Sunflower Mind video clip # 2: Bottom-up vs top-down

This 3-minute following video clip is about bottom-up vs top-down processes. It is part of the 25-minute video about embodied relational mindfulness.


One thing about that metaphor, of Sunflower Mind, is that it goes against this whole idea we have about what the mind is. We think in terms of having an understanding, understanding things to make them happen, or in terms of having willpower. And certainly, none of that goes on in the mind of the sunflower. It follows the sun, and it’s some kind of chemical process. It’s some kind of a process related to light.

But it doesn’t have anything to do with willpower, or with having a mind. It’s what neuroscience has been calling bottom-up processes, as opposed to top-down processes. Things that come from very simple mechanisms and that create powerful effects that we used to describe as if they were happening from consciousness, from reasoning, from logic, and from willpower.

And to give you an idea: It used to be that people thought the sun was rotating around the earth, and not just a sun as this kind of great ball of fire, but there was a chariot of the sun that was pulled by a god.

So that whole concept that anything that moves, anything that happens, is moved, is animated by an anima, by some kind of a soul, by some kind of consciousness. And the bottom-up process is really something that starts from very simple chemical reactions, photo-reactions, things that happen at a very basic level and that create this major thing.

So part of the Sunflower metaphor is about that. Sunflower Mind is, to some extent, bottom-up. If you think about it: We are so superior as human beings. Our language is about: Human being is so much better than animal. Animal is uncivilized. Talking about plants: “vegging out” means really not living up to our full potential. Talking about somebody who is really damaged, in derogatory terms, it’s “like a vegetable”. And here, with Sunflower Mind, we’re talking about coming down to our plant self, the bottom-up part.

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