The Architecture of Contemplation
In Conversation With: Moshe Bar
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It is quite meta, attempting to remain focused and present, with the right amount of wandering and free flow enfolded, with an individual who has written on the topic of mind-wandering. As Moshe Bar, my guest today himself attests to, even in conversation with another, part of the brain is simultaneously generating ideas on an altogether different topic. What a truly wild creation, is this superhighway of information, that we call the mind.
Almost Pavlovian in response, nearly every time I hear the word 'mind', I retrieve that line in Milton's Paradise Lost, whereby Satan thinks on his plight, having been cast out of heaven, to quote, 'the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n' (Book One). In this conversation with Moshe Bar, cognitive neuroscientist, and author of Mindwandering, How Your Constant Mental Drift Can Improve Your Mood and Boost Your Creativity, we take this concept of the malleability of brain states, and bring it suitably down to earth.
What drew me into Moshe's work first, was actually the tone of his approach. The topic itself is arresting, but diving into Moshe's book, it is the irreverence of his approach that breaks through. He seeks to liberate the individual from this perennial fear that our brains are in near-permanent states of distraction, and shows with wit, pragmatism and data that yes, the brain is a busy bee, but much of the honey, be it in the form of more presence, creativity, or sheer surival instincts, is there for the harvesting. What is required, is a willing desire to take some proactive movement towards marshalling the right mind, for the right time. Moshe is not in the business of proselytising, nor giving quick fixes, but through clinical studies, and personal stories, he elucidates common misconceptions about the wandering mind, and offers some ways to channel this super computer between our ears.
In this conversation, amidst a background of very opinionated birds, we cover topics including early starts and later pivots, silent retreats on birthdays, transforming seemingly 'dead time' into quality mind time, and a particularly memorable Harry Styles concert.
Not all who wander, are lost. That's how I would sum up this conversation.
Without further ado, I bring you Moshe Bar.
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Produced by Annika Sost
| Moshe Bar WEBSITE
| Mindwandering, How It Can Improve Your Mood and Boost Your Creativity; Moshe Bar READ
| Paradise Lost by John Milton EPIC
| "Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute." Winter Notes on Summer Impressions; Fyodor Dostoevsky
| A Cognitive Neuroscience Hypothesis of Mood and Depression; Moshe Bar PAPER
| Overarching States of Mind; Herz, Baror, Bar PAPER
| “In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur