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HomeHealingThe Neuroscience of Self-Realization — Ananda

The Neuroscience of Self-Realization — Ananda


We Are Divine Beings

If we’re, certainly, one with God in our divine Self, why don’t we all know it? How can such a stupendous and highly effective Actuality that’s our personal excessive potential stay so completely hidden from us?

There are lots of solutions to that query, however as I discover in my e book, Break By means of the Limits of the Mind, the neuroscientific reply is surprisingly easy: Most of us, by late childhood, have unintentionally rendered ourselves neurally blind to all the pieces besides what our senses reveal–our bodily physique and the bodily world round us. From earliest childhood onward we had been inspired to be taught to function solely inside the bodily world and as we did so our mind wired an increasing number of neural circuits to assist solely that function. By the point most of us attain our teenagers, all of our mind’s neural circuitry has wired to focus our thoughts’s eye view, consideration, ideas, reminiscences, feelings, and actions on the bodily world round us and on our myriad reactions to what’s taking place in it.

We weren’t, nonetheless, born neurally blind to the delicate actuality through which we exist. Younger kids, in reality, are identified to understand many issues that their dad and mom not do. For instance, there are various tales of kids seeing angels:

My youngest daughter used to have conversations with angels each evening. One evening when she was simply two and a half, she requested me to inform them to not have so many in her room as a result of she was drained and wished to sleep some extra. I informed her to ask the angels to not keep that evening, and we did it collectively. The following morning once I requested her how she slept, she informed me that solely “Michael” had stayed on the foot of her mattress to assist her sleep extra peacefully. I bought chills…I’d by no means informed her angel names—I at all times let her inform me. —Wayne Dyer, Reminiscences of Heaven

The societal deck, nonetheless, is stacked in opposition to such delicate perceptions. We stay in a time when many in our society take into account the avowed notion of delicate realities, equivalent to seeing angels, to be fraud, misguided creativeness, or psychological sickness. Given the societal local weather of disapproving disbelief, few dad and mom encourage their kids to belief their notion of issues unseen.

We’re born psychic and kids are particularly open to seeing and listening to the delicate indicators and energetic patterns that emanate from different dimensions. Sadly, we’re conditioned, fearfully taught to disregard spirits and psychic messages, in order that as children are more and more socialized, they quietly shut down their innate psychic senses. —Web site: The Psychic Nicely

We Want Neural Circuits to Function within the Bodily World

We’re deterred from the notion of delicate realities not solely by society’s bias but additionally by the need to adapt to the bodily world. As kids we have to develop the power to perform within the bodily world; in doing so our consideration strikes away from extra delicate realities.

From the day we’re born, we start quickly creating neural circuitry to assist us perform within the bodily world—and we accomplish that at a prodigious fee. A one-year-old youngster, in as little as a single day, may cause tens of millions of recent neural circuits to type in her mind. These neural circuits join varied neurons chargeable for contracting and enjoyable specific muscle tissues and ultimately type into hundreds of what I consider as neural behavior circuits.

Many neural behavior circuits, after they activate — or fireplace as neuroscience would have it — make any a number of of hundreds of bodily actions virtually automated. As soon as supporting neural circuits type to assist any routine bodily motion, a lot much less focus is required to carry out that motion.

Neural Circuits Join Us to Ideas, Reminiscences, and Feelings

Past forming neural circuits that automate motion, we additionally type neural circuits that work together with our interpenetrating nonlocal power physique, additionally known as the astral physique, to stimulate ideas, reminiscences, and feelings. Neural circuits that type to work together with our nonlocal power physique are like presets on a automotive radio—press a preset button in your radio and it routinely tunes your radio to a specific station. Music from that station doesn’t originate out of your radio. Your radio solely makes audible the radio waves being broadcast by that station. Neural circuits that type in our mind to work together with the power physique are like presets—stimulate such a preset neural circuit and also you routinely tune into a specific nonlocal practice of thought, affiliation of reminiscences, or move of emotion. Such ideas, reminiscences, and feelings don’t originate within the mind. The mind merely stimulates them.

By maturity, we can have fashioned from tons of of hundreds to tens of millions of neural circuits that, when firing, provoke automated responses to almost all the pieces we expertise—from pondering to shifting, from physiological responses to feeling feelings. In his e book, Pondering, Quick and Gradual, Daniel Kahneman shares how our routinely firing neural behavior circuits—quick pondering, as he calls it—dominate our habits. Until we intentionally pause to think about our selections in a specific state of affairs—interact in sluggish pondering—we’re on neural autopilot.

Neural Behavior Circuits Can Turn into Advanced

Our neural circuits can turn into interconnectedly advanced. Such advanced neural circuits can concurrently stimulate many alternative varieties of expertise, together with the bodily—notion and motion—and the delicate—emotion, thought, and reminiscence. As a result of neurons that wire collectively, fireplace collectively, when any neuron in a fancy neural behavior circuit fires, all the opposite neurons will fireplace as properly, thus routinely inflicting bodily actions, physiological responses, and stimulating nonlocal feelings, ideas, and reminiscences.

For instance, let’s say you’re keen on ingesting espresso. On a carefree Sunday afternoon, as you stroll by a espresso store, the sensory stimulus of the scent of espresso coming from the store prompts your complete neural coffee-habit circuit—starting with a wave of delight.

Concurrently firing neurons in your well-developed coffee-drinking circuit ship indicators all around the mind, indicators that activate different areas of the mind and central nervous system and that set many physiological processes in movement—salivation, elevated coronary heart fee, elevated breath fee, launch of additional glucose, launch of adrenaline, elevated muscle tone, and contraction and leisure of the facial muscle tissues to type a smile.

Further concurrently firing neurons in your espresso circuit stimulate varied nonlocal trains of thought and reminiscences related to espresso—the style, the texture of the cup in your hand, goodies you’ve eaten whereas ingesting, pleasant caffeine-enhanced conversations, a query about how espresso is ready on this espresso store, a protracted historical past of how espresso is ready around the globe, and your treasured opinion about the easiest way to arrange espresso. To all of these ideas and reminiscences, you might be more likely to react with elevated emotional pleasure.

Your elevated emotional pleasure can in flip trigger neurons in your neural coffee-habit circuit to launch dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that, amongst different issues, can improve bodily pleasure. This suggestions cycle (pleasure, dopamine launch, extra pleasure, extra dopamine launch) might proceed—particularly when you’ve already gone into the espresso store and are actually ingesting a cup of espresso you completely get pleasure from—till all of the pleasure-enhancing dopamine receptors in your neural coffee-drinking circuit are saturated.

Amazingly, the entire automated habits and automated physiological, psychological, and emotional responses activated and stimulated by such a well-established and sophisticated neural behavior circuit might be triggered by a single stimulus. The stimulus generally is a sensory expertise, a bodily motion, a reminiscence, a thought, or an emotion. Within the coffee-habit circuit instance above, the scent of espresso was like a single firecracker setting off all the opposite firecrackers in a woven chain of firecrackers.

Our Mind Offers a Steady Fireworks Present

Fairly than only a single woven string of firecrackers going off, nonetheless, the chain-reaction firing of advanced neural circuits is extra like a steady fireworks show as a result of one advanced neural circuit will most frequently be interconnected with and due to this fact activate one other. The continual noise of a fireworks show might be in comparison with the continual sensory enter we expertise when awake. The large explosions of sunshine and coloration might be in comparison with out of the blue having a thought or reminiscence, or to experiencing an emotion. In our wakeful thoughts it’s almost at all times the Fourth of July—and, like kids at a fireworks present, we’re captivated.

The well-established bodily world-supporting neural wiring of most individuals is so completely and repeatedly engrossing that they turn into experientially satisfied that there merely might be no different actuality of which they may bear in mind. This day by day reaffirmed conviction makes it very troublesome for them to truly consider the testimony of saints, sages, and near-death experiencers that different worlds, different realities, and different ranges of consciousness exist and are accessible to us—or that we’re something greater than our bodily physique.

With out the Fireworks We Have Transcendent Consciousness

We might, nonetheless, understand actuality fully in another way if the billions of neurons now we have dedicated to functioning within the bodily world didn’t fireplace routinely in response to stimuli. Have been we to die, in order that our native bodily mind was not functioning, the saints, sages, and, particularly, near-death experiencers inform us that we’d instantly and routinely start to concentrate on heavenly realms, heavenly emotions, and heavenly information as a result of we’d be freed from the routinely firing neural circuits that compel us to concentrate on the bodily world.

I usually say that we’re acutely aware regardless of our mind, not due to it. It’s not elevated exercise in any mind area that results in such extraordinary phenomenal experiences. It’s really the mind turning off. —Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon, near-death experiencer, creator, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife

We don’t, nonetheless, have to die to flee the neural compulsions of the mind, as you may assume after studying the citation above. Quite the opposite, we are able to methodically rewire the mind to permit us to bypass the standard fireworks-storm-creating neural circuitry that retains us preoccupied with our sensory notion of the bodily world. We are able to rewire our brains to assist subtler notion, intuitive pondering, and better feeling. We are able to rewire our brains to assist the direct expertise of our divine Self in God.

Neuroplasticity

The notion of rewiring our mind is comparatively new. For a lot of the twentieth century, it was popularly believed that the mind was hardwired from start and progressively deteriorated over time as irreplaceable mind cells died. A bleak prospect! It was additionally believed that the capabilities of the assorted areas of the mind had been mounted and didn’t change or adapt to new circumstances. We all know now that the mind is astonishingly changeable and reveals a excessive diploma of what’s known as neuroplasticity.

Neurons usually are not inherently specialised. All of them carry out the identical primary perform—to move on an electrochemical sign to a different neuron. It isn’t the neuron itself however the neural circuit through which it’s wired that determines the perform that any particular neuron performs. A selected neuron might ship a sign to a different neuron to activate a sure muscular contraction. That very same neuron can rewire and find yourself sending a sign to a special neuron to stimulate a sure reminiscence.

This phenomenon is commonly seen in stroke victims who regain purposeful management over part of their physique. It’s now understood that the neurons in undamaged areas of stroke-victims brains have rewired to make new neural connections as a way to restore the capabilities of the broken areas.

The inherent plasticity of the mind, nonetheless, will not be restricted to the necessity to regain capabilities misplaced to mind injury. The mind can and can change, to a outstanding diploma, in response to any new situation, habits, emotion, or thought. This modification might take the type of fully new neural circuits or of recent capabilities added to current neural circuits.

One of many causes that the mind is so plastic is that each neuron can develop multiple connection to different neurons, and in doing so carry further performance to any neural circuit. These connections to different neurons are known as dendrites; a single neuron is able to rising as many as ten thousand dendrites to type ten thousand connections to different neurons. As soon as a brand new dendritic connection is constituted of, say, neuron one to neuron two, if neuron one fires then neuron two routinely fires as properly. Thus a single neuron that has myriad connections to different neurons has the potential to make as many as ten thousand different neurons routinely fireplace.

In our first three years of infancy, we undergo a interval of what’s referred to as transient exuberance throughout which our mind is making as many as 700 new dendritic connections per second between the assorted neurons in our authentic complement of 100 billion neurons. The making of further connections by new dendrites doesn’t cease as we get older, however the fee of rewiring tends to decelerate as soon as we’ve mastered the fundamentals of physique management and communication. At any age, nonetheless, our mind’s neurons could make new dendritic connections to different neurons to assist no matter it’s we repeatedly do, assume, or really feel.

Removed from being mounted from start the mind is well essentially the most changeable organ within the physique. Repetition of a habits, whether or not psychological, emotional, or bodily, quickly causes new neural circuits to type within the mind. Even as few as half a dozen repetitions of a brand new habits may cause a brand new circuit to type within the mind to assist that new habits.

Meditation

The best device for rewiring the mind for delicate notion is meditation. It permits us to sluggish, and, finally, cease utterly, the automated firing of our routine sense-supporting mind circuitry, thus slowing down or stopping the continual neural fireworks present that leaves us dazzled and preoccupied with the bodily world, thereby successfully crowding out any chance of delicate notion.

Stillness and inward absorption are the keys to deep meditation. From the angle of neuroscience, bodily stillness reduces the variety of sensory nerve indicators coming from physique to mind, and, in consequence, calms the fireworks storm in our sense-supporting neural circuits. Meditation additionally calms the fireworks storm by methodically drawing our consideration inward and away from our sense-stimulated and ongoing chain-reaction of ideas, reminiscences, and feelings.

Meditation, nonetheless, goes past merely not stimulating our routine mind circuitry. Relaxed focus on the level between the eyebrows—a typical function of many meditation methods—prompts the prefrontal cortex of the mind. The activation of the prefrontal cortex naturally deactivates the remainder of the mind. Because the circuits in the remainder of the mind deactivate, the fireworks show of steady ideas, reminiscences, and feelings slows dramatically.

As our consciousness of our bodily physique fades, and our stream of ideas, reminiscences, and feelings slows, we naturally and effortlessly understand the extra delicate realities that lie past sensory consciousness. We might really feel the fun of our life power shifting within the core of our being. We might really feel our coronary heart opening, like a clenched muscle enjoyable, and we might expertise shifting emotions of peace, love, concord, and pleasure. We may even see mild or have inspiring intuitive insights. And that’s solely the start.

Meditation Rewires Our Mind for Stillness and Inward Absorption

Common follow of meditation, like several repetitive habits, varieties supportive new neural circuitry. As soon as neural circuits type to assist meditation, every time we sit to meditate neural meditation-habit circuits will fireplace to chill out or contract varied muscle tissues to assist sitting with stillness, in addition to to sluggish breath and coronary heart fee. Neural circuits will fireplace to extend blood move, and thus power, to our pre-frontal cortex making focus simpler. Different neural circuits will fireplace that inhibit sensory info from reaching our consciousness—simply as sensory info is inhibited from reaching our consciousness after we are asleep. Different neural circuits will fireplace that inhibit bodily motion—simply as bodily motion is inhibited after we are asleep.

In the identical manner that we are able to rather more simply play a musical instrument as soon as we’ve practiced lengthy sufficient for supporting neural circuits to type, stillness and inward absorption, too, turn into a lot simpler to realize with the formation of supporting neural circuits. Higher but, simply because the continued devoted follow of a musical instrument will type ever extra advanced neural circuits to assist enjoying our instrument with better and better proficiency, so continued devoted follow of meditation will type ever extra advanced neural circuits to assist an increasing number of profound transcendent experiences.

Most inexperienced persons discover meditation a problem. It’s troublesome to remain nonetheless. The thoughts is as stressed because the proverbial monkey. However when you keep along with your meditation follow, your newly forming neural circuits will come to your rescue. In time meditation will really feel as pure as pondering. In time additionally, you will discover that your neural meditation circuits will fireplace even within the midst of exercise and routinely stimulate meditative calm, readability of thoughts, and consciousness of delicate feeling.

The distinction between most of us and a saint or sage is that by means of their deep and common follow of meditation—and the ensuing deep and repeated immersion in delicate realities—they’ve fashioned sturdy and sophisticated neural behavior circuits that make delicate consciousness as regular as bodily consciousness. The saints and sages, nonetheless, additionally stay in a position to perform within the bodily world. Actually, they turn into extra productive, inventive, and energetic. Even when totally engaged with folks and tasks, nonetheless, they continue to be immersed in transcendent peace, love, and pleasure, within the fixed realization of the Self in God. They’ve the perfect of each worlds.

Meditation Rewires All the Mind

The second manner that meditation rewires our mind is to allow constructive psychological, emotional, and bodily well being. Simply as a rising tide raises all boats, so too the expertise of deep states of leisure, transcendent pleasure, or sacred growth into our better actuality, successfully, effectively, and beneficially rewires not simply the prefrontal cortex however all of our mind.

Meditation has been confirmed to make lasting structural adjustments within the mind in assist of quite a lot of actions:

  • rising theta waves to deepen our consideration
  • enabling constructive emotion and empathy by effecting adjustments within the amygdala
  • lowering or inhibiting concern, nervousness, and different adverse feelings
  • enhancing studying and reminiscence
  • serving to to beat childhood trauma
  • positively altering habits and temper

The adjustments that happen in your mind when you are meditating construct up over time to supply outstanding shifts in cognition and mind construction. The meditating mind is a really cool factor. —Richard Davidson, Founder, College of Wisconsin’s Madison Middle for Wholesome Minds

By lowering stress, meditation additionally stimulates wholesome physiological processes equivalent to cleansing, elimination, digestion, promotes therapeutic, and even prompts genes that have an effect on our bodily, psychological, and emotional well being. Meditation turns into, in time, essentially the most important constructive affect on our well being and wellbeing.

It’s fascinating to see the mind’s plasticity and that, by working towards meditation, we are able to play an energetic position in altering the mind and might improve our well-being and high quality of life. —Dr. Britta Hölzel, first creator of the groundbreaking Harvard College research on meditation and bodily change within the mind

The Deeper Our Meditation, the Extra Quickly We Rewire the Mind

The extra deeply we meditate, the extra our consideration shifts from the bodily world to extra delicate realities; the extra deeply our consideration shifts from the bodily world to extra delicate realities, the extra quickly our mind is rewired.

Individuals who have had near-death experiences, who’ve skilled profound emotional launch and surpassing heart-opening emotions, usually share, even years after their expertise, that their lives had been profoundly modified. Lengthy afterward they proceed to really feel totally different. Not solely had been they mentally, emotionally, and spiritually reworked in the course of the expertise itself however, on returning to consciousness of this world, they even discovered a major diploma of that transformation remained completely. The neural behavior circuits that assist even deeply rooted, routine adverse feelings, equivalent to fearfulness, buried anger, emotional wounds, or lifetime anxieties, in uncommon situations have been, as the results of deep and highly effective transcendent expertise, immediately rewired into new and constructive neural behavior circuits.

An Enlightenment expertise radically rearranges many neuronal connections in a comparatively brief time. The result’s an amazing profit to our mind and physique as we uncover new constructive methods of pondering, feeling, and experiencing the world round us. [I]ntense religious practices…can break down the neurological circuits that preserve outdated beliefs firmly rooted in place and rework the methods we predict and behave. —Dr. Andrew Newberg, How Enlightenment Modifications Your Mind

In deep meditation…the relaxed power of the thoughts, concentrated within the mind, [goes] deep into the mind grooves the place habits are secreted, and cauterizes [negative] habits. —Paramhansa Yogananda, Kriya Yoga Grasp

Deep transcendent expertise additionally adjustments the psychological and emotional convictions held in our power physique. When these psychological and emotional convictions undergo fast change, the neural circuitry of our mind is equally quickly and completely rewired to assist our new psychological and emotional convictions.

Individuals over the millennia have reported having deeply shifting non secular experiences and a portion of these experiences have been encounters with what the particular person regards as “God” or “final actuality.” In a survey of hundreds of people that reported having skilled private encounters with God, Johns Hopkins researchers report that…a majority of respondents attributed lasting constructive adjustments of their psychological well being—e.g., life satisfaction, function and that means—even many years after their preliminary expertise. —John Hopkins Medication on-line bulletin

I used to be mendacity in a subject underneath a tree pondering quite deeply of affection and the enjoyment it brings. Instantly…all materialism disappeared utterly, and I felt like a torch burning within the darkness. I appeared to be stuffed with the rays of the solar. This expertise lasted for about three minutes. It’s fascinating to notice that my habits sample has modified since this expertise. —Nameless contributor to the e book Seeing the Invisible

Despite the fact that awakening experiences sometimes solely final from a couple of moments to a couple hours, they continuously have a life-changing impact. Many individuals described an awakening expertise as essentially the most important second of their lives, reporting a serious change of their perspective on life, and of their values. —Steve Taylor, The Leap: The Psychology of Religious Awakening

We might not ourselves have such a dramatic or sudden life-changing expertise as these described above, however any meditation throughout which we straight and movingly expertise delicate actuality will change our psychological and emotional convictions; the deeper the expertise, the extra quickly our mind is rewired. Meditation faucets into an influence that adjustments us, faucets into an “unseen supply” that uplifts us, faucets right into a Pleasure that strikes us as nothing else can.

Meditation Is the Key to Self-Realization

Meditation rewires our mind to expertise delicate actuality. The extra deeply we meditate, the extra utterly our mind is rewired to permit clear consciousness of our indissoluble unity with the infinite Consciousness from which all creation springs.

That is the expertise of God, or, simply as meaningfully, the expertise of our Self or Soul. As a result of we’re godlike in our essence, inextrica­bly one with God, the expertise will not be reserved just for cloistered nuns or yogis in distant Himalayan caves. Anybody, wherever, who achieves deep stillness and full internal absorption share the identical common expertise.

The upper our thoughts is raised to the contemplation of religious issues the extra it’s abstracted from smart issues. However the last time period to which contemplation can presumably arrive is the divine substance. Due to this fact the thoughts that sees the divine substance have to be completely divorced from the bodily senses, both by loss of life or by some rapture.
—St. Thomas Aquinas

Soul and thoughts immediately misplaced their bodily bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing mild from my each pore. The flesh was as if useless, but in my intense consciousness I knew that by no means earlier than had I been totally alive. —Paramhansa Yogananda

The physique, the earth, the celebs, the galaxies melted into an enormous unity—and I used to be part of this unity. Limitless and timeless my consciousness hovered in a pulsating eternity. —Frédéric Lionel, French thinker

Oh, marvel of wonders, once I consider the union the soul has with God! He makes the enraptured soul to flee out of herself, for she isn’t any extra happy with something that may be named. The spring of Divine Love flows out of the soul and attracts her out of herself into the unnamed Being, into her first supply, which is God alone. —Meister Eckhart, German theologian, thinker, and mystic

This new expertise bestows new enlightenment which locations the experiencer on a brand new aircraft of existence. There’s an indescribable feeling of elation and indescribable pleasure and Bliss. He experiences a way of universality, a Consciousness of Everlasting Life. It isn’t a mere conviction. He really feels it. —Swami Sivananda

One turns into wholly Thoughts, the One Thoughts of God, through which exists all-knowledge, all-power, and all-presence. —Walter Russell, sculptor, musician, creator, thinker, and mystic

That mild is the very essence, the guts, and soul, the all-consuming consummation of ecstatic ecstasy. It’s a million suns of compressed love dissolving all the pieces unto itself, annihilating thought and cell, vaporizing humanness and historical past, into the one nice brilliance of all that’s and all that ever was and all that ever will likely be. You realize it’s God. Nobody has to let you know. You realize. —P.M.H. Atwater, near-death experiencer

The potential of the belief—the whole expertise and consciousness—of our Self in God is con­firmed repeatedly, in all ages and in each tradition, by saints, sages, saviors, and near-death experiencers. Such expertise has impressed the paranormal teachings of all religions. Such experi­ence is the essence—and the promise—of all religions.

Lest self-realization appears too excessive a mountain to climb, the excellent news, for many who, like me, have but to grasp good stillness and full internal absorption, is that meditation brings many advantages lengthy earlier than full self-realization is achieved. The advantages infuse one’s complete life: diminished bodily and emotional stress, a sense of well-being, enhanced readability of thoughts, elevated vitality, improved well being, and deepened compassion and love—to call however a couple of.

  • Observe meditation commonly and you’ll uncover an inexhaustible properly of Pleasure that can imbue your life with happiness regard­much less of outer circumstances.
  • Observe meditation extra deeply but and you’ll uncover a loving and clever Presence responding to you and sending waves of affection and pleasure coursing by means of your being.
  • Observe meditation to perfection, attaining good stillness and internal absorption, and you’ll understand your Self in God.

In deep meditation…the relaxed power of the thoughts, concentrated within the mind, [goes]deep into the mind grooves…and cauterizes habits. -Paramhansa Yogananda

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Selbie’s new e book, Break By means of the Limits of the Mind, presents fascinating scientific assist for Yogananda’s intuitive perception into neuroplasticity and explores in depth the neuroscience of meditation and Self-realization.

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