Recently, I came across the term “infinite loop”, in relation to computer software. How amazingly relatable to an area I love and am familiar with – neural network models of cognitive processing! Suddenly I’m on home-territory and infinitely curious.
An infinite loop is a piece of software that can’t find an exit, and consequently repeats itself endlessly until a new condition is introduced. This normally involves switching off the machine or changing an item of data, i.e. introducing a break statement.
Most often, infinite loops are the result of an unintentional programming error and are commonly referred to as a software bug. In computer speak, a programme that is running an infinite loop is said to buzz or spin forever, and go catatonic!
Are you getting the analogy here? Can you see the relatedness between artificial intelligence models and human thinking? In fact, research and innovative- design collaboration between artificial intelligence experts and neuroscientists have been underway for some time now, in an attempt to better understand the mechanisms in the brain that generate and correlate to human cognition. Mechanisms and technology by themselves however, are not self-conscious. They require instruction, command, direction, and steering.
Getting back to the analogy of infinite loops; do you have a similar experience with some of your thought processes and programmes? Do some of them seem to run repeatedly in an infinite loop, distorting, confusing, and exhausting you?
Meditation can be likened to the introduction of that new condition that will help terminate, what I call, deadlock thinking. And we all do it to one extent or another, be it in our personal or professional lives, and on an individual and group-think basis.
Meditation can be an invaluable cut-out process from repeated thought loops, and definitely has value beyond the immediate effects of quieting the mind. It lays a basis for re-processing, de-bugging, and re-programming thought. This is because by its very nature of looking inward, meditation helps to enhance self-awareness and metacognition (thinking about how you think, and actively choosing new ways of thinking). It also helps reduce emotional reactivity (not to be confused with emotional responsivity), over a period of time. A simple definition of metacognitive control is the ability to think about how you think, and then deliberately choose new ways of thinking that are in alignment with what you want to accomplish.
But this is not the complete story. There is cognition beyond meditation. Day-to-day living involves thinking on our feet, making choices, taking decisions, managing emotions, thinking rationally, and much more. And all of this requires both, emotional and intellectual intelligence as the bottom-line, if you are to feel and be equal to the desires and dreams you hold for yourself.
It is really exciting and engaging to be able to think thoughts you’ve never thought before, explore new ways of looking at “old” things, and consciously choosing to feel differently about those deadlock topics in your life.
Infinite loops, somewhere along the road, quite unintentionally became part of your thought programme. It happens! Now it runs a background buzz that you, the company, the community, your boss, your country, the banks, or someone else, is just catatonic to!
Changing these programmes, first and foremost requires being willing to develop and expand into an emotional base that is conducive to a self-led, creative, and positively imaginative mindset.
I will be focusing on this, in theory and in practice, at the upcoming workshop on 28th of April. If you can’t attend the workshop then look out for the blog – because the interactive dynamics of every workshop always creates new and unique knowledge, personal insights, and new learning that move each one along a little further on their path of personal evolution.
I want to leave you however, with a few basic markers of a discerning and evolving mindset that is capable of intervening in thought processes with the conscious intent of shifting emotion and thought to be in alignment with specific goals, desires, and imagined futures. Here they are:
A true appreciation of diversity
The ability to reframe constraints
The cultivation of higher order thinking; and
The ability to develop emotional resonance with your goals
Until next time!