Togetherness Brain Tune-Ups - The New Frontier Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“Anyone who does the will of my father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)

“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”  (Matt. 5:14-15).

We all need to have brains, and therefore minds, that are fully functional and integrated.  What that means is that each brain area has plenty of good, healthy neurons, and that there are very sufficient neural connections between all the areas.  Due to faulty caregiver relationships in infancy and other negative life events, such as serious illness, extreme poverty, accidents or other trauma, so many people grew up with “lopsided” brains.  Such brains do not exhibit healthy integration. Areas without enough neurons don’t transmit and receive signals well, or even at all.  For instance, conscience, empathy, and compassion are abilities we can be conscious of and utilize in life behaviors and decision making ONLY if the neural connections are there.  If those particular neural networks have not developed, such individuals are prone to be very cruel, with callous attitudes and behaviors.  They are diagnosed as sociopathic or psychopathic.  Truly reforming them has not seemed possible, no matter how much time and effort is spent. Only God’s pure miracle work would fix them, it seems. 

I thought about the history of humanity and how full of cruelty the record is.  Thousands of years of human and animal sacrifice.  Wars upon wars, genocide upon genocide.  It must be that the brains of the masses, especially the leaders, never did develop empathy and compassion, so power and greed dominated.  I think about modern day terrorist groups - men seemingly undoubtedly raised without the warmth and attunement of their mothers, who probably had never experienced warm nurturing either.  Generation after generation of humans being raised to be cruel, heartless monsters - coldness and meanness all around them all their lives.  Pitiful – and incredibly dangerous, of course. 

As the above Bible verses mandate, WE are to do the will of the Father.  WE are related and are family with Jesus.  WE are to be the light on the hill. One huge area in which we can be the light on the hill is to give our brains good tune-ups to maintain and increase integration and well-rounded functioning, which leads to good, kind behaviors.  There are two basic ways to build better brains.  One way is through techniques and practices which involve focusing.  The other way is through working towards and engaging in as many quality relationships of attunement as possible. 

Attunement in interpersonal relating occurs when we are really “tuned in” to one another.  We can sense the mind behind the behaviors of someone else, and his or her feelings.  We feel really connected.  When the other person (or animal friend) can attune to us too, we can have a reciprocal, very satisfying conversation going on, where each keeps responding back to the last message received, in beautiful harmony.  Such individuals are really “there” for each other.  They are really open and sharing of themselves in a relaxed manner of true good will.  Whatever their life roles are, they are on an even ground as human beings, or as animal and human beings.  In deep respect, each allows the other to be him or her self, no changes needed. 

In order to have such great relating possible, each member of the dyad (two-person group) needs to be capable of mindsight, which is the ability to think about his or her own thinking.  ONLY when a person can think about his own thinking can he think about (be aware of) someone else’s thinking.  Also, each person needs to have fully functional mirror neurons.  Mirror neurons are nerve cells which actually mirror what is going on in someone else, and put an awareness of their state in our own minds.  “Based on these sensory inputs, we can mirror not only the behavioral intentions of others, but also their emotional states.  In other words, we not only imitate others’ behaviors but come to actually resonate with their feelings – the internal mental flow of their minds.  We sense not only what action is coming next, but also the emotional energy that underlies the behavior.” (Siegel, p. 61)

Engaging in wholesome attuned relating fosters everything good!  More neurons and connections are generated.  Brains and minds become stronger and more integrated.  Kindness, empathy, and compassion grow and are more and more a part of life patterns.  Physical health is enhanced also, as total well-being permeates the members of such dyads.  Therefore, attunement is actually life giving.  Jesus came to give life.  We are to be like Jesus.  With such attentive, caring, reciprocal relating, we can give life also, to one another.  THIS ATTUNEMENT – THIS QUALITY RELATING - IS HOW WE CAN BE LIGHTS ON THE HILL. THIS IS HOW WE CAN BE “ONE” AS THE FATHER AND THE SON ARE ONE. THIS IS HOW WE CAN, IN OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES, WORK TO LESSEN THE HORRIBLE HARM TO THE INNOCENT ANIMALS.  AS WE SOW GENTLENESS AND KINDNESS, WITH INTEGRITY, WE FOSTER AND ENCOURAGE THE SAME QUALITY GROWTH IN OTHERS.

Well, it seems quite obvious to me that such high-level relating takes a lot of skill.  I’m convinced that the more we can learn about effective communication, the better!  I do not count myself as an expert in that area, but I can pass along a few hopefully helpful hints.  For one thing, we need to be sensitive to the needs of others for breaks in relating.  People also have needs to be by themselves for a while.  When greeting someone, convey enthusiasm.  Smile, give good eye contact, and really act glad to see the human person (or the animal person).  Take your time, don’t act distracted, and really listen to what the other has to say.  Sometimes we can be too mentally focused on what we want to say next, we don’t even let the other person finish talking. It seems like really bad form to avoid responding back to what the person just said, and to blatantly change the topic.  We need to come through on plans and agreements, lest we be thought unreliable (and therefore untrustworthy).  We need to be genuinely sharing our feelings and concerns, to be “knowable,” and as appropriate.  But, we also need to get our minds off of ourselves and be genuinely interested in someone else, and to convey that interest with our speech, our facial expressions, and our body language.  Our interest needs to be consistent, not wavering in and out.  We need to accept and respect the other person as he or she is, although there probably will be areas in which we disagree.  The important thing is that you are “for” that person in life, and show it.  Their feelings, desires, needs, and hurts are important because they exist, and also because they, as persons, are important to you in your life.  Be careful not to say things that “put them down.” Make sure your speech is clear and not muffled.  Earn their trust by being trustworthy and faithful, and hopefully they will earn your trust also. 

As I stated above, high quality, attuned relating takes a lot of skill, and part of that skill is knowing which people to allow close to you, and how much.  It seems unavoidable that we must constantly appraise people new to us for their trustworthiness.  We sure can’t trust everybody.  Even people who seem “so nice” to begin with can cause us monstrous hurt down the line.  One way I practice connecting positively with others is to say something positive and cheerful to grocery and other checkers.  They invariably respond positively, and there is virtually no personal risk to me. In general, getting to know people slowly seems like a good policy.

Well, folks, I’m not perfect in how I relate, I’m sure.  But, I continue to practice connecting wherever I go.  We can all practice, as appropriate to the social situation and using good judgment.  When we do, we are letting our lights shine, and we are helping others to let their lights shine.  The more shining lights there are, the less darkness, pain, and suffering there is going on. 

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” George Eliot.


Siegel, Dr. Daniel J.  The New Science of Personal Transformation.  Bantam Books (New York 2011).

COPYRIGHT 2016 Dr. Joyce  The Caring Heart

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