“We have discovered that the heart has neurons”

Playwright Bernard Shaw was right when he said, “The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It happens to all of us. We can spend entire hours of our day talking to other people and, when we finish, feel extremely alone. Sometimes we are more concerned with creating an illusion of understanding than with creating real understanding. Technology contributes to the mirage. We are more connected and alone than ever. Deep and authentic connections are missing. That’s what Kii achieves, a board game developed by biologist Nieves Mesón. An experience with cards that contain “the questions that no one asked you and you always wanted to answer”, which encourage introspective conversation in a group. “A game in which no one loses, everyone wins themselves.”

What drives you to create Kii?

I have always been interested in neuroscience, it is fantastic. The effects of real communication with students, getting to know each other more, talking about personal issues… I was the teacher of whom they said “prepare your clinics” (laughs). Personal knowledge and the search for real connections has been, for me, a vital need since I was little. Kii is full-fledged scientific research: I have been testing it for 3 years with the same group of 6 people. We have seen the transformation it causes in people.

Real communication?

We all talk, but true communication happens very rarely. This game allows you to have authentic communication, in real time. There is only one rule: do not interrupt (no one would like the psychologist to give their opinion, we like him to listen, although Kii is not psychology. It is not about delving into your sorrows, the questions are designed to find what enriches you as a person) . If I ask you “do you know how to love?” and you stop for a few seconds, breathe, and answer what you really want to answer… Something happens. It is an enriching experience. Everyone listens to you and then answers the same question. True friendships allow you to feel vulnerable and safe at the same time. And usually when the game ends, it always does so with a hug that lasts longer than a hug lasts.

Let’s say it’s going from “how are you” and always answering “good” to what’s real…

Yes, it’s like when we say “do I say ‘fine’ or tell you?” Humans have something called mirror neurons, which imitate the attitude of another person. So, when someone connects, you go there too. Not banal, but you are going to dare to go a little deeper… Once, a woman told us something that she had never told anyone.

To nobody. But, playing Kii, she felt safe enough to open up. She needed to take a weight off. You see: the mind is programmed to survive, not to live. By this I mean that we are always evaluating dangers and, accordingly, that is how we behave. With some people I am modern, with others I try to be more cultured, with others fun… they are suits that one puts on. The thing about this game is that you end up naked. You are finding yourself. It’s going back to being that child you were when you dreamed of what you wanted to be. A DGT executive called me after having played Kii and told me: “After playing, I felt as if a kid glove had been placed inside my soul.”

Who is it addressed to?

To strangers, families, friends. My partner plays with everyone, even at work. One day he told me: “I’ve realized how I lived before, now I talk about life bluntly.” Neuroscience has discovered that the heart has neurons; think and remember. I don’t like to say this at first, because it sounds cheesy, but this game doesn’t just target the brain. The questions are directed to that place: they go through the mind, go to the heart and return to the mind. They have never been asked of you, but you have always needed to answer them.

How would you x-ray society? Do you think Disney psychology or pessimism takes precedence?

I believe that the world is hostile and I believe that peace is internal. There are people who are fine in the middle of a war. Children play on bullets. That is to say: thinking that the world is bad gets you nowhere. Peace is internal, something you have to achieve every minute of the day; It is a permanent job, it is not a given. You are born crying and you die in agony, but what happens inside the human being is a fascinating mystery. A doctor knows why a person has died, but he does not know why she is alive. Delving into that mystery is what moves me in life. My brother has been diagnosed with cancer. And they have taught me a lot. That what comes, suits. That is the only way to have peace.

What makes us happy?

Harvard has been studying this question for more than 85 years. Do you know what conclusion they have reached? What are good human relationships? The Kii game is the best way I’ve found to feel that. To get a group of people to listen with affection, with a smile. It is so big that you have to live it.

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A game to escape digital loneliness

Nieves Mesón no longer lives in Madrid, but in Altea (Alicante). For her, the capital is “a big city, people pretend to be happy.” She is a biologist, a teacher for 35 years and a tireless researcher in personal knowledge techniques. With them she has achieved a deep connection with her students. She has published seven books on human relationships. The game Kii is her latest work, the result of years of introspection and study of emotions. The author states that she has the ability to create real bonds through sincere communication.