Thursday, 29 October 2009

Reticular Activation System, or Past Life?

Life is full of messages - we draw things towards us every day. We can either believe that the things we take note of are 'signs' from God, or in the scientific workings of the brain. I believe in both, but I also believe that the two work together.

There is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activation System (RAS). As far as my limited knowledge understands, the RAS pays attention to what you focus your intention on (and this is where affirmations and visualisations come in).
The RAS is the reason why, when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you see dozens of them out on the road of the same make and colour, where before you thought they were quite rare.
Or if you regularly visualise seeing coins on the pavement, you start to notice them in the street.
Or, if you close your eyes and focus on the colour red, for example, when you open your eyes and look around the room every red object will appear to leap out at you.

It's quite clever.

But for me, there is still something that manifests these things for you to notice. All the same, it is so easy to read too much in to one thing and misunderstand the messages, or see a connection where there is not.

On the last day of Rosh Hashannah in New York, I had the best part of a day to kill before catching my flight. I was chatting to a couple I had never met before and they suggested the Titanic exhibition at the Discovery Museum, which was just up the road. So that is what I did.

I spent the best part of 3 hours looking at items dug up from the sea bed, reading histories of passengers and their tales of survival or loss, and wandering through reconstructions of the different classes of cabins, dining rooms and smoking rooms. It was a fascinating exhibit.

My Dad once mentioned that my great grandmother planned to emigrate to America, but when the Titanic sank, she changed her mind. And that, as far as I was concerned, was my only connection with the story.

A couple of weeks after this, an entire Kabbalah class was spent in a workshop about Greatness, which involved justifying to the class why you deserved to be in the last seat of the last lifeboat... of the sinking Titanic.

Then at the beginning of this week I wandered with a friend to buy a postcard from a tiny souvenir shop in Lancaster Gate and whilst she was queuing inside, I had a look at a variety of fridge magnets on a board outside. Most of them were retro but modern and the first one to catch my eye said "I can only please one person a day. Today isn't your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either" which made me giggle. But then I noticed that at least a tenth of these magnets were pictures of the Titanic. There it was again. But there were no other references to the Titanic in any other part of the shop - no postcards, posters, models or mugs - just these magnets on the one board I had stopped at.

Then when I got home, I started to have one last read through some old love letters before consigning to the recycle bin and in the last one I read, my ex spent an entire paragraph saying how much he had enjoyed watching Titanic with me for the second time...

And finally last night I randomly changed channels on the TV and landed on BBC Four... which was showing a documentary on Ocean Liners. And okay, I had missed any mention of the Titanic, but they were covering another vessel built by the White Star line.

So now I am curious. Do I have a past life connection with the Titanic? Was I on that ship? Was I a man throwing women and children behind me as I scrabbled for the last seat in the life boat? Or did I freeze in the waters when the ship went down?

Yes, I think there could be a connection... after all, I have a complete dislike for swimming or sailing across large expanses of water. It might explain why I totally freaked out when sailing a Topper across Poole Harbour aged 13. And I seriously do not like the cold. Oh it all makes so much's all starting to come together now....

But rather than create my own past lives from my own (rather over-active, it has to be said) imagination, next week I will have the opportunity to find out. I am booked in for a Kabbalistic Astrology reading. The woman giving the reading does not pull any punches - many students leave the room in a how could she possibly know that about me? daze. If you are lazy in this life, or a murderer in the last, she will deliver that information direct and without flinching.

And so I am going to ask. I can picture the conversation now:
Me: "Is there any connection between me and the Titanic?"
Reader: "I don't see it"
Me: "So what about large ocean liners?"
Reader: "No big boats"
Me: "What about little boats? Or large expanses of ocean?"
Reader: "I'm not getting that either"
Me: "Okay, so how about swimming or drowning?"
Reader: "No"
Me: "Paddling Pools?"
Reader: "No"
Me: "Cold baths?"
Reader: "Hasn't everybody?"
Me: "I guess so"
Reader: "So let's move on then. In your most recent past life you were murdered for asking too many stupid questions..."


  1. Nice post - had me laughing at the end.
    I saw the documentary about liners as well and there was a couple of mentions of the Titanic. A great thing coincidence (or possibly the RAS)

  2. And the funny thing is that after writing this post I went through another box of letters and came across yet another mention of "Titanic" totally out of the blue. My RAS is on fire...

  3. actually, you were a child on the deck listening to the band play "nearer my God to thee"
    your mother couldnt find you because you were crouching on the far side, enraptured with the music. you started crying and didnt know why.
    i dont know the rest of the story...

  4. JST: Oooo... spooky! See - I knew we had met in a previous life. JST vs. the best Kabbalistic Astrologer - could be interesting!