Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Breaking A Life-Long Habit

I have been using my right hand doing pretty much everything all of my life. Something simple like holding chopstick, using mouse to surf the Internet, doing accounting work in office and everything in between, the right hand seems dominating the entire landscape of accomplishment.

The truth is I was naturally left handed by birth. During my impressionable young age, my father insisted on training me using right hand to do almost everything because he was afraid that I might be laughed at by other children if I showed my left handed way of doing things. Living in a conservative community like ours, any behavior deviated from the norm of the society is a taboo. As a parent, my father tried to have me fit in to the expectation of normal people. Later in life I began to realize and appreciate his thoughtfulness for he understood that sometimes children could be quite cruel and unforgiving whenever someone stepped out of bound.

However, my left hand is not really idle. Whenever I need to exert extreme effort and strength, my left hand is the commander and chief. It gets things done quickly with power and strength. With my intention to work on improving my cognitive abilities as I am now approaching an advancing age, I surfed the Net and came across several websites suggesting to eliminate or reduce our automatic pilot way of life. With so many of our daily chores fall into the subconscious, repetitive and no brainer activities, our billions of neurons in the brain are also becoming sluggish and rotting in the mud. One of the simple and effective ways to stimulate and awaken the neurons is switch using non-dominant hand for normal daily routine. The idea is that in order to strengthen the connections of neural pathways, we need to engage in activities that involve effort and thinking.

Several days ago when I woke up in the morning, the first thought that popped in my mind was that I need to start training my left hand using computer mouse. So, I followed my instinct and set out to move my mouse to the left side of the desk both at work and at home. There I am starting a trivial task of breaking a life-long numbing habit.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Is it Evolution or Divine Creation?

Are we humans the cream of crops of millions of years biological evolution or that of Big Bang divine creation? This was a question originated when the "Origin of Species" was published in 1859, and the question is still unabated and controversial up to this day.

Back in the nineteen century, the publishing of "Origin of Species" was in a center stage of heated debate among scientists and theologians, I found it very easily accepted concept in the twentieth century from my biology class in Junior High school. We were taught the " Survival of the fittest" as a given scientific fact.

However, in the western Christian world, the notion of putting human in the same category as of a member of animal kingdom and all was the result of evolution from primitive forms was profanity at the least. The concept that we are not favored son and daughter of God, but merely descendants of apes through long and slow evolutionary process is unsettling for Christian believers. The ego of man can be severely bruised by this adamant, unorthodox and blaspheming blow.

I now introduce a book called: "Darwin's Origin of Species - A Biography". Reading the book, I started to realize that Darwin did not really intend to trumpet the origin of human as evolutionary. He was doing the science work making observation and experimentation of natural world, particularly the biology of plant life. During the voyage of the Beagle, he collected and observed many species of plant life and some birds like finch studying their habitat and the surrounding environment. The catchphrase of "The Survival of the Fittest" did not even come from Darwin's writing, it was coined by one of his contemporary in the era. Nevertheless, the publishing of the book aroused and challenged century old idea of man as a intellectually inclined species favored by the God and destined of being ruler of lowly animal kingdom.

I can not say much about the book of "Origin of Species"itself; I borrowed from Library a while back and was completely overwhelmed by its sheet volume. The other factor prevented me from reading the book was (is) my lack of scientific training in this area. It is a futile attempt for a lay person to read through mazes of very dry botanical data.

From my two cents of opinion, I am not shameful of having ape being my ancestor. That goes to say that out of millions of species, through many million years of natural selection and we now emerged as a crown jewel of natural world, on a pivotal top of the food chain. That certainly is a thing to be thankful and celebrated. Darwin was keenly aware of pastoral beauty and harmony as deceiving and pretentious. Nature is a battle ground of life or death every second, every minute of every day. We are now so insulated by the modern amenities that just imagining my being accidentally left behind the Amazon Rain Forest gives me shiver in my spine.

Speaking of the food chain now that our predator is no longer ferocious animals roaming the earth, ironically our most deadly predator is microscopic in size and invisible to the naked eye in the name of virus and bacteria. Throughout history virus and bacteria killed countless human lives in various parts of the earth. Black Death claimed estimated 75 millions, AIDS 2 to 3 millions, Tuberculosis in the ballpark of 20 millions. Nature seems able to find a way to check and balance their inhabitants whether they are prey or predator.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Plastic Nature of the Brain

The dictionary definition of "plastic" means capable of being molded, modeled, or capable of being influenced, shaped or formed. "Plastic derives from the Greek word meaning "molded" or "formed." It is the tendency of the brain to shape itself according to experience." Our so called "Three Pound Universe" is an amazingly complex one hundred trillions network of neuronal connections capable of performing 200 calculations per second.

I am Introducing a book that I read called, "The Brain that Changes itself". As I am approaching the advancing age, and started to notice that sometimes I have a difficult time remembering the term, place or the name of things I wanted to describe while engaging conversations with others. I would have a mental picture of what I would like to say, but I could not conjure up the name that associate with the picture. It is quite disturbing when that happened considering I am really not that old yet. After reading the book about plasticity of our brain knowing that our brain can be trained to maintain an optimal function for years to come, my mood enlightens quite a bit now that I understand that by keeping active physically and doing brain workout exercise several times a week I can maintain a fairly agile and vigorous mind.

Brain science discovered that every organ and muscle of our body has an address in our brain, something that is equivalent to the atlas, the geography of the mind. Scientific laboratory tested that when some part of muscle is stimulated, the brain area governs it light up like Christmas tree.The law of compensation enables our brain to fully utilize every part of the brain and our brain cells seem to intelligently know that no area of brain should remain idle. We all know that the blind has unusually sharpened sense of tactility and audibility; in other words, the blind has supercharged sense of hearing and touch. Instead of wasting away, blind person's visual cortex of the brain is recruited by the auditory cortex of the brain, therefore the auditory function of the brain is expanded and is able to compensate the lack of visual input and strengthening the audial sensing ability.

Our brain cells seem to have intelligence beyond our comprehension and constantly re-transcribe its synaptic connections to serve us physically and mentally. What I am describing here is only a cursory bird eye's view of this book's content; a tip of the iceberg. The more I read into the chapters, the more I appreciate how wonderful and fascinating the god-given brain is. The macrocosm of a human being is a collective, concerted effort of our countless trillions of microscopic cells. Each cell is fused with intelligence, plasticity capable of adapting and responding to the need of changing environment by reorganizing itself or creating new structures. This book " The Brain That Changes Itself" by Dr. Norman Doidge is a masterful work; a tribute and an honor to appreciate our 100+ trillions brain cells that work tirelessly and diligently serving us.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

AHA! Moment Solving Sudoku

A month ago when I was shopping in a supermarket for the following week's food supply, I happened to casually browse around the checkout stand, and saw a copy of Sudoku book so prominently displayed that I can't help but picking it up. I am not an impulsive buyer. In fact I ignore most of the crowded colorful "buy me now" merchandise on the checkout counter. But I figure that anything that can upkeep my mental faculty in good order is worth getting it.

Well, I have been playing it every day ever since. I started with medium two-star level and gradually moving on to three-star and now in the hardest, the four-star level. Even though Sudoku appears to be a simple one to nine number arranging puzzle, solving it can be quite challenging especially when working on the four-star level. On the Sudoku, every number on the board is mutually exclusive and has its unique position, and every number also impacts every other number. If just one number is placed wrong, you can be sure the rest of the board will be wrong.

Often times when successfully placed several numbers on the board and to your surprising delight you find out that the following numbers are just cascading down the board like a waterfall. You are unstoppable and every number seems to fall into its rightful place one after another. This is the "Aha" moment that we sometimes experience when the light suddenly flickers on in the critical moment of realization. Other times, you get stuck in the mud, hit rock bottom and there is no way out. You searched for the solution in every conceivable angle but there was none. Well, that is the time that you walk away from it, take a break and let your ingenious subconscious mind taking over the thinking for you.

What are the benefits of playing Sudoku? The first and foremost is help improve focus and concentration ability. Most of the time our mind scatters all over the place, it loves to chatter away with our daily encounters. When I try to solve the puzzle, my mind needs to be able to zoom in to the level of detail of one number at a time, but simultaneously, it also needs to be able to zoom out to see the big picture of entire board. Since every number is in some relationship with other number, I need to see both the forest and the tree to uncover the correct number.

The other benefit is learn to be patient. One of the strategies of treasure hunting of next number is to fine comb each horizontal and vertical line with a meticulous approach. That would require certain amount of patience. According to some study, solving Sudoku can give your brain a good work out by strengthening our brain's billions of neuronal pathways and connections.

Sudoku is a deceivingly simple game. All that you need is a pencil and a game book that cost only a few bucks. There is no need for electronic gadget. It's portable and it's a lot of fun. When you have ultimately overcome the challenge of solving the mystery, the feeling is indescribably satisfying.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Since the NBA games are ongoing into their Semifinal conferences, I am busy keeping up scores and have to compress the little time that I have to work on UMS' meditative session in the small window of over packed daily schedule. The subject of the meditation is Manifesting Skills.

I worked on the first three tracks of Deserving and Receiving, Working With Pre-Matter and Magnetizing & Manifesting. I can honestly say that these are one of the most beautifully guided meditation that I have ever experienced. The background music is incredibly relaxing and uplifting. The narrative from Dr. Breese speaks of time-tested truth of the laws of the universe. Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve!

Then came the ultimate Gemstone of this fourth and final track of Surrender & Being Carried. This is, what I believe, a seldom revealed secret of the Universal Truth. If we know that we are spiritual, eternal beings who voluntarily stepping down to the earth plane to experience various scenarios of theatrical settings, then we know that the world at large is a grandstand of illusory projection of God's mind. After going through sixty, seventy or eighty years of lifetime experience of pain and pleasure, health and sickness, we then fade away from the theater of life and back to our true home from where we came. In this regard, there is little point of desiring and accumulating things that are not lasting. The only thing that we can bring home with us is our experience.

We all wish to manifest what we desire like money, fame, or a lifetime of leisure and comfort, but we might not necessarily get it no matter how hard we tried and we wished. May be in our destiny, the leisure and comfort are not really the highest good for our soul's learning and growing. In our true state of being, we do not need any material things, conquer any obstacles or battle demons in our dark side. But, once we incarnate in the earth plane, we, soul then have to labor continuously in order to sustain our bodily function for a reasonably happy life. No wonder we all want to manifest good things so that we can enjoy life while it lasts.

By surrendering our will to the will of the divine, we are carried by the spirit throughout our life. As Dr. Breeze said it well, we don't really know every aspect of our life, therefore we don't know what is for our highest good. Often time that when I pray for people or myself, I do not pray so that whatever the symptom, disease or problem to go away, but I pray that "For the highest good, I ask Love, Light and Blessings of God be sent to the person" and let the Universal Intelligence take over whatever blessing the person need for one's highest good.