Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tactile Learning for Life Skills Development



Abstract of Paper for presentation at the International Conference on Life Skills Education (ICLSE-2017) organized by the Indian Association of Life Skills Education at Pune, Maharashtra, 3rd – 5th February, 2017 
 

Natural bodies having the capacity for self-nourishment, growth and decay are said to have “life”. Human organisms get life from the cells living in their bodies, and all living cells on this planet are DNA software/information driven biological machines. The body’s cells drive the body to seek nourishment – needed for their own individual integrity and life – from the environment. Vander’s Human Physiology textbook says, ‘Those processes responsible for the goal-directed quality of behavior are the motivations, or “drives” for that behavior’ and, ‘Learning is the acquisition and storage of information as a consequence of experience.’ Learning is a crucial ingredient of motivation. Information of the experiences of the body’s internal activities and body-states is acquired – generally without conscious awareness – by the somatic or tactile senses, and stored in what physiologists call ‘implicit memory’ – one’s “implicit knowledge”, which also includes the DNA information. And, information of the conscious experiences outside one’s body is acquired by the external sense organs and stored in ‘explicit or declarative memory’. The intellect/mind can use information stored in declarative memory to form words (declare) and to think with, but the mind cannot access the implicit knowledge and use it in its intellective tasks. This makes it difficult for an individual to gain mastery over one’s own behavior and skills, because it is one’s implicit knowledge which initiates motivation.


The ancient Indians had developed a tactile learning technique – called “Yoga”, “Sankhya Yoga”, “Vipassana” or “Mindfulness” – for becoming consciously aware of their own implicit knowledge, empowering them to become emotionally balanced and virtuous, and to achieve fulfillment. This paper gives a physiologic explanation of this Indian Psychology yoga technique, and shows the way it can be practiced – even by young children – for the development of Life Skills, and for alleviating many of our social problems.

Keywords: Learning; Somatic Senses; Indian Psychology; Yoga;

Friday, October 28, 2016

Bhagavad Gita’s Sankhya Yoga and Maslow’s Motivation Theory to Mitigate The Drug Menace



(Abstract for the International Conference on Nurturing Human Values in Youth: A Perspective of Srimad Bhagavad Gita at Guru Jambeshwar University of Science & Technology, Hisar, Haryana, India, December 6-8 2016)



The drug addiction problem has already become an epidemic in Punjab, and is getting worse day by day. This paper shows how Bhagavad Gita’s Sankhya Yoga – a technique based on the science of Psychophysics (Sensory Psychology) – and Maslow’s motivation theory can help us to mitigate the drug menace and inculcate ethical values in youth. 

In The Organism (1934), Kurt Goldstein, alluding to self-actualization being the purpose/goal of life, had said, “The organism has definite potentialities, and because it has them it has the need to actualize or realize them. The fulfillment of these needs represents the self-actualization of the organism.” And in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow identified these needs as the body’s Physiological Needs, Psychosocial Needs, and the Need for Self-actualization. Maslow’s paper says that the Physiological Needs are the most prepotent/powerful of all our needs, and asks us to consider nutrition/homeostasis for fulfilling the Physiological Needs. And the Need for Self-actualization, Maslow says, is our need for acquiring and systematizing the knowledge necessary for fulfilling all our needs.

Stress is the main cause of mental disorders such as drug addiction. This paper examines the physiology of homeostasis and stress, to understand the essential nutrients needed by the body for fulfilling the Physiological Needs. It explains how nutritional deficiencies and toxicity in the body can cause substance use disorder, – drug addiction – and suggests the nutrients needed for the prevention and treatment of drug addiction. Besides the drug habit, addicts have many other bad habits and emotional problems that need to be corrected for them to live in harmony with others and to become useful productive members of society. This can best be achieved by practicing the simple Sankhya Yoga technique that has been explained in this paper.

 “Learning is the acquisition and storage of information as a consequence of experience”. We acquire information about things outside the body from the experiences of our external sense organs, primarily from our eyes and ears – such as the knowledge imparted by schools and colleges. This knowledge helps us to manage things in the external world and to be successful in life. However for self-actualization – also known as self-realization (Sanskrit, moksha, amrit) – we also need to know about the things going on inside the body. We acquire this information by means of the tactile sensory receptors that lie under the skin and inside the body – our sense of touch. This tactile learning helps us to understand our self (Atman), and manage our emotional and habitual responses. But as the tactile learning usually occurs without our conscious awareness, our consciousness faculty – intellect or the mind – cannot use this learning to correct our negative emotions and habits. Sankhya Yoga is India’s ancient Vedic technique that enables us to consciously observe and learn from our own tactile sensations. The biological explanation of this ancient technique is given in Aristotle’s 4th Century BC treatise De Anima (On the Soul). And this paper uses the principles of modern physiology to understand Sankhya Yoga.

Monday, September 5, 2016

HOW YOGA AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE BODY’S COGNITIVE PROCESSES CAN AID GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING



(Abstract of my paper for the National Conference on ‘Guidance and Counselling in India: Status, Trends, Practices and Innovations’ organized by Regional Institute of Education (National Council of Educational Research & Training), Mysuru, 16 - 18 November, 2016)

Abstract

Knowledge is power; information is power. The hereditary knowledge/information stored in our DNA genes empowers the body’s cells to carry out all bodily activities that ensure our life, health and wellbeing. But as the food and nourishment that the cells need for maintaining their life and integrity has to be sourced from the environment, the body also requires information of the external world to enable it to get the nourishment. The body acquires this information from the experiences of its external sense organs and its tactile sensory receptors, or the sense of touch – “Learning is the acquisition and storage of information as a consequence of experience”. The information about the external world that we learn over a period of time influences the body’s motivation for behavior, and emotions. But, our behavior can become dysfunctional when this learned information has been inappropriate, and also because the mind – consciousness-faculty – is unable to take into account the body’s tactile learning while making decisions, because it is unaware of the tactile learning, which generally occurs implicitly – without our conscious awareness. 

Ancient Indian sages had developed Bhagavad Gita’s Sankhya Yoga technique for consciously observing and learning from our own tactile sense experiences. The technique is called Vipassana by the Buddhists and “Mindfulness” in clinical psychology. Many PubMed Library articles have reported the efficacy of Mindfulness in alleviating not only stress but also the suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. A simple Sankhya Yoga technique has also been found to be highly effective in helping children with special needs and those diagnosed with learning disorders. 

This paper details the physiology of the body’s cognitive processes – the body’s learning mechanism –and also explains the simple Sankhya Yoga technique, so that teachers and extension education workers can use it in the guidance and counselling of students.