You've got plenty of nerve

November 16, 2008 - You've got plenty of nerve

On its own it could be described as an entire universe, the brain. Thoroughly connected to our brain stem which is the essential link to provide the most basic of functions as well as things we have trouble comprehending. We live everyday to stimulate nearly every nerve in our body in one way or another, the sensation our nerve generates wouldn’t be anything without our brain. Yet its more than that, what has been specifically of interest lately has been my observance of my waking mind verses my sleeping mind and the transitions in between. I refrain from using the word conscious because while living, although there are many varying states we experience, our nervous system and thus brain are always conscious. The discussion of the types of conscious is another matter.

Most people, for most of if not all of their lives, will have trouble connecting why our sleeping state allows us the ability to dream what feels like 2 days in 10 minutes of sleep. Beyond being a distorted World on its own and with few ways to test how our brain functions or responds to the sleep state science has been making a lot of progress. Your brain is the central processor for all of the general functions and interpretations for each nerve in your entire body. While awake your body is gathering billions of nerve stimulations and sending them directly your brain, after which your brain is doing something which science has trouble reproducing on an artificial level. Throughout our evolution, as with many animals our brains have developed and learned to process thousands of signals/synapses’ at once, literally in fractions of time which is incredibly hard to comprehend let alone measure.

So while we are able to have an independent thought while tying our shoe or driving a car that still detracts from the depth or clarity of thought at the moment; to boot our wake mind/brain has an action in which to compare the length at which a thought occurred. This, for most, primarily occurs through your eyes since they process light refraction. You can get a feeling for this difference by closing your eyes, thinking about something and running your finger across a table or another object.

Much like the how being blind allows one to develop more sensitive hearing or feeling, they are absent generally not one though two incredibly advanced nerves which we have come to utilize/stimulate in thousands of ways per second. Now compare that to a sleeping state, how that affects you if you’re able to isolate all of your nerves/senses and just utilize the processor, your brain, for thought. I think it a rare feat to have the ability to isolate other senses while awake and just focus within their own minds since predominately this is a passive feature. While sleeping your body suppresses nearly all nerve receptors, if you’ve ever woke to find your body aching from the way you slept. So think of this like an aperture of a camera or lens instead of being wide open it restricts itself to just the essentials. At this point your mind is wide open, although you now have no method for measuring the length of time which has passed. Why?

Virtually everyone has an experience at some point which they go to nap or they accidentally fall asleep for a short length of time and feels as though it’s been hours or vise-versa. This is simply learned throughout life, the dream doesn’t really have a defined period of time, it comes from years of training. From the moment you come out of the womb most babies have developed enough for the most basic parts of their brain to start recording that which their receptors process. This over thousands hours of your life becomes the basis of time, your brain starts to develop a residual amount of information from waking moment. There are thousands of things that our brain tucks away in areas we don’t consciously observe. Eventually these things, translated into synapses’ develop a life of their own over time as they occur more frequently. So going back to the relevance of time; our mind starts to develop an integrated measurement of time based on each experience we have from the interactions with the waking world around us.

In our suspended physical world, dreaming state, our mind now has a means of which to relate the passage of time through previous physical experiences. Now suspended within a narrow aperture of our core processing ability or minds can essentially speed up or slow down that state, this will largely depend on your physical state. Possibly how deep of a sleep you are in or how long you’ve been asleep. As you lay there your body starts slowing your heart rate and general function to save energy, this directly affects the blood flow to your brain and how much oxygen it gets. This, unless forced, will never go below the critical rate at which essential function is required. However, the richness of oxygen in the blood will directly effect how quickly synapses occur, at least this is how we currently understand things. The higher the higher the synapses frequency generally the quicker you will process information, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll perceive time going quicker or slower in a dream, it really can just define how fast you’ll dream which by this point is almost irrelevant. This, a more focused mind, has a narrow aperture on a way of thought. Most have probably had a moment where time seems to go quickly when immersed in a particular activity, I can only theorize this is because your mind suspends its association of time to a physical feels. Without a clue, like the sun rising or setting, its hard for most to even guess what time it is let alone estimate how much time has past from thought to throught.

I can’t say I have a specific point to throwing around all of this theory beyond its mere observation. Its really just a place to start, understanding the essential elements to something can allow one to find new ways of utilizing those elements. Many cultures and people swear by meditation, those are or do reach this focused state of thought like which dreaming produces. The same thing can be observed when one becomes immersed within a project or activity like music, drawing, etc.


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