The conductor is a mental construct that supports metacognitive processes while in a rested state. That means it is a nonjudgmental observer of the mind that is curious without causing harm.
There are many benefits to having a strong conductor, but for me, the most beneficial is the “mind palace.”
I use the “mind palace” when writing these columns, which often are initially crafted without the first paragraph. I then go to the “mind palace,” and while holding the unfinished column in working memory, I try out different beginnings, and keep trying until I find one I like. Wherever you take your mind throughout your life will shape what it becomes.
Another interesting use of the conductor is lucid dreaming, a form of metacognition. When neurologists ask me if I act out my dreams, I stumble with my answer. Yes, I have been known to move a limb while in a dream, but I see myself doing it because of lucid dreaming and then stop. So, my answer has always been, “I’ve moved a bit while dreaming that I was stepping up.”
There is no research I could find that speaks to the role of lucid dreaming in managing Parkinson’s symptoms. I see it as evidence of a strong conductor, but it is one piece among many.
Another skill that has a symbiotic relationship with the conductor is empathy. My PhD research explored the idea that there may be an advanced form of empathy.
I see empathy as a way of deeply connecting with others for the sole purpose of helping to ease suffering. Empathy is sitting with someone and letting go of interference so that I can genuinely experience the connection with the other person.
With advanced empathy, it is as if I am really experiencing with the other — walking in their shoes, rather than role-playing my interpretation. This advanced empathy is part of the healing relationship, and it relies on a strong conductor to help sit in an egoless place with the suffering of another.
The conductor also plays a role in creativity. Due to some strange twist of fate, I became a theoretician — basically, a person who comes up with a better way to explain things. Sometimes this involves synthesizing information into something new, but often it requires a leap, or a fresh look.
To step out of whatever conventional view I may have on a topic, I need to shift my perspective, reframe, and change my mindset. Shifting mental perspective is one of the main roles of the conductor. As a theoretician, this is something I often do. While cumbersome and awkward at first, perspective-shifting eventually became a frequently used tool.
An important part of shifting perspective is the deep-seated intent we bring to the process. I think that is why I find holding a sacred intent is important and linked to a strong conductor. My “fresh look” columns each illustrate this shift in perspective.
These shifts were discovered while holding the intent of well-being for all. I seek to hold a sacred intent with everything I do, both internally and externally. Because I sometimes fail, I’ll learn from that failure in order not to repeat it.
There is no perfection; that is an illusion. I grow, fail, then develop and find a new tool to help me. An ethereal quality is imparted to the process when a sacred intent is held in place by the conductor. Leaps of faith can happen.
Finally, staying motivated to build a strong conductor requires a reward or a sense of pleasure attached to using the conductor. The reward encourages practice, and practice spurs skill development, which then triggers more reward.
Sometimes the reward is internally generated by bliss connected to creativity and well-being moments scattered along the journey. Sometimes the reward comes from the community because of the use of the conductor to benefit humanity. Sometimes it’s in the smile of those you help.
But the reward by itself should never be pursued. Doing so puts in place a different intent and thus changes the outcome. The reward should always be a surprise.
It takes lots of practice to develop a strong conductor with sacred intent held along the way. It is not self-serving. I am not looking to feel better. I’m looking to function better.
I am deeply grateful for all the opportunities that have woven together a life capable of presenting the important story of the brain’s conductor and its possible role in helping people with Parkinson’s disease.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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