Friday, January 22, 2010

Clouds, Rainbows, and Brain Chemistry

Yesterday afternoon I found myself on the fourth floor of a building near the crest of a hill overlooking South Pasadena. The third day of our monsoon-like weather was providing a breathtaking panorama of storm clouds scuttling low above the town, patches of clear blue sky peeking through, and finally, a strong rain shower while the sun shone brightly, causing a full rainbow to frame Raymond Hill.

As I watched, I was also contemplating some reading I had been doing regarding brain chemistry, and how persistent states of anxiety or stress cause the release of chemicals normally associated with feeling good, such as B-endorphin and dopamine. Does the release of these "feel good" chemicals explain why we seem to be so addicted to our emotions, and therefore are so quick to believe the thoughts that produce them?

With my head literally in the clouds, I was able to transpose the space before me as being the space inside my head. Suddenly the tiny little spurts of these molecules seemed very insignificant, very easy to manage, and very easy to see and accept.

Our brains have lied to us time and time again about what is real, what is important, or what is to be feared. These mind moments are such small events, but to us they seem to be as big as the sky, complete with storms of unbelievable magnitude. Perhaps we need to keep these mind moments in their proper perspective, seeing them for what they really are - microscopic neuronal firings and tiny chemical releases. Maybe then we could develop a new relationship with these mental events, just as we see the how different the sky appears from the top of a building, than from out our living room window.

Here's an interesting poetic perspective on this subject called "A History of Weather" by Billy Collins. To hear a free MP3 recording of Billy Collins reading this poem, drag your cursor across the hidden link below and click. 


No comments:

Post a Comment