Thanks to one of my colleague who shared this link with me. This 90 minute clip made me realize / understand something which I always thought I knew. This study was done by Christopher Chabris, Assistant professor of psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York and i think its over a decade old. Watch this before you read the rest of the blog…
So, let me ask you the question. Did you see or was it “Invisible” to you too?
My understanding as 3 commandments as follows:
- Thou shall realize that there a difference between looking and seeing.
- Thou shall realize that attention / concentration is “Spacio-temporal” dependent. (which is in-turn dependent on our mental constitution. Our attention need not necessarily spread over the entire visual field - or everything you want to do.)
- Thou shall realize that the mental blindness exists irrespective of whether it is intentional or unintentional.
Lets see another aspect of our mind.
Not so long ago (probably 20+ years back) I vividly remember my arguments with my dad (just like Aishwarya (my daughter) is doing now with me) that i can see TV and do my home work and be as efficient in both. There was superior sense of confidence / arrogance that we possess during our teen days that we are capable of multitasking with 100% efficiency and I am not sure what is the basis of this. May be this arrogance is rooted in the inherent nature of our mind - being restless, jumpy.
As I read few articles on how our mind works including on the topics of multitasking I am increasingly convinced that our mind’s ability to “Time share” itself between multiple activities is wrongly perceived as doing multiple things simultaneously. Its just like a computer CPU where the cycle speed is so fast that it appears as if we are handling 2 thing simultaneously. Most of the studies on multitasking seems to conclude with almost similar results. Some of them are as below:
You can have a whole bunch of things to do and be thinking about all of them and switching among them, doing one at a time, and that's very different from trying to do two things at exactly the same time. The way our mind works, is designed to help us focus on one thing, and to filter out things that we don't care about.
Mind slows down when it switches back and forth between tasks and hence Multi-tasking is less efficient.
Multi-tasking is more complicated, and thus more prone to stress and errors.
Now if i just add the “Invisible Gorilla” phenomenon to the studies of multitasking, then it turns out:
- Mind’s Spacio-temporal limitation is a serious one which is not realized fully by us.
- Mind’s inherent nature to be jumpy and restless is falsely perceived as strength to multitask which again studies have proved its a “Time share” setting and not “Parallel processing”.
I observed the second phenomenon in some of the day today activities:
- Our inability to listen to a song which is slower than our mental frequency.
- If a driver is slower than the our driving speed in a highway, then it harasses us mentally. This I believe is a function of our nature of our mind which is more restless than the other person.
- In either case if the other person is faster (fast music / driving) then we invariably pump out more adrenaline or end up with an headache.
- Our compulsive disorder to be ever busy with our cell phones is a symptom and restlessness of our mind is the root cause of this.
Btw, i likes this link too called “Disconnect to Connect…”
There is no dearth of literature on the nature of human mind in our religious texts. Given my curiosity I looked back and stopped with just 2 / 3 quotes which succinctly sums up:
- The first is from Mahabharata where Lord Krishna says “Sanchalam hi Manah”… which means that the nature of the mind is wavering, confused and turbulence. This is also taken as the definition of Mind by its nature which is restlessness.
- The second is from the first lines of Patanjali Yoga Sutra which says “Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodah”… which means “that which ceases / removes the mental waves / turbulence is called Yoga”. This is how the great Sage Patanjali defines Yoga. A flavor of this reflecting in Bible too “Be still and know I am thy lord”. Most of our generation greatly believes that the physical postures of Asanas and Pranayama is all about Yoga. The funniest part is the commercialization of this with courses like Power Yoga and Face Yoga etc.
- But coming back to the third quote which I like the most since it is more colloquial and used in every day life is “Mind is a monkey”. In Tamil it is called as "மனம் ஒரு குரங்கு". This sums up and links the nature of monkey and mind. But i was also surprised that its just not only in Tamil but also in other Indian, Buddhist, Jain, Chinese and Japanese texts this comparison is reflecting in the same way.
Quotes on Mind by Adi Shankaracharya, Osho and many others are “Mind” blowing. So what’s the point? Simply put, what has been known to us for ages is proven by modern day science through multiple studies and some of the visual tools like the “Invisible Gorilla” actually helped me to understand that.
Just as i am completing this blog, I am preparing myself for another argument with my daughter on another multitasking issue… watching TV and eating. As one wise man said “By the time we realize that our dad was right we have a kid who strongly believes that his / her dad isn’t.”
The question I do have is “It has taken probably half my life time to understand this, which is about the same time it would have taken for my Dad too. If that is so, then how can we speed up this process of learning for the next generation?”
The only solution for this seems to be that we should all be cured of the Obsessive Compulsive restless disorder of the mind. What if we are not even aware of this OCRD? Then its bliss!. As another wise man said, “Life is all about mind over matter. if you don’t mind, it does not matter”..