiology principles in my psychotherapy practice for years. In my personal life I have been interested in the intersection of science and consciousness. Finally, my fascination with these two are coming together where I’ve decided to share what I feel has value. Please join the discussion by commenting on the YouTube channel.


VIDEO #1 Spindle Neurons and Increasing Self-Awareness

Description for the above video:

Spindle neurons, (Heidi points to the prefrontal cortex area where there are more furrows than other parts of the brain and thus more neurons,) the anterior cingulate and insula, these three combined seem to allow self-awareness to arise. Heidi defines interoception, then explains how cultivating it promotes integration and a greater ability to be self-aware. (Body-aware mindfulness activities improve interoception; interoception grows spindle neurons. ) At the end, she mentions the “Wheel of Awareness” practice as one example (out of many) of a brain fitness exercise that strengthens the nervous system and promotes integration.

Description for the above video:

Crockett begins with the definition of mind as an emergent process that regulates energy and information flow (also defined as “an embodied and relational process that regulates energy and information flow”). This definition is in contrast to older definitions of the mind simply being manifestations of the brain. On the relational aspect of mind, we have frontal and parietal mirror neurons that work with the superior temporal sulcus, (Dr. Siegel calls all this our “resonance circuit,”) these three work together to map out representations of the intention of others. Our mind is anticipating “what is going to happen next” through these circuits, the circuits are created both through interactions with others and within our brains and are constantly being updated–just one example of how the mind is an on-going process being informed internally and externally. Crockett guides you through a brief example of this external, internal, external energy and information flow, then ends introducing the “Wheel of Awareness,” specifically the idea of being in the hub where you are centered. This is called a “coherent mind” in the Triangle of Well-Being mentioned at the very end. See the next video for an additional explanation about the Triangle and the Wheel. This video includes core interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) concepts that will be used in the future. In a future discussion about awareness, the important note to this video is that the mind is a process, meaning that it is not a single “thing” but rather an on-going experience much like the experience of being aware.


Description for the above video:

Crockett offers a further explanation of optimal mental health represented by the Triangle of Well-Being, (Empathic Relationships tip, Coherent Mind tip, and Embodied Brain/Integrated Brain tip). She mentions the Wheel of Awareness and the 3 Pillars of Mind-Training from Dr. Siegel’s newest book, “Aware: The Power and Practice of Presence.” This video ends with Crockett explaining how a healthy (ideal = awakened) mind filters like the microvilli of the small intestine: KEEPING the nourishing food or information (LINKING TO THE GOOD) and LETTING GO of the waste (DIFFERENTIATING FROM THE BAD). See her video on the fast (400 million years old) vs slow (200 million years old) brain systems, for techniques to reset and heal a mind-filter so that the nervous system doesn’t have kinks in it, (example of kinks are an emotional response that is overly strong or overly numb, like a response that is out-of-context to the external cue). In the future, Crockett will use a “Cuckoo Clock” metaphor to better explain a kinked mind-filter.


Description of the above video:

Crockett quickly overviews what is coming up next in her Neuroscience of Awareness blog. She’s previously defined the mind, then soon will discuss a visual metaphor from neurobiology for a highly integrated brain called a Sweep-Loop. She overviews different nervous system states (fast systems 400 million years old vs. slow systems 200 million years old) and what it looks like for the optimal filter of our mind to travel between these states. She talks about what happens when the fast systems take us over, since these are largely unconscious (below our conscious awareness,) and how there are techniques to take the unconscious, (also referred to as somatic memory or implicit memory,) and make it conscious (so that the memory becomes tagged with time). Once a framework is established for different nervous system states, a discussion can begin about what happens when a person is in a higher state of consciousness, what is going on in their nervous system and what is potentially going on in other people’s nervous systems. Stay tuned and join in the discussion.

About the above video:

Crockett describes this visual IPNB metaphor about the mind traveling between being in the plane of possibility, the plateaus of probability, and the peaks of activation. Additionally, she explains Dr. Siegel’s “Sweep-Loop” (from his recent book, “Aware,”) where attention is 50 percent in the plane of possibility and 50 percent in the actual words/actions. This kind of quality of attention where one has a wide window of tolerance represents someone with high brain integration and is an important foundation for later discussions on consciousness. For example, someone must be able to have access to this plane of possibility (where they can reside in the hub of the Wheel o f Awareness,) in order to integrate some of the Nine Domains of Integration (which are progressive) like the Eighth Domain: Temporal Integration,* which is the brain making sense of time, certainty and uncertainty, mortality and immortality. It can be anxiety-provoking to be faced with the uncertainty of life, so it requires a Sweep-Loop quality of attention to contain both the anxiety plus the calm that is an inherent part of being in the hub/the plane of possibility. *For Nine Domains of Integration Chart click here https://greenlightheidi.com/2019/08/core-ipnb-charts/

Originally created to explain the importance of newer “slow” systems to heal, this video was added to Heidi’s Neuroscience blog to explain fast vs slow systems. The last part about healing memories will be visited later (unless someone asks questions) and relates to the previous “Sweep-Loop” plane of possibility video (specifically Siegel’s idea of trauma as an indelible plateau). Crockett explains about “fast,” (primitive, nonverbal ) nervous system states and how those interact with “slow,” (requires large brains, complex social interaction,) nervous system states. Then she talks about how trauma or old bad memories (“pattern-matching”) are stuck in feedback loops in the fast systems. It is through the imagination, narration, and abstract thought skills of the slow systems (higher brain functions) that a person is able to “think about thinking” and heal their past.

Above video description:

Having explained the Sweep-Loop (visual metaphor for an optimal quality of attention) and fast vs slow systems, Crockett talks about automatic thinking especially the default mode network (DMN). She mentions interoception and Dr. Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication as ways to promote higher brain functions like empathy and attuned communication and integrate the DMN with the medial prefrontal cortex. This video explains that there is nothing wrong with the DMN, rather it is when it is not well-integrated with other parts of the brain that people’s quality of attention suffers. The next video will explain how according to research, a more integrated brain leads to an “expanded sense of self” or “no self,” how that relates to nonviolent communication (NVC), and a brief overview explaining about NVC.

Above video description:

Crockett explains a fascinating theory about how invisible mechanisms inside us sabotage. To purchase 75 min class click: https://greenlightheidi.com/2019/05/paid-class-firestones-defense-mechanisms-the-fantasy-bond-and-inner-critical-voice/

Having just outlined the Default Mode, also known as Mind Wandering or Negativity Bias, Crockett launches into an introductory video explaining the second half of the entire theory she’s found to help create a framework for how we can become more conscious and what prevents us from achieving our brain’s full capacity for excellent executive function. All 8 videos prior to this video have been introducing neurobiology, the definition of mind, and optional states of awareness like a Sweep-Loop, and suboptimal states like a poorly-integrated Default Mode. These videos begin laying a framework for how we all exist on a spectrum from low integration to high integration. This video explains when someone is low integration, (highly defended or “inward” per Firestone’s theory), WHY there’s impaired integration. Basically, the person’s brain isn’t well-integrated and their inner critical voice and fantasy bond, (their two defense mechanisms or anti-self system in the theory,) take them over and rule their life in place of real, in-person, open, honest and vulnerable relating.

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