Ques: Why does a batsman sometimes get stuck in the crease – neither forward nor backward? 
Ques: Why are we confused about eating our favourite cake?
Ques: Why are we not clear whether to have one last pint for the road or just get up and leave?

How difficult could this be? We ourselves are on the horns of dilemma. But why if its our mind? Think…

If its all cognitive then why are we so undecisive on such petty issues?

I have always been perplexed by this and I think I have my answers now from neuroscientist David Eagleman. I always wondered how, inadvertently, I always find myself working on the autonomic/implicit/intuitive….holistic side of things. And not so much on cognitive side of things. Be it myself then or my students.

Analogy – From movement perspective, I don’t change a bowler’s action/delivery etc. Neither I speak about it. He changes it. I just facilitate it by burning the skill into the circuitry pathway. He produces it autonomically then.

Likewise can we work on other autonomic aspects in brain? I think we can…although there are  genes factor where, perhaps, it is harder. However, I would like to believe that humans have potential to change anything and everything. After all, its hormonal and when we can control it elsewhere, say in building muscles, or making us sharper or faster; we should be able to do something about it in this aspect as well.  I would like to think this way.

So human mind is collection of numerous machine like connected sub-agents (hormonal/receptor interactions) that are themselves mindless. As Walt Whitman puts it – we harbor multitudes within our brain and those multitudes are locked in chronic battle. Therefore, our brain practically runs on conflict.

But Output channel is one! Right? You go for it or you don’t.

David explains it further beautifully by saying that the brain contains two separate systems:

  1. Fast, autonomic, and below the surface of conscious awareness – can also be labeled as implicit, heuristic, intuitive, holistic, reactive, and impulsive.

My take: from sports perspective, it could be how we correct our movements by default, how we pick up a ball coming at us which is impossible otherwise to spot given its speed, how we can hit the target in total darkness. We harness all these qualities is my belief.

Or how we able to instantly take right calls by default, make decisions instantly without knowing the subject, how we attain absolute clarity on different subjects etc. etc.

2) And the other is slow, cognitive, and conscious – explicit, analytic, rule based, and reflective.

Here we train our mind to do different things, think in a certain way, making ourselves a healer, sufferer, or think of us as tired. Forming thought processes, telling ourselves that we need time, setting deadlines to heal, etc.

But its not natural. Its what we make of us consciously. Right?

Example – I want to meditate because I want peace of mind. I want to visit temple because seeking blessings from God is good. All this and more….

Ques: Aren’t we restrictive ourselves consciously somewhere?

Ques: Are we not taking away the naturalness in us?

I think Yes….we are trying fine tune our personality.

Anyway, continuing from mind perspective – even though movement (as quoted above) sounds a different subject, but isn’t the sync between the left and right or btw upper extremity and lower autonomic or neural? It’s all neural and if we can correct it, then we have the ability to work on all neural circuits.

These two different factions in our brain competes with each other or align (perhaps) to control single output channel. A part of us tries to muster the fortitude to forgo something and the other wants to relish it. Our very own internal multitudes in the brain becomes the source of confusion.

We are the confusion. Damn!!

Sometimes we get stuck at a point where the two forces are equal and cancel out. The pull matches the push as David puts it perfectly. This is what makes us undecisive. Imagine one subagent wants you to be natural whereas, the other wants to be calculative and refined.

I see a beautiful lake – the natural in me wants to jump in it and enjoy the swim. The other thinks how it would reflect of me.

So, brain is a machine made of conflicting parts. I always strive to dig deeper into how we can align these parts instead of these being at war. While I continue to do that….I always have to fight my own demons to understand it more deeply before expressing it on others. Such is the journey of learning perhaps.