Mining the Mind-Body Connection


Inner workings of Calit2

Friday, Oct. 4, 9 am

The final day’s sessions of “The Atlantic Meets the Pacific” began with a metaphysically-based conversation with Dr. Ramesh Rao, director of UC San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Teachings, UC San Diego.

Known as Calit2, with funding from Qualcomm, the 15-year institute’s mission is “quantifying bliss,” said Dr. Rao.

Some highlights of his remarks:

On those who doubt the existence of mind-body metaphysics: “The things you do, what you eat, who you talk to, what you think, it’s all related to who you are, your being…Even though I ought to be skeptical about it, you can find these things in yourself, if you know where to look….I’m completely convinced that the mind and body are connected, if you know how to pick up the signals.”

On finding bliss: “I have personally felt that good chocolate produces moments of bliss. I must mention that it was rare vegan chocolate, not the messy stuff that’s not good for you.”

On how to eat healthier: “Your body tells you what food is good for you, and what isn’t, so you can be at least as smart as your dog.”

On how he quantifies his own bliss: “Recently, a few months before I turned 50, I thought, what are you waiting for? For me, that for me meant (taking up) running, it also meant yoga meditation. I was a skeptic, though I grew up in India. I was raised in a secular household, (but) our family greeting translates to “Have you caught a glimpse of the divine today?” If you could track and monitor these divine moments, maybe you could experience more of those moments.”

The next session featured Dr. Jacobo Annese, director of The Brain Observatory at UC San Diego. His field of study is computational neuroanatomist; he discussed his ultra-innovative research in brain study, a pursuit he described as “brain slicing.”

Next up was Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations, who was among the first scientists to warn of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s.

She was also a consultant on the 2011 theatrical release “Contagion,” themed on global disease outbreak.

On what global outbreaks to fear: “Bird Flu, H1N1 from a few years ago, has a 66 percent mortality in humans. It is the most deadly virus that we’ve seen that can be transmitted to humans.”

On global health: “It’s very clear that global health is being impacted by climate change and food scarcity. …The truth is, climate change is not a big, uniform change, but we need to think about the changes at the micro-bio level; those small, micro-minute changes in ocean temperature, for example, can be devastating. And this is infinitely linked to climate change.”

On the SARS outbreak in China: “The authorities were in cover-up mode, they didn’t want anything to rock the boat. The SARS lesson humiliated China. They basically had to turn the entire country into a massive public-health quarantine. You would be stopped every five miles. If you had a fever, you were immediately put in quarantine.”

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