brain Tagged ‘brain’

Benefits of Yoga & Meditation

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

How Yoga changes your Brain

By Sat Bir Singh Khalsa on Wednesday June 15th, 2016

YogaBrainMeditation

Can Regular Yoga and Meditation Improve Your Brain Function?

There is increasing evidence that yoga and meditation can improve our memory and attention, both help us to function at a higher level at work, home or in school. Furthermore, these benefits occur whether you’re new to yoga and meditation or a long-time practitioner, and studies show it might even help starve off age-related neural decline. The reason, neuroscientists have discovered, is that certain areas of our brain undergo positive structural changes when we meditate. Because the brain exhibits plasticity, which means it has the ability to change, whatever you experience will be reflected in – and have impact on – your brain structure.

Several groundbreaking studies have shown how meditation, especially when practiced over the long-term, can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions. For example, a continued meditation practice can produce a thickening of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought and language. Like a body builder who pumps iron, the bigger his biceps get, the heavier weights he can lift. Likewise, when we meditate, we exercise the parts of the brain that involve the regulation of emotion and mind-body awareness that lead to changes in brain activity and structure, which in turn improve our memory and attention.

Studies have shown how meditation can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions.Studies show how meditation can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions.

One of my fellow researchers, Dr Sara Lazar of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, found these brain changes to be especially apparent in long-time meditators. In her 2005 study, for example, MRI brain scans were used to assess cortical thickness in participants with extensive meditation experience (averaging about 9 years of experience and 6 hours per week of meditation practice), and a control group that did not practice yoga or meditation. Dr Lazar found the brain regions associated with attention, sensory, cognitive and emotional processing were thicker in meditation participants than those in the control group who did not engage in yoga or meditation.

This was the first significant study (of now more similar studies) to provide evidence for a link between long-term meditation practice and structural brain changes. Equally exciting is that the greater prefrontal cortical thickness found in the meditation group was most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that extensive meditation might also offset age-related cortical thinning. It appears that the brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing, which frequently diminishes over the years, can remain more youthful in those people who continue to practice meditation.

Alt text hereThe brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing can remain more youthful.

In another interesting study conducted at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA, differences in the brain’s anatomy and structure called gyrification (or cortical folding) were also discovered in people who meditated. Although the implications of this research remain to be fully established, the findings from this study support the possbility that meditation can lead to changes in regulation of activities including daydreaming, mind-wandering, and projections into the past or future, and a possible integration of autonomic, emotional, and cognitive processes.

And while research reveals long-term meditation can produce structural changes in specific areas of the brain that enhance our ability to learn, one does not have to practice for thousands of hours to reap the positive brain benefits. Dr Lazar also found that these increases in grey matter in some regions of the brain occurred after just 8-weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Education (MBSR), a formal program involving meditation and some yoga practice. These results suggest that even short-term participation in meditation-related practices can lead to changes in grey matter concentration in brain regions that are involved in learning and memory processes, as well as in emotion regulation.

Yoga-Brain Fact: If you practice yoga and meditation techniques on a regular basis, your brain will be better able to cope with stress and emotion. This brain enhancement will help you to maintain higher levels of learning and memory.

Long-term meditation can enhance our ability to learn.Long-term meditation can enhance our ability to learn.

Yoga makes us Smarter

Think about how we feel when we’re stressed. We might eat more, lose our appetite, sweat profusely, or simply want to bury our troubles in mindless television or computer games. What happens to our brains when we are under stress is that our bodies increase the secretion of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone. When faced with sustained, high levels of chronic stress, the associated high levels of cortisol can actually be toxic and even fatal to our brain cells. Because our hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, is particularly vulnerable to high sustained cortisol levels, we may ultimately compromise our learning and memory capacities when faced with uncontrolled chronic stress. By managing stress through yoga and meditation, you can actually improve your memory, concentration, and your ability to learn.

While researching the effects of long-term yoga and meditation, I found an intriguing study that reported improvements in attention, mood and stress over a very short time period. When a group of 40 undergraduate students were given 5 days of 20-minute meditation training, this group showed significantly better attentional abilities and control of stress than a similar control group of 40 students given only relaxation training, including greater improvement in attention, lower anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue and an elevated mood.

There was also a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol.

These studies, which are just a few of those being conducted today, clearly show a strong relationship between our ability to maintain attention and our responsiveness to stress and emotional reactivity. In other words, the more one practices the contemplative skill of controlling attention through meditation and yoga, the more one has a manageable stress response and improved emotional reactivity. Ultimately, our cognitive performance is most efficient and at its optimal level when we are more in control of our stress and emotions.

Our cognitive performance is most efficient and at its optimal level when we are more in control of our stress and emotions.Our cognitive performance is most efficient and at its optimal level when we are more in control of our stress and emotions.

The Effects of Yoga on Memory and Decision Making

Yoga and meditation not only make our brain more efficient, they also improve brain activity related to decision-making and cognitive performance. In a research study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana, scientists compared the effects of a yoga exercise session to aerobic exercise, the results showed that the memory retention and cognitive performance after yoga was significantly superior (ie. shorter reaction times, increased accuracy) to aerobic exercise. The reason yoga can be better for the brain than aerobics (although both are good), is that it allows us to cope with stress and emotions more effectively.

Long-term yoga improves concentration, processing and motor speed

Research clearly indicates that yoga and meditation, especially a long-term practice, improves the way our brain functions, including our ability to concentrate and perform well on certain tests. In one study comparing 15 yoga practitioners with a control group of non-practitioners and involving a series of tests for attention, the yoga group performed significantly better. Long-term practitioners of yoga and meditation showed greater attention span, processing speed, attention alternation ability,and performance in interference tests.

Another recent study also showed improvement in cognitive functioning and dexterity among 57 research volunteers who were given tasks requiring attention, visual scanning and motor speed. Each participant was assessed before and after three types of sessions: yoga meditation, supine rest, and control (no intervention). The results showed that the yoga condition was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning with no improvement in test skills for those who did not practice yoga and meditation.

Yoga was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning.Yoga was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning.

Yoga Improves Computation Skills

Many people believe that equation solving and memorisation are the most effective ways to improve one’s mathematical aptitude—all of which can be extremely time-consuming and, to the math phobic, feel like an ordeal. The fact is that sessions of yoga and tai chi can also sharpen your mathematical ability. These were the findings of a Bolo University of Miami School of Medicine study in which 38 adults participated in a session that included two minutes of tai chi movement and two minutes of sitting, standing, and lying down yoga poses. The researchers measured self-reported math computation skills of each participant before and after the session. The findings showed that the tai chi/yoga participants performed better on basic math after the workout. Why? The increased relaxation may have contributed to the increased speed and accuracy noted on math computations following the tai chi/yoga class.

Yoga as a learning tool for students around the world.

Another study providing preliminary evidence that yoga may improve academic performance of children in schools was done on 8OO teenagers in India. The students in this study who were engaged in a yoga program performed better academically than those who did not do yoga. Researchers selected 159 high-stress students and 142 low-stress students. Both groups were given tests in mathematics, science, and social studies. Those who participated in a 7-week yoga program of (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation performed better in academics than those who did not do yoga. The study also concluded that low-stress students performed better than high-stream students, showing, once again, that indelible connection between stress and academic performance.

from:    http://upliftconnect.com/how-yoga-changes-your-brain/

On the Heart-Brain Connection

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Not Just Brain To Body: Researchers Discover That The Heart Sends Signals To The Brain

heart

A group of prestigious and internationally recognized leaders in physics, biophysics, astrophysics, education, mathematics, engineering, cardiology, biofeedback and psychology (among other disciplines) have been doing some brilliant work over at the Institute of HeartMath. The Institute of HeartMath is a (well recognized) non-profit research and education organization dedicated to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and understand something that is commonly overlooked in mainstream biology: the intelligence of the heart and its effect on the brain.

A large portion of their research dives into heart and brain interaction, how they communicate with each other and how that affects our consciousness. For example, when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, and because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and director of research:

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The Heart Sends Signals To The Brain

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – experiencing stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them are greater mental clarity and ability, including better decision making.” (source)

Scientists have long believed that it was the brain that sent information and instructed the body on what to do, and when to do it. This includes the heart, but we now know (thanks to researchers like those at HeartMath) that the heart actually sends signals to the brain, just as the brain sends signals to the heart. In fact, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends in return. What’s even more amusing is the fact that these heart signals (from heart to brain) actually have a significant effect on brain function.

To me, this is amazing. The fact that the heart produces the largest electromagnetic field in the body, and the fact that it sends more signals to the brain rather than vice versa shows us that the heart plays a much larger role in our biology than what we previously believed, and that it (the heart) may be a major commanding center of the body, in the same way we think of the brain.

So far, the researchers have discovered that the heart communicates with the brain and body in four ways:

  • Neurological communication (nervous system)
  • Biophysical communication (pulse wave)
  • Biochemical communication (hormones)
  • Energetic communication (electromagnetic fields)

Why This Is Significant

“HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive function. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect. It facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability.” (source)

This brings into question the consideration of consciousness. Consciousness is the way we perceive the world (and everything in it) around us. It’s how we think, and it’s how we feel. It’s directing our attention towards something with a specific intention and can be explained in a number of ways. So what does consciousness have to do with science?  Well, some physicists today are starting to believe that consciousness is actually a state of matter, just like a solid, a liquid or a gas. (source)(source). This is because a number of publications, more so in the field of quantum physics, have demonstrated that consciousness actually has a direct affect on our physical material world. This is most notably demonstrated by the quantum double slit experiment, one that found factors associated with consciousness to “significantly” correlate with the make up of our physical material world. You can find out more about that in an article we published last year titled “Consciousness Creates Reality: Physicists Admit The Universe Is Immaterial, Mental & Spiritual.

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.”  – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University ,  “The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005) (source)

For a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies that deal with human consciousnesss and its influence on the phsyical material world, mostly published in the 21st century, you can click HERE

It’s important to understand what these physicists are saying in conjunction with the research being conducted at the Institute of HeartMath, because the researchers there have shown how certain emotional states (consciousness) can code different information into the heart’s electromagnetic field, sending out a different signal depending on factors associated with consciousness (feelings/emotions), as well as send signals to the brain.  While all this is going on, we have quantum physicists showing that consciousness can, again, have an effect on our physical material world. This could mean that conscious states of love, gratitude and compassion have a different effect on physical reality (one that is not known), than opposite emotions like hate, fear and greed have on it. We know that these different emotional states do indeed have an effect on our biological makeup and send a different type of signals to the brain, as mentioned earlier, which brings me to my next point…

Do Our Thoughts, Feelings, Emotions & More Originate In The Brian, The Heart, Or From Somewhere Else?

Just to recap, researchers at the institute have found that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart, and that different emotional states send different signals to the brain, which directly effect our cognitive functions, our ability to learn and more. The question to ask here is, where do these emotional states come from? What triggers them? A certain event in our lives could be the catalyst for a certain type of emotional response (depending how we perceive that event). For example, if someone loses a loved one, they will experience ‘negative’ emotions, thus triggering the heart to send certain signals to the brain. But where do these emotions generate from? Do they generate from our brain, with regards to how we perceive the event which determines our reaction? Where do these states of consciousness originate?

“Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking inside a radio for the announcer” – Nassim Haramein

These states of consciousness could be altering our world in ways we do not know, and we know they alter the way we feel, think and perceive, which in turn can effect our biology.

Below is a great video from Dr. Gary Schwartz, professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona, discussing whether consciousness is a product of the brain or a receiver of it. It’s a little overview of a subject that is full of peer reviewed scientific research that not many people have the time to go through.

“QM [quantum mechanics] has questioned the material foundations of the world by showing that atoms and subatomic particles are not really solid objects—they do not exist with certainty at definite spatial locations and definite times. Most importantly, QM explicitly introduced the mind into its basic conceptual structure since it was found that particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked. According to one interpretation of QM, this phenomenon implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed, and that mental events can affect the physical world.” – Dr. Gary Schwartz (source)

from:    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/10/30/not-just-brain-to-body-researchers-discover-that-the-heart-sends-signals-to-the-brain/

Moving into the Holographic Universe

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Passage Into The Holographic Universe

by Tom Kenyon

It weighs about three pounds, yet is so densely packed that it contains more connections than the number of stars in the known universe. If anything qualifies as magic, it would be this micro‑universe. It simultaneously controls such a vast array of tasks that it puts the most advanced computers to shame. It bends light into recognizable images and translates sounds into language and meaning. And in an extraordinary magical transformation, it changes biology into the experience of mind. This wizard is, of course…your brain.

It has been fairly well established by brain researchers that we use only a small portion of our brain’s immense potential. I compare this to having a state‑of‑the‑art video camera with stereo sound and using it to take Kodak-type snapshots.

There are various reasons for this “less than optimal” use of our abilities. For one, it has to do with the ways we are educated.

The Education of Limitation

Our current methods of education are still largely based on methods from the Industrial age – -reading, writing and arithmetic. Unfortunately, this way of educating does not prepare children for the demands of the 21st century, nor does it stimulate the brain’s unused potentials. You see, our brain does not switch on new brain cells until there is a stimulus from the environment‑either internal or external.

Research clearly shows that the critical time for brain development is the first two years, followed by a second period of five years. And yet, most children are left to their own devices during the most critical formative time of their nervous systems.

Then these children enter an outmoded educational system that stifles curiosity and discourages independent thinking. Most of us are the products of such “education.”

There is another reason we use so little of our potential brainpower.

The Corpus Callosum

Neurologically, our brain is split down the middle. In some very real ways, we have two brains inside our heads. And these two brains experience the world in very different ways. While one part of our brain can talk, the other side is mute.

The left hemisphere (for most people) is verbal. It talks. It creates and interprets language. It performs this extraordinary feat through two small areas of densely packed neurons in the neocortex. These areas usually sit on the left side of the head around the ear. If these areas are damaged, one can lose the ability to speak and/or understand language.

The left side also perceives the world in a logical sequential way. It likes to have everything in its place.

The right side of the neocortex, however, sees things differently. For one, it does not speak. For another, it is not particularly logical. It is quite comfortable with paradox, the gray areas of experience. It is also at ease with things being out of sequence. It can spot the hidden patterns in things that seem out of place. In normal states of functioning, there is a certain level of coordination between our left and right sides. And what allows us to coordinate these two perceptual worlds into one whole world of perception is a thick band of nerve fibers in the central area of the brain called the corpus callosum. The more neurological connections presumably in the corpus callosum, the more communication there is between the right and left hemispheres. And co‑ordination between the two hemispheres allows one to think both cognitively and intuitively at the same time.

There are very practical reasons for using both sides of the brain. Back in the ’60s, an employee of a Swiss watchmaker discovered a new way to tell time – the digital clock. Excitedly he took his invention to his superiors. They dismissed it. “This isn’t a clock,” they said. “It doesn’t even have any moving parts!” Their tunnel vision was caused by over dominance of the left hemisphere. They could not see outside their box. The digital watch was just too much out of the pattern they expected to see. A small company called Texas Instruments picked up the patent and the rest is history. Switzerland is no longer the watch capital of the world.

As we enter an ever more complex world, we will need to develop greater intelligence and creativity to cope with it.

Since the 1980s I have been intrigued with the use of sound and altered states of awareness to increase brain activity and intelligence. Under the auspices of Acoustic Brain Research, which I founded, I even created a series of audiotapes called Mind Gymnastiks. They are used to this day by hundreds of people to increase brain performance.

As I continued to explore the use of altered states of consciousness to increase intelligence and creativity, I was struck by similarities in people’s experiences. It was common to report a sense of connectedness between themselves and life in general. Some even used the phrase “the web of life,” as if all beings were somehow interconnected in ways that defied logical thinking. These insights were, of course, shared throughout history by many mystics and “explorers of mind” including indigenous peoples. A look at the descriptions left by these explorers of mind shows this quite clearly.

While the mystical description of interconnectedness has a long history, stretching back thousands upon thousands of years, a scientific description of interconnectedness has only emerged within the last thirty or forty. It has been birthed from the science of holography, and is referred to as the Holographic Universe.

The Holographic Enigma

Today, holograms are quite common, but back in the 1970s when I saw my first hologram in San Francisco, they were very rare. I remember walking into the small darkened room of the Haight Holo‑Art Gallery and having my mind blown. The photos seemed to float out of their frames in midair. As I walked around the strange apparitions I could look into the crevices of the images and see things I could have never seen in a normal photograph. Intrigued, I began to study the physics of holograms. A fascinating illogical world started to emerge. As bizarre as it may seem, you can cut off any part of a hologram and the entire hologram can be seen in the piece! How on earth could this be? Well you see, holograms are made by exposing film to lasers, and lasers are comprised of coherent light. Every photon is lined up with every other photon. This is very different from everyday light in which photons are much more helter‑skelter. Every photon, so to speak, listens to its own drummer. But in lasers, there is only one drummer and all photons follow its rhythm and direction.

The methodology used to create holograms doesn’t really concern us here, so I won’t go into it. Besides most people could care less. They just like looking at the strange photos.

Now as I said, you can cut off any part of a hologram and you will see the entire hologram in that tiny piece. Every fragment of the hologram carries the entire image. Another way of saying it is that the macrocosm of the photo is held within the microcosm of every piece.

This is starting to sound more and more like the descriptions of mystics. When persons enter deeply profound altered states of awareness, there is often a universal experience of interconnectedness. And this seems to occur regardless of the context (or dogma) favored by the individual.

A Meeting in the Park

I recall an unexpected experience with the holographic universe in my twenties. At the time, I was walking through a park near my house. It was dusk and I was overcome by a deep sense of calm. To this day, I have no idea what set it off. I had just been studying for one of my classes at the university, and had decided to take a walk.

As I climbed a small hill, I could see a river of cars on the street below. Their headlights were lit, and in the dimming light they looked like a kind of moving Christmas tree.

Suddenly I could sense the drivers in a way that defied logic. I felt their hopes, their desires, their dreams, and their fears. Many were heading home after work. Some would come home to an empty house, some to their waiting families. As my heart swelled from the enormity of the perception, I also noticed that the air was filled with some kind of energy. These types of experiences were new to me back then, and I had no language to describe it. But it felt like love. It felt like every atom of the world was shimmering with love, and in some inexplicable way that love was trying to reach out to everyone, to all beings. It was reaching out to me, to the strangers driving home in their cars, to the birds in the trees, even to the field mice in the grass, and to the crickets chirping in the twilight darkness.

This went on for about an hour, I think. And then the feelings of interconnectedness began to fade. I walked back home, still under the sense of calm that had started the whole thing. But my mind was stirring. How on earth could something like love be in the very atoms of the universe?

I was pondering this when I came to a very odd threshold. I happened to be standing in the dark underneath a large oak branch. The other side of the tree was bathed in light from a street lamp.

I was in the dark, and the other side was in light. The moment felt eerie, as if somehow the mythic world and this one had temporarily met. As I crossed over from the dark into the light, I distinctly heard a voice speak to me – “You can never go back.” I was stunned. I looked to see if someone was standing beside me because the voice was so vividly real. There was no one there. I walked home in silence.

I have since come to know that odd all‑encompassing love to be quite real. The ancient Greeks called it agape, or divine love. It continually emanates to all beings from every corner of the universe. For those who have eyes to see, it can be seen. For those who have ears to hear, it can be heard. But most of us never enter the deeper states of awareness where it can be experienced directly.

Now let me be clear here. That last paragraph is my own opinion based upon thirty‑some years of personal experience with altered states of consciousness. As an explorer of consciousness, that is my experience and my belief. But it is just a belief. It happens to be shared by other Argonauts of the Mind, but it is certainly not a scientific fact or even a premise. There’s no way to measure love, and measurement is the benchmark of science. Without quantification there can be no scientific inquiry.

I have belabored this point because I am in tricky territory. I am straddling the world of science and the world of mysticism. I do believe that science and mysticism will one day fully meet each other, but the methodologies are so different between the two, it requires a different kind of approach than we are used to.

But regardless of what the synthesis between science and mysticism finally looks like, we can, I think, look at some common territory.

My experience, mentioned above, was a classic mystical encounter. Practitioners of virtually every spiritual tradition on the planet have reported it. Even though the descriptions are often quite different, the essential insights of these diverse traditions are the same – there is an essential interconnectedness between life and the cosmos. How this interconnectedness is interpreted varies according to the spiritual tradition, but interconnectedness shows up in virtually all types of mystical experience.

In his book, The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot discusses the scientific basis for this type of mystical experience. It is great reading, and I strongly suggest it to anyone who is interested in such things. If the theory is correct, we are all part of the universal hologram, an indispensable piece to the cosmic puzzle. Not only this, but because we are holographic by nature, the whole cosmos is inside us. This is indeed one of the fundamental teachings of most Perennial Philosophies and mystical traditions. In some inexplicable way we carry the cosmos within us. And the exploration of one’s own consciousness eventually takes one into the cosmic realms of existence. We are like mobius strips. On one side of the strip we are isolated individuated primate humans. Yet at the same time we exist on the other side of the strip as well. On that side of things we are part of the whole. We are One with all life and the entire cosmos is inside us.

Such things seem illogical to our usual ways of thinking. But in altered states of consciousness, we can dip our toes into a different kind of world, a world of extraordinary paradox.

I suppose it is because I have worked so extensively in the area of brain research, but I think that a lot of mystical revelation (like interconnectedness) is triggered by changes in brain state.

I recall many years ago when I started getting EEG readings of subjects listening to Wave Form (a recording I created under Acoustic Brain Research). Many of these persons had profound non‑ordinary experiences including sensations of floating, moving through space and yes, feelings of interconnectedness. Now this part was not surprising, but where the brain showed the response was most intriguing. It was at a point on the top of the head. This one area showed massive increases in theta, more than any other areas in the brain. And this point just happened to correspond to the crown chakra in yoga, what is sometimes called the thousand‑petaled lotus. This chakra is associated with the transpersonal or universal states of consciousness.

This was intriguing. And I spent part of my time over the next few years looking at how such a response could be replicated consistently. Eventually I came to the conclusion that such responses are part of a larger brain patterning, and are related to the person’s psychology and values. In other words, while some persons listened to Wave Form and traversed the universe others just got really relaxed. And some just went to sleep!

I recall an incident with a cardiac specialist once who listened to Wave Form for the first time. His cohorts had urged him to listen to it since they were considering the possibility of using it in their outpatients’ stress management program. The skeptical doctor donned a pair of headphones and sat back in his executive chair. He reported being bored at first, then kind of dozing off, but not really going to sleep. Then he heard the distinct sound of a locomotive. Wondering how in the heck a locomotive could be in his office, he struggled to open his eyes. To his amazement, the sound of the locomotive was actually the sound of his snoring!

Virtually everyone who listened to Wave Form demonstrated that it was highly effective at generating profound altered states of mind, but the content varied widely depending upon the individual.

Another part of the mystery, in regards to brain function, came into focus when I came across the recently published work of Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of Why God Won’t Go Away. Using advanced neurological monitoring devices, Dr. Newberg was able to identify an area of the brain that seemed to be crucial in mystical experience. He and his associates looked at brain activity in various meditators. Some were Christian mystics, some were yogis, some Buddhists, etc. Dr. Newberg collected meditators like some people collect baseball cards. He gave each subject a button. When they touched into the deepest state of meditation they were familiar with, they would push it.

This marker would be set against the “real‑time” readings of the brain to see if there were any commonalities in brain states. And there was. Regardless of the tradition, spiritual lineage or methods of meditation used, the same area responded.

This common point in the brain was identified as the orientation area. This neurological center is responsible for orienting us in space. When we walk across the room, for instance, the orientation area co-ordinates sensory information to help us avoid bumping into things. During such moments the orientation area is very busy routing sensory signals. Its cells are very active.

But during states of meditation, the orientation area went to sleep! Its cells were simply not processing sensory information. It was, in other words, no longer attending to the perception of external space.

I think that this radical shift in the orientation area is probably due to a shift in attention. By design, meditation is a process of attending to internal space. One lets the perception of external space drop away. And what’s left are experiences from the source of internal space itself – the mind.

I had mentioned earlier that diverse mystical traditions universally report experiences of interconnectedness. And such feelings are often accompanied by changes in perceived space.

The phenomenon of perceiving the holographic universe (or mystical interconnectedness) seems to be intimately connected with changes in perceived space – and time, for that matter.

Meditators also universally report the feeling that time becomes profoundly altered during their inner journeys. One client, for instance, experienced the birth, evolution and death of the entire universe with its attending sense of endless time. When she opened her eyes and looked at her watch, however, only about fifteen minutes had passed.

There are indeed fascinating non‑ordinary perceptions that often occur during periods of deep meditation. And one of these concerns the perception of non‑corporeal intelligences, sometimes called energy beings.

In Western culture, such things are deemed non‑sense, and in a way they are non‑sensory. One cannot perceive them with the five senses. Rather they are, more often than not, perceived directly through the internal senses of the mind.

Many cultures and spiritual traditions talk about these unusual beings. Indigenous cultures, for instance, are quite clear that these beings are real and that they can be interacted with.

Many Christians believe in angels and these too, are energy beings. In fact I have had experiences with so many angels over the years, I take them rather matter of factly.

Now it may seem like a long leap from the holographic universe or interconnectedness to disembodied beings. And one can, in fact, experience interconnectedness without ever running into one.

Infinite Pool, the CD

But it was an energy being who turned up in meditation one day, and told me that it was possible to accelerate evolution of the holographic brain through sound.

This energy‑being turned out to be an akul, a being known as an “ancient one” by Egyptian alchemists. These beings are extraordinarily evolved and this particular akul taught me how to use sound patterns in new ways.

My opinion on the matter, having interacted with energy beings from numerous lineages and cultures, is that some of them have invaluable information to share with those willing to listen. My test for validity is whether their suggestions have practical value or not. In the case of this akul, I immediately recognized the consummate level of knowledge he demonstrated. And after recording the program in all its complexity, I was even more convinced that this was something of extreme value.

The other thirteen voices are those of another group of beings I have been working with for several years now. Known as the Hathors, they are masters of sound and love. When I first encountered them, in meditation, I had already been working in the area of sound for over a decade. But their knowledge far surpassed my own, and they opened new vistas I never even imagined. For the last few years, my group of mentors has grown to thirteen, and the other voices you hear on the recording are them singing “through” me.

These voices create complex standing wave patterns within the brain. As a result, exceedingly intricate geometries are created within these standing wave patterns. This is, for all intents and purposes, sacred geometry in action. The effects of these geometries are multi-dimensional in nature (meaning that several dimensions of consciousness are accessed simultaneously, depending upon the development and awareness of the listener). It’s hard to describe unless you actually hear it, but I’ll give it a try. Imagine sensing, inside your head, an ever‑oscillating field of sacred geometry. Sometimes you sense a circle of light, sometimes another geometry. Each point on a geometric shape emits a tone. As the tones switch on, the corresponding areas of the brain associated with those points are activated in ways that are quite unusual.

In addition to this, complex imagery arises, seeming to float inside the head. These images flow from one’s own inner world and are natural expressions of multi‑dimensional consciousness.

I believe that the development of multi‑dimensional consciousness is one of our next natural evolutionary steps and one that can be self‑generated. In other words, we don’t have to wait for others to develop this capacity; we can attain this for ourselves. There’s good reason to do this – the development of multidimensional awareness increases both intelligence and creativity.

In a more esoteric arena, the cultivation of multidimensionality, allows one to “track” several states of consciousness simultaneously. Esoteric knowledge is much more effectively retrieved and utilized by a mind that is capable of multiple awarenesses at the same time.

Multi‑dimensional consciousness is sometimes referred to as the holographic universe, and the portal to this universe is through your own brain.

Through this doorway, you can visit worlds and gain insights you never imagined possible. Indeed, after experimenting with this program for the last six months, I am convinced that it will prove to be an invaluable tool for those wanting to access the brain’s extraordinary potentials.

from:   http://tomkenyon.com/holographicuniverse

On Remembering & Forgetting

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Health Check: can your brain be ‘full’?

The brain is truly a marvel. A seemingly endless library, whose shelves house our most precious memories as well as our lifetime’s knowledge. But is there a point where it reaches capacity? In other words, can the brain be “full”?

The answer is a resounding no, because, well, brains are more sophisticated than that. A study published in Nature Neuroscience earlier this year shows that instead of just crowding in, old information is sometimes pushed out of the brain for new memories to form.

Previous behavioural studies have shown that learning new information can lead to forgetting. But in this study, researchers used new neuroimaging techniques to demonstrate for the first time how this effect occurs in the brain.

The experiment

The paper’s authors set out to investigate what happens in the brain when we try to remember information that’s very similar to what we already know. This is important because similar information is more likely to interfere with existing knowledge, and it’s the stuff that crowds without being useful.

To do this, they examined how brain activity changes when we try to remember a “target” memory, that is, when we try to recall something very specific, at the same time as trying to remember something similar (a “competing” memory). Participants were taught to associate a single word (say, the word sand) with two different images – such as one of Marilyn Monroe and the other of a hat.

They found that as the target memory was recalled more often, brain activity for it increased. Meanwhile, brain activity for the competing memory simultaneously weakened. This change was most prominent in regions near the front of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, rather than key memory structures in the middle of the brain, such as the hippocampus, which is traditionally associated with memory loss.

Allan Ajifo/Flickr, CC BY

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a range of complex cognitive processes, such as planning, decision making, and selective retrieval of memory. Extensive research shows this part of the brain works in combination with the hippocampus to retrieve specific memories.

If the hippocampus is the search engine, the prefrontal cortex is the filter determining which memory is the most relevant. This suggests that storing information alone is not enough for a good memory. The brain also needs to be able to access the relevant information without being distracted by similar competing pieces of information.

Better to forget

In daily life, forgetting actually has clear advantages. Imagine, for instance, that you lost your bank card. The new card you receive will come with a new personal identification number (PIN). Research in this field suggests that each time you remember the new PIN, you gradually forget the old one. This process improves access to relevant information, without old memories interfering.

And most of us will be able to identify with the frustration of having old memories interfere with new, relevant memories. Consider trying to remember where you parked your car in the same carpark you were at a week earlier. This type of memory (where you are trying to remember new, but similar information) is particularly susceptible to interference.

When we acquire new information, the brain automatically tries to incorporate it within existing information by forming associations. And when we retrieve information, both the desired and associated but irrelevant information is recalled.

If the hippocampus is the search engine, the prefrontal cortex is the filter determining which memory is the most relevant. Playing Futures: Applied No/Flickr, CC BY

The majority of previous research has focused on how we learn and remember new information. But current studies are beginning to place greater emphasis on the conditions under which we forget, as its importance begins to be more appreciated.

The curse of memory

A very small number of people are able to remember almost every detail of their life in great detail; they have hyperthymestic syndrome. If provided with a date, they are able to tell you where and what they were doing on that particular day. While it may sound like a boon to many, people with this rare condition often find their unusual ability burdensome.

Some report an inability to think about the present or the future, because of the feeling of constantly living in the past, caught in their memories. And this is what we all might experience if our brains didn’t have a mechanism for superseding information that’s no longer relevant and did indeed fill up.

At the other end of the spectrum is a phenomenon called “accelerated long-term forgetting”, which has been observed in epilepsy and stroke patients. As the name suggests, these people forget newly learnt information at a much faster rate, sometimes within a few hours, compared to what’s considered normal.

It’s believed this represents a failure to “consolidate” or transfer new memories into long-term memory. But the processes and impact of this form of forgetting are still largely unexplored.

What studies in this area are demonstrating is that remembering and forgetting are two sides of the same coin. In a sense, forgetting is our brain’s way of sorting memories, so the most relevant memories are ready for retrieval. Normal forgetting may even be a safety mechanism to ensure our brain doesn’t become too full.

from:    https://theconversation.com/health-check-can-your-brain-be-full-40844

Consciousness & The Brain by Dr. Dossey

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Why Consciousness Is Not the Brain

Larry Dossey

Physicist Freeman Dyson believes the cosmos is suffused with consciousness, from the grandest level to the most minute dimensions. If it is, why aren’t we aware of it?

“We don’t know who first discovered water, but we can be sure that it wasn’t a fish,” the old saw reminds us. Continual exposure to something reduces our awareness of its presence. Over time, we become blind to the obvious. We swim in a sea of consciousness, like a fish swims in water. And like a fish that has become oblivious to his aqueous environment, we have become dulled to the ubiquity of consciousness.

In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined.

The polite term for this trick is “emergence.” At a certain stage of biological complexity, evolutionary biologists claim, consciousness pops out of the brain like a rabbit from a magician’s hat. Yet this claim rests on no direct evidence whatsoever. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry A. Fodo flatly states, “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness.”

In spite of the complete absence of evidence, the belief that the brain produces consciousness endures and has ossified into dogma. Many scientists realize the limitations of this belief. One way of getting around the lack of evidence is simply to declare that what we call consciousness is the brain itself. That way, nothing is produced, and the magic of “emergence” is avoided.

As astronomer Carl Sagan expressed his position, “My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings—what we sometimes call mind—are a consequence of anatomy and physiology, and nothing more.” Nobelist Francis Crick agreed, saying a “person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make up and influence them.”

This “identity theory”—mind equals brain—has led legions of scientists and philosophers to regard consciousness as an unnecessary, superfluous concept. Some go out of their way to deny the existence of consciousness altogether, almost as if they bear a grudge against it. Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett says, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.” Dennett includes himself in this extraordinary claim, and he seems proud of it.

Others suggest that there are no mental states at all, such as love, courage, or patriotism, but only electrochemical brain fluxes that should not be described with such inflated language. They dismiss thoughts and beliefs for the same reasons.

This led Nobel neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles to remark that “professional philosophers and psychologists think up the notion that there are no thoughts, come to believe that there are no beliefs, and feel strongly that there are no feelings.”

Eccles was emphasizing the absurdities that have crept into the debates about consciousness. They are not hard to spot. Some of the oddest experiences I recall are attending conferences where one speaker after another employs his consciousness to denounce the existence of consciousness, ignoring the fact that he consciously chose to register for the meeting, make travel plans, prepare his talks, and so on.

Many scientists concede that there are huge gaps in their knowledge of how the brain makes consciousness, but they are certain they will be filled in as science progresses. Eccles and philosopher of science Karl Popper branded this attitude “promissory materialism.”

“Promissary materialism is a superstition without a rational foundation,” Eccles says. “It is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists … who confuse their religion with their science. It has all the features of a messianic prophecy.”

The arguments about the origins and nature of consciousness are central to premonitions. For if the promissory materialists are correct—if consciousness is indeed identical with the brain—the curtain closes on premonitions.

The reason is that the brain is a local phenomenon—i.e., it is localized to the brain and body, and to the present. This prohibits premonitions in principle, because accordingly the brain cannot operate outside the body and the here-and-now. But consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

These assertions are not hyperbolic, but conservative. They are consistent with the entire span of human history, throughout which all cultures of which we have record believed that human perception extends beyond the reach of the senses. This belief might be dismissed as superstition but for the fact that modern research has established its validity beyond reasonable doubt to anyone whose reasoning has not clotted into hardened skepticism.

To reiterate a single example—the evidence supporting foreknowledge—psi researchers Charles Honorton and Diane Ferrari examined 309 precognition experiments carried out by sixty-two investigators involving 50,000 participants in more than two million trials. Thirty percent of these studies were significant in showing that people can describe future events, when only five percent would be expected to demonstrate such results by chance. The odds that these results were not due to chance was greater than 10 to the twentieth power to one.

One of the first modern thinkers to endorse an outside-the-brain view of consciousness was William James, who is considered the father of American psychology. In his 1898 Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard University, James took a courageous stand against what he called “the fangs of cerebralism and the idea that consciousness is produced by the brain.”

He acknowledged that arrested brain development in childhood can lead to mental retardation, that strokes or blows to the head can abolish memory or consciousness, and that certain chemicals can change the quality of thought. But to consider this as proof that the brain actually makes consciousness, James said, is irrational.

Why irrational? Consider a radio, an invention that was introduced during James’s lifetime, and which he used to illustrate the mind-brain relationship. If one bangs a radio with a hammer, it ceases to function. But that does not mean that the origin of the sounds was the radio itself; the sound originated from outside it in the form of an electromagnetic signal. The radio received, modified, and amplified the external signal into something recognizable as sound.

Just so, the brain can be damaged in various ways that distort the quality of consciousness—trauma, stroke, nutritional deficiencies, dementia, etc. But this does not necessarily mean the brain “made” the consciousness that is now disturbed, or that consciousness is identical to the brain.

British philosopher Chris Carter endorses this analogy. Equating mind and brain is as irrational, he says, as listening to music on a radio, smashing the radio’s receiver, and thereby concluding that the radio was producing the music.

To update the analogy, consider a television set. We can damage a television set so severely that we lose the image on the screen, but this doesn’t prove that the TV actually produced the image. We know that David Letterman does not live behind the TV screen on which he appears; yet the contention that brain equals consciousness is as absurd as if he did.

The radio and TV analogies can be misleading, however, because consciousness does not behave like an electromagnetic signal. Electromagnetic (EM) signals display certain characteristics. The farther away they get from their source, the weaker they become.

Not so with consciousness; its effects do not attenuate with increasing distance. For example, in the hundreds of healing experiments that have been done in both humans and animals, healing intentions work equally well from the other side of the earth as at the bedside of the sick individual. Moreover, EM signals can be blocked partially or completely, but the effects of conscious intention cannot be blocked by any known substance.

For instance, sea water is known to block EM signals completely at certain depths, yet experiments in remote viewing have been successfully carried out beyond such depths, demonstrating that the long-distance communication between the involved individuals cannot depend on EM-type signals.

In addition, EM signals require travel time from their source to a receiver, yet thoughts can be perceived simultaneously between individuals across global distances. Thoughts can be displaced in time, operating into both past and future.

In precognitive remote viewing experiments—for example, the hundreds of such experiments by the PEAR Lab at Princeton University—the receiver gets a future thought before it is ever sent. Furthermore, consciousness can operate into the past, as in the experiments involving retroactive intentions. Electromagnetic signals are not capable of these feats. From these differences, we can conclude that consciousness is not an electric signal.

Then what is it? My conclusion is that consciousness is not a thing or substance, but is a nonlocal phenomenon. Nonlocal is merely a fancy word for infinite. If something is nonlocal, it is not localized to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or to specific points in time, such as the present.

Nonlocal events are immediate; they require no travel time. They are unmediated; they require no energetic signal to “carry” them. They are unmitigated; they do not become weaker with increasing distance. Nonlocal phenomena are omnipresent, everywhere at once. This means there is no necessity for them to go anywhere; they are already there. They are infinite in time as well, present at all moments, past present and future, meaning they are eternal.

Researcher Dean Radin, whose presentiment experiments provide profound evidence for future knowing, believes that the nonlocal events in the subatomic, quantum domain underlie the nonlocal events we experience at the human level. He invokes the concept of entanglement as a bridging hypothesis uniting the small- and large-scale happenings. Quantum entanglement and quantum nonlocality are indeed potent possibilities that may eventually explain our nonlocal experiences, but only further research will tell.

Meanwhile, there is a gathering tide of opinion favoring these approaches. As physicist Chris Clarke, of the University of Southampton, says, “On one hand, Mind is inherently non-local. On the other, the world is governed by a quantum physics that is inherently non-local. This is no accident, but a precise correspondence … [Mind and the world are] aspects of the same thing … The way ahead, I believe, has to place mind first as the key aspect of the universe … We have to start exploring how we can talk about mind in terms of a quantum picture … Only then will we be able to make a genuine bridge between physics and physiology.”

Whatever their explanation proves to be, the experiments documenting premonitions are real. They must be reckoned with. And when scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age—the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it—will topple.

In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind. This view will affirm that consciousness is fundamental, omnipresent and eternal—a model that is as cordial to premonitions as the materialistic, brain-based view is hostile.

Copyright © 2013 by Larry Dossey. All Right Reserved.

from:    http://www.phoenixregenetics.org/resources/dna-monthly/current-issue#consciousness

Alan Watts on Brain vs Body

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Brain against Body: Confusing Needs with Desires

We have been taught to neglect, despise, and violate our bodies, and to put all faith in our brains. Indeed, the special disease of civilized man might be described as a block or schism between his brain [specifically, the cortex] and the rest of his body. This corresponds to the split between “I” and “me,” man and nature, and to the confusion of Ouroborus, the mixed-up snake, who does not know that his tail belongs with his head. Scientists Lancelot Whyte and Trigant Burrow calls this disease the “European dissociation,” not because it is peculiar to European-American civilization, but because it is specially characteristic of it.

It is simply saying in “medical” language that we have allowed brain thinking to develop and dominate our lives out of all proportion to “instinctual wisdom,” which we are allowing to slump into atrophy. As a consequence, we are at war within ourselves – the brain desiring things which the body does not want, and the body desiring things which the brain does not allow; the brain giving directions which the body will not follow, and the body giving impulses which the brain cannot understand.

When we compare human with animal desire we find many extraordinary differences. The animal tends to eat with his stomach, and the man with his brain. When the animal’s stomach is full, he stops eating, but the man is never sure when to stop. When he has eaten as much as his belly can take, he still feels empty, he still feels an urge for further gratification. This is largely due to anxiety, to the knowledge that a constant supply of food is uncertain. Therefore eat as much as you can while you can. It is due, also, to the knowledge that, in an insecure world, pleasure is uncertain. Therefore the immediate pleasure of eating must be exploited to the full, even though it does violence to the digestion.

Despite the immense hubbub and nervous strain, we are convinced that sleep [which is also a form of meditation] is a waste of valuable time and continue to chase our fantasies far into the night, whether in sleep or in forced insomnia. Animals spend much of their time dozing and idling pleasantly, but, because life is short, human beings must cram into the years the highest possible amount of egoic-intellectual consciousness, alertness, and chronic insomnia so as to be sure not to miss the last fragment of startling pleasure.

The vague, nebulous and insatiable character of brainy desire makes it particularly hard to come down to earth – to be material and real. Generally speaking, the civilized man does not know what he wants. He works for success, fame, a happy marriage, fun, to help others, or to be a “real person”. But these are not real wants because thy are not actually things. They are the by-products, the flavors and atmospheres of real things – shadows which have no existence apart from some substance. Money is the perfect symbol for all such desires, being a mere symbol of real wealth, and to make it one’s goal is the most blatant example of confusing measurements with reality.

It is therefore far from correct to say that modern civilization is materialistic, that is if a materialist is a person who loves matter. The brainy modern loves not matter but measures, not solids but surfaces. He drinks for the percentage of alcohol (“spirit”) and not for the “body” and taste of the liquid. He builds to put up an impressive “front” rather than provide a space for living. Therefore he tends to put up structures which appear from the outside to be a baronial mansions but are inwardly warrens. The individual living-units in these warrens are designed less for living as for creating an impression. The main space is devoted to a “living room” of proportions suitable to a large house, while such essential spaces for living (rather than mere “entertaining”) as the kitchen are reduced to small closets where one can hardly move–much less cook. Consequently these wretched little galleys provide fare which is chiefly gaseous–cocktails and “appetizers” rather than honest meals. Because we all want to be “ladies and gentlemen” and look as if we had servants, we do not soil our hands with growing and cooking real food. Instead we buy our products designed for “front” and appearance rather than content–immense and tasteless fruit, bread which is little more than a light froth, wine faked with chemicals, and vegetables flavored with the arid concoctions of test tubes which render them so much impressive pulp.

One might suppose that the most outright example of civilized man’s beastliness and animality is his passion for sex, but in fact there is almost nothing beastly or animal about it. Animals have sexual intercourse when they feel like it, which is usually in some sort of rhythmic pattern. Between whiles it does not interest them. But of all pleasures sex is the one which civilized man pursues with the greatest anxiety. That the craving is brainy rather than bodily is shown by the common impotence of the male when he comes to act, his brain pursuing what his genes do not want at the moment desire. This confuses him hopelessly, because he simply cannot understand not wanting the great delicacy of sex when it is available. He has been hankering after it for hours and days on end, but when the reality appears his body will not co-operate.

A particularly significant example of brain against body, or measures against matter, is urban man’s total slavery to clocks. A clock is a convenient device for arranging to meet a friend, or for helping people to do things together, although things of this kind happened long before they were invented. Clocks should not be smashed; they should simply be kept in their place. And they are very much out of their place when we try to adapt our biological rythyms of eating, sleeping, evacuation, working, and relaxing to their uniform circular rotation. Our slavery to these mechanical drill masters has gone so far and our whole culture is so involved with it that reform is a forlorn hope; without them civilization would collapse entirely. A less brainy culture would learn to synchronize its body rhythms rather than its clocks.

For the brain, including its reasoning and calculating centers, is a part and product of the body. It is as natural as the heart and stomach, and rightly used, is anything but an enemy of man. But to be used rightly it must be put in its place, for the brain is made for man, not man for his brain. In other words, the function of the brain is to serve the present and the real, not to send man chasing wildly after the phantoms of future or escaping such from the past or vice versa.

Furthermore, in our habitual state of mental tension the brain does not work properly, and this is one reason why its abstractions seem to have so great a reality. When the heart is out of order, we are clearly conscious of its beating; it becomes a distraction, pounding within the breast. It seems most probable that our preoccupation with thinking and planning, together with the sense of mental fatigue, is a sign of some disorder of the brain. The brain should, and in some cases does, calculate and reason with the unconscious ease of the other bodily organs. After all, the brain is not a muscle, and thus is not designed for effort and strain.

But when most people try to think or concentrate, they behave as if they were trying to push their brains around. They screw up their faces, knit their brows, and approach mental problems as if they were something like heaving bricks. Yet you do not have to grind and strain to digest food, and still less to see, hear, and receive other neural impressions.

By Alan Watts

from:    http://theunboundedspirit.com/brain-against-body-confusing-needs-with-desires/

Ervin Lazlo on Quantum Consciousness

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Quantum Consciousness: Our Evolution, Our Salvation

by Ervin Laszlo on May 16, 2012

I was delighted and honored to have the following article posted in the Pathways to Family Wellness magazine Spring 2012 issue. The article, as printed in the New Edge Science section of the magazine, is available in pdf format.

 Pathways to Family Wellness is a non-profit quarterly print and digital magazine with a mission to support you and your family’s quest for wellness.

I call it “quantum consciousness”: the consciousness we access when we use the potential of our quantum-computer brains. The brain is a macroscopic quantum system, yet we use it as if it were exclusively a classical biochemical system. With its quantum-system functions, our brain can receive information not only from our eyes and ears, but directly from the wider world with which we are “entangled”–nonlocally connected. Insightful people throughout history, whether shamans or scientists, poets or prophets, have extensively used this capacity, innate to all human beings. Today it is widely neglected. This impoverishes our world picture, and causes a nagging sense that we are separate from the world around us.

I believe that quantum consciousness could be the next stage in the evolution of our consciousness–and that this evolution could be our salvation. Let me explain.

The first thing I ask you to note is that human consciousness is not static, fixed once and for all. It’s the product of a long evolutionary development, and is capable of further development. In the 50 thousand–year history of the species we proudly call homo sapien, the human body didn’t change significantly, but human consciousness did. And it can change again.

In a variety of “alternative cultures,” a new consciousness is already emerging. The members of these cultures–the green movement, the peace movement, the sustainable living movement, the movement of cultural creatives, and others–share similar social values and are open and interactive with the larger society; they don’t seek isolation or indulge in promiscuous sex.

They aim to rethink accepted beliefs and values, and adopt a more responsible style of living. They shift from matter- and energy-wasteful ostentation toward voluntary simplicity and the search for sustainability and harmony with nature.

A new consciousness is now struggling to be born. Does this mean that the consciousness of humanity itself is evolving? Some famous thinkers have said so. The Indian sage Sri Aurobindo spoke of the emergence of superconsciousness in ever more people, and this, he said, is the harbinger of the next evolution of human consciousness. In a similar vein, the Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser spoke of the coming of four-dimensional integral consciousness, rising from the prior stages of archaic, magical and mythical consciousness. The Canadian mystic Richard Bucke called the new consciousness “cosmic,” and in the colorful spiral dynamics developed by Chris Cowan and Don Beck, it’s the turquoise stage of collective individualism, cosmic spirituality and Earth changes. For philosopher Ken Wilber, these developments signify an evolutionary transition from the mental consciousness characteristic of both animals and humans, to subtle consciousness, which is archetypal, transindividual and intuitive, to causal consciousness, and then, ultimately, to “consciousness as such.”

Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof summed up the characteristics of the emerging consciousness as “transpersonal.”

There is remarkable agreement among these visionary concepts. Superconsciousness, integral consciousness, cosmic consciousness, turquoise-stage consciousness, and consciousness as such are all forms of consciousness that transcend the divide between you and me, the individual and the world, the human being and nature. If these thinkers are right, this kind of consciousness will be the next stage in the evolution of the consciousness of our species.

Quantum consciousness–QC–could perhaps be the next stage in the evolution of the mind of humanity, but why would it be our salvation?

The answer is simple common sense: because QC is a consciousness of directly intuited, felt connection to the world. It inspires empathy with people and with nature; it brings an experience of oneness and belonging. Quantum consciousness makes us realize that, being one with others and with nature, what we do to them, we do to ourselves.

Not only will QC make us behave more responsibly toward other people and the planet, it will also encourage us to join together to cope with the problems we face.

Most of us cooperate with members of our own families and communities. But cooperation has now become vitally necessary on the global level: It’s in all our best interest to cooperate with our fellows in the global community. Without such cooperation we’ll be hard put to overcome the global threats and problems that face us. Without cooperation we risk joining the countless species that became extinct because they couldn’t adjust to changed circumstances.

With dedicated and purposeful cooperation we can meet the challenges of human survival: We can have 7 billion or more people living peacefully and sustainably on the planet. We have the technologies, the skills and the necessary financial and human resources. Abject forms of poverty can be eliminated, energy- and resource-efficient technologies can be made widely available, water can be recycled and seawater desalinized, and sustainable forms of agriculture adopted. We can be more efficient and effective in harvesting the vast stream of energy that flows from the sun to our planet. And to finance these projects we would only need a small part of the enormous sums of money that we now commit to speculative, self-serving or downright destructive ends.

Cooperation on the global level is a new requirement in the history of our civilization, and we are not prepared for it. Our institutions and organizations were designed to protect their own interests in competition with others; the need for them to join together in the shared interest has been limited to territorial aspirations and defense, and to economic gain in selected domains. The will to cooperate in globally cooperative projects that subordinate immediate self-interest to the vital interests of a wider community is still lacking in the political and economic domains.

When all is said and done, the fundamental need of our time, the precondition of creating a peaceful and sustainable world, is the spread of a new and more evolutionarily adaptive consciousness—the quantum consciousness of oneness and belonging.

Forms and intimations of the new consciousness are already emerging in the world, but they haven’t yet reached the mainstream. When QC becomes mainstream, humanity will have reached a higher stage of maturity. It will have become a species that has not only the technologies and the skills, but also the wisdom and the will, to survive in the world it has itself created.

from:    http://ervinlaszlo.com/notebook/2012/05/16/quantum-consciousness-our-evolution-our-salvation/#more-1389

On Maintaining Brain Health As One Ages

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Maintain Your Brain: The Secrets to Aging Success

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2012) — Aging may seem unavoidable, but that’s not necessarily so when it comes to the brain. So say researchers in the April 27th issue of the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences based on counterintuitive evidence that it is what you do in old age that matters when it comes to maintaining a youthful brain rather than what you did earlier in life.

“Although some memory functions do tend to decline as we get older, several elderly show well-preserved functioning and this is related to a well-preserved, youth-like brain,” says Lars Nyberg, Professor of Neuroscience at Umeå University in Sweden.

Education won’t save your brain — PhDs are as likely as high school dropouts to experience memory loss with old age, the researchers say. Don’t count on your job either. Those with a complex or demanding career may enjoy a limited advantage, but those benefits quickly dwindle after retirement. Engagement is the secret to success. Those who are socially, mentally and physically stimulated reliably show greater cognitive performance with a brain that appears younger than its years.

“There is quite solid evidence that staying physically and mentally active is a way towards brain maintenance,” Nyberg says.

The researchers say this new take on successful aging represents an important shift in focus for the field. Much attention in the past has gone instead to understanding ways in which the brain copes with or compensates for cognitive decline in aging. The research team now argues for the importance of avoiding those age-related brain changes in the first place. Genes play a role, but life choices and other environmental factors, especially in old age, are critical.

Elderly people generally do have more trouble remembering meetings or names, Nyberg says. But those memory losses often happen later than many often think, after the age of 60. Older people also continue to accumulate knowledge and to use what they know effectively, often to very old ages.

“Taken together, a wide range of findings provides converging evidence for marked heterogeneity in brain aging,” the scientists write. “Critically, some older adults show little or no brain changes relative to younger adults, along with intact cognitive performance, which supports the notion of brain maintenance. In other words, maintaining a youthful brain, rather than responding to and compensating for changes, may be the key to successful memory aging.”

from:    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427163335.htm

Your Brain and Light

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Article:

How to Use Light to Control the Brain

Stephen Dougherty, Scientific American
Date: 01 April 2012 Time: 09:38 AM ET

 

Scientists can use light to switch on a neuron.
Scientists can use light to switch on a neuron.
CREDIT: iDesignShutterstock

In the film Amèlie, the main character is a young eccentric woman who attempts to change the lives of those around her for the better. One day Amèlie finds an old rusty tin box of childhood mementos in her apartment, hidden by a boy decades earlier. After tracking down Bretodeau, the owner, she lures him to a phone booth where he discovers the box. Upon opening the box and seeing a few marbles, a sudden flash of vivid images come flooding into his mind. Next thing you know, Bretodeau is transported to a time when he was in the schoolyard scrambling to stuff his pockets with hundreds of marbles while a teacher is yelling at him to hurry up.

We have all experienced this: a seemingly insignificant trigger, a scent, a song, or an old photograph transports us to another time and place. Now a group of neuroscientists have investigated the fascinating question: Can a few neurons trigger a full memory?
In a new study, published in Nature, a group of researchers from MIT showed for the first time that it is possible to activate a memory on demand, by stimulating only a few neurons with light, using a technique known as optogenetics. Optogenetics is a powerful technology that enables researchers to control genetically modified neurons with a brief pulse of light.

To artificially turn on a memory, researchers first set out to identify the neurons that are activated when a mouse is making a new memory. To accomplish this, they focused on a part of the brain called the hippocampus, known for its role in learning and memory, especially for discriminating places. Then they inserted a gene that codes for a light-sensitive protein into hippocampal neurons, enabling them to use light to control the neurons.

With the light-sensitive proteins in place, the researchers gave the mouse a new memory. They put the animal in an environment where it received a mild foot shock, eliciting the normal fear behavior in mice: freezing in place. The mouse learned to associate a particular environment with the shock.

Next, the researchers attempted to answer the big question: Could they artificially activate the fear memory? They directed light on the hippocampus, activating a portion of the neurons involved in the memory, and the animals showed a clear freezing response. Stimulating the neurons appears to have triggered the entire memory.

The researchers performed several key tests to confirm that it was really the original memory recalled. They tested mice with the same light-sensitive protein but without the shock; they tested mice without the light-sensitive protein; and they tested mice in a different environment not associated with fear. None of these tests yielded the freezing response, reinforcing the conclusion that the pulse of light indeed activated the old fear memory.

In 2010, optogenetics was named the scientific Method of the Year by the journal Nature Methods. The technology was introduced in 2004 by a research group at Stanford University led by Karl Deisseroth, a collaborator on this research. The critical advantage that optogenetics provides over traditional neuroscience techniques, like electrical stimulation or chemical agents, is speed and precision. Electrical stimulation and chemicals can only be used to alter neural activity in nonspecific ways and without precise timing. Light stimulation enables control over a small subset of neurons on a millisecond time scale.

Over the last several years, optogenetics has provided powerful insights into the neural underpinnings of brain disorders like depression, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Now, in the context of memory research, this study shows that it is possible to artificially stimulate a few neurons to activate an old memory, controlling an animals’ behavior without any sensory input. This is significant because it provides a new approach to understand how complex memories are formed in the first place.

Lest ye worry about implanted memories and mind control, this technology is still a long way from reaching any human brains. Nevertheless, the first small steps towards the clinical application of optogenetics have already begun. A group at Brown University, for example, is working on a wireless optical electrode that can deliver light to neurons in the human brain. Who knows, someday, instead of new technology enabling us to erase memories á la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we may actually undergo memory enhancement therapy with a brief session under the lights.

This article was first published on Scientific American. © 2012 ScientificAmerican.com. All rights reserved. Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs. VisitScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.   

frohttp://www.livescience.com/19413-mind-control-light.html:

The Brain in Your Heart

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Hearts Have Their Own Brain and Consciousness

29th Feburary 2012

By mindfulmuscleblog.com

Heart Fields

Many believe that conscious awareness originates in the brain alone. Recent scientific research suggests that consciousness actually emerges from the brain and body acting together. A growing body of evidence suggests that the heart plays a particularly significant role in this process.

Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional “brain.”

Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing.

In addition to the extensive neural communication network linking the heart with the brain and body, the heart also communicates information to the brain and throughout the body via electromagnetic field interactions. The heart generates the body’s most powerful and most extensive rhythmic electromagnetic field.Compared to the electromagnetic field produced by the brain, the electrical component of the heart’s field is about 60 times greater in amplitude, and permeates every cell in the body.The magnetic component is approximately 5000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body with sensitive magnetometers.

The heart generates a continuous series of electromagnetic pulses in which the time interval between each beat varies in a dynamic and complex manner. The heart’s ever-present rhythmic field has a powerful influence on processes throughout the body. We have demonstrated, for example, that brain rhythms naturally synchronize to the heart’s rhythmic activity, and also that during sustained feelings of love or appreciation, the blood pressure and respiratory rhythms, among other oscillatory systems, entrain to the heart’s rhythm.

Video: Rollin McCraty Science of the Heart 1:15 mins

We propose that the heart’s field acts as a carrier wave for information that provides a global synchronizing signal for the entire body. Specifically, we suggest that as pulsing waves of energy radiate out from the heart, they interact with organs and other structures. The waves encode or record the features and dynamic activity of these structures in patterns of energy waveforms that are distributed throughout the body. In this way, the encoded information acts to in-form (literally, give shape to) the activity of all bodily functions—to coordinate and synchronize processes in the body as a whole. This perspective requires an energetic concept of information, in which patterns of organization are enfolded into waves of energy of system activity distributed throughout the system as a whole.

Basic research at the Institute of HeartMath shows that information pertaining to a person’s emotional state is also communicated throughout the body via the heart’s electromagnetic field. The rhythmic beating patterns of the heart change significantly as we experience different emotions. Negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, are associated with an erratic, disordered, incoherent pattern in the heart’s rhythms. In contrast, positive emotions, such as love or appreciation, are associated with a smooth, ordered, coherent pattern in the heart’s rhythmic activity. In turn, these changes in the heart’s beating patterns create corresponding changes in the structure of the electromagnetic field radiated by the heart, measurable by a technique called spectral analysis.

More specifically, we have demonstrated that sustained positive emotions appear to give rise to a distinct mode of functioning, which we call psychophysiological coherence. During this mode, heart rhythms exhibit a sine wave-like pattern and the heart’s electromagnetic field becomes correspondingly more organized.

  • At the physiological level, this mode is characterized by increased efficiency and harmony in the activity and interactions of the body’s systems. [1]
  • Psychologically, this mode is linked with a notable reduction in internal mental dialogue, reduced perceptions of stress, increased emotional balance, and enhanced mental clarity, intuitive discernment, and cognitive performance.

In sum, our research suggests that psychophysiological coherence is important in enhancing consciousness—both for the body’s sensory awareness of the information required to execute and coordinate physiological function, and also to optimize emotional stability, mental function, and intentional action. Furthermore, as we see next, there is experimental evidence that psychophysiological coherence may increase our awareness of and sensitivity to others around us. The Institute of HeartMath has created practical technologies and tools that all people can use to increase coherence.

Heart Field Interactions Between Individuals

Most people think of social communication solely in terms of overt signals expressed through language, voice qualities, gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. However, there is now evidence that a subtle yet influential electromagnetic or “energetic” communication system operates just below our conscious awareness. Energetic interactions likely contribute to the “magnetic” attractions or repulsions that occur between individuals, and also affect social exchanges and relationships. Moreover, it appears that the heart’s field plays an important role in communicating physiological, psychological, and social information between individuals.

Experiments conducted at the Institute of HeartMath have found remarkable evidence that the heart’s electromagnetic field can transmit information between people. We have been able to measure an exchange of heart energy between individuals up to 5 feet apart. We have also found that one person’s brain waves can actually synchronize to another person’s heart. Furthermore, when an individual is generating a coherent heart rhythm, synchronization between that person’s brain waves and another person’s heartbeat is more likely to occur. These findings have intriguing implications, suggesting that individuals in a psychophysiologically coherent state become more aware of the information encoded in the heart fields of those around them.

The results of these experiments have led us to infer that the nervous system acts as an “antenna,” which is tuned to and responds to the electromagnetic fields produced by the hearts of other individuals. We believe this capacity for exchange of energetic information is an innate ability that heightens awareness and mediates important aspects of true empathy and sensitivity to others Furthermore, we have observed that this energetic communication ability can be intentionally enhanced, producing a much deeper level of nonverbal communication, understanding, and connection between people. There is also intriguing evidence that heart field interactions can occur between people and animals.

In short, energetic communication via the heart field facilitates development of an expanded consciousness in relation to our social world.

The Heart’s Field and Intuition

There are also new data suggesting that the heart’s field is directly involved in intuitive perception, through its coupling to an energetic information field outside the bounds of space and time. Using a rigorous experimental design, we found compelling evidence that both the heart and brain receive and respond to information about a future event before the event actually happens. Even more surprising was our finding that the heart appears to receive this “intuitive” information before the brain. This suggests that the heart’s field may be linked to a more subtle energetic field that contains information on objects and events remote in space or ahead in time. Called by Karl Pribram and others the “spectral domain,” this is a fundamental order of potential energy that enfolds space and time, and is thought to be the basis for our consciousness of “the whole.” (See heartmath.org for further detail.)

Social Fields

In the same way that the heart generates energy in the body, we propose that the social collective is the activator and regulator of the energy in social systems.

A body of groundbreaking work shows how the field of socioemotional interaction between a mother and her infant is essential to brain development, the emergence of consciousness, and the formation of a healthy self-concept. These interactions are organized along two relational dimensions—stimulation of the baby’s emotions, and regulation of shared emotional energy. Together they form a socioemotional field through which enormous quantities of psychobiological and psychosocial information are exchanged. Coherent organization of the mother-child relations that make up this field is critical. This occurs when interactions are charged, most importantly, with positive emotions (love, joy, happiness, excitement, appreciation, etc.), and are patterned as highly synchronized, reciprocal exchanges between these two individuals. These patterns are imprinted in the child’s brain and thus influence psychosocial function throughout life. (See Allan Schore, Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self.)

Moreover in a longitudinal study of 46 social groups, one of us (RTB) documented how information about the global organization of a group—the group’s collective consciousness—appears to be transmitted to all members by an energetic field of socio-emotional connection. Data on the relationships between each pair of members was found to provide an accurate image of the social structure of the group as a whole. Coherent organization of the group’s social structure is associated with a network of positively charged emotions (love, excitement, and optimism) connecting all members. This network of positive emotions appears to constitute a field of energetic connection into which information about the group’s social structure is encoded and distributed throughout the group. Remarkably, an accurate picture of the group’s overall social structure was obtained from information only about relationships between pairs of individuals. We believe the only way this is possible is if information about the organization of the whole group is distributed to all members of the group via an energetic field. Such correspondence in information between parts and the whole is consistent with the principle of holographic organization. [2]

Synthesis and Implications

Some organizing features of the heart field, identified in numerous studies at HeartMath, may also be shared by those of our hypothesized social field. Each is a field of energy in which the waveforms of energy encode the features of objects and events as energy moves throughout the system. This creates a nonlocal order of energetic information in which each location in the field contains an enfolded image of the organization of the whole system at that moment. The organization and processing of information in these energy fields can best be understood in terms of quantum holographic principles. [3]

Another commonality is the role of positive emotions, such as love and appreciation, in generating coherence both in the heart field and in social fields. When the movement of energy is intentionally regulated to form a coherent, harmonious order, information integrity and flow are optimized. This, in turn, produces stable, effective system function, which enhances health, psychosocial well-being, and intentional action in the individual or social group.

Heart coherence and social coherence may also act to mutually reinforce each other. As individuals within a group increase psychophysiological coherence, psychosocial attunement may be increased, thereby increasing the coherence of social relations. Similarly, the creation of a coherent social field by a group may help support the generation and maintenance of psychophysiological coherence in its individual members. An expanded, deepened awareness and consciousness results—of the body’s internal physiological, emotional, and mental processes, and also of the deeper, latent orders enfolded into the energy fields that surround us.This is the basis of self-awareness, social sensitivity, creativity, intuition, spiritual insight, and understanding of ourselves and all that we are connected to. It is through the intentional generation of coherence in both heart and social fields that a critical shift to the next level of planetary consciousness can occur—one that brings us into harmony with the movement of the whole.

for footnotes and links to more information on HeartMath Insittute, go to article source:       http://wakeup-world.com/2012/02/29/hearts-have-their-own-brain-and-consciousness/