The Science of the Environment (Radio program)

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AurovilleRadio-logo-pop.png "The Science of the Environment"
by Jan Golembiewski, 2017 (49:48)


The Science of the Environment: Architecture’s influence on health and well-being

Dr. Jan Golembiewski, PhD (psychological.design)
Saturday, 4th Feb 2017, 4-6pm at Bhavisyaté, Bharat Nivas

The Science of the Environment icon.png
Architecture affects our health in many ways, just like food or drink: there are the effects of light, ambient temperature, nature, pollutants; the influences on the social environment - its ability to bring people together or isolate them - give access to amenities or take these away. But what’s more significant still is that the effects of architecture can be found in our brains and hormones.
Dr. Golembiewski, a global thought-leader on the link between architecture and neuroscience, will discuss some of the mechanisms at play and make recommendations on how we can make our homes and buildings healthier.


Introduction

Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Jan Golembiewsky; I've come to Auroville for the very first time. I'm an architect and a neuroscientist. And I specialize in how buildings affect our health – particularly our mental health. And so what I'm going to do today is bring you through a quick talk, to outline some of the basics, and then I'm going to give you a model, and ask you to reflect on some of the buildings that you live in, or love, or are building, or hate!, or something – and just to reflect on these buildings, and have some brief conversations. And hopefully during the brief conversations, some thoughts will come up, and then we can have an open session where we can share some answers: we can see why the building is like this, and why we're getting these emotions from that building, and why we're healthy in this place and not healthy in that place.

So that's the format; it might finish early, might not. And first of all, I want to thank you all for looking after me so beautifully in Auroville. And I also want to make a plug – because my wife, Bem Le Hunte, and I will be giving a workshop next week on Tuesday in the... 'Aurobindo Centre for India and the Rest of the World' [Bhavishyaté], which is just over there (gesture), from 4 to 6. And that session will not be on architecture – it will be on whatever problems the Aurovilians here bring to the session. So it will be very open: you guys have the problems – we're not interested in the actual problems, we will give you methodologies to work together to find some creative solutions collectively. So that's a little plug for [Tuesday].

And for right now, we're going to struggle along without any slides – and I'll give you a little bit of an outline on health and architecture.

Health impacts of the built environment

So I wanted to talk first of all about the health impact of the built environment. There are what have been referred to in the past as 'direct impacts' and 'indirect impacts'. And from the perspective of somatic health – that is, the perspective of your physical health – perhaps there's more influence of the direct factors, such as pollution, noise, available sunlight.

In mental health, it is the other way around; it is the indirect factors that have much more influence on people's health. So the indirect factors that I'm talking about are things like the way the building pushes people together – it creates a poverty: the minute you close the door, you're shutting somebody else (or in this case, you're shutting the mosquitoes out). But as a rule of thumb, a wall and a door is a signal to say people aren't coming inside – 'you're not welcome here'. And that is a political act; and those political acts have a direct influence on the social environment.

'Biophilia'

But as we will see, there are many more ways that a building affects health. First of all, some basic data. What people are finding, in fairly clumsy scientific experiments (they're hardly beautiful scientific experiments) – people are finding all sorts of really interesting things. They're finding out that if you put a goldfish in a room with a patient who's recovering from an illness in a hospital, their recovery rates improve by 10-15%. If you put a simple plant – that is, an indoor plant, nothing special – similar improvements are found. And this doesn't matter whether people are suffering from (recovering from) a heart attack, or from a broken rib. These sorts of improvements in recovery times are very pronounced, and they're repeatable.

But yet, people don't really know why. Since 1983 there was this thing called the 'biophilia hypothesis': people started saying, 'well, humans love plants; we grew up with plants in the jungles; and therefore it is our relationship with nature that makes this [plant] next to my bed make me recover faster'.

But I'm a scientist, and I see that and go, 'yeah, the data is interesting; the hypothesis is okay; but there's something missing there'. Because it isn't only the beauty of a plant that makes us recover; and we've also grown up with thousands of years of people being around, and all sorts of things. We're complex beings, we didn't just come out of the jungles. So, I'm okay with it; I just think that the hypothesis maybe needs adjustment now.

Sunlight

What other factors, what other things are there? People who live in the real high latitudes of North America, and in Scandinavia, have found that if they're in a hospital wing which faces South, and gets the winter sunlight – if they have those nice rooms that get that sunlight deeply penetrating inside, their recovery rates from bipolar disorder (so this isn't 'recovery', probably, but it's to the point where they can be discharged from the hospital) improve by 37%. That's huge. That means if people are staying for four weeks, that means that they're only staying for three. It's massive. And similarly, in similar hospitals where scientists have gone, 'ah, this window faces North; this window faces South; we can do this experiment again' – they had a look at people suffering from heart attack, recovery after heart failure, and similarly their recovery rates are on the order of 30% [faster]. Not quite as high as mental illness, but still it's impressive, yeah? 30% – if we consider that a lot of medicines don't have these [levels of effectivity], we're talking about some very serious numbers here.

Modern cities

So, more interesting facts that play into this dynamic: patients, psychiatric patients, who are taken for a 10-minute walk through the city of southern London find that – at the end, their findings are that over a battery of tests, they have significant deterioration in all psychiatric patients. Ten minutes! If you go and give somebody anti-psychotics, it takes a great deal of time – sometimes as much as two weeks – to take effect. We're talking about 10 minutes and immediately afterwards there's a significant effect. And that significant effect is very measurable; often far exceeding what we'd expect from anti-psychotic medications.

What is going on here? How does the environment have such a strong effect on us?

Historical ideas

Traditionally people have struggled with these ideas – for a very long time. The idea that architecture affects our health dates back at least [since] the ancient times. There's mention in Vitruvius, who was writing – well, he was copying the writings of ancient Romans, and ancient Greeks, in his more modern Roman pen. And even his work was lost; and then it was recovered by the humanists of the Renaissance. And once again these ideas were renewed; and people started looking at architecture for its curative effects. And they had all sorts of really clever ideas; they felt that if you take some steps like this, out of the piazza, somehow people would 'ascend' a bit, you know, feel a little bit better as they go into their churches. And they would make portals, so that people would go into their religious spaces and they would feel a little bit more 'holy'. There were all sorts of clever ideas; and those ideas are still clever – they still work, a lot of them.

But they're struggling – they're struggling with trying to find a language that really makes sense, of something that we all feel. And that is that somehow our architecture – the buildings that we inhabit, the cities that we inhabit – have an effect on our health.

The human brain

So what I want to do today is I want to go through some mechanisms about why that might be so. Now (you're not going to be able to see, but never mind) – what I would be showing you is a map that probably would be just as useless seeing it as not seeing it (!). I'll describe it. It is a nodal map of the human brain, tracing some key organs of the human brain. And what we have is we have two pathways. We have a frontal pathway of the brain – this part of the brain here is a very distinctly human part of the brain. Other animals, all mammals, have it – but much less so. In humans it's really, really swollen and huge, this part of the brain. It's called the frontal cortex. And its an inhibitory cortex; so it slows us right down. Our processing with this part of the brain is many, many times slower than it is sub-cortically (which is in the core of the brain – the bits of the brain that we share with insects and with reptiles).

This part of the brain [the frontal cortex], I like to call the center for the creative pathway. If this part of the brain is activated, so too are our possibilities to be creative, to be dynamic – as in do things differently. To find our spiritual selves. To think seriously about something; consider something. Because in the middle part of the brain, just before it splits into two hemispheres (I'm sure you've all seen pictures of brains: one side, and then there's the other side), you've got a little organ there called the 'a.c.c.': the [anterior cingulate cortex]. And that part of the brain is used for considering things, for holding attention, holding thought. For being aware. And that – you could almost see it as shining awareness forwards, into those two hemispheres of the brain.

Stress and the brain

Now that part of the brain can only be activated if circumstances are positive. If circumstances are perceived as being negative, just off the bat, that part of the brain is automatically inhibited. Why? Because it's dangerous. If you walk into a room – if you walk into this room here, ready to see this lovely talk, and instead of me up on stage there's a Bengal tiger, you don't have time to think, 'ah, is this part of the idea?'. You run! Yeah? If you sit and you think about it, and try and process it – 'why this might be so' – it's too late, you've been eaten.

So for emergencies, we retreat into the sub-cortical pathway of the brain. And that sub-cortical pathway is incredibly strong, incredibly fast; it's where all of our reflexes are kept. Everything that we've learned, that we know well. When we're driving, we don't have to think too much about driving – we just drive. Because we've already learned it. That takes place in the sub-cortical areas as well. (It's not negative, it's a good action – all the things that we've learned are essential 'good', because they're used.) So these learned behaviors take place sub-cortically.

And, when circumstances are negative, we have very little frontal activation; and we get a lot of sub-cortical activation. And we see it, when people yelp when something happens. A snake – like today, a snake slipped through into the Solar Kitchen, and people – brt! – were jumping out of the way; they didn't even know whether it was poisonous or not, they were jumping out of the way. They weren't thinking: 'It's a snake. Oh I wonder – is that a poisonous one, or not poisonous? Should I just stay here or should I jump...' No, they don't. The just jump. Once they felt they were at a safe distance, and that other people were able to handle things successfully, they were able to relax, get back to their lunches, and maybe not get indigestion. So when circumstances are perceived as being negative, we take this sub-cortical pathway.

Now that sub-cortical pathway is really interesting. Because not only does it change the way we act, the way we behave – it changes two other things as well. It changes our very awareness. Because sub-cortically, we have different dopamine receptors; and those receptors are for 'latent' awareness. Which is – we call something 'latent' which means 'not really aware'. It means only vague awareness. And those receptors are thick in the striatum of the sub-cortical areas. And so the kind of attention we get is less. And so we often act – especially in negative circumstances – very quickly, and then we have a sort of sense of amnesia about it afterwards. It's very, very common among people who use a lot of alcohol, a lot of drugs – that they go on a binge, or something, and after a certain point of the night they don't even remember anything anymore. They're certainly acting (!) – there's a lot of other people around them who remember what they did. But they won't remember it, because their actions are no longer taking place in that creative part of the brain. So our awareness is very low if the actions that we're doing come from that part.

There's one other thing, and that's if the actions, if the circumstances are anyway perceived as being negative, then something changes to our hormonal system as well. Hormones – there's an organ which is highly connected, called the hypothalamus, and another one called the insula. And both of these work together to determine our endocrine flow – they commence our endocrine flow. That's where our hormones really start. They start with cholesterol. And then that cholesterol turns to various other hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DAGA, and others. And if those two organs particularly – the insula and the hypothalamus – if they have signals from another part of the brain, called the hippocampus (or 'hippocampi' – there are two of them), that certain circumstances are negative, then they bypass the standard hormonal cascade. So instead of getting the hormones that you need for long-term longevity, for long-term health, you get quick doses of cortisol. And other chemicals. Which are also really good medicine, when you're sick. But not so good when you're healthy.

So, cortisol for example – do we have any medical doctors here in the crowd?

(Audience member raises hand.)

You're a medical. How often do you use Cortisone or cortisol?

Not very often.

Not very often. Well you're an exception, I imagine.

I'm a dentist.

You're a dentist! (laughter) It is a very well-used medicine. It is one of the standard go-to medicines for allopathy, because it is so useful. You apply it topically, it brings down swelling, and it does all sorts of wonderful things – and that is really, really useful, if you are being attacked by a saber-toothed tiger. But if you're not, and if things are actually okay and you just think that they're negative, well then you're poisoning yourself. Unnecessarily so.

And, not just you're poisoning yourself – you're preventing your normal endocrine cascade. Which means that you're not getting the estrogen and the testosterone and progesterone that your body requires; you're getting something else. Theoretically, only temporarily. But if it's an ongoing problem, if you keep feeling 'oh, my god, my circumstances are so awful' – well then perhaps you're getting too much of these so-called stress hormones, and not enough of the real ones.

Experiencing the environment as positive or negative

So, the other possibility – the other pathway – is the creative pathway. If you experience the environment and it's positive, it's nice – then you have the freedom to explore things more deeply; to consider things more slowly; to take your time; to think about things you love to love. For indeed, the very key organs for love – I'm not talking about the endocrine system; I'm not talking about the chemicals which exist in your bloodstream to make you feel love – I'm talking about the parts of the brain: the a.c.c. [anterior cingulate cortex], for example, are all – they're organs, just up there (indication), who are responsible for actually triggering those emotions, those sensations of love. And they are barred to you if you're working only sub-cortically. You're not getting that kind of stimulation. And so that's a real problem.

Love, creativity, intellectual ability – all sorts of wonderful things that make us distinctly human – are lost to us if our circumstances are chronically negative. And there we have a problem. Because in the environment – the physical environment, and the social environment obviously – we often are faced with [negative or depressing] places. Some really horrible places. And we go into those places – and they're sometimes even designed to make us feel terrible.

I've spent some time in prison. That was designed to make people feel terrible. We – each of us – have different tolerance levels. Some people fail very quickly when they're in prison. They fall, down to the ground, and they waste away, and they really, really suffer, far worse than others. And other people have a great deal of resistance. They have a great deal of happiness, perhaps, in store; perhaps they can find some reason to be in jail that makes it meaningful for them.

I would like to use Sri Aurobindo as a reference there: it was meaningful for him. He found love; he found happiness; he found peace there. It's possible. But the circumstances were trying to do the opposite.


Sri Aurobindo
Tales of Prison Life (excerpt)

Sri Aurobindo - Tales of Prison Life excerpt.jpg
PDF (9 pages)


So that's how the brain works with health.

Now, I've got a little diagram here which no one's going to be able to see – this diagram describes how these positive and negative appearances of the environment [are interpretative]. The reality is not what matters; it's how it appears. It's like a coiled snake: if it's a coiled rope or a coiled snake, it doesn't matter – either way, you're going to jump. It isn't the reality: it's the appearance that matters. If something appears to be negative, it limits the amount of choices that you make, quite severely; but if they appear to be positive, we have a huge range. We can potentially get up – if our circumstances feel right, if they feel positive – we can get up and we can dance, even in a temple. Because we feel good; and we feel that it's possible. And our creative instincts are stimulated under those circumstances.

'Affordances'

So we have a great deal, a huge range, of possibilities and behaviors that are empowered by that positive experience. But when things are negative, we actually have very few; because we're not making choices. When things are negative, we're just surviving. And so that's also a very important way of understanding the physical environment; because the environment has a responsibility to be empowering, to give us those choices.

And when we enter an environment where people do behave in vibrant and expressive ways, it's actually a very good measure of the quality of the environment. It shows it's working well. And people have asked me before: “design a 'creative' space”. I go and design a place that's creative. And they go, “yeah but, by 'creative' I mean just an open-plan room”. I said, “You should have asked for an open-plan room! I'd have designed you something completely different. You wanted a creative space, not an open plan – completely different things.”

Or of this beautiful picture I have here (pity you can't see it!) – it's of children playing in a fountain, in France, next to a sign saying (let's see if I can read it): [attempt at French] = “It's not allowed to play in the fountains.” Forbidden. Yet all these children are playing in the fountains – because the affordance. The possibility it gives them is so good. It's so good that they – they do it. It doesn't matter that the sign says that it's not allowed, because they're not inhibited by that. And once they're past that sign, they can rip off their clothes and have fun, and that's terrific.

So whats going on in this poster [of the fountain]? What's going on in this image? People are reacting to something that's called 'affordances'. They're reacting to the offerings of the environment. The things that the environment give to us as gifts. And they are what make an environment positive. If we go into an environment where there are lots of gifts – there are lots of choices of behavior – we feel 'ah, this is nice!'

The gifts don't have to be water fountains. They can be – sometimes it's nice lighting; sometimes it's a nice texture on my feet; and sometimes it's a nice place to sit down. Sometimes it's a juice bar (!) you know, where you can go make juice, or something, or go and fix yourself something to eat; a coffee machine. And you know what's really cool about this? (This is anti-rational in some ways.) It doesn't matter whether you use these facilities or not. It is the fact that they are offered, that makes the environment good. It doesn't matter if you've never been to that auditorium over there – but it is one of the things that makes Auroville so cool. You can write on a postcard, “I am staying in a village in India; and it's got an auditorium that would make any city in the country proud to have.” That's cool! It's an affordance – something that's offered to us. And the fact that it is offered for free makes it especially cool, because it doesn't have any bars. It doesn't have a sting – it's just an offering, 'it's for you'.

And it sort of speaks to the inner humanism, the inner values that we all cherish. And it's inspiring, and it allows that frontal engagement.

So this is a picture here of some cake ingredients, and a cake, and a child eating the cake. The cake ingredients do not equal the enjoyment of the cake – it is the cake that does. And what I'm trying to say in that illustration is, it isn't the factors, it isn't the parts, that make up the whole (that are active here). It's the whole. So it isn't just 'this building, and that building, and this, and this, and this' – it is the collective sense about it that is really working on us, that really makes us trigger. That's where we find our positivity; and that's how we react.

Behavior settings

This is a beautiful picture (I wish you could see it!). It's a picture of an elderly lady who's just had a frontal lobectomy, which is a frontal lobotomy. She's had it because there was a cancer in that part of her brain, and it was removed. And it's a picture of her giving her doctor an injection in the bottom. This was the doctor's experiment. His name is ___ – a fantastic guy. He discovered that people with frontal damage – damage to that frontal part of the brain, the part we've been talking about, the 'positive' part of the brain – lose the ability to control themselves, in the face of the environment. The environment makes suggestions to their behavior, and they will behave according to those suggestions. In this particular case, he was doing an experiment: he said, 'if I put a syringe here, and a vial of saline over here, and then I invite my patient in, I wonder what would happen'. And she comes in, and she sees that – it's on her side of the table – she starts drawing [the syringe]; and he's standing there, and she approaches him with the needle; so he goes and pulls down his pants, very obligingly, with a photographer there to photograph it (!). And writes an academic paper about it. (Laughter from audience.)

She didn't have a choice about that behavior. The actual physical environment: the syringe in front of her, the circumstances, the way it was laid out on the table (it was being offered to her, not to him) – that empowered her; and not just empowered – it suggested the behavior. She had no choice.

Before I go on to behavior settings, the same doctor, who did the same experiment, did a whole bunch of things. He went and took a gun, his own pistol (I don't know how they get these things in France) – he went and got his gun and he put it out on the little table, and got another one of his patients with a lobectomy. The patient sat down, picked up the gun, checked it (he obviously knew a little bit about guns), found that there were no cartridges inside it, and started hunting around the house for cartridges (!). The experiment had to be canceled, because if he had found those cartridges, he would have shot the doctor. Because the doctor was 'the target'. And suddenly there was a violation of ethics protocols.

So now I want to talk about behavior settings. We've talked about affordances – they're the offerings that the environment give us. There's also a thing called behavior settings; and behavior settings are in some ways the opposite. These are natural inhibitors that are structured into the physical environment. They allow us to do certain behaviors, and disallow other behaviors. You don't go and sing and dance in the Matrimandir. Even making a noise in the Matrimandir requires a certain amount of courage, and a certain amount of strength of character, and willfulness. You need to be very, very creative to do so; and you need to have good reason (unless you're burping).

So, it is a behavior setting. There are some behaviors that are appropriate in that space; and there are other behaviors that are not appropriate in that space. And that goes with all architectural spaces. If I go to a gym, people will be running around like mad – a complete contrast to the Matrimandir. They'll be running around, and probably their language will be a little bit rough (at least if you ask Donald Trump. He reckons that people say all sorts of things in the locker rooms. My observation of locker rooms, incidentally, is that people are very inhibited in locker rooms, and never say a thing – so I don't know about him.)

So that's the behavior setting. So you've got that one one hand, and you've got the affordance on the other. And they both work in tandem. And one, to some extent, contradicts the other.

So I think my next picture here (which you might be able to see also) is of another old lady, also with a frontal-lobe lobectomy, being led through a garden. And the affordance of that garden is to smell the roses. And so she smells the roses in the garden. She behaves in the way that the environment expects. Not just the individual affordances, but the whole environment.

Here, the same woman was brought into a store; and she wanted to buy some things in the store, so she went and bought some things in the store – but when asked why, she said, “oh, but I'm buying gifts”. But she hadn't actually thought who she was buying the gift for, nor why. The only reason why she was really buying gifts was that she was brought into a store.

I just wanted to quickly say that one of the few groups of people that are less aware of behavior settings is schizophrenic patients – people with extreme psychosis. They will go into a space – and it's not an act of creativity as such – but they become less aware of their behavior settings, and children also. They don't necessarily know when they're in a temple, or when they're in a concert hall.

Activation and inhibition

So this is an interesting (I'm not sure if you can see the diagram) – one thing that's completely fascinating in what people call 'mental illness', is that if you take the total amount of activation that takes place in the frontal lobe, and you subtract the total amount of inhibition, there's a surplus. And with healthy people, you show healthy people some really negative imagery, healthy people – as long as it's not directly threatening them, as long as it's not a real saber-toothed tiger, just a picture of one; or maybe a picture of someone strangling a child, some nasty picture – healthy people find it really easy to inhibit. Though they have a response, they feel something, they inhibit it totally, and as a result, they have no reactions. So their activation (which is quite strong) and their inhibition is equal. And equal to the most extraordinary extent. But people with mental illness – severe mental illness, particularly – we find exactly the opposite. We find that they react very badly to the negative imagery. And they don't then inhibit that reaction. And what we get is what we call 'symptoms': they start maybe screaming. They're the same sorts of symptoms that we would have if we were faced with a real saber-toothed tiger. So they start giving symptoms. Those symptoms might be actions: they might get up and jump, and leap, or run. Or they might scream. Or they might have a bad thought – what's called 'thought insertion', which drops into their brains: a bad thought which comes from a pattern that they have learned. It comes from their learning; it comes from that part of the brain which processes automaticity, in the striata or sub-cortical areas.

But in positive circumstances, we get an inverse. We find that healthy people, given positive circumstances, under-inhibit. So healthy people given positive circumstances will laugh, will smile, will feel good, will have positive thought insertions. They're symptoms, just like the negative ones that the psychiatric patients have, except the inverse. They're symptoms of happiness. And so we don't call them symptoms, because they're normal – they're part of our healthy experience.

We also inhibit our positive experience. You tell joke and we don't have a loud guffaw: “HAHAHAHA!” – just “hahaha” is fine. But with the psychiatric patients, they over-inhibit. Their inhibition is a bound-down of what we see in healthy people. (It's interesting, isn't it?)

It suggests that there is a very different world that healthy people, and the people with psychiatric symptoms, inhabit.

Now (lovely picture here, I wish I could show it to you all) – it's a picture of a sadhu. (Does anyone not know what a sadhu is here?) A picture of a sadhu, lying down comfortably on a bed of nails. And it's a real bed of nails. And you can see the happiness on his face, the vastness of his being – it's visible in the photograph. What gives this person happiness is quite extraordinary, because what gives this person happiness and what gives me happiness are different things. He has something which turns a negative experience into a positive one. And that's what's important; because in the physical environment, we can do that. As individuals, we can create understandings that will turn a negative experience into a positive one. Such as this sadhu lying on a bed of nails. Why is he doing that? It's because he is getting closer to God. He knows that his pathway is through that tapas, is through that karma; he is finding a pathway to his godhead, and for him there is nothing more important. So he finds happiness there; he does this by choice.

Meaning, comprehensibility, and manageability

So I just want to turn – before I get you to think about your own environments – I just want to sketch out a brief framework here. And this framework talks about meaning. What is meaning? 'Meaning' in my taxonomy, the way that I understand it, is the point at which I'm not caring about (taps body) this, or 'me', or 'my soul', or 'my spiritual outlook', or 'my happiness' – I'm caring about yours. I'm caring about the other. It might be my wife; it might be my child; it might be my pet. Or it might be my children if I'm a schoolteacher – my students. Or it might be the general public. It might be just the people who are wearing red shirts. It doesn't matter. If I find my meaning in those places, I'm finding meaning elsewhere – outside of this physical frame. And that connects me in some way, with the divine. In some way, with love.

So meaning, meaningfulness, is a very powerful tool for turning around this negativity. For allowing our environments to be positive. And as architects, there are ways that we can make environments more meaningful. The first of which, is to make them less meaningless. Because how often do we go into environments where there's this sort of overwhelming sense of meaninglessness? Where you go into a hospital, for example, and there are these long corridors; and you've got a child who's sick, who's just been hit by a bus, and you want to get them to the operating theatre. But first you have to give paperwork (!). That's a sense of meaninglessness – it defeats our very core purpose for being here.

The next thing is comprehensibility. (So meaningfulness is very important.) Comprehensibility is where we can have a sense of where we're going, and an understanding of how to get there. At its most simple, it's wayfinding – you know, 'how do I get there?' But at its most complex, it's understanding 'how the system works'. [For example:] 'I need to go overseas every year to see my family; I know how to get maintenance in Auroville to pay for that.' Yeah? If you have that knowledge, that's great! That's comprehensibility – understanding the system and knowing how to use it. That's really useful, because it keeps us out of the money. It doesn't mean we always use it; we just need to know the systems. And that allows us to have more time that we can spend on what is really meaningful to us. It gives us a sense of purpose and empowerment; it gives us a sense of effectiveness.

And then there's a third quality – again, slightly less. And that is 'manageability'. That means that – well, I can get through the day. So I have a shelter over my head when it's raining; I have food in my tummy when I'm hungry; I have air in my lungs when I need to breathe. Very basic; very minimal. It's enough. And if you're struggling with just manageability, you're really struggling with life itself.

So you can turn those around, those questions – so for meaningfulness: “What do you get out of bed in the morning for?” Comprehensibility is: “How do you go about that thing? How do you achieve what you need to achieve during the day?” Manageability is: “Well, do you have a bed to get out of?”


(end of audio)