Daniel Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center and author of Mindsight, has done extensive work with connections among relationships, mind and brain in his neurobiological research. Relationship, it turns out, is an essential key to learning. Communication and community are interrelated.
According to Siegel, “Certain neurons can fire when someone communicates with you. They dissolve the border between you and others. These mirror neurons are a hardwired system designed for us to see the mind-state of another person.” When we communicate, we build a pathway in our minds and a connection to the other.
Just as the speakers in our recent webinar on language learning, faith and peacebuilding emphasized, Siegel affirms that “Relationship is key. When we work with relationship, we work with brain structure. Relationship stimulates us and is essential in our development.” We cannot learn without relationship.
What happens when we are able to connect with others and have this flow of information happen back and forth? Siegel suggests that “the outcome of such an integrative presence is not only a sense of deep well-being and compassion for ourselves and others, but also an opening of the doors of awareness to a sense of the interdependence of everything. ‘We’ are indeed a part of an interconnected whole.” This is the kind of awareness and connection that our relationships, communities and societies require to create peace.