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Back to Stories

Friends of Six Senses with Jason Silva: Becoming a Wonder Junkie

Have you ever wondered what it means to see the world beyond your five senses or imagined experiencing the mind-stretching properties of inspiration and ecstatic states? Science has proven that there are cognitive and anti-inflammatory benefits of awe and other transcendent states.

Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjurstam talks with philosopher and futurist Jason Silva about what he has learned from his research about the power of the human mind and the power of blowing our minds. Below are excerpts from their conversation.

Jason: I want to infect people with optimism. I want to jolt people into a heightened state of awakening. I want to give people an experience of awe and wonder and for me my digital content really did begin with looking at the overwhelming pace of technological change. What I wanted to do was reframe the way we see technology as human imagination turned inside out, human creativity literalized in the world and I think technology is a scaffolding of our minds and we use that scaffolding to go beyond our limits. These ideas are what have made me known as a “techno-optimist”.

Anna: Isn’t technology a bit scary too?

Jason: Yes, to the extent that our minds are scary. But our minds are also a marvel. Our neo-cortex allows us to imagine things that aren’t here and plan for the future. But it also haunts our awareness, our minds are a blessing and a curse and technology which mirrors our minds is also a blessing and a curse.

The alphabet is also a technology that can be used to store and hand down knowledge but it can also be weaponized as hate speech. It’s all double-edged swords because it’s all an extension of us, for better or worse.

Anna: We need to evolve our consciousness as well, what are your thoughts on that?

Jason: All of our problems cannot be solved by the same consciousness that created them. We need to identify with a larger whole. A lot of the problems are a result of a fixed identification with ego. When there are near death experiences or mystical experiences, or astronauts look at the earth, we don’t feel as disconnected. If we can scale those kinds of experiences so everyone feels that way, that would be the necessary step function to harness our genius to address the issues of humanity. The problems of our times are all addressable, they’re not beyond our technological capacity but it’s an issue of will and deciding what is important.

Anna: We’re in a pivot point with things speeding up. We seem to be moving from a lot more “I” to “We” and we’re also moving from a “We” to an “I” but as humanity, we have a choice to look at the bigger picture and not just what’s good for me but what’s good for the community and the whole.

Jason: COVID has revealed a vulnerability and it has been humbling for many of us, corporations, individuals, people in power. The world was brought to its knees and while no doubt there’s been tragedy, the silver lining is that certain important conversations have been brought to top of mind. Empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight but our line of sight has now been expanded. Even though we haven’t been able to leave our houses for months, thanks to technology, we have been made aware of what’s happening across the planet. It’s been a wake-up call.

Anna: Transcending boundaries is also important and something that you’ve talked about involves going outside your comfort zone. How do you transcend boundaries?

Jason: Transcending boundaries is never easy because you have to lean towards discomfort. Airplanes take off against the wind. We must be reminded that everything great begins at the end of our comfort zone. There’s a great Wade Davis quote: “We must go from problems to be solved to problems that solve us.” When there’s a boundary that needs to be broken, when we reframe it as a problem that solves us, what that means is that by going through this necessary struggle, I can become more patient, I can learn a new approach and through the solving of this problem, I am transformed. When we break external boundaries, we break our own internal boundaries as well.

Anna: Does it help to do something new in your routine?

Jason: Introducing novelty into your life can be a way to break up routines. Taking a new route to work or getting into “virginal domains” are ways to get out of our habitual maps. When we become adults, we start to assume we understand the world and now we can live in a kind of auto-pilot. We can forget that we’re only living inside our own map. When we get out of our known map, everything is new and is called into question and that is like being born again.

Anna: We are creatures of habit and we know that change will happen. Curiosity is one of the most anti-aging hacks we have. If we continue to be curious and apply beginner’s mind and do that every day, we are then able to come into a higher state of consciousness. And this brings us to awe.

Jason: All the things we’ve learned about our neuroplasticity tell us that if we are able to meet the world with beginner’s mind and curiosity through new experiences, travel, the brain can keep forming new neuronal connections throughout our lives. What’s refreshing about this is that we don’t have to stop being students. Curiosity makes me younger. Whenever I find a new insight, it makes me feel reborn. The reason I call my videos “Shots of Awe” is because there is a state that when you’re fully absorbed in what’s happening and how astonishing it is, that state of awe takes your breath away. Research on awe shows that there are cognitive benefits of these states too.

What is awe? Any experience of such perceptual expansion that the mental models of the world have to be pushed aside and you’re forced into a state of accommodation. Psychedelic ceremonies are one way that people access these states of ecstasy. Once the mind is stretched by this, it can’t return to its old position. Increased feelings of well-being and creativity are the result and it’s anti-inflammatory.

Blowing your mind is good for your body and soul

Anna: Breathwork is a natural way to have a mind-blowing experience or natural nootropics and I do see the increase of lots of plant medicine, but it is a quest to blow our minds, see the invisible and understand it.

Jason: We can get caught up in the trivialities of life. This can create an amnesia to the miracle of our being and nature. In cities, there’s too much light to see the stars. When was the last time you had the visceral experience that you’re hanging off the planet? When you do, all the little details of the day recede and what matters more is to be in the mystery, to hug the ones you love.

Anna: You’re talking about being fully alive. How do you start if you’re in a prison of your known self?

Jason: I’m a fan of the jolting experiences. Book a tandem skydive. Or sign up for a psychedelic study, which have been effective for people with anxiety or depression. Breathwork is a more subtle approach. We’re increasingly learning that our default perception is not all there is. I want to regain that infinite thing.

Anna: Let’s talk about the future.

Jason: What’s interesting about technology is that it’s advancing geometrically but we’re linear thinkers. When I think about 30 years from now, I can’t use my intuition because my predictions are too limited. I have to imagine more than my mind can imagine because things are moving so fast. Things that are in the realm of science fiction are becoming science fact. We can’t even begin to imagine what will happen.

To see the entire video, click here.

Bio

Jason Silva is a Venezuelan-American television personality, filmmaker, futurist, philosopher, and public speaker. He is known for hosting National Geographic documentaries: Brain Games and Origins. His goal is to use technology to excite people about philosophy and science.

Thisisjasonsilva.com

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