Oct 052010

The “Mind of Man” Labyrinth

by David Satterlee

It seemed like a good idea. I built a labyrinth. I’d been thinking about it all winter. It wouldn’t need to be very complicated; just a path mowed in the grass and borders not mown to define the path. A labyrinth is a good thing. It’s somewhere to walk in circles and nobody complains that you’re not getting anywhere. It’s not a maze because it doesn’t have any dead ends and you can always get back out just by keeping on the path.

The path switches back and forth. It’s balancing to the mind and calming to the heart. The path is like real life; it doesn’t get you directly to anywhere, it turns you back when you least expect, it leads you inexorably to the inevitable end. Sometimes you just have to quit doing everything better and just do what comes next.

My labyrinth isn’t some gothic mystical thing. It isn’t a form of worship or prayer. Oh, there’s some symbolism: if you saw it from above, it looks like the convolutions of the surface of the human brain. You enter from the brain stem (near the driveway) and walk toward the amygdala in the center. There are extra folds in the areas of visual and aural processing. It’s an original design and very clever.

I wrote an article for the local newspaper (included below). They didn’t use it.

The whole thing is 60 foot in diameter and sits in the vacant lot that my wife owns next to our house. It cost me 30 foot of string and 2 cans of grass paint that I already had. The funny thing is that the only times I walk it are when I mow the path. It seemed like a good idea.


I was interested to read about a grant awarded to the Gifted and Talented program for the construction of a labyrinth in Chariton. [Chariton Herald-Patriot, Thursday, April 14, 2005, page 7]

This spring, Dianna and I constructed a grass labyrinth on our property in Russell. Visitors are welcome to walk it when it is daylight and dry.

Note: the “WWLL” in the Internet URL below is NOT a typo. A picture of the labyrinth is attached. A higher resolution copy is available on request.

David Satterlee
Russell, IA 50238

641-###-#### (Private – Home)

Russell Labyrinth Available to the Public

Russell residents David and Dianna Satterlee created a grass labyrinth on their property two weeks ago. Visitors are welcome to walk it when it is daylight and dry. Although it looks like a maze, the 60-foot diameter labyrinth has no dead ends. It is intended to create mental balance and relaxation while following the reversing folds of the walkway.

This “Mind of Man” labyrinth lay-out is an original design. Visitors may park on the street and enter it at the “brain-stem” on the south side. “Switchbacks at the sides and far end represent auditory and visual processing centers in the brain” explained David Satterlee. “Viewed from overhead, the curves and turns resemble the folds in the surface of the brain.” Additional information can be found at the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator at http://wwll.veriditas.labyrinthsociety.org/

David is a Natural Health Writer and retired Computer Systems Manager. Dianna is the Music Teacher at Russell Community School. She says that their labyrinth is a great low-impact way to get some exercise, unwind, and relieve stress. Dianna added, “We began researching labyrinths last year but didn’t have the resources to do anything complicated. We laid it out using a center post, string, and a can of grass paint. Concepts from high school geometry let us do things like bisect angles. David mows the path every few days but the grass separating the paths is allowed to grow.”

The Satterlee’s labyrinth is on private property but is available for “respectful public use” when it is daylight and dry. It is located in the lot next to ############# in Russell, Iowa; just 5 miles east of Chariton and 2 miles south of US 34. There is room for several cars to park on the street. They request that no tobacco be used on the property.

A planned labyrinth in Chariton was previously reported (4/14/2005 p. 7).

[Note: This was written in 2005. We moved away; the labyrinth has been mown over for several years now. It isn’t there anymore. I have removed location and contact information to avoid disturbing the current residents.]

Copyright 2005, 2010 David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Jan 242010

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 3

We are endowed with access to powerful and insistent emotional states. They arise from the deepest and most primitive areas of our brain. They include more than fight or flight survival instincts to take decisive action to kill or conserve; they include the capacity for happiness. Happiness must serve an important, fundamental purpose.

Negative emotions include fear, sadness, discussed, repulsion, hatred and anger. They are especially important in win-lose situations, where the loser may be oneself. Effective responses to negative emotions affect survival and would reasonably be an important part of natural selection. The likelihood that a person will present predominantly negative or positive emotions it is, in fact strongly affected by genetic inheritance.

Positive feelings encourage us to approach an object or develop a situation. But, negative and positive emotions are much more complex than the stimulus attraction and avoidance processes of bacteria. Until recently, psychologists have generally ignored positive emotions. They were interpreted as secondary effects of situations and behaviors. They are, in fact, as important to our survival behavior as fear.

Jan 172010
Lecture 5 – Googling the Brain on a Chip (Kwabena Boahen)

Kwabena Boahen is using the human brain as the blueprint for designing radically more powerful and energy-efficient computers.

In this short demo, Boahen describes how his Brains in Silicon lab at Stanford University has created computer chips with "synapses" and "neurons" — and how these chips might revolutionize computing.

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Jan 152010

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 2


Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA) for 1998.

Veterans Administration Act of 1946

The Veterans Administration Act of 1946 was created for the practical purpose of helping returning veterans of World War II. This shifted the emphasis of the field from academic research on learning, behavior, and motivation toward more practical applications. At that time, “no mental illness was treatable. For not a single disorder did any treatment work better than no treatment at all.”


The National Institute Of Mental Health was created in 1947, and focused on the interests of its many psychiatrists, primarily psychiatric pathology. But

Learned helplessness

In 1968, Martin Seligman worked on “learned helplessness.” His findings “challenged the central axioms of my field.” He determined that learned helplessness closely resembled “unipolar depression” in both observable characteristics and brain chemistry.


Pessimists tend to believe that their problems are “permanent, pervasive, and personal. Pessimists are more likely to become depressed when they meet with problems. They perform more poorly at their jobs, have more health problems, and shorter lives.


Optimist tend to believe that their problems are “surmountable, articulate to a single problem, and resulting from temporary circumstances or other people.”

Nikki story

Martin Seligman tells the story of an important realization triggered by his five-year-old daughter, Nikki. While weeding in his garden, he yelled at Nikki for disturbing him. She responded: “Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday? From when I was three until when I was five, I was a whiner. I whined every day. On my fifth birthday, I decided I wasn’t going to whine anymore. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And if I can stop whining, you can stop being such a grouch.”

Jan 152010
Lecture 4 – Controlling the Brain with Light (Karl Deisseroth)

Karl Deisseroth is pioneering bold new treatments for depression and other psychiatric diseases. By sending pulses of light into the brain, Deisseroth can control neural activity with remarkable precision.

In this short talk, Deisseroth gives an thoughtful and awe-inspiring overview of his Stanford University lab’s groundbreaking research in "optogenetics".

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Jan 132010
Lecture 3 – Brain-Computer Interfaces

Krishna Shenoy is creating "brain-computer interfaces" that will enable paralyzed patients to control prosthetic arms and computer cursors.

In this short talk, Shenoy describes how his team of Stanford researchers has built a system that achieves typing at 15 words-per-minute, just by "thinking about it".

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Jan 112010
Lecture 2 – Understanding Blindness and the Brain (Brian Wandell)

Professor Brian Wandell tells the inspirational story of Mike May, the world-record holder for blind downhill skiing.

Wandell leads a multidisciplinary team of Stanford researchers who are working together to treat the many dimensions of blindness: retinal imaging, neural connections, and social psychology.

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Jan 092010
Lecture 1 – Building a Circuit-Diagram for the Brain (Jennifer Raymond)

Jennifer Raymond (Stanford University) is building a "wiring diagram" for the brain. By bridging the gap between individual synapses and whole-brain learning & memory, Raymond’s research offers new insights and strategies for medical rehabilitation and K-12 education.

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Dec 222009

image Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist, co-founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom

“Hanson and Mendius successfully answer the question: How can you use your mind to strengthen positive brain states and ultimately change your life?

Arguing that our ancestors brains, flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, were wired for survival, the authors reveal how this neurological propensity for high arousal contributes to our present-day chronic illness, depression, and anxiety.

Using Buddhism s eightfold path as a model, they illustrate how meditation and relaxation can change our brain s natural tendencies. Pictures illustrate the brain s functions and practical meditation exercises are found throughout. The authors also discuss the importance of diet and nutritional supplements.

Arguing that our ancestors brains, flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, were wired for survival, the authors reveal how this neurological propensity for high arousal contributes to our present-day chronic illness, depression, and anxiety. Using Buddhism s eightfold path as a model, they illustrate how meditation and relaxation can change our brain s natural tendencies. Pictures illustrate the brain s functions and practical meditation exercises are found throughout. The authors also discuss the importance of diet and nutritional supplements. “

Shop at Amazon for:
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
by: Rick Hanson Ph.D.

“A wonderfully comprehensive book. The authors have made it easy to understand how our minds function and how to make changes so that we can live happier, fuller lives.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness

“Solidly grounded in the latest neuroscientific research, and supported by a deep understanding of contemplative practice, this book is accessible, compelling, and profound—a crystallization of practical wisdom!" –Philip David Zelazo, Ph.D., Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

“This is simply the best book I have read on why and how we can shape our brains to be peaceful and happy. This is a book that will literally change your brain and your life.” —Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and The Life Organizer

Dec 192009
Lecture 6 – How Do We Communicate?: Language in the Brain, Mouth and the Hands

One of the most uniquely human abilities is the capacity for creating and understanding language.

This lecture introduces students to the major topics within the study of language: phonology, morphology, syntax and recursion.

This lecture also describes theories of language acquisition, arguments for the specialization of language, and the commonalities observed in different languages across cultures.

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Dec 112009
Lecture 2 – Foundations: This is Your Brain

This lecture introduces students to two broad theories of how the mind relates to the body.

Dualism is the ubiquitous and intuitive feeling that our conscious mind is separate from our physical bodies, whereas

Materialism is the idea that all of our mental states are caused by physical states of the brain.

This lecture reviews arguments explaining why materialism has become the predominant theory of mind in psychology.

This discussion is followed by a basic overview of the neurophysiology of the brain.

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Dec 092009
Lecture 1 – Introduction to Psychology

Professor Paul Bloom welcomes students and presents the course as a comprehensive introduction to the study of the human mind. Course readings and requirements are discussed.

The five main branches of psychology are presented:

  • neuroscience, which is a study of the mind by looking at the brain;
  • developmental, which focuses on how people grow and learn;
  • cognitive, which refers to the computational approach to studying the mind;
  • social, which studies how people interact; and
  • clinical, which examines mental health and mental illnesses.

Terms of Use

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