Part 4: The Windows of Perception Processing Technique, and Review of Literature and Methodology for Future Research

The Windows of Perception Processing Technique

The Windows of Perception Processing Technique is a technique pioneered by Edward F. Omran – founder of the Conquering Life Ninja Club, in order to:

  • Endow individuals with the ability to appraise life events in a realistic and factual manner
  • Help nurture and flourish one’s self esteem
  • Aid individuals in developing a sense of power and control
  • Cultivate a positive outlook
  • Stimulate emotional and body awareness
  • Foster a growth mindset
  • Help develop psychological insight
  • Develop the ability to command emotional equilibrium
  • Assist in building courage
  • Facilitate the utilisation of neuroplasticity
  • Strengthen resilience by promoting acceptance, persistence and toleration of events and outcomes beyond one’s control
  • Promoting a ‘can and will do’ attitude in life
  • Develop within individuals, ultimate autonomy

Our character is based on our ways and habits, our ways and habits are reinforced by our beliefs and our beliefs are given birth to and maintained by our thoughts, which create emotions that powerfully charge those thoughts and beliefs…

But none of the above are immutable, and we now know that we can rewire our neural pathways and change every thought, emotion, perspective, belief and behaviour.

We can be the master of our own ship, and this section is where we make any and all desired changes.

Neuroplasticity has demonstrated that repetition is the brain’s way of creating new synapses, new neural pathways, and this engaging weekly exercise is designed to meet the criteria demanded by our brain for this to take place effectively.

The following ten core principles (repeated and expanded upon for relevant context within the module) are reported to be necessary for the remodeling of our brain to take place (Merzenich, 2013).

1. Change is mostly limited to those situations in which the brain is in the mood for it.

So, when we are alert, on the ball, engaged, motivated, ready for action, the brain releases the neurochemicals necessary to enable brain change.

And when disengaged, inattentive, distracted, or doing something without thinking that requires no real effort, our neuroplastic switches are “off.”

Our Windows of Perception activity is structured in a way that allows for trainees to first relax, calm and ground themselves in the first section of the session, through mindfulness practice, and by this point find themselves quite collected and focused.

This also, in time, creates an association between being calm and collected and looking at/translating facts internally and positively.

2. The harder you try, the more motivated and alert you are, and the better (or worse) the potential outcome, the bigger the brain change.

If you’re intensely focused on the task and really trying to master something for an important reason, the change experienced will be greater.

Our Windows of Perception activity is structured in a way that the second stage of the technique allows for trainees to firstly really work hard at looking for positives in places where they seemingly see nothing but negative, and then work hard at looking for internals (what is in their power to do) rather than feeling like there is little that can be done about a given situation.

This part of the exercise creates just the right environment for trainees to rewire established neural pathways.

3. What actually changes in the brain are the strengths of the connections of neurons that are engaged together, moment by moment, in time.

The more something is practiced, the more connections in our brains are changed and made to include all elements of the experience (sensory info, movement, cognitive patterns).

You can think of it like a “master controller” being formed for that particular behaviour which allows it to be performed with remarkable ease and reliability over time.

The repetitive nature of this activity from week to week will ensure that all desired and targeted connections are strengthened and permanent.

Through our Windows of Perception activity, we are building new neural pathways to see/translate/judge facts and events in life in a positive and internal way and establish this as a default setting.

4. Learning-driven changes in connections increase cell to cell cooperation which is crucial for increasing reliability.

Imagine the sound of a football stadium full of fans all clapping at random vs the same people clapping in unison. The more powerfully coordinated your teams (nerve cells) are, the louder (more powerful and more reliable) the sound (their behavioural productions).

Through our Windows of Perception activity, we are developing new learnings/perspectives as a result of switching windows and seeing things differently, every time we apply it to a situation, and therefore meeting this criterion nicely.

5. The brain also strengthens its connections between teams of neurons representing separate moments of successive things that reliably occur in serial time.

This allows your brain to predict what happens next and have a continuous associative flow (just like the process of a film/video clip makes a seamless movie from photos stills). Without this ability, your stream of consciousness would be reduced to “a series of separate, stagnating puddles”.

This criterion is also met by our weekly repetition of this activity, the exercising of these new skills will make habitual any desired response mode.

6. Initial changes are temporary.

Your brain first records the change, then determines whether it should make the change permanent or not, and it only becomes permanent if your brain judges the experience to be fascinating or novel enough or if the behavioural outcome is important, good or bad.

Every time our trainees use the Windows of Perception Processing Technique effectively, they create positive feelings and experience a sense of power and capability, and as such, this ensures the right environment for deep and long lasting learning to occur.

7. The brain is changed by internal mental rehearsal in the same ways and involving precisely the same processes that control changes achieved through interactions with the external world.

We don’t have to move an inch to drive positive plastic change in your brain, our internal representations of things recalled from memory work just fine for progressive brain plasticity-based learning.

By trying to look for positives in a fact or event previously translated through our negative and external window, we are almost forced to imagine and envisage positive things that we could not recognise before. This is where the ‘Windows of Perception’ activity allows for better rewiring/remodeling through effective use of imagination.

8. Memory guides and controls most learning.

As you learn a new skill, your brain takes note of and remembers the good attempts, while discarding the not so good ones.

Then, it recalls the last good pass, makes incremental adjustments, and progressively improves.

The Windows of Perception activity reinforces progressive growth through incremental changes, using feedback and adjustments from week to week.

9. Every movement of learning provides a moment of opportunity for the brain to stabilize and reduce the disruptive power of potentially interfering backgrounds or noise.

Each time your brain strengthens a connection to advance your mastery of a skill, it also weakens other connections of neurons that weren’t used at that precise moment.

This negative plastic brain change erases some of the irrelevant or interfering activity in the brain.

In this way, it is that, through the Windows of Perception activity, we begin to quieten down the unhelpful, nervous, anxious, fearful and negative inner voice and eventually shut it down as it is simultaneously being replaced with the newly built positive and self-affirming inner voice.

10. Brain plasticity is a two-way street, and it is just as easy to generate negative changes as it is positive ones.

You have a ‘use it or lose it’ brain.

It’s almost as easy to drive changes that impair memory and physical and mental abilities as it is to improve these things.

By utilising the Windows of Perception Processing Technique every week over a 2 year period in our Ninja Clubs, we are well and truly establishing new neural pathways, positive new perspectives and embedding positive and reinforcing default response modes.

So, as you can see, our ‘Windows of Perception Processing Technique’ activity has been specifically designed to create the optimal neurological environment necessary for established and hardwired neural pathways to be effectively re-written.

In providing our trainees with the opportunity to apply this activity to normal everyday events and experiences that occur in life, week in and week out, we are training their young minds to form connections that reinforce positive and internal response modes.

In dealing with the result/outcome of the event, the thoughts, feelings and behaviour produced by the event is often confused with thoughts, feelings and behaviour due to the translation of the event.

This is a crucial point that needs considering. When we have habitually established response modes that are the first port of call in events (which is practically all the time), we are no longer rationally and reasonably able to evaluate the situation in a justifiable way and come to practical conclusions, and this more or less renders us slaves to habits and ‘ways that we have always dealt with things’.

So, this is a fundamental part of our programme where we are empowering our trainees by demonstrating to them the power of choice, their individual inherent power to choose how to perceive all things in life, to choose what beliefs, ways and habits to maintain and reinforce, and which to let go effectively.

The Windows of Perception Processing Technique will be teaching these youths, these future leaders and organisers of the world, the very mastery of their own vessels and will make them the captains of their own ships.

Review of Further Literature and Methodology for Future Research

The following section will present a brief review of further literature on the benefits of positive cognition, internality and neuroplastic change (relevant to positive cognition), in order to complete a succinct outline of research to date that indicates validity and effectiveness in the utilisation of each stage of the Windows of Perception Processing Technique.

Following this, suggestions will be presented pertaining to the methodology of original research, to be carried out by Conquering Life Limited, that will provide valuable insight and further grounding in our current understanding of the efficacy of this technique.

In positive thinking:

The first half of the Windows of Perception Processing Technique encourages individuals to look for positives in the fact/s of a situation, and to evaluate changes in their feelings and emotions as a result of this.

Positive emotions have been linked to stress reduction. (Ong, 2006) showed that daily positive emotions served to reduce stress reactivity. Positive thinking and positive affect were shown to be related with distress reduction and healthy outcomes (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004; Tugade, Fredrickson and Feldman Barret, 2004). In relation to anxiety, (Ayres, 2009) found that speech anxiety is positively correlated with negative thoughts and negatively correlated with positive thoughts.

(Fredrickson, 1998; 2001) demonstrate that positive emotions contribute to psychological and physical well‐being via more effective coping. This understanding was built upon by (Tugade, Fredrickson, Barrett, 2004), who demonstrated, using psychophysiological and experience based evidence, how individual differences in resilience and positive emotional granularity (inferring positive emotions) play a crucial role in enhancing coping resources in the face of ‘negative’ events. (Fredrickson, 2001) found that positive emotions build people’s enduring personal resources, from physical, intellectual, social and psychological resources, through broadening people’s momentary thought.

Positive thinking has also been linked to mental health. Optimism was shown by (Achat et al., 2000) to relate to higher levels of self reported vitality and mental health, including lower levels of depression. In a questionnaire on positive automatic thoughts, shown to have high internal consistency, (Burgess, Haaga, 1994) found strong negative associations with depressive symptoms in people. (Macleod, Moore, 2000), within a review of the benefits of positive cognition within psychological disorders, argue that positive cognitions are particularly important within the context of depression.

Positive thinking is also believed to have biological and health care benefits (McGrath et al., 2006). Much evidence already shows that positive emotions and positive thinking have an important role to play in protecting blood pressure, and other heart ailments (Affleck, Tennen, & Croog, 1987). With regards to an improved immune system, (Nasseem and khalid) found those with a greater propensity to cope with humour show increased levels of a vital immune system protein crucial to first line respiratory illness prevention. In longevity, research conducted in Notre Dame, with 180 nuns, found nuns who thought positively lived an average of 10 years longer (Danner, Snowdown, Friesen, 2001).

A meta analysis by (Lyubomirsky and King, 2005) showed that frequent positive thinking engenders success in multiple areas of life, including work performance, social relationships, self-perception and perception of others, sociability, activity, physical well-being, coping, problem solving, creativity and health.

In internal thinking (through an internal locus of control):

The second half of the Windows of Perception Processing Technique encourages individuals to look for what they can do (internal thinking) in the fact/s of a situation, and also to notice any changes in their feelings and emotions, such as feelings of empowerment.

(Pannells, Claxton, 2008) found a significant difference on a happiness measure with individuals who had an internal locus of control vs an external locus of control. Data from (Anderson, 1977) found that internals perceived less stress following a major disaster, and employed more task-centred coping behaviours, and fewer emotion-centred coping behaviours.

Through data collected by (Spector et al., 2001) from managers in 24 different nations/territories, well-being was found to be associated with an internal locus of control, through measures of job satisfaction, absence of psychological strain and absence of physical strain. Research, such as that done by (Organ, Greene, 1974), also found that an internal locus of control leads to higher job satisfaction.

Locus of control has been studied with relation to health through health related behaviours. (Steptoe, Wardle, 2010) found that, for five out of ten health behaviours, the odds of healthy behaviour were more than 40% greater among individuals in the highest vs. lowest quartile of internal locus of control. Some research such as (Norman et al., 1998) suggests a weaker link, however this was in reference to health locus of control rather than a general, and hence a more encompassing measure of, locus of control.

In neuroplastic change:

In relation to neuroplastic change as a result of positive or internal thinking, research is limited, however (Bingaman, 2014) points out, on the subject of neuroplasticity, the growing body of research on mindfulness having the capacity to balance the brain’s well documented negativity bias.

Research proposals:

Proposals for original research into the Windows of Perception Processing Technique will need to be clear and specific, and hypotheses are needed in order to identify predicted outcomes of research. The following hypotheses are put forward, and the capacity to uptake some of the research into the validity of these hypotheses will need to be verified for reasons of practicality and possible limitations. All hypotheses involve the consistent and suitable use of length (to be decided upon) of utilisation of the Windows of Perception Processing Technique in adolescents of a relatively small ranged age group (to be decided upon).

Hypothesis 1: an improved level of well-being through life satisfaction/happiness:

The hypothesis put forward is that consistent and correct utilisation of the Windows of Perception Processing Technique will induce improved levels of well-being, general life satisfaction and happiness through enforcing and habituating a positive outlook. This could be measured within multiple specific areas, including school satisfaction and an absence of psychological strain, if required or desired.

Hypothesis 2: reduced levels of anxiety:

The hypothesis put forward is that utilisation of the technique will reduce general and area specific levels of anxiety within individuals.

Hypothesis 3: reduced levels of stress:

The hypothesis is that levels of stress will be reduced through using the technique. Changes in cortisol and adrenaline levels can also be measured.

Hypothesis 4: increased sense of empowerment:

The hypothesis is that individuals will gain an increased feeling of empowerment over their lives in general, and as well as subjective evaluations this can involve measuring changes in the behaviour or actions of individuals. Locus of control scales can be used to measure any changes in this metric.

Hypothesis 5: plastic changes within the brain:

The hypothesis is that utilisation of the technique will produce neuroplastic change within areas of the brain. This hypothesis will need further research, including into the practicality and costs of testing, but can be tested along the lines of measuring morphological changes – changes in density of synapses such as enlargement or diminishment of synapses, being either localised or more general.

Hypothesis 6: improved self-esteem and self-image:

The hypothesis is that utilisation of the technique will promote a more positive self-image and higher levels of self-esteem. Given the fact that these will be measured at two time intervals, self-report bias or the effects of socially desirable responding should be at least minimised, since it is changes that will be measured and reported, rather than initial baseline levels. To improve validity, numerous well-cited and research backed forms of measurement will be utilised.

Hypothesis 7: improved confidence levels

The hypothesis it that utilisation of the technique will cause an increase in confidence levels. These levels may be measured through subjective evaluations on confidence levels in certain areas, such as socially, academically and in sports. Teacher and parent input can also be used.

Hypothesis 8: clarity of vision

The hypothesis is that utilisation of the technique will induce an increase in clarity of vision. Accuracy will be difficult to attain, however once again it is improvements from a baseline level that will be subjectively measured, thus socially desirable responding and self-report bias should again be minimised.

Hypothesis 9: enhanced emotional awareness

They hypothesis is that the utilisation of the technique will enhance levels of emotional awareness in subjects. Methods can include measuring emotional awareness through describing one’s own and other’s emotions, and also the ability to express emotions in words, including the number of emotion words that are known or frequently used.

Hypothesis 10: improved emotional control and mastery

The hypothesis is that individuals will gain an improved level of emotional control and mastery. This can be measured through subjective evaluations from the individual and those closest to them, to evaluate how they control their emotions when they report to be struggling with them.

Hypothesis 11: factual perception

The hypothesis is that individuals will be able to perceive the aspects of any given circumstance more factually, and with less intrusion of biased interpretations based on negative thoughts and feelings. This will be difficult to measure and will need more investigation into possible methods of testing, but could include comparison with other people’s perceptions on situations that are only found to be stressful or negative for subjects.

Hypothesis 12: self-awareness

They hypothesis is that utilisation of the technique will improve self-awareness levels. Self and external reports can will include measuring awareness of one’s character, feelings, motives and desires and can include an estimation of the accuracy of these evaluations (although this may be difficult and very subjective).

Hypothesis 13: self-mastery

Self-mastery can also be measured, and more specific measures will need to be decided upon, however they will likely encompass the overall mastery of one’s behaviour with regards to eliminating undesired behaviour and facilitating desired behaviour.

Hypothesis 14: successes of all variety in all aspects of life

The hypothesis is that utilisation of the technique will engender success in all aspects of life. Although these can not all be measured, a large amount of areas can be, and will be done so using area appropriate methods of measurement. Areas can include: sports success, relationship success, homework and academic success, subjective well-being, achievement in any musical endeavours etc.

Further hypothesis, deemed valuable for measuring in the future, will also be considered for testing. Statistical significance will identify any effective changes in comparison with positive control groups, in order to deduce with validity the factors attributable to any recorded changes. The study samples should be as large as possible to also ensure results can be plausibly attributed to the utilisation of the technique, and factors such as standard deviation should be accounted for. Sample sizes are not likely to be particularly large, given the need to control variables such as school, and hence the experiments may well need to be repeated multiple times in different schools, for example.

Data for all hypothesis except number 5 will collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods, in order to produce sound conclusions, including interviews and numerical questionnaires identifying self evaluated changes or improvements in numerical form. Data for hypotheses 5 will need to be collected through laboratory methods which are suitable for measuring plastic changes within the brain, such as 3-D imaging techniques.

The highest practical number of variables, excluding the consistent and proper utilisation of the Windows of Perception Processing technique, will need be controlled for, not limited to but including:

-School

-Age

-Sudden changes in socio-economic background

-Personal lifestyle changes such as starting a new sports club or musical instrument

-Major life events e.g. death of a loved one

-Unexpected illness

-Differences in the prevalence of exams

Ethical approval will be required to work with adolescents. Results will be collected in confidentiality. Experiments comparing the efficacy of utilising the Windows of Perception Processing Technique with other types of cognitive therapy can also be conducted.

 

About Conquering Life Academy

A psychological and emotional training academy designed to equip children with all the necessary self insights and vital life skills to navigate through adolescence and grow into competent, well grounded and well adjusted thriving young adults.

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