Hi Louis, Martin,
Here are some quotes about training response time and perceiving action potentials before action begins from James OschmanÕs book Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, Churchhill Livingstone pub., 2000. The following passage (towards the end) reminded me of Òthe intent [yi] of the dance joins with the way of heaven.Ó
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Amplification:
In Chapter 2 it was mentioned that magnetic brain waves associated with the sensory and motor cortex become stronger when an action is practiced again and again, as occurs when one rehearses with a musical instrument. Similar changes may occur with repeated practice of various Òhands-onÓ therapies. It would not be surprising if the various yogic, martial arts, and contemplative practices also lead to stronger and more coherent biomagnetic fields.
While more research is needed, the most logical explanation for amplification is that the waves of electrical and magnetic activity from the brain are amplified as they pass through the peripheral tissues. Vibrating molecules throughout the body may become cooperatively entrained with the brain rhythms. As more and more molecules within the crystalline living matrix become vibrationally entrained, the fields get stronger. Bodywork and other repetitive practices such as yoga, QiGong, tai chi, meditation, therapeutic touch, etc. may gradually lead to more structural coherence (crystallinity) in the tissues, facilitating both the detection and radiation of energy fields
[italics added] (Oschman & Oschman 1997). Arrays of water molecules associated with the macromolecules are probably involved as well.
This process has been described as the formation of Òcoherence domainsÓ in liquid crystal arrays (Sermonti 1995). The mechanism involves the stabilization of the positional and orientational order of millions of rod-shaped molecules as in cell membranes, connective tissues, DNA, muscle, the cytoskeleton, the myelin sheath of nerves, and sensory cells (Oschman 1997). Stabilization spreads from molecule to molecule, throughout the system. Del Guidice (1993) describes the process as one in which individual molecules Òlose their individual identity, cannot be separated, move together as if performing a choral ballet, and are kept in phase by an electromagnetic field which arises from the same balletÓ.
Years ago, Harold Saxon Burr made a related statement: Òthe pattern or organization of any biological system is established by an electrical field which is at the same time determined by its components and determines the orientation of the components. The field maintains the pattern in the midst of a flux of components. This is the mechanism whose outcome is wholeness, organization, continuityÓ
[italics added] (Burr 1972). P221</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I havenÕt seen LibetÕs experiments yet, but hereÕs some related stuff summarized from the section ÒEnergetic pulses precede actions: a basis for mental imaging and intentionÓ Oschman, p.226-228.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Pulses of electric and magnetic energy begin in the brain before
any movement occurs. É Related to this is an important phenomenon that is being investigated for its application in training for athletic events, dance, theatre, music, combat, and for healing work. Performers, therapists, and patients alike can benefit from mental
rehearsals of internal imaging, without physically doing anything É First, mental practice of movements sets up the anticipatory fields described above, without causing any muscles to move. Kasai et all (1997) refer to this as Òsubthreshold muscle activityÓ. From Figure 15.3 [shows brainwave activity beginning 1.5 seconds before movement of right index finger], we would expect imagery to produce the readiness potential and, possibly, the pre-motion potential, without the motor potential that triggers the movement. Mentally rehearsing an action sends information throughout the body, via the perineural and other conductive systems, to all of the relevant cells. This then leads to a ÒpreconditioningÓ of biochemical pathways, energy reserves, and patterns of information flow. Cells everywhere are then poised to work together at the instant of demand.
Many athletes, performers, and therapists of various kinds have described the profound experience of being totally prepared, present, and focused (see for example Murphy 1992). It is during these periods, sometimes referred to as Òthe zoneÓ, that extraordinary accomplishments take place. </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Martin wrote: ÒMy head began hurting at this point because person B would theoretically be responding to something that they felt before they were conscious of feeling it and would be making the response before they were aware of responding. In that case, who is responding?Ó
But only if I allow myself to be larger than my conscious mind. I think that when it comes to responding very quickly there is a degree of not being conscious in the traditional sense of tracking things in ÒrealÓ time (read: normal subjective perception of events unfolding in a linear way). This is part of the transition from conscious competence (being very aware of the details) to unconscious competence (just allowing things to happen exactly the right way without paying much attention to how or why or actively doing anything) that fol wrote about earlier.
The classics (and my teacher) say ÒGive up yourself, follow the other.Ó My teacher is also tells me sometimes: ÒYou are thinking too much. Stop thinking so much. I want you to respond without thinking. If you are thinking, it is too slow.Ó I think this relates to the idea of training the body to a certain Òreadiness potentialÓ for response. If one practices enough, the brainwaves for Òpre-motion potentialÓ are active even when one is thinking of the possibility of action. I think this is whatÕs meant by the admonition to be aware, but not be hypervigilant. Aware, but relaxed. Ready, but not tense. Tension is about having already engaged the muscles, which then have to be unclenched or redirected with more force than it would take to just mobilize something that is charged and ready, but not engaged. Forgive me if this is nothing new to youÑIÕm still working it out for myself.
From a wholly personal and subjective point of view, I can tell you what it feels like for me to react before ÒregisteringÓ stimulus/response (someone pushes/I counter). If I am thinking it doesnÕt work very well. ÒThinkingÓ may include: trying to figure out my partnerÕs favored attack strategies, trying to observe his weaknesses, visualizing how to root better. If I am in the grip of a strong emotion it doesnÕt work very well.
But if I can turn off or turn down the flow of miscellaneous thoughts and emotions then I can feel very present and aware. There is a feeling of cohesion and fullness then, as though my body-mind were condensed to its full extent, and yet expanded to touch the edges of where my opponent exists. The sensation is that my energy expands from a central area of density. If the expansion is even and I can maintain it at the superficial edge between myself and my practice partner, then as soon as he begins to respond, I can already have reacted because some aspect of myself (my energy, my awareness of a field of energy around me) has already picked up on his impulse to move and responded in turn.
When I am listening carefully, I can feel a wave of energy come at me (like the gust of wind from a hand dryer) before my partner moves at all. If I tense up when this happens, it is as though, some part of my awareness contracts or retracts. This, IMO, is a hollow. (One should be without hollows or projections.) My opponentÕs ÒwaveÓ can then wash in to fill the space I have vacated and occupy that territory. On the other hand, a projection would be rather like telegraphing your intent.
But when itÕs going well, it does feel like an effortless kind of dance. IÕll go through the better part of a round in a kind of semi-conscious trance state, gently moving my arms, turning my waist, shifting here and there. ItÕs more like I can watch it happening, but IÕm not doing
anything because whatÕs happening is concurrent with my awareness of whatÕs happening. ItÕs more like a surprised, ÒOh! Look at thatÑthatÕs kind of neatÓ than ÒOh, wouldnÕt it be neat if I do this, and then that, I think IÕll try it now.Ó
Where is my intention, my sense of selfhood at this point? IÕm not entirely sure. There is a preliminary sense of ÒtuningÓ myself to ÒlistenÓ to the frequency of the other person. But once the ÒstationÓ is set, thereÕs no need to keep adjusting the dial. I feel simultaneously larger than myself and less important.
[This message has been edited by Kalamondin (edited 04-25-2006).]