Connecting research


After an engaging week connecting with neurophysiologist and yoga teacher Philip Stevens (Swami Samnyasananda) I’m inspired by the connections already existing between our yoga academy and researchers and those evolving with the medical and health sectors. With the thoughts of science and research fresh in the mind those networks are standing out as I look into the idea of Social Networking Analysis (SNA).

The theme for this week is patterns of connectivity, looking at how information flows through different nodes (people, organisations etc) and how the frame work of those connections influences access to information and how the perception or interest of the different nodes may colour the information that flows through it.

Guardian article, Academic spring: how an angry maths blog sparked a scientific revolution, describes how the academic research network is dominated by a few highly centralised and powerful nodes, the publishing houses. The angry maths blog rallied researchers to protest this centralisation of information resulting in over 9,000 researchers now refusing to publish, referee or do editorial work for major publishing house Elsevier. As de-centralised and independent nodes researchers are stopping the flow of information into a major central node and all this sparked by one blog.

Neurobiologist Bjorn Brembs’ talk What needs to happen in a scholarly publishing reform?  identifies key issues in the scholarly publishing networks and possible solutions including PloS one.

Ed techie seems to cut to the chase though in 10 Digital Scholarships Lessons in 10 Videos. Simple guide to taking steps from old paradigms of research publishing to new.

My aim in these blogs is a find the best way to connect yoga teachers keen to specialise in specific areas of need with professionals in those fields, research, researchers and the people they wish to serve. A by product of this hopefully being some collaborative research in the area of yoga. There seem to be a few programs supporting this (NCRIS & CRN being two government funded bodies) we shall see what evolves. I’m imagining a network like these images, the one on the left depicting the developing neurones in a mouses brain, the one on the right a computer simulation of our ever expanding universe.

Are we but a thought in the mind of Brahman?

I was wondering wether to link this to verse from Saudarya Lahari as per other connectivist (cck#12) related blogs but when I saw todays feed from the Rikhiapeeth blog, ‘Science’ Friday, 6th April, I knew the connection had already been made.

Om Tat Sat


the energy of knowing


Back again with a new verse and with new understandings still forming. Since watching Stephen Downes’ presentation ‘What is connectivism?’ I’ve been considering the energy that is awakened when we make connections. There’s an inherent iccha shakti (will power) that underlies the interaction, then the jnana shakti (knowing energy), the ’emergent knowledge’ that comes from the connection and possibly from that kriya shakti (action) takes place. 

The jnana shakti (knowing) takes form based on the icchha shakti (willing) we bring to the connection, as Downes says the knowledge that arises from the connection will be different depending on the perceiver. As willing influences knowing and therefor action, understanding icchha shakti, becomes a vital part of directing the path of learning. In other terms, ‘What’s my paradigm?’, ‘What preconceived ideas am I bringing with me?’ ‘What filters is my mind putting over new information?’, ‘What preconceived outcome am I trying to arrive at?’ ‘What box am I living in ?’

It’s a curious time for learning with information everywhere and much of it only relevant for months or years before it becomes obsoletely. It’s an idea worth thinking about (read more in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens). I’d wager the constant stream of new and not necessarily high quality (define as you will) ideas causes the mind to drift, dissipating the ability to create something truly valuable to the individual. Especially true if through modern education or life in general the connection to an inner source of inspiration, to our own gifts has been lost.

Ken Robinson gives a great delivery on the demoralising effects of standardisation in the schooling system on creativity and individuals feeling valued for their innate gifts.

TED talks: Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms

With information flowing in through all the senses at a rate unprecedented in human evolution the ability to hit the delete button seems like a critical tool not just for learning but for maintain some sense of authenticity when asking the question ‘who am i?’ The mind needs to critically appraise all information as it streams in, storing only that of highest quality. At the same time there needs to be an awareness that another paradigm is being created. Being aware of the paradigm allows you to step outside of it. This is the kind of divergent thinking that 5 year old are capable of and most educated adults are not.

Imagine the kind of knowledge that could flow if the mind had not already predisposed itself to a certain outcome … we’re talking infinite potential, flashes of intuition and moments of genius.

So how to create that kind of learning environment? Some ideas:

Before connecting participants to networks connect them to their aims and needs. Inner connection comes first. The process of clarifying these aims awakens the discriminative ability forming…

A connection to the higher mind, the part that discerns what is beneficial and what is not as opposed to the lower aspect of the mind which merely compares and judges according to current likes and dislikes. 

And in the context of yoga, sadhana. On-going practice, a by product of which is remaining centred, or connected to what is right and true for you.

I choose to work within the yogic paradigm both internally (my thoughts) and externally (the courses I work on) which means these ideas are very accessible to the people who’ll be participating in the courses. I’ll keep playing with the idea over the weeks, at present they seem like good starting blocks but I’ll endeavour to remain open and see what other ideas take shape as this course (#cck12) continues.

Saundarya Lahari

vibhakta-traivarnyam vyatikarita-neelaambujatayaa

vibhaati tvannetra tritayamidam-eeshaanadayite;

punah srashtum devaan druhina-hari-rudraan-uparataan

rajah sattvan vibhrat-tama iti gunaanaam trayamiva.

Shakti, energy comes into being and expresses herself as the gunas or attributes, tamas, rajas and sattwa (inertia, dynamism and balance). When we’re in a sattwic or balanced state of energy, state of mind, then we become not only knowledgable but wise too. Creativity flows, life becomes full, it’s an attractive state that draws to it beauty.

Be balanced, be poised, be beautiful.