Friday, January 28, 2011

Our Inner Resonance

"There’s a class of brain cells called “mirror neurons,” which act as a neural Wi-Fi, attuning to the other person’s internal state moment to moment and recreating that state in our own brain - their emotions, their movements, their intentions. This means empathy is not just based on reading the external signs of someone else’s feeling, like the hint of a frown, or the irritation in their voice. Because of mirror neurons, we feel with the other. Empathy, then, includes attuning to our own feelings in order to better sense what’s going on with the other person."

Daniel Goleman, "I Feel Your Brain"

People sometimes talk of the "vibes" or "energy" of a group or a person or even a guru. While many might dismiss that kind of talk, what Daniel Goleman is explaining is a scientific basis, a specific identified brain function, that tunes into the people around us and allows us literally to feel their state. And allows others to feel our state, too.

What is even more compelling is that those who are the most effective at this are those who are most able to quiet the random mental chatter that might otherwise distract them. In other words, empathy, like mindfulness or awareness itself, is a state that can be identified and cultivated.

And shared.


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