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by Justin Deschamps,
Do your attitudes, thoughts, and emotions project themselves onto physical reality? Some mainstream scientists assert they don’t, but mystics contend the opposite. Both perspectives suggest we’re constantly coloring our perception of the environment with our inner world, called a talismanic effect. Anil Seth’s research into the brain seems to agree with this view. In the following, we’ll explore this talismanic effect, providing a compelling argument to confirm we are indeed turning almost everything around us into talismans. What’s more, we’ll discuss why learning about and mastering this power of consciousness is extremely useful and needed to avoid creating lifelong problems.
What are reality and perception? We like to think that we interact directly with reality, but this isn’t completely accurate. Researcher Anil Seth describes in the below Ted Talk, what we experience subjectively is more akin to a persistent hallucination—we perceive a projection produced by the senses, not reality itself.
Psychological research suggests that we shape this hallucination, or perception of reality, via our choices and values, specifically what we need and desire, which impress onto the perceived environment in ways that deeply affect us but we barely recognize.
In the new study, 90 undergraduates were made to sit at a table across from a full bottle of water. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to the “thirsty” condition and given a serving of pretzels to eat. The rest were placed in the “quenched” condition and told that they could drink as much of the water as they wanted. Both groups were asked to indicate how long it had been since they last had a drink, how thirsty they were and how appealing the bottle of water was. Finally, they were shown a 1-inch line as a reference and asked to estimate the distance between their own position and the water bottle.
The participants who had been given pretzels to eat during the experiment reported feeling thirstier than those who drank the water, as would be expected. They also rated the bottle of water as being more desirable and estimated the distance between themselves and the bottle to be smaller than did the quenched participants. Their state of thirst had influenced their perception of distance, such that the water bottle was perceived to be closer than it actually was. (Source)
Talismans: Objective and Subjective
A talisman is defined as an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck. But in this case, the definition can be generalized to be any object that has the power to influence consciousness, specifically, our internal mood, attitude, and worldview.
There are two types of talismans defined by the preceding more general definition.
An objective talisman is an object that influences consciousness via the interaction between the object itself and the mind, bypassing the subjectivity of the observer.
A subjective talisman is an object that influences consciousness via the interaction between the object’s perceived meaning and the mind.
The two types are almost identical with one key difference: subjective projection or observation. Subjective talismans take on unique powers based on the person doing the projecting, how they see and have defined the object.
One of the best examples of an objective talisman is the human face.
The mind and brain are preconditioned or biologically programmed to respond to faces, managed by the occipital face area, amygdala and superior temporal sulcus. When you’re born, you need to identify and connect with the face of your mother, and as such, facial geometry is highly stimulating, activating the brain and consciousness profoundly.
Thus, an objective talisman is merely a biological or psychological preconditional sensitivity to some stimuli, which often produces consistent results. Another example of an objective talisman is the male or female form. The reason why advertisers use body images to sell products is that the part of the brain that is enticed sexually by certain images becomes active and influences choice making.
But objective talismans, as fascinating as they are, aren’t the focus of this discussion—Although it is important to recognize that the human organism is preconditioned at a species wide level to respond to certain stimuli. It’s this receptivity to one’s environment that plays a role in subjective talismanic effects.
A subjective talisman is a meaning projected from the observer onto the object. For example, if you fear clowns, and you see one, your personal fear of the clown is “projected” onto the clown’s face. In effect, the face of a clown has been suffused with the power to make you feel fear. What’s happened is that your personal attitude, impression, and belief—your personal definition of a clowns face—has been imprinted “onto the object,” and now when you see it, you respond accordingly.
How did this happen? What’s going on here?
Admittedly, the standard concept of a talisman assumes that the object really has been suffused with a special power. But what we’re discussing here is a bit different, although no less applicable.
Note: Magical practitioners assert that during a magical act, an object, like a wand, is charged with power via the magical ritual and the intention of the practitioner. A compelling case can be made that this is actually happening, via some kind of scalar wave subtle electrostatic imprinting and entrainment effect. However, what we’re specifically focusing on in this discussion is the meaning-charge that a practitioner gives to an object—that they define it in some special way that affects them personally. And it’s this personal effect that is instrumental in performing the magical rite. That is, both objective-infusing and meaning-charging effects seem to be taking place during a magical ritual.
The focus of this discussion is the meaning-charge aspect that we can, and seemingly at all times do, charge our environment with our internal consciousness activities.
Per Seth’s research, it should now be well established that we are in fact charging objects with personal meanings. We’re doing this all the time, and yet we don’t think of life this way. We don’t think that we’re literally molding the world we navigate each day, but that is exactly what’s happening.
What if the meaning-charge associated with your environment was positive, uplifting, and empowering? What if merely walking into your office, home, or place of work made you feel uplifted, blissful, and ready to take on any challenge with ease? This is precisely the kind of quality of life we can create for ourselves once we learn and master our minds and consciousness.
It’s important to keep our mental house clean. Unconscious talismans usually lead to disempowerment and unhappiness; however, consciously shaping talismans does the reverse, as we’ll discuss below.
Values, Attitude, and Perception—What is your personal narrative?
The world you experience every day is a kind of biological virtual reality environment created by your brain and body.
For example, the rods and cones in your eyes absorb light, converting it into electrical and chemical signals transmitted by the optic nerve toward the visual centers of the brain. This information is decoded and assembled into a visual representation of the outside world in the mind’s eye. It’s this biological virtual reality (VR) we actually experience and use every day to make decisions and take actions. Due to the fact our minds are constantly assigning meaning to objects in our experience, the world we navigate is unconsciously preconditioned to reinforce our preconceived notions, beliefs, and attitudes about life.
As an example, consider what happens when you’re having a bad day, and you consciously tell yourself that. When you invoke that story, and overlay it onto your experience, what happens? Your mind starts finding reasons to support your belief that you’re having a bad day. You feel like that person who cut you off in traffic is somehow conspiring to make you feel off. And there are secondary effects to thinking you’re having a bad day as well. You’ll feel more stress, which reduces holistic brain function, increasing neuroticism or your sensitivity to negative emotion. This will, in turn, cause more frantic mindsets, thereby leading you to make more mistakes that further prove to you that you are, in fact, having a bad day.
I’m sure everyone can relate to what was just described. The personal narrative you use to organize your life is one of the biggest contributors to how you feel.
If you’re mindlessly wandering through life, your old habits and attitudes are usually reinforced, which then become further instantiated or embedded in your neurology. This self-programming in turn projects onto your environment via the biological VR effect.
Your attitude or characterological perspective frame is the main engine that drives how you interpret reality. That is, who you define yourself to be in any given moment, which includes your philosophy, desires, and emotional states, make up the character structure that gives rise to a perspective frame of reference. For instance, if you think of yourself as a creative artsy person, you’ll likely see things with an artist’s eye; you might see a crumpled-up wrapper on the ground and think to yourself “I can turn that into a piece of art.”
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail.”
It’s not easy to recognize the characterological frame you’re invoking at any given moment. But it is fairly easy to identify the personal narrative or story your using. As an exercise, imagine yourself telling a friend about your day. What does that story look like? Who are you in that story? Are you empowered, self-confident, and cheerful as you focus on that tasks at hand? Are you frustrated, annoyed, and unhappy?
Character analysis is instrumental in diagnosing why you feel the way you do, and how that emotional environment effects your motivation, goals, and desires—particularly what you think you can handle or do. Consider how you feel like you can take on the world and accomplish anything, when you have the right frame of mind. What’s amazing is that we can retune this personal narrative using our imagination, which becomes better with practice.
We rarely acknowledge how our attitude shapes our subjective experience. We tend to cite the causal factor of the trigger or catalyst (the thing that stimulated us), rarely looking within to see how our sense of self contributed to the impression or meaning generated.
For example, the sound of bones breaking usually evinces a feeling of uneasiness and revulsion. Why? It’s not our bones breaking; we aren’t in immediate danger, yet our biology often responds viscerally to this sound.
Part of the reason this effect occurs is due to how empathy works in the brain.
Neurologically, empathy is due to mirror neurons, which are brain cells that fire when we see or perceive something happening to another person. When we observe something happening to someone else, we perceive it as if it was happening to ourselves.
What if we don’t value the perceived thing? We feel uneasy and revolted because we feel like it’s happening to us, and therefore, we feel the urged to move away. Conversely, if we value the perceived thing, we feel good and move closer, psychologically.
This suggests that values, identity, and perception are intimately linked. How we think of ourselves, the character we embody in the story of our lives, is active in the background of our perception; and this is the primary factor for determining how we react to our experiences.
In other words, even though we don’t normally detect it, part of our consciousness and brain is aware of who we think we are—the ego, and this faculty compares that ego character to the present moment, producing subjective meanings and valuations regarding our own personal experiences.
We see the world through who we think we are and who we want to be.
It’s this characterological perception effect, the ego filter you might say, that determines how we respond to things that we experience. The character frame appears to be the main factor in producing the nature of subjective experience.
Our responses to life, the attitudes and conclusions we make as we consider our lives, shape our worldview and impress themselves onto the biological virtual reality environment. Thus, understanding who we think we are, and performing character analysis work, is extremely helpful so that we can create the most positive talismanic environment possible.
Ego, Values, and Identity
At any given moment in your life, you have some sense of self; you are aware of your ego-identity. That identity structure has form and characteristics.
Neurologically, the insula is the part of the brain where the most mirror neurons are located, which are responsible for the involuntary empathetic response.
Let’s examine the bones breaking example from a value perspective to demonstrate how identity and values play a role in how we react.
When you hear the sound of bones breaking, part of your brain can’t differentiate between your ego identity and the perception of the person having their bones broken. You identify with the person that is whole (that’s you) and the person that is injured simultaneously. In this sense, two versions of you are recognized psychologically, the whole self and the injured self. This creates a point of comparison wherein we choose the identity we find the most valuable; in this case, the whole self. That is, at that moment you hear the sound of bones breaking, you immediately align your values and identity with the version of you that is most desired. However, the sound of bones breaking causes the injured you to become the focus of your attention, which results in a reflexive action to withdraw or pull away from that injured self and move toward the whole self. This withdrawing is experienced as the feeling of discomfort or revulsion, which is itself in the direction toward the other self that is whole.
Part of the mind is constantly comparing who we are now to where we think we’re going, issuing valuations of progress that we experience as emotional states. This is part of the motivational process of the psyche, employing emotional biasing as an incentive or motivator. It appears that we formulate ideal versions of ourselves as guides for our behavior; moving toward the ideal feels good while moving away feels bad.
These internal valuations occur all the time, directly related to the evaluations we’re performing on the world in relation to ourselves. Stated again for clarity, since every experience has at the epicenter a version of you that you either value or don’t, you subconsciously assess your choices to see if they move you toward your ideal. Thus, your ideals and values reveal an identity, a character in a story, they reveal who you want to be at a deep level.
This means that what you value reveals who you want to be, your ideal self. And more importantly, your neurology or consciousness is designed to help you move toward that ideal. At least it can, if we consciously take the reins in life, forming a worldview and philosophy that assists us in manifesting our ideal self.
Goals, Cross-Purposing, and Conceptual Controversies
The key concept to understand here is that your values determine your identity and influence your goals. These subtle factors influence your behavior, which in turn programs your neurology and how you perceive the world.
Thus, the goals you create literally determine how you experience life. But how often do we consciously formulate our goals? And are we taking the time to ensure our goals are in harmony with each other? When our goals aren’t in harmony, this is called cross-purposing, leading to cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a state of internal conflict wherein part of us disagrees with another part, resulting in motivational conflicts, inaccurate perceptions, and the formation of false knowledge. You can feel this when you make a choice to do something and almost right away feel regret or trepidation that maybe it isn’t the best choice. This feeling indicates part of you hasn’t bought completely into the choice, and therefore, some internal philosophy work is needed to restore harmony.
Resolving a Conceptual Controversy is done by having what might be thought of as an internal debate, wherein you imagine two versions of yourself arguing about what is the best choice to make—in a productive way, of course. In the end, the best argument, based on merit, should win out, carefully addressing any inconsistencies so you can invest yourself fully in the choice made.
As a matter of fact, any conceptual controversy, any set of ideas you hold in your mind that aren’t perfectly balanced and harmonizedrise to the surface as anxious experiences. Your mind is designed to seek out disharmony for the purpose of resolution through philosophic contemplation. The more you do this, the more effective you’ll manifest your goals free of emotional turbulence due to cognitive dissonance. Conceptual resolution also subtly changes the characterological structure, altering the way you interpret reality. The less conflicted you are philosophically, the more likely you are to implicitly experience happiness and joy.
For example, if you want to get healthy and decide to stop eating fast food in an effort to do so, that new choice is going to conflict with the old habit. That new choice will require a lot of willpower to act on when you’re feeling the temptation to indulge in your favorite fast food. The less you invest yourself in that new choice the more conflicted you’ll feel when both goals are highlighted together in the mind. When you’re standing in line at McDonald’s, you’ll feel a strong urge to get your favorite meal while also feeling guilty for doing so. This is the experience of cognitive dissonance, the state of being intellectually or philosophically conflicted.
In this instance, your new goal is conflicting with a pre-existing habit, which is itself a goal you’ve acted on multiple times in the past. Recall that our goals reflect our values; however, recognizing the value expressed isn’t always easy.
Programmed Cognitive Dissonance occurs when we don’t do this internal work and our neurology gets programmed with two conflicting value perceptions. As a result, you can have the unnerving experience of wanting to do two things at once. You also have conflicted feelings, you might feel excited to do the thing you set as your goal while also feeling bad about yourself for considering it. Thus, the best practice is to address any conflict right away, that way you don’t accidentally program you neurology for persistent conflict and cognitive dissonance.
Temptation and feeling conflicted occurs when a new goal is conflicting with an old one. This happens when we haven’t taken the time to do the internal philosophy work needed to identify what value was expressed in the old habit. By identifying that value, you can build a case for why your new goal is a better expression, an ideal.
Thus, cross-purposing, as annoying as it can be, is helpful in that it reveals we haven’t taken the time to gain intellectual coherence. Our views about life should match up; and when they don’t, we experience inner conflict. By building an emotional and intellectual case for why our ideals really are the best option, less cognitive dissonance is felt when the old habit meets the new goal.
The primary reason to review all this psychology is to understand how our mind and brain influence perception based on goals, values, and identity. These factors create talismanic effects via the biological virtual reality environment, as we’ll now further explore.
Given how abstract these topics are, it will be helpful to review them again within the concepts we’re introducing in this discussion.
Biological Virtual Reality Environment
The virtual environment, like a video game, has a character-player and a field in which this character-player moves.
Objects in the field are perceived and given meaning depending on the state of consciousness of the individual and the goals of the character-player. The interplay between character structure and goals gives rise to the meanings we perceive in life. All this can be easy to recognize with a few examples.
- When you’re extremely hungry, everything starts to remind you of food.
- When you’re tired you identify comfortable places to curl up and sleep.
- When you’re lonely, you tend to assume other people aren’t, or see others as potential life partners.
- When you’re focused on building something with a hammer and nails, you’ll recognize nails that need to be hammered in more easily.
- When you’re sexually excited, you’ll more easily recognize sexually exciting things.
What generates this augmented or altered perception effect?
Studies have shown, the body, and brain in particular, literally change as a result of moving toward what we seek, altering the way we perceive the world as a result.
The brain is organized in three layers of goal formation and action, working something like this.
- We perceive something in the environment that is given a special meaning related to our needs at the time. For example, if you’re thirsty, a glass of water will take on the meaning of quenching your thirst. If you’re trying to put out a fire, that glass of water is now seen as something that can put out a fire.
- Goals form because a tension gave rise to it. For example, your desire to eat food emerges because you feel the tension of hunger. In another example, a lack of pleasure in one’s life gives rise to a yearning for adventure and pleasure.
- Goals once formed are evaluated and debated by the mind. We debate with ourselves the benefit of realizing a goal, if it is a good idea and if it is in alignment with all our other values.
- After we solidify the goal, we begin the process of formulating a plan to realize it. During this formulating phase, one might say, the mind acts as if two or more people are having a discussion or argument about what is the best way to realize the goal.
- After a choice is made to use one plan over another, an emotional investment in the goal and plan takes place, along with a release of anxiety hormones occurs that fuel the body for action.
- That feeling of mild anxiety (also felt as excitement) that comes after you made up your mind about a goal is part of the natural process of energizing the body and mind for action.
- Finally, the motor centers of the brain come online as we begin acting to realize the goal, using up the anxious energy and releasing reward hormones as we realize the goal.
This entire process bathes the brain in serotonin and dopamine, which influence the formation of new neural pathways and connections. Accomplishing the goal, and feeling good about the result, produces pleasure hormones that reinforce the new pathways created.
These new pathways become guides for future activity, namely, shaping perception, goal formation, and evaluations of current behavior and future plans.
Reinforcing the Character Structure
What’s interesting is that in the act of carrying out your goals you also reinforce and solidify whatever character structure that was used.
The body and mind are programmed to perceive the world as a feature of realizing the goals that were just completed. For instance, if you’ve trained yourself to count musical beats for music composition, you’ll hear beat time signatures more easily when listening to any kind of music.
Reinforcing the character structure occurs because the values that were expressed in the behavior are part of an ideal identity we align with. Thus, the behavior of expressing the goal is a kind of ritual that changes our neurology and subconscious to be more reflective of the identity that was just given life. In this way, we “install” the identity in our biology via action.
But recall that the character structure you bring into any activity is often imperceptible. We don’t usually think about our attitude or character when we’re in the midst of doing something. We’re usually focused on the task at hand. Thus, if we aren’t careful, the character structure you’re programming into your neurology might not be the most ideal, and it often isn’t.
When driving in traffic, if you feel road rage it’s usually because you feel your territory on the road has been threatened. You feel physically attacked in some way. That feeling of being attacked is itself, the result of a characterological frame of disempowerment and lack of personal space. If you did feel empowered, someone cutting into your lane wouldn’t disturb your sense of personal space. But it does, suggesting your character was already in a state of disempowerment before you got on the road. What happens if you rage and scream at cars from this disempowered characterological frame? You will discharge angst related to feeling disempowered but you’ll also reinforce the character frame of disempowerment, you’ll program your neurology to feel disempowered and look for queues in your experience to validate that frame.
Comprehending that everything we do also reinforces our character frame is a monumental realization. And yet, it’s so subtle, so overlooked, it might not stand out to you as all that important. But it is.
The personal narrative you use to organize your life experiences is nested or woven through your character structure as the primary focal point for coordination. That is, if you can imagine your beingness as a city, with all your beliefs, goals, and worldviews as locations in that city, the character structure is the superhighway that links up all the locations.
By taking the time to understand who you are in your personal life story, you can better understand why you react the way you do. Finally, you can also consciously tailor the character and story to ensure you are the most supported in your life, feeling uplifted and inspired instead of disillusioned and victimized.
Given how easy it is to reinforce a disempowered sense of self, taking the time to analyze your character frame is vitally important.
What is the nature of your character structure? Is it empowered, grateful, and happy?
According to Dr. Joe Rubino, 85% of the world’s population suffers from low-self esteem and self-worth. Some of the most accomplished and impressive people often regard themselves as unworthy. How can this be?
Given what was discussed above, if we train our minds and neurology to instantiate or reinforce disempowered character frames, it won’t matter how much you accomplish, you’ll always feel dissatisfied.
Taking stock of the character frame you bring into your activities is essential.
It requires self-reflection and the capacity to assess your feelings as you look at different situations in life.
Take the time to write in a journal about how you feel throughout the day. Record voice memos of yourself analyzing who you were when you did this or that activity. Ask yourself, what does my reaction to this situation say about me? What does this desire reveal about my character at this moment? You’ll likely discover that you frame is often very disempowered or at the very least, less than ideal.
As a solution, imagine your life is a movie and you have to create the most ideal character possible. How will your ideal version of self act in life situations? What philosophy and worldviews will be needed to stay upbeat and positive when challenged?
If you can imagine yourself in an ideal state, such as happy, blissful, excited, enthusiastic, your mind will begin offering advise insofar as what plan you can develop to get you there. The imagined ideal gives rise to the argument needed to make it a reality. The self-work is in the philosophic realm, answering the question: “How can I actually be this character, what do I have to change in myself to get there?”
An Ideal Talismanic Life
To review, your mind subtly and quietly keeps track of your perceived identity throughout life.
Our values and desires reveal who we think we are as well as who we want to be.
The character structure we use to express ourselves becomes entrenched as we manifest our goals.
Character attitudes suffuse themselves on to objects in the environment, or more accurately, are meaning-charged objects within your biological virtual reality environment.
We’re constantly infusing meanings into our environment.
The best practice, in this case, is to invoke the highest version of yourself as the organizational frame, bringing that character into the present to realize your desires. In other words, don’t just mindlessly force yourself to do the things you have to do. Take a moment to invoke the character frame you feel is the most ideal, and from that place, take action.
Before acting on a desire, reflect on your attitude. Ask yourself, “How am I motivating myself?” If it’s less than ideal, and it usually is, take a moment to imagine yourself doing the goal as a perfect and ideal character. What attitude does this ideal version of you have? Ask yourself how this ideal version of yourself sees the world so that you can invoke that attitude. Spend as much time as possible building a strong image and argument as to how you’re going to live out this ideal frame. Invoke that frame and hold it in your mind as you carry out your goals.
Finally, reflect on what happened after you’re done.
Did your attitude stay empowered and positive the whole time—if not, what pulled you out?” Why do you think those triggers pulled you out? What conceptual controversies or conflicts were brought to the surface that you can reflect on and resolve? Recall that conflicted feelings reveal conflicted thoughts. As such, your homework is to explore what is conflicted intellectually within your belief systems and knowledge, working to resolve the conflicts with contemplation and research, as needed.
Simply developing self-awareness with respect to your attitude and characterological frame is arguably the most important step. From there, it’s a matter of creating your ideal self and striving to act within it at all times, which requires constant refinement and inner work.
Clearing Old Energies and Creating the Best Environment for Growth
How do we use this knowledge to enhance our quality of life?
First, recognize that the talismanic effect is always taking place. Also, realize that the character structure you bring into your life shapes the meanings assigned.
Second, recognize that your values are always expressed in your behavior, but sometimes conflict with our ideal goals. Working to incorporate all our values in our goals is the key.
Third, consciously spend time investing yourself in goals that best express your values.
Fourth, do the internal work needed to invest yourself intellectually and emotionally in your highest ideals.
Fifth, ensure that the attitude you use to motivate yourself to achieve your goals is the most harmonious and constructive, that it is the best version of yourself you can imagine.
Practicing self-mastery slowly undoes older programs and removes programmed cognitive dissonance.
Additionally, one of the best ways to clear out old energies from past talismanic imprinting is to clean with intention.
That’s right, cleaning your room really is important!
Cleaning with intention is the act of invoking the most ideal characterological frame possible.
Imagine yourself in the most empowered, happy, blissful and ideal state possible. Let that feeling wash over you as you firmly identify the sensation. Take that sensation and intention and hold it in your consciousness as you clean your space.
You can also use affirmations while you clean to hold an intention in mind as you go. The point is to “smear” or color the space you’re cleaning with this highly empowered feeling and character structure.
Do this for an entire room. Create a new look and feel in the space. Don’t leave any corner unaddressed. Even if you’re just moving one or two things around, the act of changing object positions with this intention will infuse the new energy into the physical space.
The preceding is a very effective tool in clearing out old talismanic energies that hold us back. It’s especially effective for places of work and home life where we feel the most emotional turbulence.
The mind is a powerful tool for creation. But it works against us if we don’t use it wisely.
Due to social conditioning and less than ideal cultural environments, most of us never learned how to use our consciousness properly to maximize motivation for personal growth. Most of us have very disempowered character frames that sabotage us from behind the scenes.
But if you can diagnose long-standing character defects and work to change them consciously, you’ll slowly create a personal living environment that is the most ideal for growth and evolution.
The preceding is a Stillness in the Storm original creation. Please share freely.
About The Author
Justin Deschamps has been a truth seeker all his life. He studies physics, psychology, law, philosophy, and spirituality, working to weave these seemingly separate bodies of information into a holistic tapestry of ever-expanding knowledge. Justin is a student of all and a teacher to some. He humbly seeks those who are willing to take responsibility for making themselves and the world a better place. The goal of his work is to help himself and others become better truth-seekers, and in doing so, form a community of holistically minded individuals capable of creating world healing projects for the benefit of all life—what has been called The Great Work. Check out his project Stillness in the Storm to find some of his work. Follow on Twitter @sitsshow, Facebook Stillness in the Storm, and minds.com.
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