Monday, October 26, 2015

What is temporal gravity and why should you care?

Kids on playground swing
Child on a swing

Gravity has a powerful influence not only over inanimate matter but also over biological systems. Plants grow opposite to gravity and animals maintain balance against this ever present force. Balance against gravity is so important, that gait (the degree of side-to-side movement during walking) is a reliable indicator of mental decline in elderly people. But gravity also creates the pressure that slows the biological clock: in space the body grows old much faster. Even bacteria get more virulent in free space. But surprisingly gravitational changes even regulate our mood. Roller coaster rides are popular because they manipulate the feeling of gravity. During the ride the sense of weight gradually increases, then disappears suddenly, replaced by the feeling of lightness. Gravity is simulated by an upward vertical motion. As the ride reaches its highest point, the contracted feeling of gravity gives way to weightlessness, the sense of expansion. Enjoying this transition is present in infancy. Children the world over enjoy swings and rocking in a cradle—the contracting feeling of gravity replaced by the expanding feeling of weightlessness. Even adults enjoy rocking chairs, free falls during parachute and bungee jumping.

Interaction with the outside world constantly modulate the neuronal connections (called connectome). As a consequence the mind forms highly symmetric to the physical world. So it should not be surprising that the mind forms emotional connections analogue to the hold of gravity. As gravity constricts the body, it also affects our sense of time by shifting between temporal (emotional) gravity and its lack, negative time. Emotional gravity is a constricted feeling in the mind, whereas negative time is the expanding and energizing surprise of the new, which such an elementary need for living systems. The brainstem is a personal sensor that reacts to the temporal gravity changes of the environment by adjusting the mood. Thus, the attitude of the organism is regulated by the environment. Although gravitational changes affect the body and the fluctuations of time affect the mind, both generate an emotional roller-coaster. Throughout history and in all cultures, the transitions from emotional gravity (tension) to emotional release (feeling of spaciousness) has been recognized as pleasurable. It is no accident that we simulate this transition in so many ways. Even crying in difficulty or after a tragedy is such a process. This way, the environment intimately regulates our mood by playing on our sense of attachments, i.e., temporal or emotional gravity. Children’s stories from ancient times to the present depict this transition from emotional tension to release. The hero suffers and, the greater his suffering is, the more enjoyable his glorification afterward. Adventure, horror, cliffhangers, and suspense operate on the same principle. We suffer through every averse predicament and emotional tension, and the payoff at the end gives us the emotional release. This is also the secret to the success of the twenty-four-hour news channels.

Therefore the environment intimately regulates our mood by regulating emotional gravity. The child curiously moves forward in a new situation with excitement (this represents the energy of the new) or pulls back in worry or fear (representing temporal gravity, the need for safety). Elegant and ingenious studies in psychology clearly demonstrate the effect of the environment on mood and behavior. Lack of temporal gravity is formed by low-entropy conditions (order, beauty) and produce up spin, the feeling of satisfaction, happiness, well-being, relaxation, and the excitement of the new. Interest and the body position are open, trusting. The excited dog smelling around is in search of the new. Enclosed monkeys are willing to pull a lever to take a peek at the outside world: the new. Although the new is an elementary need, overwhelming and fast-paced information such as flickering light, strongly delineated patterns, or repeating mechanical noises lead to temporal gravity, which provoke stress and increase brain frequencies. The temporal tightness of emotional gravity constricts the mind. The corresponding emotions of down spin states are anger, negligence, fear, paranoia, running, freezing, and adherence to the past. Even the language describes fear and guilt as difficult and heavy. This is the reason meditation is such a powerful practice for those who experience stress in their daily lives, which include most people today. If you feel stressed, you should serve yourself some negative time of beauty, joy in order to relax your mind. Even taking a deep breath should expand a constricted soul and mind.

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