In other words, running from a source of inner fear and pain merely prolongs the agony and expands the sense of inner weakness beyond where it has any right to go. Facing the pain and bearing the suffering can shorten the ordeal and strengthen the self — but many children are not open to the logic involved here, on a moment to moment basis.
Dangerous Children do not reach the levels they do by taking the safe and easy path to person-hood. In the act of growing up every child confronts obstacles and suffers many types of pain. Traditional parents often rush to remove obstacles from their child’s path, but parents of Dangerous Children understand that the child must learn to confront difficult, and often painful, problems. Suffering is inevitably involved in the simple process of growing up and gaining a step by step maturity.
We have discussed the use of “mindfulness,” meditation, self-hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and neurofeedback in Dangerous Child training. Different methods of “quieting” or “balancing” the Child’s mind will suit different children for getting over minor emotional bumps. Dealing with more substantial and threatening obstacles can require a more nuanced approach.
Usually the simpler the approach to dealing with emotional blocks to learning, the more easily the child can move on to the next challenge. But simple does not necessarily mean “direct.” A paradoxical approach often yields quicker and more effective results than more “common sense” direct advice or instruction.
Example: Paradoxical Intention — Visualizing or practicing disturbing symptoms or situations to the point of absurdity or humor.
Paradoxical intention is a bit like trying to tickle yourself. Consider that you are in control while trying to tickle yourself (or trying to experience a disturbing symptom). This sense of “being in control” makes it difficult to experience the tickle or the troubling symptom, because most of the tickle and most of the emotional symptom comes from not having control in the first place.
This tactic of willfully trying to produce the feared symptom usually impresses clients as absurdly incongruous when the therapist first proposes it. And their bemused reaction tends to introduce an element of humor into the therapy… Such an injection of humor is designed to help clients detach themselves from their symptoms through the very act of smiling or laughing at them. __ Leon Seltzer (p. 59) (see link below)
Or, in the case of the Dangerous Child, posing the experiencing of the uncomfortable emotional symptom as a challenge — better yet as a humorous challenge — reframes the situation completely, and makes it easier for the Child to disentangle himself from the bad feeling, bad habit, or troubling thought. This is not a trick and should not be presented in a sneaking way, but rather in an open and straightforward manner.
Paradoxical techniques are simply tools for teaching, and their efficacy depends upon the trust that the Dangerous Child has in his parent, mentor, coach, or teacher.
The master of paradoxical therapies was the psychiatrist and clinical hypnotist Milton Erickson M.D.. But the basic techniques are practiced by psychotherapists and coaches of many different disciplines and practices.
The pearl of gestalt wisdom excerpted at the top of the page was quoted in a 1986 book “Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy,” by Leon Seltzer. The book describes a wide range of “paradoxical” approaches to therapy from ancient Buddhist thought to Freud to Gestalt Therapy to Behaviorist Therapy to Paradoxical Hypnotic Suggestions.
Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson in his “12 Rules for Life,” emphasizes the importance of facing up to the things that frighten or trouble us, so that we can get past them. He often recommends “desensitization” using an incremental approach — doing as much as you can or taking as much as you can take, then increasing the intensity or duration the next time, and so on.
Peterson also emphasizes the need for persons to take responsibility for the things that are within their power to change and make better. Doing this can give purpose to the individual’s life — and purpose is one thing that can give meaning to life’s suffering (since suffering is inevitable).
It may seem odd that one can run into the same sort of personal growth techniques from ancient Tibetan Buddhists, modern martial artists, Freudian analysts, Gestalt therapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, hypnotists, storytellers, and self-help psychologist-guru-authors like Jordan Peterson.
That should tell you that the dysfunctional avoidance of uncomfortable — but common — situations is a problem that keeps individuals stuck in ruts across all sorts of societies and cultures and socioeconomic classes.
For Dangerous Children, the method that gets him out of his self-made rut and back on the road to Dangerous Childhood, is the best approach for each one.
Life is inherently unpredictable. We must constantly act in the face of imperfect information, which means that we are always at risk of betting wrong — and failing. This is simply the nature of the universe, and the human condition. It is a reality that courageous humans learn to face head-on — but which cowardly rent-seekers attempt to evade by using the coercion of governments, gangs, and mobs.
Entrepreneurs are Universal Risk Takers
All Dangerous Children are trained in the entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurship is best considered as a behaviour: “judgmental decision making under uncertainty.” (Source Peter Klein Chapt 9)
Since virtually all decision-making is necessarily done under conditions of some uncertainty, virtually the whole of meaningful life involves entrepreneurial risk, with some emotional overtones. And thus the importance of training Dangerous Children in the experience of the wide range of emotions at a very young age — to insert a core of emotional stability within the Child’s heart, well before it would generally be considered necessary by conventional child psychologists or early childhood educators.
Normal risk-taking ranges from the financial to the existential, and can be quite stressful unless a child is raised to carry a core of stability within himself. The development of such inner competencies are an essential part of Dangerous Child training.
Emotional Balance and the Sentic Cycles
Normal human emotions range across a broad and deep spectrum, and are experienced automatically in response to both internal and external events. These emotions can be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. In the Dangerous Child Method for training risk-takers, none of these normal emotions are denied or blocked. Instead, they are recognised and incorporated into everyday experience.
One of the most useful methods for utilising the broad range of emotions is called “Sentic Cycles,” developed by Dr. Manfred Clynes — a musician and neuroscientist. The Sentic Cycles are integrated into emotional exercises which persons regularly perform on their own, in order to better integrate and calibrate their emotions into their daily lives. More:
Sentic Cycles lets you generate and express your emotions in a series, as a spectrum, your emotion ‘symphony’, so you tend to become free from emotional rut – being stuck in one emotion
– and be in touch with your real self – not overwhelmed by single emotion (yet able to savour them all as in music).
It takes only 10 minutes to learn to do it – and then you may benefit from doing it anytime the rest of your life – as long as human nature does not change! Anyone can do it.
… We all tend to be prisoners of emotion more than we may wish to be. Emotions make life enjoyable and meaningful, but not if you are in an emotional rut, where a particular, most often negative, emotion takes over, and makes it hard to get out of, even temporarily. Often such negative emotions are suppressed, but still interfere with function and freedom of experience.
Sentic Cycles allow you to experience and express all such emotions more constructively, without being overwhelmed by them. Like music, like an artistic experience, the emotion becomes an example of your own humanity: it allows you to savour that emotion as one that is shared by humanity. At the end of the Sentic Cycle you may feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being glad to be alive.
It takes about 25 minutes to go through the entire cycle, if done according to the standard procedure developed by Dr. Clynes. As described on the website above, the Sentic Cycles are immensely useful for virtually everyone.
What is not always readily apprehended however, is that the cycles can be adapted for specific uses that are customised for each individual. This adaptibility to the individual is immensely useful for Dangerous Child training, since no two children are exactly alike, and no two trainings are precisely the same.
Here is an intriguing comment from Don O’Brien, a former trainer of Sentic Cycles, referring to the use of Sentic Cycles to treat addictions:
What causes any psychological addiction is unimportant. Perform Sentic Cycles at least five times. During the Hate phase hate every aspect about whatever addiction you want to stop. You will soon no longer have the urges, and will actually notice the absence of urges. As you continue to do cycles regularly, your mixed up emotions, often caused by lying to yourself, will sort themselves out very soon, too.
I worked for Manfred Clynes in Sydney in the eighties, and over the decades have taught dozens how to cure their own addiction quickly…without a relapse. While performing sentic cycles, you become your own best therapist, because you cannot lie to yourself comfortably while doing one.
Each phase is experienced on its own, in its own particular way. The phases are placed in their specific order for a purpose, which is better understood after one has practised the cycles over a period of weeks or longer.
By calibrating and integrating these human emotions into a Dangerous Child’s everyday experience, he learns how to utilise them in the course of performing essential tasks — including risk-taking activities which might otherwise prove overwhelming for most untrained children.
The Dangerous Child Method integrates a few more emotions than the basic list above — depending upon the child — but maintains the basic order of experience, which has proven extremely useful. As mentioned in Don O’Brien’s comment, each phase can be modified to achieve specific goals within that particular emotion’s domain.
For children before the onset of puberty, the “sexual desire” emotion is replaced by a “physical excitement” emotion such as what is experienced on a roller coaster, a zip line, an elevated rope swing, etc. This substitution reflects the malleable nature of the sentic cycles, which allows them to be customised to suit particular needs and goals.
Whales and dolphins live underwater but must come to the surface periodically to breathe. They cannot allow both hemispheres of their brains to drop into deep sleep, else they may not wake to surface in time. Similarly, many birds undergo long migrations and other flights of long duration when they are unable to fall into deep sleep for long periods of time. Their brains are adapted to allow one hemisphere to stay awake while the other hemisphere gets much needed rest.
Can Humans Sleep With Half Their Brain Open?
The human brain, it turns out, is endowed with a less dramatic form of the unihemispheric sleep found in birds and some mammals. For humans, familiarity with a place breeds a deep night’s sleep.
When humans are sleeping in a strange environment — which happens very regularly to people who travel as a matter of course — it seems the left hemisphere is more vigilant to the environment, allowing the right hemisphere to snooze more deeply. More
The sleep scientists who discovered this unilateral phenomenon used advanced brain scanners, which allowed subjects to sleep inside them all night long.
… they found that the sleeping brains showed asymmetrical patterns of sleep activity, with one hemisphere humming along while the other slept. And while the sprightly hemisphere wasn’t fully awake, it was much more active than the other—even responsive to external stimuli. Subjects in the study experiencing FNE, for example, were jolted awake by “deviant” sounds. A creaking door perhaps. Or a shrieking animal. For most of the subjects, the night watchman hemisphere of their brain was the left side, for inexplicable reasons. __ PopSci
Even during their awake time, animals — and humans — often move through the world “half asleep.” The image of dolphins above shows how the brain allots its sleep/wake time according to three general hemispheric states: L awake/R asleep, R awake/L asleep, and both L and R awake. As mentioned above, as a matter of survival for dolphins, both L and R cannot sleep simultaneously, except for very short time periods. This means that casual observers may not notice whether a dolphin is half awake, or fully awake.
You might think that humans do not have this problem, since humans can usually sleep with both hemispheres at specific, designated times, leaving both hemispheres fully awake to deal with the world at the proper time. Except, it doesn’t always work that way. Individual (left or right) human hemispheres can exhibit signs of sleep while a person is nominally awake, for short times. Most people — even those who have not been forced to stay alert for very long stretches, or for odd hours — will be able to recall brain misfires and somnambulations while awake which are very difficult to explain.
Is Anyone Ever Completely Awake?
The video clip above from the movie “Limitless” is entirely fictional, and yet . . . anyone who is curious and pays just a little attention to the world will have experienced epiphanies — startling moments of exceptional awareness that emerge unsolicited from the depths. How can we seem awake, and then suddenly find ourselves watching our worlds from one or more levels higher up?
These states never seem to last very long, but they suggest the existence of a higher and deeper ocean of experience, in which most of us have only managed to dip our toes.
It is easy to imagine unihemispheric sleep in humans when the two hemispheres have been surgically disconnected from each other — as in “split brain patients.” Patients with uncontrollable epilepsy were sometimes “cured” of global seizures by severing the corpus callosum. Once disconnected, the two hemispheres will often go in different directions, attending to different things.
After the right and left brain are separated, each hemisphere will have its own separate perception, concepts, and impulses to act. Having two “brains” in one body can create some interesting dilemmas. When one split-brain patient dressed himself, he sometimes pulled his pants up with one hand (that side of his brain wanted to get dressed) and down with the other (this side didn’t). Also, once he grabbed his wife with his left hand and shook her violently, so his right hand came to her aid and grabbed the aggressive left hand. However, such conflicts are actually rare. If a conflict arises, one hemisphere usually overrides the other. __ Wikipedia Split Brain
A fascinating topic to be sure, but something similar can take place even when all anatomical connections within the brain remain intact. Such interhemispheric asynchrony has been observed in hypnosis — and anything that happens under formal hypnosis may also tend to happen spontaneously in ordinary life.
The Corpus Callosum is Larger in Women than Men
The more strongly the two hemispheres are connected to each other, the less likely that they will act independently of each other. It has been found that the two brain hemispheres not as strongly connected in men as they are in women.
In the entire sample (n= 316), controlling for brain size and age, the average CCA [corpus callosum cross sectional area] was significantly (P< 0.03) larger in females. The difference favoring females was more pronounced in the young adults cohort (P< 0.0005). These results provide strong additional evidence that the CCA is larger in females after correcting for the confounding effect of brain size. ___ http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/08/09/cercor.bhs253.full
More, persons who are easily hypnotised — and can readily block pain perception under hypnosis — have been found to have larger corpus callosi, at least in the anterior portion.
Only the highly hypnotizable subjects (HHs) who eliminated pain perception were included in the present study. These HHs, who demonstrated more effective attentional and inhibitory capabilities, had a significantly (P < 0.003) larger (31.8%) rostrum, a corpus callosum area involved in the allocation of attention and transfer of information between prefrontal cortices, than low hypnotizable subjects (LHs). These results provide support to the neuropsychophysiological model that HHs have more effective frontal attentional systems implementing control, monitoring performance and inhibiting unwanted stimuli from conscious awareness, than LHs. __ http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/8/1741
Although superficial similarities between hypnosis and meditation are readily apparent, we should be aware of the important differences between the two things. Hypnosis can be thought of as a highly focused “spotlight,” while meditation more closely resembles a broadbeam “floodlight.” A hypnotic trance blanks out peripheral phenomena, including ordinary sensations such as pain, discomfort, or embarassment. Meditation — particularly mindfulness meditation — opens the portals of awareness to allow an “eagle’s eye view” of one’s internal and external setting.
Using hypnosis, one can “disconnect” different circuits of brain activity from each other, functionally, on a subconscious level. Mindfulness meditation enlarges the borders of consciousness to allow normally suppressed stimuli to reach mental awareness. At that point, the conscious mind can often sort the relevant from the irrelevant, and alter subsequent consciousness.
Who Wants to Bother with All This Hocus Pocus?
Very few people indeed. Most would rather pop a pill, swallow a draught, lose themselves in a social setting, or otherwise avoid the question of whether they are entirely sleepwalking through their lives — or only doing so halfway. But shouldn’t we want to train our children differently, to be less slaves of our trance states and more aware of their own decision making and life choices?
Fortunately, for the Tech-Oriented Parent, There is Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback uses brainwave and other neurofunctional real-time metrics to allow a person to shape the workings of his own brain. Neurofeedback has proven exceptionally effective for treating ADHD and for brain rehabilitation after injury. The technique has also been useful for treating addictions, depression, autism, migraines, and a range of other dysfunctional states.
And although there has not been much written on the use of neurofeedback for enlarging conscious awareness, a number of neuroresearchers are doing work on that very project. Although this is not exactly what I am referring to, consider:
A recent development in the field is a conceptual approach called the Coordinated Allocation of Resource Model (CAR) of brain functioning which states that specific cognitive abilities are a function of specific electrophysiological variables which can overlap across different cognitive tasks. The activation database guided EEG biofeedback approach initially involves evaluating the subject on a number of academically relevant cognitive tasks and compares the subject’s values on the QEEG measures to a normative database, in particular on the variables that are related to success at that task. __ Wikipedia Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback has also been used to improve the performances of musicians, dancers, actors, athletes, and other persons who make a living from highly focused skills.
Neurofeedback is readily distinguished from ordinary hypnosis and meditation by neurofeedback’s ability to monitor real-time brain activity in particular brain circuits and anatomical centres. “Conscious” influence on normally unconscious brain processes can then be observed and modified to suit the goals of clients and their parents.
The Objective is to Learn to Achieve States of Highly Functional Awareness
Dangerous Children learn to achieve heightened situational awareness (and mindfulness) as part of their training. This allows them to anticipate and deal with problems before they happen. The parents of many Dangerous Children in training may also opt for neurofeedback training, where it may be helpful.
The neurological signs of “sleeping while awake” can be too subtle for most available intruments used in everyday neurofeedback training. They also tend to be too fleeting and unpredictable to be easily addressed in most conventional programmes of neurofeedback.
But a careful human observer can usually catch another person who is falling into a trance, in most situations. That is where “life coaches,” parents, and mentors who have some training in Ericksonian hypnosis and similar trance-aware disciplines can make their mark on a Dangerous Child’s future ability to choose his own path on multiple time scales.
Parents of Dangerous Children Must Learn to Pay Attention
Raising a Dangerous Child is an exhausting prospect. Fortunately, Dangerous Children begin to take up the slack of their own training at a surprisingly early age. Even so, parents, coaches, mentors, and helpers need to keep their eyes open so as to be able to intervene at key developmental bifurcation points.
As a child, my parents always taught us to consider our surroundings. I grew up in Alaska, the child of two parents who’d served in the US Army. Part of our summers involved going fishing, camping, and the occasional hunting trip. In the wilderness, we were taught to always watch, listen, and be very aware of potential danger. The threats included bears and moose or the more frequent fishing hook being cast by a sibling! When we came home from these wilderness outings, my parents didn’t stop their lessons in situational awareness. They reminded us (both myself, sister, and 2 brothers) to be aware of what neighborhoods we drove through and to look a stranger in the eye as we walked past them on the sidewalk. __ Dr. Yolanda Evans
Situational Awareness vs. Mindfulness
Situational awareness involves keeping track of where you are, who is around you, and what is happening in your surroundings. It is oriented toward the outer world, while keeping your own capabilities for reacting to environmental changes in mind.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening around you, as well as maintaining an awareness of what is happening inside your mind and body.
More schools are beginning to teach mindfulness to children:
A randomized-controlled study done during the 2011-12 school year demonstates the social and emotional benefits that occured over a 6 week time period. Children showed an increase in attention, calmness, social compliance, and caring towards others.
Research has found that Mindfulness Training for children increases attention and social emotional awareness.
Students are able to stay more focused and pay more attention in class.
Awareness of their body, thoughts, and emotions increase.
They experience less test anxiety.
Classroom management improves because mindfulness improves impulse control and interpersonal skills.
Executive function increases, a key predictor of academic success. __ http://mindfulnessforchildren.org/research/
Below is an excerpt from a study on the teaching of mindfulness to children. Notice that besides learning a heightened awareness of one’s surrounding and oneself, the practise of mindfulness meditation is also introduced.
Both mindfulness and situational awareness should be practised regularly. Situational awareness can help keep you alive. Mindfulness can help maintain balance in body and mind.
Here are a few drills that you can do to improve your situational awareness skills.
1. Identify all the exits when you enter a building.
2. Count the number of people in a restaurant, subway or train car.
3. Note which cars take the same turns in traffic.
4. Take a look at the people around you and attempt to figure out their stories. Imagine what they do for a living, their mood, what they are focused on and what it appears they are preparing to do, based merely on observation.
Situational awareness is rough and ready. Mindfulness is smooth and steady. Dangerous children learn to merge one with the other, for a more complete awareness of both inner world and outer world. This makes sense, because if one does not know himself, he is unlikely to be able to choose the best action option under a very wide range of circumstances.
Panic is not helpful in dangerous situations. Both the conscious and sub-conscious minds of Dangerous Children require training from the earliest ages, to develop the type of balanced harmony of thought and instinct that are required to live the Dangerous Life.