WORKSHOP

We’re ALL IN THIS tOGETHER:

LEVERAGING OUR BRAINS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AND IMPACT

Social Change and Impact

The Brain innovation Project. Social Justice. Berlin.

WHAT YOU WILL GET

  • A wide-variety of practical tools and techniques for leading change and exploring new ways of thinking
  • An awareness as to how and why we invent our narratives and how to change them
  • The ability to access empowering optimal states at will, making your responses to situations more effective
  • A strengthened appreciation of the beauty, complexity and power of your embodied brain and why this is important for social change
  • While the focus is on practice (tools), there is also an emphasis on the theory (brain) as to why and how the tools work

WHEN

This is offered as an in-house course or workshop.

WHERE

This is an in-person workshop. Short or introductory sessions can be done online.

DURATION

This can last from a few hours (introduction) to a week or an extended course.

Other

This can be combined with individual or team coaching for specific innovation breakthroughs.

SUMMARY

The Brain innovation Project. Social Justice. Berlin.

The issues and challenges facing the world are vast, ranging from climate change to populist politics, from armed conflict to obscene levels of inequality and corruption to wholescale destruction of natural habitats, to name just a few. They can seem overwhelming and debilitating. But they needn’t, because the only real question is: how do we engage with and respond to them. And ultimately, this will be determined by how we use our brains, which are responsible for everything we think, say, do, feel and believe.

While the nature of thought, consciousness, values and beliefs have occupied philosophers and spiritual leaders since the dawn of humanity, recent developments in neuroscience have produced extraordinary insights as to how our brains actually work in practice. What is revealed is an astonishingly complex, and beautiful embodied brain which is the result of 3.8 billion years of the evolution of life.

Locating our thoughts, actions and beliefs within an embodied brain which is firmly ‘in here’ rather than ‘out there’, empowers us to take more control of our choices and to leverage the bewildering power of our brains more deliberately. It also places humans firmly where we belong: as living organisms which are a part of nature.

In our approach to social change, we take our deep evolutionary biology as our starting point, as this allows us to locate the origins of our more advanced cognition into older and more basic – though no less compelling – physiological and physical processes. By understanding these, we can then leverage or ‘hack into’ them to provide us with surprising new perspectives and possibilities for action. In doing so, we begin to rewire our remarkably adaptive and plastic brains so that we can become more effective agents of change.

Note

This course does not directly discuss the social issues themselves or seek to develop new narratives. Rather, participants are highly encouraged to identify areas that they would like to focus on, as this will provide raw material for the exercises.

CONTENT

NOTE

The below is illustrative as the precise contents included in the workshop will depend upon the length of time available and your needs and interests.

The Magic of Reality: Our Evolutionary Brains

The introduction to the course and an overview of the key principles and approaches will include:

  • The implications for social change of viewing the brain from an evolutionary perspective
  • The centrality of changing and managing overall ‘states’ (the combined thinking, feeling, emotions, bodily state, etc.)
  • Our story telling (sense-making) brain
  • Identifying and anchoring optimal states

Deep learning and understanding: Looking for the new and different

Learning is the centre piece of any change and we all like to think that we are open to new experiences, knowledge and understanding. The reality, however, is not quite so simple. Rather, unless we make a conscious effort, we tend to try to incorporate new knowledge into our existing knowledge frameworks (our mindsets and paradigms). This is entirely natural and works well most of the time, but it does bias our learning towards being incremental rather than transformational. In terms of social change, this is as true for change agents as it is for our stakeholders.

In this module we will look at why and how this occurs from a brain perspective. The module will include:

  • Exploring Predictive Processing (a really central theme in modern neuroscience)
  • The Zeigarnik Effect: Closing and Opening cognitive loops
  • Exploring the New and Different

Changing perspectives: Seeing The Woods AND The Trees

Being able to see and understand different perspectives (even if you don’t agree with them) is key for any change maker, as is being able to change and update your own perspectives. This module explores key issues in the biological basis for taking perspectives and how to change them. This is central for having a more flexible and open-mined world-view. It is also key for many people who have challenges with stress management or overly rigid thinking.

In this module we will:

  • Look at spotlight v lantern consciousness (a key concept in neuroscience) and how to swap between them, including peripheral vision and narrow focus
  • Attention shifting and information processing
  • Changing physical perspectives to changing mental perspectives

Unleashing Imagination: Your secret helper

Imagination can be a divisive topic, with some believing they have none and others seemingly stuck in their imagination. It can also seem like a mystical process, where unexpected insights, creativity and ideas come together. In this module, we explore imagination from the basis of essentially using ‘internally generated sensory data’ (i.e., memories, mental maps) and how we can use our own internal search engine to come up with unexpected results. That is, while imagination can undoubtedly be an awe-inspiring super-power, it is actually something that we can use and leverage in strategic ways for problem solving and generation of new options.

In this module we will explore how to:

  • Develop your own 24/7 advisory committee
  • Use metaphors to open up stuck situations

Action: From Moving Your Finger To Moving Mountains

Movement is the only way we can do anything, from delivering a key note speech (tongue muscles), typing a report (fingers) or dancing the Samba (your whole body). For intentional action – the core of social activism – this ultimately means linking up your sensorimotor system with your higher cognitive processes. This is relatively straightforward when you know what you want, what to do and have the motivation to do it. But in the world of social change, things are often unclear, we don’t know what path to take and we can lack the motivation, courage or belief that our actions are worthwhile.

This module is, in a sense, where all of the rest starts to come together, as it builds on the previous approaches and incorporates them into two tools. These are:

  • Agency: giving yourself permission to succeed and make an impact
  • Linking optimal states, imagined outcomes and movement

Going Deeper into innovation: Deep Relaxation, Dreams and Sleep

For 2 – 3 hours every night we go into a world of delusional, make believe hallucinations where, according to modern studies of sleep and dreaming, we explore possibilities, run scenarios and test hypotheses. While most of our dreams are seemingly mundane, sleep is also a time when our experiences and information gets deleted, cut, stored and rearranged and, in doing so, new insights can emerge. Indeed, the number of scientific and artistic breakthroughs in dreams highlights the enormous creativity that can occur when we are no longer anchored in our waking reality.

While it is beyond the scope and available time of this course to explore this issue in detail, we can touch on that intermediate state between being awake and asleep called hypnogogia. As well as having many proponents (e.g., Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali), hypnogogia has also recently been studied more systematically and this will be our starting point.

Here we explore:

  • Aha Moments, what they are and where they come from
  • A simple technique for quickly getting to a state close to hypnogogia and the ‘space’ where Aha Moments are most likely to occur

For further information or questions and to enquire about organising an event, please do not hesitate to contact us.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

The word we most often hear in feedback is ‘surprising’, as things start to make sense in a way which is both intuitive and obvious at a certain level, yet entirely unexpected and different at another. 

But here are some other comments:

Feedback

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