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Neuroscience Reveals: This Is How Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to Be Happier

Neuroscience Reveals: This Is How Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to Be Happier

realfarmacy.com

By Justin Brown

Published here on Aug 11, 2019

 

We often hear about the power of gratitude for creating a more positive and happy mental state. But did you know that gratitude literally transforms your brain?

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant. And gratitude is the most effective practice for stimulating feelings of happiness.

In this article we’ll share some of the research demonstrating that gratitude makes you happier, followed by some practical steps you can take to positively transform the molecular structure of the brain.

Studies of gratitude making you happier

In one study of gratitude, conducted by Robert A. Emmons at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants were given one of three tasks. The participants kept a journal each week, with one group describing things they were grateful for, another describing what’s hassling them and the other keeping track of neutral events. After ten weeks, the participants in the gratitude group felt 25 percent better than the other groups, and had exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.

In a later study by Emmons with a similar set up, participants completing gratitude exercises each day offered other people in their lives more emotional support than those in other groups.

Another study on gratitude was conducted with adults suffering from congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), with the majority of people having post-polio syndrome (PPS). Compared to those not jotting down what they’re grateful for every night, participants that did express gratitude felt more refreshed each day upon wakening. They also felt more connected with others than did participants in the group not expressing gratitude.

A fourth study didn’t require a gratitude journal, but looked at the amount of gratitude people showed in their daily lives. In this study, a group of Chinese researchers found that higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep, and also with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Better sleep, with less anxiety and depression. Some compelling reasons to express gratitude more regularly.

Three simple steps to becoming more grateful

If you’ve only got time to say one prayer today, make it the simple words of “thank you.”

This is worth keeping in mind as you go about figuring out your daily practices and routines.

Here are three practical steps you can take to infusing routines of gratitude into your life.

1) Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.

2) Make it a practice to tell a spouse, partner or friend something you appreciate about them every day.

3) Look in the mirror when you are brushing your teeth, and think about something you have done well recently or something you like about yourself.

Source: ideapod.com

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Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Novartis Otrivin 'Pleasure Of Breathing', Press 2010

Summary: A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.

Source: Northwestern University.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular, fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result, you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.


Rewiring our brains away from anger

Neurologists claim that every time you resist acting on your anger, you’re actually rewiring your brain to be calm and more loving.

Tiny Buddha


A Buddhist Monk Shows “Unheard Of” Brain Activity During Meditation

Source: A Buddhist Monk Shows “Unheard Of” Brain Activity During Meditation · The Mind Unleashed

themindunleashed.com

Aug 7, 2013

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” ―Voltaire

The first part of this article was written by: Rachel Nuwer, SmithsonianMag.com

Matthieu Ricard, a 66-year old Tibetan monk and geneticist, produces brain gamma waves—linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory—never before reported in neuroscience, leading researchers to conclude that Ricard is the world’s happiest man. The secret to his success in achieving bliss? Meditation, he claims.

“Meditating is like lifting weights or exercising for the mind”, Ricard told the Daily News. “Anyone can be happy by simply training their brain”, he says.

To quantify just how happy Ricard is, neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin attached 256 sensors to the monk’s skull. When he meditated on compassion, the researchers were shocked to see that Ricard’s brian produces a level of gamma waves off the charts. He also demonstrated excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, meaning he has an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, the researchers say.

During the same study, the neuroscientists also peeked into the minds of other monks. They found that long-term practitioners—those who have engaged in more than 50,000 rounds of meditation—showed significant changes in their brain function, although that those with only three weeks of 20-minute meditation per day also demonstrated some change.

To spread the word on achieving happiness and enlightenment, Ricard authored Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. Proceeds from the book go towards over 100 humanitarian projects.

“Try sincerely to check, to investigate,” he explained to the Daily News. “That’s what Buddhism has been trying to unravel — the mechanism of happiness and suffering. It is a science of the mind.”

In the video below, David Lynch explains Consciousness, Creativity and benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM)

One of the greatest American filmmakers, television director, visual artist and musician is David Lynch. Lynch is an advocate of the use of Transcendental Meditation (TM) in bringing peace to the world. His passion to help students learn the TM techniques has launched the David Lynch Foundation For Consciousness-Based Education and Peace.

In this video, David Lynch answers a couple of questions on his understanding of how TM can affect creativity and overall learning and expansion of the human mind.


The Rhythm Of Our Breathing Influences Our Brain Function And Behavior

Us Buddhists have known this since the beginning…

Breathing is not just for consuming oxygen; it’s also related to brain function and behavior.

Source: The Rhythm Of Our Breathing Influences Our Brain Function And Behavior

http://www.thinkinghumanity.com

June 19, 2017

The Rhythm Of Our Breathing Influences Our Brain Function And Behavior
Breathing is not just for consuming oxygen; it’s also related to brain function and behavior. 

Northwestern Medicine scientists have found for the first time ever that the rhythm of breathing causes electrical activity in the human mind that boosts emotional judgments and memory recall.

These influences on behavior are based on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the mouth or the nose.

In the research, each person was able to identify a fearful face faster if they saw the face while breathing in compared to breathing out. Additionally, individuals were more likely to recall an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than on the exhaled one. Interestingly, the effect vanished if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first found these differences in brain activity while examining 7 patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week before the surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains to identify the origin of their seizures. That gave scientists the opportunity to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The electrical signals proved that brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity takes place in brain areas where feelings, memory and smells are processed.

The discovery led scientists to ask if cognitive functions typically related to these brain areas — especially fear processing and memory — could also be influenced by breathing.

The amygdala is strongly connected to the emotional processing, especially fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 individuals to make quick decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment as their breathing was being recorded. While looking at pictures of faces expressing either fear or surprise, the individuals had to tell, as fast as they could, which feeling each face was expressing. (NeuroscienceNews.com picture is for illustrative purposes only.)

When faces were shown during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful faster than when faces were shown during exhalation. This was not the case for faces expressing surprise. These results decreased when individuals performed the same task while the breathing was through the mouth.

In another experiment — tied to the hippocampus — the same individuals were looking at pictures of objects on a computer screen and tried to remember them. Later, they were asked to describe those objects. Researchers discovered that recall was better if the pictures were shown during inhalation.

According to Zelano, the discoveries indicate that fast breathing may offer an advantage when somebody is in a dangerous situation.

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential result of the research is on the main mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.

Sources/References: Northwestern University, Neurosciencenews.com


Neuroscience Learns What Buddhism Has Known For Ages: There is No Constant Self

Source: Neuroscience Learns What Buddhism Has Known For Ages: There is No Constant Self – Ideapod blog

thepowerofideas.ideapod.com

June 17, 2017

Evan Thomson, a researcher from the University of British Colombia, has confirmed that the Buddhist teaching of a constantly changing self is accurate.

According to Buddhists, change is the only constant in the universe, which means that there is no such thing as a stable self.

Neuroscience also says that the brain and body is said to be constantly in action or progressively flowing, which proves that there isn’t any stable self.

Evan Thompson, a philosophy of mind professor at the University of British Columbia, says “And from a neuroscience perspective, the brain and body is constantly in flux. There’s nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.”

Neuroplasticity, a concept coined by neuroscientists, states that our brain is malleable and able to change. This means you can change your brain in many aspects, opening up your possibilities for growth.

This concept can be incredibly liberating. Why? Because you’re not defined by your thoughts or your idea of who you are. The possibilities to change yourself are endless.

It also goes against the common thought in western society that we need to “find ourselves”. Instead, life is about change and growth. Buddha puts it best:

 

“Nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change. Being is always becoming.”

Buddhist Monks have long said that the universe and ourselves are constantly changing. By training our mind, they say we can elevate our awareness and control.

This is also why they talk about the practice of non-attachment. If we attach ourselves to something, we are desiring for it to be stable, which directly goes against the forces of the universe.

Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says:

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.”

 What about consciousness?

Neuroscience has long been baffled by consciousness. They can’t explain why or how it exists.

Buddhists however define consciousness into three different areas:

consciousness is conditioned by mental fabrications (saṅkhāra);

consciousness and the mind-body (nāmarūpa) are interdependent; and,

consciousness acts as a “life force” by which there is a continuity across rebirths

As Neuroscience advances, perhaps Buddhism will be proven right in regards to consciousnesses.

Continue the conversation

Our parent site, Ideapod, is a social network for idea sharing. It’s a place for you to explore ideas, share your own and come up with new perspectives, meeting like minded idea sharers in the process.

Here are some conversations happening about Buddhism.


Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: “Consciousness is everywhere”

New theories suggest Buddhist teachings on consciousness may be correct, and the implications for science could be huge.

Source: Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: “Consciousness is everywhere” – Lion’s Roar

lionsroar.com

Christof Koch explains the neuroscientific view of consciousness to the Dalai Lama.Neuroscientist Christof Koch discusses scientific theories of consciousness with the Dalai Lama.
New theories in neuroscience suggest consciousness is an intrinsic property of everything, just like gravity. That development opens a world of opportunity for collaboration between Buddhists and neuroscientists.

“The heart of consciousness,” says neuroscientist Christof Koch, “is that it feels like something. How is it that a piece of matter, like my brain, can feel anything?”

In 2013, Koch, one of the world’s leading experts on consciousness, went to a monastery in India to discuss that question with a group of Buddhist monks. He and the Dalai Lama debated neuroscience and mind for a full day.

They had different approaches. Koch offered contemporary scientific theories on the subject, and His Holiness countered with ancient Buddhist teachings. Yet, at the end of their discussion, the two thinkers agreed on almost every point.

“What struck me most was his belief in what we in the West call ‘panpsychism’ — the belief that consciousness is everywhere,” says Koch. “And that we have to reduce the suffering of all conscious creatures.”

Panpsychism, the idea of universal consciousness, is a prominent thought in some branches of ancient Greek philosophy, paganism, and Buddhism. And it has been largely dismissed by modern science — until recently.

 

In his work on consciousness, Koch collaborates with a researcher named Giulio Tononi. Tononi is the father of the most popular modern theory of consciousness, called Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which Koch once called “the only really promising fundamental theory of consciousness.”

Tononi’s theory states that consciousness appears in physical systems that contain many different and highly interconnected pieces of information. Based on that hypothesis, consciousness can be measured as a theoretical quantity, which the researchers call phi.

Tononi has a test for measuring phi (the amount of consciousness) in a human brain. It is similar to ringing a bell; scientists send a magnetic pulse into a human brain and watch the pulse reverberate through the neurons — back and forth, side to side. The longer and clearer the reverberation, the higher the subject’s amount of consciousness. Using that test, Koch and Tononi can tell whether a patient is awake, asleep, or anesthetized.

There are already pressing and practical needs for a way to measure consciousness. Doctors and scientists could use phi to tell if a person in a vegetative state is effectively dead, how much awareness a person with dementia has, when a foetus develops consciousness, how much animals perceive, or even whether a computer can feel.

“That’s more urgent,” asserts Koch. “We’re witnessing the birth of computer intelligence. Is a machine conscious? Does it feel like anything? If it does, it may acquire legal rights, and I certainly have ethical obligations towards it. I can’t just turn it off or wipe its disc clean.”

koch

Christof Koch speaking at TEDxRainier Seattle.

 

IIT also marries these practical applications with profound ideas. The theory says that any object with a phi greater than zero has consciousness. That would mean animals, plants, cells, bacteria, and maybe even protons are conscious beings.

Koch sees IIT as promising because it offers an understanding of panpsychism that fits into modern science. In an academic paper, Koch and Tononi make the profound statement that their theory “treats consciousness as an intrinsic, fundamental property of reality.”

 

Modern research and recent dialogues between Buddhists and scientists have focused mainly on understanding the physical brain. But scientists have barely begun to develop an understanding of mind — or consciousness — itself.

On the Buddhist side, however, this is a discussion that has been going on for thousands of years. Buddhism associates mind with sentience. The late Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche stated that while mind, along with all objects, is empty, unlike most objects, it is also luminous. In a similar vein, IIT says consciousness is an intrinsic quality of everything yet only appears significantly in certain conditions — like how everything has mass, but only large objects have noticeable gravity.

In his major work, the Shobogenzo, Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen Buddhism, went so far as to say, “All is sentient being.” Grass, trees, land, sun, moon and stars are all mind, wrote Dogen.

Koch, who became interested in Buddhism in college, says that his personal worldview has come to overlap with the Buddhist teachings on non-self, impermanence, atheism, and panpsychism. His interest in Buddhism, he says, represents a significant shift from his Roman Catholic upbringing. When he started studying consciousness — working with Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick — Koch believed that the only explanation for experience would have to invoke God. But, instead of affirming religion, Koch and Crick together established consciousness as a respected branch of neuroscience and invited Buddhist teachers into the discussion.

At Drepung Monastery, the Dalai Lama told Koch that the Buddha taught that sentience is everywhere at varying levels, and that humans should have compassion for all sentient beings. Until that point, Koch hadn’t appreciated the weight of his philosophy.

“I was confronted with the Buddhist teaching that sentience is probably everywhere at varying levels, and that inspired me to take the consequences of this theory seriously,” says Koch. “When I see insects in my home, I don’t kill them.”

The theory of IIT shows promise for the future. With more research, Koch and Tononi could better test consciousness, to prove scientifically that all beings are sentient. Meanwhile, Buddhists around the world are constantly working to develop an understanding of the mind. Traleg Rinpoche said that analytical methods can only go so far toward understanding the mind. Instead, he says, by resting his or her mind and contemplating it, a meditator can develop an understanding of the nature of mind and how it relates to everything else.

Critics of IIT argue that the theory fails to explain where consciousness comes from. Science writer John Horgan argues, “you can’t explain consciousness by saying it consists of information, because information exists only relative to consciousness.”

Understanding the source of consciousness is an extremely difficult hurdle, but Koch is up to it. He says that his ultimate goal is to understand the universe. Some say that the best way to do that is to look inside your own mind. Maybe Koch is on to something.

Sam Littlefair Wallace is the associate digital editor of Lion’s Roar. He has also written for The Coast, Mindful, and Atlantic Books Today. Find him on Twitter, @samlfair, and Facebook, @samlfair.


How Matthieu Ricard, the world’s happiest man, deals with worry, anger and stress

Source: How Matthieu Ricard, the world’s happiest man, deals with worry, anger and stress – Business Insider

http://www.businessinsider.com

Jan. 28, 2016,

Matthieu Ricard, a 69-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, has been called the “world’s happiest man.”

That’s because he participated in part of a 12-year brain study on meditation and compassion led by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson. And Davidson found his brain waves and activity to be off the happiness charts.

In 2008, Davidson had a group of expert meditators (including Ricard) and a group of controls (people who were not experienced in meditation) meditate on compassion, he reported in Scientific American

Then he had them listen to the sounds of several stressed-out voices. Davidson found that two brain areas known to be involved in empathy showed more activity for the meditators than for the non-meditators, suggesting that people like Ricard have an enhanced ability to respond to the feelings of others and empathize without feeling overwhelmed.

He also noted that when he exposed Ricard to an outside stimulus meant to startle him — like an alarm going off unexpectedly or a stranger accosting you in the street —  while he was meditating, he was far less put-off by the stimulus compared with someone who was not meditating. 

So, how does the “world’s happiest man” feel happy all the time and get rid of anger and stress?

We spoke with Ricard at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last Thursday. He says feeling happy comes down to being altruistic and benevolent. He also believes the mind can be trained to be happy through meditation.

And as for dealing with stress? Ricard says the key is let things go. 

Most things you think are problems aren’t actually problems

Continue reading:

How Matthieu Ricard, the world’s happiest man, deals with worry, anger and stress – Business Insider


If Consciousness is a Door, Kundalini Yoga is the Key

“Energy is like the wind, invisible but with visible effects such as waves on a pond stirred by a breeze.” – Chinese Proverb

Source: If Consciousness is a Door, Kundalini Yoga is the Key : Waking Times

Valerie Burke, MSN, Green Med Info
January 30, 2016

Kundalini

Imagine you could harness, at will, the mind-body connection responsible for the heightened mental states giving rise to creative genius, inspiration, bliss, mystical experiences, and possibly even enlightenment?

You may have noticed how sciences such as biology, physics, medicine, and even theology increasingly overlap, with energy and consciousness at the center. Energy medicine is revolutionizing our approach to health, as science gives us ever-increasing evidence for the inseparability of mind and body.

But what is this thing called “energy”? You may accept that it exists—even welcome assistance by various energy healers from disciplines such as acupuncture, Qigong, EFT, Jin Shin Jyutsu and others. But do you understand exactly what they’re doing or how it works? If someone asked you to describe this energy, you might struggle to come up with a definition.

It’s not easy to wrap our heads around things we cannot see, hear or touch, and it’s even more challenging for scientists to quantify it.

An ancient concept called “Kundalini” provides us with a framework for understanding this nebulous idea, and Kundalini Yoga gives us a way to work with it. This article is Part 1 in a two-part series about Kundalini as an intelligent life force, and Kundalini Yoga as the practice that can help it awaken.

“One of the first results of research on Kundalini, in my view, would be to show that the human brain is already evolving towards a higher predetermined state of consciousness, a state that has been the crowning vision of the mystics and prophets.” – Gopi Krishna

The Yoga of Awareness

Kundalini Yoga is the most comprehensive of yoga traditions. The primary objective is to awaken the full potential in each of us. Kundalini Yoga helps us to cultivate inner stillness so we can truly listen, expand our awareness and achieve excellence in all that we do.

“Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved,” alluding to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to “merge with the Universal Self.”

Kundalini Yoga blends meditation and ancient mantras with physical exercises (asanas), hand positions (mudras), breathing techniques (pranayama), and sound (naad). All of these are merged into carefully choreographed exercises called kriyas that open up energy flow in the body, channeling it in a way that begins stripping away the veils of consciousness. This type of yoga balances and purifies all of the systems of the body, while at the same time calming and sharpening the mind.

Kundalini Yoga should not be taken lightly. One teacher describes it as “an express train that shakes us up and wakes us up.” The significance of this cannot be appreciated without some understanding of the nature of Kundalini.

Kundalini: Ancient, Intelligent, and Powerful

“Energy is like the wind, invisible but with visible effects such as waves on a pond stirred by a breeze.” – Chinese Proverb

Prana is the Sanskrit word for “life force,” the intelligent energy that permeates all living things—and in fact everything in the cosmos. Just like we cannot see protons and electrons, we cannot see prana, although some can feel it shifting and moving through their bodies.

The human body has a mechanism by which an enhanced flow of prana reaches the brain via the nerves in and around the spinal column, and this mechanism is called “Kundalini.” Kundalini can be thought of as an intelligent live force channeling prana around the body’s intricate network of energy highways.

The chakras are part of this energy system and are described as energy centers, or transducers, that exchange prana between the physical body and the environment. Each of the seven major chakras is said to mediate a different level of consciousness with the outer world.

Kundalini is described in the Upanishads, dating back to the fifth century B.C., although the oral tradition dates back even further.

Kundalini is known in many cultures, including Tibetan, Indian, Sumerian, Chinese, Irish, Aztec, and Greek.

Kundalini can open the doors of perception to vast realms of consciousness and is at the heart of all spiritual experiences. It also explains the wisdom of the sages. It can be enhanced to improve health, awaken creativity, and achieve inspiration. The primary goal of Kundalini Yoga is to “awaken” (or activate) Kundalini, meaning increase the amount of prana flowing to your brain. Under the right conditions, this enhanced prana can lead to higher states of consciousness such as genius, psychic abilities and mystical experiences—and at it’s highest level, enlightenment (Shaktipat).

Many believe Kundalini is key in preparing the human species for evolution. The father of Kundalini research Gopi Krishna is quoted to have said:

“Kundalini is a manifestation of a cosmic evolutionary energy that is biologically based in the human body and capable of transforming the nervous system and brain so they can support expanded levels of consciousness.”

When Kundalini Awakens Too Quickly

The goal of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken Kundalini and help you learn how to modulate it, i.e., turn it up or down at will. If Kundalini awakens too quickly, such as through very intensive meditation or yoga practice, an individual may experience spontaneous Kundalini “episodes,” which can be emotionally challenging and even manifest as what might be mistakenly diagnosed as “mental illness.” This results from heightened brain and nervous system sensitivity. If you begin a Kundalini Yoga practice, it’s important to proceed slowly, being mindful of any uncomfortable feelings or mental states that may arise.

Many physical symptoms and illnesses are manifestations of disrupted energy flow in the body. When done correctly, Kundalini Yoga is powerful medicine capable of producing widespread healing of both physical and emotional issues.

In Part 2 of this series, we will explore the evidence for Kundalini Yoga’s health benefits, looking first at how disorders—PTSD, addictions, dementia and many others—can be viewed as disruptions in Kundalini. We will also examine what the latest neuroscience and brain imaging technology reveal about how meditation, mysticism, and spirituality fundamentally change the brain. These discoveries are so profound that they have given birth to an entirely new branch of science called “neurotheology.”

About the Author

Valerie Burke, MSN is a Clinical EFT practitioner and freelance health writer in Olympia, Washington, with backgrounds in both allopathic and integrative medicine and a Master’s Degree in Nursing Science. Her areas of interest include nutrition and energy psychology, and integrating principles of holistic health to create balance in mind, body a spirit. Valerie is the author of “Is the Paleo Diet Right for You?“ You can learn more about her at www.valerieburke.net.

Source: If Consciousness is a Door, Kundalini Yoga is the Key | Talesfromthelou