Book Review: Tickle Your Amygdala by Neil Slade

Tickle Your Amygdala by Neil Slade coverI’ve been carrying Neil Slade’s new book, Tickle Your Amygdala, around with me for a couple of months now. I take it with me to my favourite café, open a page at random and start reading. It’s an amazing book – in its way one of the best I’ve ever read.

Tickle Your Amygdala is both a “how to” book and a collection of interviews with people who, in the author’s opinion, demonstrate frontal lobes cooperative, creative and intelligent thinking in their daily lives. If the subject is new to you, I suggest you read my article, The Crazy Wisdom of TDA Lingo first and then come back here. I wrote that article years ago, not long after I discovered amygdala clicking (now more appropriately called amygdala tickling).

Okay, now that you’re filled in, I’ll get on with the review. Neil Slade has been talking and writing about the amygdala and its potential role in “brain self transcendence” or just plain positive thinking for over 30 years. His website, neilslade.com, contains something like 2000 entries and has been read by millions. He regularly makes appearances on nationally syndicated radio shows in the U.S. In spite of this, he is not a big name “self help guru” and would probably cringe at the notion of becoming labelled as such.

image from tickle your amygdala by neil sladeTickle Your Amygdala is Neil’s latest effort to show the world how easy it is to tap into the better parts of your consciousness. He does this in a number of ways, including interviews with a variety of people who, in his opinion, demonstrate advanced frontal lobes brain activity in their daily lives. Not only do these individuals not all practice “amygdala tickling” as Neil explains it on his website, some of them don’t practice it at all, but the results of the practice resonate with them.

I was recently asked a question by someone:

I’ve been giving the amygdala tickle a go, but with little success. I can’t seem to envision the actual tickle sensation, and also struggle with the location I should be focusing on. Any tips would be very appreciated!

I’ve been putting off answering it because I don’t know quite how to answer it. The “feather tickling” exercise worked for me originally, but since then, I’ve discovered dozens of other ways to shift my consciousness from the reptilian brain to the frontal lobes. There’s no sense outlining them all, because Neil does a much better job of it in his book. I will, however, offer this quote, which I think sums it all up best:

Brain Radar is a force that manifests through Passive Activity.

Passive Activity is “effortless effort”, to do something with a light touch.

Imagine shooting an arrow into a target. You put your arrow in your bow, you aim, then you let go.

The arrow flies, and meets its destination.

. . . . . .

It’s not the product of doing nothing, but the product of doing nothing special. It occurs as the result of a perfect balance between Doing, and Being.

I’ve sat down and tried to write a review of Tickle Your Amygdala a half dozen times at least. Every time, I find so many quotes I want to use, I’m almost tempted to transcribe the whole thing. This afternoon, for instance, I was sitting in my favourite café here in Sihanoukville wondering, for the upteenth time, why I seem to be one of the few expats in town who enjoys life here. What’s not to enjoy? It’s a friendly town, has great beaches and now that it’s grown, I can even get my favourite Western comfort foods. In spite of this, the majority of expats here live in fear and loathing of the police and seem to think half the population is out to get them. There’s a rather dramatic example of the difference between their perception of Sihanoukville and mine in this post from my Sihanoukville Journal: Sihanoukville Police Checkpoints!

So I’m sitting there with these thoughts in the back of my mind when I open the book and have a Duh! moment (A Duh! moment is sort of like a Eureka! moment, but the flash is so obvious you feel a little dumb when it comes). The reason why I’m happy here and so many are not is because they still perceive Cambodia as a dangerous, corrupt and frightening place. In other words, they are stuck firmly in their reptilian “fight or flight” fear based brains while I, probably thanks to “amygdala tickling”, can see the positive side of life here.

My “Duh!” moment still didn’t help me with my other dilemma, which was how to answer the question, “How can I make it work for me?” Well, I opened the book for answers and once again, I was tempted to transcribe the whole thing. Then I had another “Duh!” moment. It went something like this:

That’s a question Neil Slade and those he interviews answer best in Tickle Your Amygdala.

I happen to be one of the people Neil interviews, but that’s beside the point.

If this sounds like a sales hustle, let me assure you, I am not compensated financially in any way if you buy the book. My compensation comes from the satisfaction of knowing I’ve given the best possible advice.  Here’s the link to the Tickle Your Amygdala purchase page. Note that it’s not a tiny url and doesn’t have an affiliate ID tacked on to it.

I’ve been on a roll today. This is the second review I’ve written. If you’re interested, check out this article on my Writing Resources blog: How to Learn Positive Writing.

Why I Like David Icke Better than Ken Wilber

Note: I wrote the following article as an experiment with an article distribution service. A client wanted ten article distributed through this service and the service offered one extra free submission, so I took it. It has been viewed almost 400 times there, while those I submitted on behalf of my client have been viewed only around 200 times each. Apparently more people are interested in “New Age” thinkers than are interested in buying appliances online.

David Icke and Ken Wilber are two of the most prolific “New Age” writers there are, though neither of them particularly likes the label. In Icke’s case, New Agers are as caught up in the Matrix as anybody else. Wilber likes to identify himself with academics and philosophers and so distances himself from fuzzy headed New Age thinking as much as possible. I can relate to both of these attitudes, but be that as it may, if you go to the bookstore and look for their titles, you will almost certainly find them in the New Age section. Let’s face it, folks – if we’re thinking outside the box, we’re labeled as New Agers whether we wear pastel colored clothes and dance with fairies or not!

I first stumbled across David Icke’s work just after 9/11, when I was trying to find out the facts about that fateful day. Aside from the mainstream stuff, there were a handful of blogs that questioned the official version of the story. Icke’s was one of those blogs. Intrigued by the 9-11 stories he had on his blog, I had a look around to see what he was all about.

In a nutshell, David Icke started out as an ultra-normal British bloke who liked football (soccer) so much he was able to make a career out of it as a television commentator. He was a respected household name in the U.K. until he had a flash of insight and saw that mankind was caught in a hideous matrix of unreality and that we were virtual slaves to a race of reptilian shapeshifters. Instead of keeping this information to himself, he chose to tell the world and in the process became the laughing stock of England. Score one for David Icke! Anybody with enough integrity to put himself on the line like that has to be admired.

Simply because the man had the courage of his convictions and didn’t back down, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and read some more. Although his “Reptilian Shapeshifters” theory was outlandish, I could relate to it on a metaphorical level. I had just begun my studies about the brain and spirituality and was going down a similar path, namely that our “reptile brain” (brain stem and related structures) highjacks our ability to see the bigger picture that our frontal lobes (higher consciousness) have access to. I had also discovered the difference between the way the left brain and the right brain think. David Icke was a right brain thinker. I liked that.

In 2004, I was stuck in the desert in Victorville, California for three months caring for my Dad, who was dying of stomach cancer. There was little I could do for him other than to find him a good hospice, put his affairs in order and pay him a visit every day. For a good chunk of each day and night I had nothing to do. My saving grace was the Victorville Barnes and Noble Bookstore. It was a big, well-stocked store complete with lounge chairs and a Starbuck’s.

I indulged in an orgy of reading while I was there in Victorville and was finally was able to buy a book by David Icke. I chose “Infinite Love is the Only Reality. Everything else is Illusion” because I liked the title.

One day while I was having a coffee in Starbuck’s, a magazine called “What is Enlightenment?” caught my eye. It’s an excellent question, so I picked up a copy and thumbed through it to see what they had to say on the subject. I wasn’t too impressed with the editor’s (Andrew Cohen) opinions, but another regular contributor was a guy named Ken Wilber, who seemed to be pretty intelligent and was billed as “the world’s greatest living philosopher.” After my coffee, I went back inside and looked for a book by that author. When I found nothing in the philosophy section, I asked a sales assistant where I might find his books. I should have known. They were in the New Age section under “W” for Wilber, just a few rows away from “I” for Icke.

After thumbing through a few of them, I purchased “A Brief History of Everything” because it looked liked the best introduction to Wilber’s thinking. I liked the book, but was not blown away by it. He seemed to think a little too highly of himself, but I liked the fact that he wasn’t afraid to think for himself. Wanting to know more about him and what he had to say, I checked out his Integral Naked website.

I was a little disturbed by his website because it seemed to have a cult-like feel to it, in spite of the fact that his readers seemed to be fairly intelligent people who were not cult types. I could live with that, but when Wilber dismissed Walt Whitman as a “nature mystic,” I rebelled. Walt Whitman has been an idol of mine ever since I read “Song of Myself.” These lines in particular hit me right between the eyes way back in 1969 and have stuck with me ever since:

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love

Was Wilber really that dumb? Had this “scholar” never read what Whitman’s contemporaries thought of him? R.M. Bucke, for instance, considered Whitman to be the greatest exemplar of cosmic consciousness who ever lived. Did Wilber really think his version of “Kosmic Consciousness” was superior to Whitman’s?

While Icke and Wilber both have agendas of their own, for some reason I don’t feel like Icke is trying to shove his down my throat. He still doesn’t seem to particularly care if anybody likes him or not. Wilber, on the other hand, seems to want people to like him and writes as if he is trying to impress his imaginary readers rather than writing from the heart. That’s the feeling I get from him, anyway.

So, that’s why I like David Icke better than I like Ken Wilber. I’m nobody, so I’m sure neither of them cares, but I have a feeling that Icke wouldn’t hold my lack of status in the world against me and would welcome me into his home. On the other hand, I get the feeling that Wilber would politely refuse me entry unless I paid the price of admission or was somebody important in his eyes.

The Genesis of My Consciousness Cookbook

I can’t remember the exact date, but it must have been somewhere in the first half of 2008 when the idea for A Cookbook of Consciousness came to me. It happened like this:

Cookbook of Consciousness Preface on handmade paper

Click image to view full size

I got an email from a friend of mine asking me to try a meridian tapping sequence. I’ll have to look for the email to find the exact part of the brain this was meant to activate and you’ll have to wait for the details, since I want to get this published this morning (look for an update soon). I tried it and the first words that popped into my mind were “A Cookbook of Consciousness.” I’ve been tempted to change that to “Consciousness Cookbook”, but have decided against it because it seems like whenever I try to change the wording, the inspiration dries up.

Those were the first words that popped into my mind, but what followed was a flurry of mental activity. At the time, I was still involved with a Cambodian charitable organisation. We had recently started a paper making project for the people who lived on the Sihanoukville dumpsite, hoping to give them an alternative means of self-employment. My personal GRAND PLAN was to write and publish my Cookbook and a partial biography of my wife, Sopheak, who lived alone in the jungles of Cambodia for several years when she was a girl. I was going to have these books printed on handmade paper and sell them in bookshops in Cambodia and online.

An interpretation of the chakras

Click image to view full size

Unfortunately, both the NGO and the papermaking project folded and I had to start to find a way to make a living, since I was flat broke – a scary proposition here in Cambodia, where there’s no safety net of any description. The dream is still alive , though, as is the dream of opening some sort of holistic healing centre.

I did manage to print up a couple of sample pages on handmade paper. I thought I’d lost them until I stumbled across them the other day. I want to comment on them in a later post, but until then, you’re welcome to have a look. Click on the images to see them full size.

One quick comment on the second page. I didn’t think then and don’t think now that this is an accurate interpretation of the chakras. It is based on David Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness and I have serious issues with both Hawkins and his map. In my next post I’ll elaborate on that. Have to go now. I’m getting my bicycle repaired today and then going for a ride. Sitting in front of a computer 7 days a week is not good for one’s health.

Sympathy for the Illuminati

With deepest apologies to the Rolling Stones and for my terrible poetry:

Blake's Lucifer

Lucifer - William Blake

Please allow us to introduce ourselves, we are men of wealth and fame.
Although you think you know us, you do not know our name.
You used to call me Lucifer and that’s just fine with me,
But we are legion now, so call us by our new name, the Illuminati.

A long, long time ago, I was just like you, struggling to make ends meet,
Selling gold in London town on a little backend street.
Then one day it dawned on me, no one knew how much was in my vault.
I started lending money. You were dumb enough to take it: it really wasn’t my fault.

I was doing pretty well, more than getting by,
But greedy as I am, I needed more, just to keep me high.
Then one rainy morning, fate stepped in and lent me a hand,
A great and powerful leader needed money for his scam.

He asked me for a loan and I asked him for how much.
“As much as you can give me, I really need a bunch.
Yeah, I know it costs a lot to wage a war,
but when I win I’ll give you back much more.”

We struck a deal, the war took place and the King was in my debt.
Then I hatched a plan to rule the world, making a safe bet.
Why not lend some more, this time to the enemy,
And when the war is over, the winner surely will be me?

I needed help in my endeavours, but that was easily done.
The lights of greed and power are brighter than the sun.
I sent out a clarion call and I sounded my great horn.
Then before I knew it, the Illuminati were born.

We set a date and made the world our goal.
This war would last forever and we would have it all.
We would bankrupt nations and bring them to their knees.
With everyone indebted, we could then do as we please.

You saw through our ruse and stopped our victory train.
Now our days are numbered, but spare us your disdain.
We wanted to stay well hidden, creatures of fear and awe,
Lest when you saw our fragile bodies, you laughed at what you saw.

Let us tell you one thing more before we go,
It’s something you really need to know.
You are the real Illuminati,
That’s a fact we never wanted you to see.

The Curse and the Rabbit Hole

The Curse of the InternetI write here under a pseudonym because many of the things I want to write about fall outside the parameters of my usual writing work. Anyone who is interested can find out who I really am in about 30 seconds. An example of my more mainstream work is The Curse of the Internet. In it, I write about how the internet costs jobs. The majority of my sources (over 200 in all) are mainstream sources like the Wall Street Journal, the Economist and CNBC. This was by design, since the book was written for a mainstream audience.

In my private life, there’s nothing more I like to do than explore fringe theories. As you may have discovered, I take people like David Icke seriously. I also take texts like the Book of Revelations seriously. In a nutshell, I see the real conspiracy as something much larger and more universal than whatever is happening currently. It happens first on a much more cosmic level. As Jesus is attributed to have said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” In other words, there are universal truths and the “facts” as we perceive them on this temporal/spacial level are just pale reflections of a far greater drama.

Anyway, doing research for The Curse of the Internet was a sometimes painful process because my sources were so often bland mouthpieces for conventional wisdom (propaganda?). They were asking me to believe that everything was ultimately under control and that the experts would sort everything out for us. Because the name of the publication is Forbes or Business Week, I am automatically meant to defer to any opinions these “august” publications provide. Sometimes, to my surprise, they did provide me with the statistical information I needed, even when it contradicted the incredibly skewed information the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government organisations offered. For example, I learned that the unemployment figures we are given today are different from those we were given in 1993. This was intentionally done to make it look like unemployment remained a minor problem in the US when in fact it was becoming a major problem as far back as the 90s.

I don’t want to make this a long post, so I’ll “cut to the chase” and get to my point. You don’t even have to read the alternative news or subscribe to a conspiracy theory to learn there is something very wrong with the world today and that we are on the brink of enormous change.

Personally, I’m not that interested in pointing the finger at whoever may be to blame at this point in history. When America was dropping bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, most Cambodian villagers didn’t even know what they were, much less who was dropping them. Had they known, it wouldn’t have made any difference, but if someone had told them the bombs were coming, some of those who listened could have gotten out of harm’s way.

As a writer, the best I can do is stop chasing the rabbit, climb back out of the rabbit hole and try to forewarn my fellow global villagers to the best of my ability. As an individual, all I can do is try to protect my family and myself as best I can. I suggest you do the same.

Song of Walt Whitman and Myself

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

I was first introduced to Walt Whitman when I was in my third year of college. Looking for a subject that would complement my growing interest in yoga and all-things-spiritual, I signed up for a course called ‘The American Transcendentalists’. One of the wonderful things about UC Santa Cruz was that it offered a lot of such courses. From memory, we covered Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman and I even got to meet the real Johnny Appleseed. It was a fascinating class, but reading Walt Whitman was a revelation, in the true sense of the word.

I was on the verge of dropping out of college at the time. My yoga and meditation was all-consuming and I was rapidly losing all ambition, other than to go to India, which I did the following year. My problem was that I had no one to share the mind-blowing experiences I was having with and didn’t know whether I was going crazy or my “doors of perception” were actually opening. When I read these words from Song of Myself, I felt like Whitman had written them for me, exactly when I needed them most:

I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not
even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue
to my bare-stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,

To me, a great poem speaks to the heart, not the intellect, and a truly great poem says something different to every reader. What follows is what these stanzas from Song of Myself said to me:

Young Walt Whitman

Young Walt Whitman

Immersed in yoga and “self purification” as I was, I was struggling with my “ego.” After my spirit soared during meditation, I would inevitably come back down and be faced with the limitations and faults of my personality. When I read, “the other I am must not abase itself to you,” I felt that Whitman was gently telling me that the ego was not something to be despised or “abased.” I began to accept myself. I also began to realise that I was not just one personality: as Whitman wrote elsewhere, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

The second and third stanzas were perfect descriptions of what my experiences in meditation were like. The “hum of your valved voice” was the humming sound I heard in deep meditation. It felt like the humming of a cosmic, living engine. I had read elsewhere that it was the “Om” sound and accepted it as such, but Whitman’s line spoke far more eloquently to me than any of the yoga texts I had read.

The sensual imagery of the third stanza felt just like the experience of deep meditation. Beginning with a delicious feeling of pleasure and relaxation, it deepened into an overwhelming ecstasy, culminating in the revelation that “a kelson of creation is love.”

I’ve reluctantly come back down to “reality” since those early years, but every time I read those lines of Whitman’s, I get a taste of that transcendental bliss again. For that, I am infinitely grateful.

At the time, UC Santa Cruz had a Pass-Fail program: you either passed a course or you failed it. That was lucky for me, because my professor wasn’t overly impressed with the gushing essay I wrote about Song of Myself.  After I left the campus, I went to work for a wonderful bookshop. One day while I was cleaning the shelves, I stumbled across a book called Cosmic Consciousness. Written in the late 19th century, it is an extraordinary book. The author, Richard Maurice Bucke, explained in great detail what he believed the hallmarks of cosmic consciousness were and provided a list of individuals he believed possessed it to some degree or other. Of them all, Jesus and Buddha included, Bucke considered Walt Whitman to be the greatest exemplar of cosmic consciousness who ever lived.


It’s a pretty dense book, but is well worth reading. You can read it for free if you like. It is now in the public domain and I am going to attach a link to a PDF and put it on my sidebar. If you want a bound copy for your bookshelf (highly recommended), click the cover image here. Yes, it’s a link to my Amazon affiliate account, so I’ll get a tiny commission, but that’s not the only reason why I urge you to buy it. Here’s an anecdote about Whitman from the book:

The writer has seen Walt Whitman on Long Island, New York, remain on a verandah a whole long summer evening, the air being literally loaded with mosquitoes. These would settle upon him in large numbers, but he did not appear to notice them. From time to time he waved a palm leaf fan which he held in his hand, but did not use it or his other hand to drive away or kill any of the mosquitoes. He did not appear to be bitten or in any way annoyed by the small creatures, who were driving the rest of the party almost wild. It is well known that Walt Whitman came and went freely and with impunity for years, off and on as he pleased, among the most dangerous people of New York. It has never been said that he was at any time molested or even spoken roughly to. As to the life of the possessor of the Tao (if that is Cosmic Consciousness) being indestructible by tigers, or other wild beasts or armed men, that is the simple truth.

What a joy it was for me to discover this book! Walt Whitman was as good as a guru to me, but I hadn’t realised that someone else thought as highly of him as I did – especially someone who had actually known the man. My English professor certainly didn’t: she thought I was way too enthusiastic about Whitman.

It’s been wonderful to write about Walt Whitman again after all these years. I feel like I’ve gotten in touch with an old friend and mentor.