Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body


Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

“Fact 1: Your body can manufacture and administer the precise balance of neurochemicals that can reverse illness and cure disease. Your body possesses the innate capacity to heal itself.

Fact 2: Science has proven, beyond doubt, that the contents of our thoughts and emotions directly and immediately influence our biochemistry.

 Fact 3: You can consciously influence and direct the body’s output of health chemical information through meditation and visualization techniques.” ~ Kelly Howell

In this TED Talk, M.D. physician and Author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, dr. Lissa Rankin  shares not just scientific proof that your mind can heal your body and tips for using the power of your mind to optimize the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, but also ways in which you can reduce the stress in your life, increase your happiness levels and craft a better and more beautiful life for yourself and those around you.

Enjoy 🙂

Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

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From decapitation to consciousness: how one nerve connects body, brain, and mind 


What we learned from gruesome decapitation experiments.

The relationship between mind, brain, and body has kept philosophers and scientists busy for centuries. Some of the first interesting – albeit gruesome – experiments on the role of the body in human consciousness considered life after decapitation. The Conversation

In 1905, French physician Gabriel Beaurieux believed he had communicated with prisoner Henri Languille after his head had been severed from his body.

 Writing of the experience, Beaurieux said:

“I called in a strong, sharp voice: ‘Languille!’ I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.”

Almost two decades later, Soviet scientist Sergei Brukhonenko reportedly kept a dog’s severed head alive for nearly six months using a primitive heart-lung machine.

Video footage allegedly shows the head responding to light, sound and citric acid stimuli.

But while Brukhonenko’s research may have been an important in the development of cardiac surgery – it is more often regarded as faked Soviet-era propaganda.

Consciousness and non-physical properties

Investigations into human consciousness have moved on since these initial observations – though we haven’t got away from decapitation just yet. More recently, however, neuroscientists have questioned just how it is that physical matter comes together to make the mind.

In 1995, Francis Crick wrote in The Astonishing Hypothesis that we are nothing more than an “immensely complex collection of neurons”.

 This hypothesis is a form of reductive physicalism – a philosophical position to which modern neuroscience typically subscribes – that everything in existence is no more than its physical properties.

Again using animal decapitation, though this time with rats, neuroscientists have explored the question of how long brain activity is observed after death – a step forward from just consciousness.

In a 2011 experiment, it was reported that decapitated rats’ time to unconsciousness – defined by a decrease in cognitive activity of 50 percent – was 4 seconds.

The researchers also observed a very large and much later slow wave in brain activity. This was interpreted as what they called a “wave of death” – when all the brain’s neurons died at the same time – and perhaps, the ultimate border between life and death.

But some believe that the mind is more than just the sum of its physical brain cells. A contrasting position to physicalism is the dualist assumption that the physical and the mental are fundamentally different substances.

Furthermore, some philosophers and scientists have suggested that “information may be the key to consciousness“.

Consistent with this idea is integrated information theory, which accepts the existence of consciousness, but controversially implies that anything at all may be conscious – even a smartphone – if it possesses a sufficiently high “phi”: a measure of information in a system which cannot be reduced to that specified by its parts.

From psychological moments to mortality

While I have left out many important details in this fascinating discussion, better understanding the link between mind, brain and body has been the focus of my own research, in recent years through looking at the functions of the vagus nerve.

Higher vagus nerve function (measured and indexed by heart rate variability) supports a person’s capacity for emotion regulation, social engagement and cognitive function.

By contrast, impaired vagal function – and lower heart rate variability – may play a role in the onset of depression.

But the vagus nerve doesn’t just affect the mind. Higher levels of vagal function may lead to improved glucose regulation, reduced inflammation, and reduced risk of disease and death.

Vagal function is also known to play an important role in brain cognition. It helps to suppress irrelevant and interfering stimuli.

Studies have also suggested that the vagus nerve might play an important regulatory role over inflammatory processes, contributing to diabetesobesityand cardiovascular disease – all of which also impact on cognitive function.

However, little research has been done which looks at how the vagus nerve affects body and mind together.

That’s why I teamed up with colleagues to question whether previously reported relationships between vagal function and cognitive performance could be explained through a single neurological-psychological-physiological pathway.

Supporting this possibility, we observed that impairment in vagal function appears to increase insulin resistance, which contributes to a thickening of the carotid arteries, which in turn adversely impacts on cognitive function.

This means that low vagal function initiates a cascade of adverse downstream effects which subsequently lead to cognitive impairment.

While simple health behaviours – weight loss and exercise for example – may ‘short circuit’ adverse effects on brain function, more research into the causal pathways involved is still needed to discover just how the vagus nerve connects the body, brain and mind.

Our research is a first step into uncovering how the health of the body and mind can be affected by this one nerve.

But it is one step on a path that we hope will develop with our own research into “positive psychology” for people living with neurological disorders.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/rSrIkUXwsNk

Soure:sciencealert.com

Scientists say your “mind” isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body.


You might wonder, at some point today, what’s going on in another person’s mind. You may compliment someone’s great mind, or say they are out of their mind. You may even try to expand or free your own mind.

But what is a mind? Defining the concept is a surprisingly slippery task. The mind is the seat of consciousness, the essence of your being. Without a mind, you cannot be considered meaningfully alive. So what exactly, and where precisely, is it?

The mind is more than just the brain.

Traditionally, scientists have tried to define the mind as the product of brain activity: The brain is the physical substance, and the mind is the conscious product of those firing neurons, according to the classic argument. But growing evidence shows that the mind goes far beyond the physical workings of your brain.

 No doubt, the brain plays an incredibly important role. But our mind cannot be confined to what’s inside our skull, or even our body, according to a definition first put forward by Dan Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of a recently published book, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.

He first came up with the definition more than two decades ago, at a meeting of 40 scientists across disciplines, including neuroscientists, physicists, sociologists, and anthropologists. The aim was to come to an understanding of the mind that would appeal to common ground and satisfy those wrestling with the question across these fields.

After much discussion, they decided that a key component of the mind is: “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” It’s not catchy. But it is interesting, and with meaningful implications.

The most immediately shocking element of this definition is that our mind extends beyond our physical selves. In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves. Siegel argues that it’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions.

 “I realized if someone asked me to define the shoreline but insisted, is it the water or the sand, I would have to say the shore is both sand and sea,” says Siegel. “You can’t limit our understanding of the coastline to insist it’s one or the other. I started thinking, maybe the mind is like the coastline—some inner and inter process. Mental life for an anthropologist or sociologist is profoundly social. Your thoughts, feelings, memories, attention, what you experience in this subjective world is part of mind.”

The definition has since been supported by research across the sciences, but much of the original idea came from mathematics. Siegel realized the mind meets the mathematical definition of a complex system in that it’s open (can influence things outside itself), chaos capable (which simply means it’s roughly randomly distributed), and non-linear (which means a small input leads to large and difficult to predict result).

In math, complex systems are self-organizing, and Siegel believes this idea is the foundation to mental health. Again borrowing from the mathematics, optimal self-organization is: flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized, and stable. This means that without optimal self-organization, you arrive at either chaos or rigidity—a notion that, Siegel says, fits the range of symptoms of mental health disorders.

Finally, self-organization demands linking together differentiated ideas or, essentially, integration. And Siegel says integration—whether that’s within the brain or within society—is the foundation of a healthy mind.

 Siegel says he wrote his book now because he sees so much misery in society, and he believes this is partly shaped by how we perceive our own minds. He talks of doing research in Namibia, where people he spoke to attributed their happiness to a sense of belonging.

When Siegel was asked in return whether he belonged in America, his answer was less upbeat: “I thought how isolated we all are and how disconnected we feel,” he says. “In our modern society we have this belief that mind is brain activity and this means the self, which comes from the mind, is separate and we don’t really belong. But we’re all part of each others’ lives. The mind is not just brain activity. When we realize it’s this relational process, there’s this huge shift in this sense of belonging.”

In other words, even perceiving our mind as simply a product of our brain, rather than relations, can make us feel more isolated. And to appreciate the benefits of interrelations, you simply have to open your mind.

6 Evidence-Based Ways Drumming Heals Body, Mind and Soul


From slowing the decline in fatal brain disease, to generating a sense of oneness with one another and the universe, drumming’s physical and spiritual health benefits may be as old as time itself.

Drumming is as fundamental a form of human expression as speaking, and likely emerged long before humans even developed the capability of using the lips, tongue and vocal organs as instruments of communication.

To understand the transformative power of drumming you really must experience it, which is something I have had the great pleasure of doing now for twenty years. The below video is one of the circles I helped organize in Naples Florida back in 2008, which may give you a taste of how spontaneous and immensely creative a thing it is (I’m the long haired ‘hippie’ with the gray tank top drumming like a primate in the background).

 drum_healing

Anyone who has participated in a drum circle, or who has borne witness to one with an open and curious mind, knows that the rhythmic entrainment of the senses[i] and the anonymous though highly intimate sense of community generated that follows immersion in one, harkens back to a time long gone, where tribal consciousness preempted that of self-contained, ego-centric individuals, and where a direct and simultaneous experience of deep transcendence and immanence was not an extraordinarily rare occurrence as it is today.

This experience is so hard-wired into our biological, social and spiritual DNA that even preschool children as young as 2.5 years appear to be born with the ability to synchronize body movements to external acoustic beats when presented in a social context, revealing that drumming is an inborn capability and archetypal social activity.[ii]

Even Bugs Know How To Drum

But drumming is not a distinctively human technology. The use of percussion as a form of musicality, communication, and social organization,[iii] is believed to stretch as far back as 8 million years ago to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans living somewhere in the forests of Africa.[iv]

For instance, recent research on the drumming behavior of macaque monkeys indicates that the brain regions preferentially activated by drumming sounds or by vocalizations overlap in caudal auditory cortex and amygdala, which suggests “a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and support the notion of a gestural origin of speech and music.”[v]

Interestingly, percussive sound-making (drumming) can be observed in certain species of birds, rodents and insects. [vi]   Of course you know about the woodpecker’s characteristic pecking, but did you know that mice often drum with their feet in particular locations within their burrow, both for territorial displays and to sound alarms against predators?  Did you know that termites use vibrational drumming signals to communicate within the hive? For instance, soldiers threatened with attack drum their heads against tunnels to transmit signals along subterranean galleries, warning workers and other soldiers to respond accordingly.[viii]   See the video below for an example of termite drumming.

Percussion: Sound Waves Carry Epigenetic, Biologically Meaningful Information

Even more amazing is the fact that wasps appear to use antennal drumming to alter the caste development or phenotype of their larvae. Conventional thinking has held for quite some time that differential nutrition alone accounted for why one larvae develops into a non-reproductive worker and one into a reproductive female (gyne).  This is not the case, according to a 2011 study:

“But nutrition level alone cannot explain how the first few females to be produced in a colony develop rapidly yet have small body sizes and worker phenotypes. Here, we provide evidence that a mechanical signal biases caste toward a worker phenotype. In Polistes fuscatus, the signal takes the form of antennal drumming (AD), wherein a female trills her antennae synchronously on the rims of nest cells while feeding prey-liquid to larvae. The frequency of AD occurrence is high early in the colony cycle, when larvae destined to become workers are being reared, and low late in the cycle, when gynes are being reared. Subjecting gyne-destined brood to simulated AD-frequency vibrations caused them to emerge as adults with reduced fat stores, a worker trait. This suggests that AD influences the larval developmental trajectory by inhibiting a physiological element that is necessary to trigger diapause, a gyne trait.”  [vii]

This finding indicates that the acoustic signals produced through drumming within certain species carry biologically meaningful information (literally: ‘to put form into’) that operate epigenetically (i.e. working outside or above the genome to effect gene expression).

This raises the question: is there ancient, biologically and psychospiritually meaningful information contained within drum patterns passed down to us from our distant ancestors? Could some of these rhythms contain epigenetic information that affect both the structure (conformation) and function of biomolecules and biologically meaningful energetic/information patterns in our body? If so, this would mean these ancient patterns of sound could be considered “epigenetic inheritance systems” as relevant to DNA expression as methyl donors like folate and betaine and not unlike grandmother’s recipe (recipe literally means “medical prescription” in French) for chicken soup that still adds the perfect set of chemistries and information specific to your body to help you overcome the common cold or bring you back from fatigue.

We do have some compelling evidence from human clinical and observational studies on the power of drumming to affect positive change both physically and psychologically, seemingly indicating the answer to our question about the biological role of acoustic information in modulating micro and macro physiological processes in a meaningful way is YES.

Naples drum circle joins the African cultural festival performance in Fort Myers, 2008

6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Drumming

Drumming has been proven in human clinical research to do the following six things:

1. Reduce Blood Pressure, Anxiety/Stress

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine enrolled both middle-aged experienced drummers and a younger novice group in a 40-minute djembe drumming sessions. Their blood pressure, blood lactate and stress and anxiety levels were taken before and after the sessions. Also, their heart rate was monitored at 5 second intervals throughout the sessions. As a result of the trial, all participants saw a drop in stress and anxiety. Systolic blood pressure dropped in the older population postdrumming.

2. Increase Brain White Matter & Executive Cognitive Function

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.”[ix] The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioral stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”

3. Reduced Pain

A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that active performance of music (singing, dancing and drumming) triggered endorphin release (measured by post-activity increases in pain tolerance) whereas merely listening to music did not. The researchers hypothesized that this may contribute to community bonding in activities involving dance and music-making.[x]

4. Reduce Stress (Cortisol/DHEA ratio), Increase Immunity

A 2001 study published inAlternative Therapies and Health Medicine enrolled 111 age- and sex- matched subjects (55 men and 56 women; mean age 30.4 years) and found that drumming “increased dehydroepiandrosterone-to-cortisol ratios, increased natural killer cell activity, and increased lymphokine-activated killer cell activity without alteration in plasma interleukin 2 or interferon-gamma, or in the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory II.”[xi]

5. Transcendent (Re-Creational) Experiences

A 2004 study published in the journalMultiple Sclerosis revealed that drumming enables participants to go into deeper hypnotic states,[xii] and another 2014 study poublished in PLoS found that when combined with shamanistic instruction, drumming enables participants to experience decreased heartrate and dreamlike experiences consistent with transcendental experiences.[xiii]

6. Socio-Emotional Disorders

A powerful 2001 study published in the journal  Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine  found that low-income children who enrolled in a 12-week group drumming intervention saw  multiple domains of social-emotional behavior improve significantly, from anxiety to attention, from oppositional to post-traumatic disorders.[xiiii]

Taking into account the beneficial evolutionary role that drumming likely performed in human history and prehistory, as well as the new scientific research confirming its psychosocial and physiological health benefits, we hope that it will be increasingly looked at as a positive medical, social and psychospiritual intervention. Considering the term recreation in its root etymological sense: re-creation, drumming may enable us to both tap into the root sense of our identity in the drumming-mediated experience of being joyous, connected and connecting, creative beings, as well as find a way to engage the process of becoming, transformation and re-creation that is also a hallmark feature of being alive and well in this amazing, ever-changing universe of ours.

New to drumming and want to try it?

Fortunately, drum circles have sprouted up in thousands of locations around the country spontaneously, and almost all of them are free. You will find them attended by all ages, all walks of life and all experience levels. The best way to find one is google  the name of your area and “drum circle” and see what comes up. Also, there is an online directory that lists drum circles around the country:  http://www.drumcircles.net/circlelist

You can also find a drum online through sites like Djembe Drums & Skins. For the record, I have no affiliate relationship with Shorty Palmer or his site, but only know him as a humble master craftsman and the source for all the drums I own today.

What Is the DNA of Your Mind?


 

In Beyond Science, Epoch Times explores research and accounts related to phenomena and theories that challenge our current knowledge. We delve into ideas that stimulate the imagination and open up new possibilities. Share your thoughts with us on these sometimes controversial topics in the comments section below.

Your DNA determines everything about you: eye color, height, body shape, skin type, etc. But it does not determine one thing about you—your mind.

At birth, the human brain is nothing but an empty storage tank with 30 billion neurons in it. In contrast to your wonderfully choreographed body, with details from toe nails to hair thickness, there is nothing special about this most important vital organ. The brain needs to be filled. It is a process. The process of learning and maturing via various life experiences results in the final description of who you are, and yet it continues to change in time with increasingly smaller amounts and at a slower pace.

Artificial intelligence project exClone wants to map the DNA of your Mind (DNAM).

Although the terminology sounds original, DNAM is actually not a new concept. For example, tracking and profiling Facebook users based on their “likes” is a rudimentary form of DNAM. Such a thing is perceived by some as a dark enterprise nowadays, due to privacy concerns.

When we depart from this present gloomy picture, and imagine what can happen in the future, the meaning of DNAM changes drastically. If DNA cloning ensures the eternal continuation of your body, then DNAM may ensure the immortality of your mind, in a peculiar and exciting manner. The truthfulness of this statement very much depends on how DNAM will evolve from being just a commercial “profile” to something much more spectacular.

DNMA-quote-2

 Psychological studies have several, somewhat debatable, human personality theories. Creating a model for DNAM must use something like the  Raymond Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors. Marking them on a scale of 1 to 10 (either by measurements or self-determination) shows your behavior, such as reasoning, emotional stability, sensitivity, and other factors (as shown in the blue chart in Fig. 1 below). Mathematically speaking, if we had Steve Jobs’ blue chart, there could be another 20 million people out there with similar charts. As a result, psychological profiling is never unique enough to claim your DNAM.
DNAM-chart.jpg

This classical approach omits the role of a second important element of knowledge, which we call “expertise.” In the same scale of 1 to 10, now we can mark the level of knowledge in various fields (as shown in the green chart in Fig. 1 above). This list could be as long as it needs to be depending on each person. The expertise can be anything ranging from how to boil an egg to how to launch a nuclear missile. The blue chart combined with the green chart could potentially depict a unique DNAM for Steve Jobs or anyone else.

DNMA-quote-3

The exClone project has undertaken the digital cloning of human expertise. To make exClones useful to society, the main emphasis is given to the expertise part (the green chart). To ensure their organic potential, exClones continue to learn, following the personality traits of their creators (following the blue charts) by means of social conversations and Internet sources. The project is significant in its comprehensive attempt to model deep artificial intelligence.

The uniqueness of the green chart lies in its identification and prioritization of knowledge. For example, between two dentists who went to the same school, it would be impossible to produce equal expertise in real life. Each would have a different clinical experience over time. This unique experience, combined with the personality traits (blue chart), is what makes up the final definition of our minds and DNAM in this exClone model.

Of course, some may say that distilling the definition of the mind down to a number of personality traits and experiences may not capture the essence of the human mind, it could be useful in a practical sense in developing artificial intelligence.

DNMA-quote-4

Should the computers we create have personalities and knowledge prioritization? The short answer is “absolutely, yes.” Differences fill all the gaps and avoid common blind spots. That is the power of group thinking and a cornerstone of human civilization. The future of computerized human societies will be more successful with human-like variety as opposed to a single, “can do all,” generic computer model.

Mental Clarity During Near-Death Experiences Suggests Mind Exists Apart From Brain


In Beyond Science, Epoch Times explores research and accounts related to phenomena and theories that challenge our current knowledge. We delve into ideas that stimulate the imagination and open up new possibilities. Share your thoughts with us on these sometimes controversial topics in the comments section below.

If the mind is just a function of the brain, it stands to reason that the worse the brain is injured, the worse the mind would function. While this is what much of current brain research is finding, a body of evidence exists suggesting otherwise: under extreme circumstances, such as close to death, the mind may function well—or even better than usual—when the brain is impaired.

This suggests the mind may function independently of the brain.

One of the researchers who has been studying such cases is Dr. Alexander Batthyany, a professor of theoretical psychology and the philosophy of psychology in Liechtenstein and at the cognitive science department at the University of Vienna.

In his most recent study, published this month in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, Batthyany and his colleagues reviewed thousands of accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs) to determine the quality of vision and cognition.

He reported: “The more severe the physiological crisis, the more likely NDEers are to report having experienced clear and complex cognitive and sensory functioning.”

Part of Batthyany’s goal was to replicate earlier studies, few as they are, that have looked at the quality of vision and cognition during NDEs.

In a 2007 study by researchers at the University of Virginia, titled “Unusual Experiences: Near Death and Related Phenomena,” 52.2 percent of NDEers reported clearer vision. Jeffrey Long, M.D., founder of the Near Death Experiences Research Foundation (NDERF), found in a survey of 1,122 NDEers, that about 74 percent reported “more consciousness and alertness.”

“I felt extremely aware, totally present, sharp, and focused. In hindsight, it’s like being half asleep when I was alive, and totally awake after I was pronounced dead,” said one experiencer, as noted in Batthyany’s study.

It’s like being half asleep when I was alive, and totally awake after I was pronounced dead.

— NDEer

“My mind felt cleared and my thoughts seemed quick and decisive. I felt a great sense of freedom and was quite content to be rid of my body. I felt a connection with everything around me in a way that I cannot describe. I felt as if I was thinking faster or that time had slowed down considerably,” said another.

While Batthyany’s study confirmed, to a certain extent, the results of the previous studies that had shown an increase in cognitive and sensory functioning during NDEs, his methodology had some limitations. He said these limitations may have led to lower estimates for the percentage of NDEers who have heightened cognition.

Methodology Limitations

He compiled thousands of written accounts from online repositories of experiences, such as the NDERF website, and ran them through a computer program, which identified words related to vision or cognition (such as “saw” or “thought”).

He and his colleagues then rated the quality of vision or cognition described in this smaller sample on a scale from -2 to +2. They further narrowed their study to experiences that included detailed explanations of the medical conditions that accompanied the NDEs. Only patients with cardiac and/or respiratory arrest were included in this study.

Previous studies had asked NDEers directly about the quality of their vision and cognition. Batthyany’s study, however, could only analyze the information given in general NDE accounts. So, for example, when he decided that there was “no change” in cognition or vision in some accounts, it may have been that there was indeed a change but that the NDEer hadn’t described it specifically enough to be counted.

Of the NDEers who mentioned visual perception, about 47 percent said they had enhanced vision. And 41 percent had unchanged vision, “which in itself is quite remarkable, given that these patients were in a severe medical crisis, and often unconscious,” Batthyany said in an email to Epoch Times.

Of the NDEers who made explicit references to awareness and mentation, about 35 percent said they had increased awareness and mentation. And about 61 percent reported normal everyday awareness during cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Given the implications of his study, Batthyany was careful to note other shortcomings in his methodology, including the fact that online NDE descriptions may include some fraudulent reports. But, he also noted reasons that these methodological shortcomings do not likely impact his overall finding that NDEs, by and large, include improved vision and cognition.

For example, concerning the risk of including fraudulent accounts, he wrote: “On NDERF, the largest contributor of NDEs studied here, less than 1 percent of posted NDEs have been removed due to concerns about their validity. Additionally, given the sheer number of accounts, it is unlikely that fake reports have significantly biased our results in one or the other direction. One would expect fake accounts … to be prototypical of the popular NDE narrative.”

Patients who have been completely incoherent for many years seem to suddenly return to their senses shortly before death.

In addition to these NDE studies, studies on the phenomena of terminal lucidity and mindsight also support the conclusion that the mind may engage in complex conscious activity even as brain functioning severely deteriorates, Batthyany said.

Terminal Lucidity, Mindsight

He has studied terminal lucidity in Alzheimer’s patients. This is a phenomenon in which patients who have been completely incoherent for many years seem to suddenly return to their senses shortly before death.

When the brain is at the furthest stage of degeneration, the expectation would be that the ability to make coherent connections between memories and various thoughts and emotions would be so far gone that a “whole” person could no longer emerge. Yet at this time, the whole mind seems to flash through, with all its connections intact.

“Mindsight” refers to the phenomenon in which blind people report being able to seeduring NDEs. This has been studied, for example, by Kenneth Ring at the University of Connecticut. Ring found that 15 out of 21 blind participants reported some kind of sight during NDEs.

Hallucinations?

Batthyany noted that some scientists consider NDEs to be hallucinations produced by neurophysiological processes.

“The findings reported in this paper and cases of terminal lucidity and mindsight, however, appear to suggest otherwise in that they indicate the presence of complex and structured conscious experience during decline, breakdown, or absence of the neurobiological correlates commonly held to be causative factors of NDEs—and of conscious experience in general,” he said.

He concluded that consciousness—including a sense of selfhood, complex visual imagery, and mental clarity—can sometimes outlive altered brain functioning, including even a flatline of electrical activity in the brain.

Terminal lucidity and mindsight are very rare phenomena, but NDEs are more numerous and “our results suggest that the continuity of visual imagery, mentation, and sense of selfhood is the rule rather than the exception during NDEs.”

Batthyany wrote: “It remains for future researchers to confirm or disconfirm our informal observation through formal analysis.”

Mind Over Matter: Why Your Imagination Is More Important Than Practice


mindfulness

A new study shows that imagining something instead of practicing it leads to more success. mindfulness .

New research published in Psychological Science shows your imagination may be more important than practice. In fact, for the study, those who imagined a target before having to actually pick out the target from a group of items were quicker at finding it. Everybody who follows sports remembers the famous free-throws that Michael Jordan took with his eyes closed. He was a person who practiced imagery, or visualization. Maybe he had it right.

Visualization is something constantly used in sports. Sports uniquely have to do with muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. But what this research shows is that it is an attribute of success for people of all stripes. This is because visualization is not meant to just improve motor performance, which might be used in an athletic endeavor, but it is also used to promote focus and visual processing.

The participants in the study were asked to look at a computer screen while their brain activity was recorded. As they sat, they were asked to look at images containing a bunch of letter Cs. The order and arrangements varied and were meant to trick. Then, the participants were asked to, as quickly and accurately as they could, determine whether a target was on the screen or not (the target being a red or green C).

“We ended up running a fairly large number of experiments because it was so surprising that imagery beat actual practice,” Geoffrey Woodman, study author and psychological scientist from Vanderbilt University, said in a press release.

The conclusion of these experiments showed that the distracting stimuli left traces in memory that interfered with performance. Thus, the performance suffered as a result. When the subject imagined the search, then performance was much better. The efficiency that the data showed was also confirmed by the EEG data, which was recording the subject’s brain activity. This study indicates that the success one gets due to visualization was due to “how well our sensory systems process inputs,” Woodman said.

This means that success begins in the brain, with all its processing and imaginings, before it actually manifests itself in performance. One can be successful by repetition and other material ways, but ultimate success (that is, success that is faster and more accurate) begins when a person imagines the act first, according to the study.

In a culture where pragmatism rules the day, this can be hard advice to heed. But the results of this experiment show that imagination is what is superior to practice because there isn’t as much visual interference.

Source: Woodman GF, Reinhart RMG, McClenahan LJ. Visualizing Trumps Vision in Training Attention. Psychological Science. 2015.

Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation.


Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality.”

Given my soft spot for famous diaries, it should come as no surprise that I keep one myself. Perhaps the greatest gift of the practice has been the daily habit of reading what I had written on that day a year earlier; not only is it a remarkable tool of introspection and self-awareness, but it also illustrates that our memory “is never a precise duplicate of the original [but] a continuing act of creation” and how flawed our perception of time is — almost everything that occurred a year ago appears as having taken place either significantly further in the past (“a different lifetime,” I’d often marvel at this time-illusion) or significantly more recently (“this feels like just last month!”). Rather than a personal deficiency of those of us befallen by this tendency, however, it turns out to be a defining feature of how the human mind works, the science of which is at first unsettling, then strangely comforting, and altogether intensely interesting.

That’s precisely what acclaimed BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond explores in Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (public library) — a fascinating foray into the idea that our experience of time is actively created by our own minds and how these sensations of what neuroscientists and psychologists call “mind time” are created. As disorienting as the concept might seem — after all, we’ve been nursed on the belief that time is one of those few utterly reliable and objective things in life — it is also strangely empowering to think that the very phenomenon depicted as the unforgiving dictator of life is something we might be able to shape and benefit from. Hammond writes:

We construct the experience of time in our minds, so it follows that we are able to change the elements we find troubling — whether it’s trying to stop the years racing past, or speeding up time when we’re stuck in a queue, trying to live more in the present, or working out how long ago we last saw our old friends. Time can be a friend, but it can also be an enemy. The trick is to harness it, whether at home, at work, or even in social policy, and to work in line with our conception of time. Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it.

Discus chronologicus, a depiction of time by German engraver Christoph Weigel, published in the early 1720s; from Cartographies of Time. (Click for details)

Among the most intriguing illustrations of “mind time” is the incredible elasticity of how we experience time. (“Where is it, this present?,” William James famously wondered. “It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.”) For instance, Hammond points out, we slow time down when gripped by mortal fear — the cliche about the slow-motion car crash is, in fact, a cognitive reality. This plays out even in situations that aren’t life-or-death per se but are still associated with strong feelings of fear. Hammond points to a study in which people with arachnophobia were asked to look at spiders — the very object of their intense fear — for 45 seconds and they overestimated the elapsed time. The same pattern was observed in novice skydivers, who estimated the duration of their peers’ falls as short, whereas their own, from the same altitude, were deemed longer.

Inversely, time seems to speed up as we get older — a phenomenon of which competing theories have attempted to make light. One, known as the “proportionality theory,” uses pure mathematics, holding that a year feels faster when you’re 40 than when you’re 8 because it only constitutes one fortieth of your life rather than a whole eighth. Among its famous proponents are Vladimir Nabokov and William James. But Hammond remains unconvinced:

The problem with the proportionality theory is that it fails to account for the way we experience time at any one moment. We don’t judge one day in the context of our whole lives. If we did, then for a 40-year-old every single day should flash by because it is less than one fourteen-thousandth of the life they’ve had so far. It should be fleeting and inconsequential, yet if you have nothing to do or an enforced wait at an airport for example, a day at 40 can still feel long and boring and surely longer than a fun day at the seaside packed with adventure for a child. … It ignores attention and emotion, which … can have a considerable impact on time perception.

Another theory suggests that perhaps it is the tempo of life in general that has accelerated, making things from the past appear as slower, including the passage of time itself.

But one definite change does take place with age: As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer. Similarly, we tend to think of events that took place in the past 10 years as having happened more recently than they actually did. (Quick: What year did the devastating Japanese tsunami hit? When did we love Maurice Sendak?) Conversely, we perceive events that took place more than a decade ago as having happened even longer ago. (When did Princess Diana die? What year was the Chernobyl disaster?) This, Hammond points out, is known as “forward telescoping”:

It is as though time has been compressed and — as if looking through a telescope — things seem closer than they really are. The opposite is called backward or reverse telescoping, also known as time expansion. This is when you guess that events happened longer ago than they really did. This is rare for distant events, but not uncommon for recent weeks.

[…]

The most straightforward explanation for it is called the clarity of memory hypothesis, proposed by the psychologist Norman Bradburn in 1987. This is the simple idea that because we know that memories fade over time, we use the clarity of a memory as a guide to its recency. So if a memory seems unclear we assume it happened longer ago.

And yet the brain does keep track of time, even if inaccurately. Hammond explains the factors that come into play with our inner chronometry:

It is clear that however the brain counts time, it has a system that is very flexible. It takes account of [factors like] emotions, absorption, expectations, the demands of a task and even the temperature .The precise sense we are using also makes a difference; an auditory event appears longer than a visual one. Yet somehow the experience of time created by the mind feels very real, so real that we feel we know what to expect from it, and are perpetually surprised whenever it confuses us by warping.

In fact, memory — which is itself a treacherous act of constant transformation with each recollection — is intricately related to this warping process:

We know that time has an impact on memory, but it is also memory that creates and shapes our experience of time. Our perception of the past moulds our experience of time in the present to a greater degree than we might realize. It is memory that creates the peculiar, elastic properties of time. It not only gives us the ability to conjure up a past experience at will, but to reflect on those thoughts through autonoetic consciousness — the sense that we have of ourselves as existing across time — allowing us to re-experience a situation mentally and to step outside those memories to consider their accuracy.

But, curiously, we are most likely to vividly remember experiences we had between the ages of 15 and 25. What the social sciences might simply call “nostalgia” psychologists have termed the “reminiscence bump” and, Hammond argues, it could be the key to why we feel like time speeds up as we get older:

The reminiscence bump involves not only the recall of incidents; we even remember more scenes from the films we saw and the books we read in our late teens and early twenties. … The bump can be broken down even further — the big news events that we remember best tend to have happened earlier in the bump, while our most memorable personal experiences are in the second half.

[…]

The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty. The reason we remember our youth so well is that it is a period where we have more new experiences than in our thirties or forties. It’s a time for firsts — first sexual relationships, first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home, the first time we get much real choice over the way we spend our days. Novelty has such a strong impact on memory that even within the bump we remember more from the start of each new experience.

Most fascinating of all, however, is the reason the “reminiscence bump” happens in the first place: Hammond argues that because memory and identity are so closely intertwined, it is in those formative years, when we’re constructing our identity and finding our place in the world, that our memory latches onto particularly vivid details in order to use them later in reinforcing that identity. Interestingly, Hammond points out, people who undergo a major transformation of identity later in life — say, changing careers or coming out — tend to experience a second identity bump, which helps them reconcile and consolidate their new identity.

So what makes us date events more accurately? Hammond sums up the research:

You are most likely to remember the timing of an event if it was distinctive, vivid, personally involving and is a tale you have recounted many times since.

But one of the most enchanting instances of time-warping is what Hammond calls the Holiday Paradox — “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.” (An “American translation” might term it the Vacation Paradox.) Her explanation of its underlying mechanisms is reminiscent of legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory of the clash between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”. Hammond explains:

The Holiday Paradox is caused by the fact that we view time in our minds in two very different ways — prospectively and retrospectively. Usually these two perspectives match up, but it is in all the circumstances where we remark on the strangeness of time that they don’t.

[…]

We constantly use both prospective and retrospective estimation to gauge time’s passing. Usually they are in equilibrium, but notable experiences disturb that equilibrium, sometimes dramatically. This is also the reason we never get used to it, and never will. We will continue to perceive time in two ways and continue to be struck by its strangeness every time we go on holiday.

Like the “reminiscence bump,” the Holiday Paradox has to do with the quality and concentration of new experiences, especially in contrast to familiar daily routines. During ordinary life, time appears to pass at a normal pace, and we use markers like the start of the workday, weekends, and bedtime to assess the rhythm of things. But once we go on vacation, the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences injects a disproportionate amount of novelty that causes these two types of time to misalign. The result is a warped perception of time.

Ultimately, this source of great mystery and frustration also holds the promise of great liberation and empowerment. Hammond concludes:

We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special.

Time Warped, a fine addition to these essential reads on time, goes on to explore such philosophically intriguing and practically useful questions as how our internal clocks dictate our lives, what the optimal pace of productivity might be, and why inhabiting life with presence is the only real way to master time. Pair it with this remarkable visual history of humanity’s depictions of time.

Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation.


Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality.”

cartographiesoftime3

Given my soft spot for famous diaries, it should come as no surprise that I keep one myself. Perhaps the greatest gift of the practice has been the daily habit of reading what I had written on that day a year earlier; not only is it a remarkable tool of introspection and self-awareness, but it also illustrates that our memory “is never a precise duplicate of the original [but] a continuing act of creation” and how flawed our perception of time is — almost everything that occurred a year ago appears as having taken place either significantly further in the past (“a different lifetime,” I’d often marvel at this time-illusion) or significantly more recently (“this feels like just last month!”). Rather than a personal deficiency of those of us befallen by this tendency, however, it turns out to be a defining feature of how the human mind works, the science of which is at first unsettling, then strangely comforting, and altogether intensely interesting.

timewarped1

That’s precisely what acclaimed BBC broadcaster and psychology writerClaudia Hammond explores in Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (public library) — a fascinating foray into the idea that our experience of time is actively created by our own minds and how these sensations of what neuroscientists and psychologists call “mind time” are created. As disorienting as the concept might seem — after all, we’ve been nursed on the belief that time is one of those few utterly reliable and objective things in life — it is also strangely empowering to think that the very phenomenon depicted as the unforgiving dictator of life is something we might be able to shape and benefit from. Hammond writes:

We construct the experience of time in our minds, so it follows that we are able to change the elements we find troubling — whether it’s trying to stop the years racing past, or speeding up time when we’re stuck in a queue, trying to live more in the present, or working out how long ago we last saw our old friends. Time can be a friend, but it can also be an enemy. The trick is to harness it, whether at home, at work, or even in social policy, and to work in line with our conception of time. Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it.

timewarped3

Among the most intriguing illustrations of “mind time” is the incredible elasticity of how we experience time. (“Where is it, this present?,” William James famously wondered“It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.”) For instance, Hammond points out, we slow time down when gripped by mortal fear — the cliche about the slow-motion car crash is, in fact, a cognitive reality. This plays out even in situations that aren’t life-or-death per se but are still associated with strong feelings of fear. Hammond points to a study in which people with arachnophobia were asked to look at spiders — the very object of their intense fear — for 45 seconds and they overestimated the elapsed time. The same pattern was observed in novice skydivers, who estimated the duration of their peers’ falls as short, whereas their own, from the same altitude, were deemed longer.

Inversely, time seems to speed up as we get older — a phenomenon of which competing theories have attempted to make light. One, known as the “proportionality theory,” uses pure mathematics, holding that a year feels faster when you’re 40 than when you’re 8 because it only constitutes one fortieth of your life rather than a whole eighth. Among its famous proponents are Vladimir Nabokov and William James. But Hammond remains unconvinced.

timewarped4

The problem with the proportionality theory is that it fails to account for the way we experience time at any one moment. We don’t judge one day in the context of our whole lives. If we did, then for a 40-year-old every single day should flash by because it is less than one fourteen-thousandth of the life they’ve had so far. It should be fleeting and inconsequential, yet if you have nothing to do or an enforced wait at an airport for example, a day at 40 can still feel long and boring and surely longer than a fun day at the seaside packed with adventure for a child. … It ignores attention and emotion, which … can have a considerable impact on time perception.

Another theory suggests that perhaps it is the tempo of life in general that has accelerated, making things from the past appear as slower, including the passage of time itself.

But one definite change does take place with age: As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer. Similarly, we tend to think of events that took place in the past 10 years as having happened more recently than they actually did. (Quick: What year did the devastating Japanese tsunami hit? When did we love Maurice Sendak?) Conversely, we perceive events that took place more than a decade ago as having happened even longer ago. (When did Princess Diana die? What year was the Chernobyl disaster?) This, Hammond points out, is known as “forward telescoping”:

It is as though time has been compressed and — as if looking through a telescope — things seem closer than they really are. The opposite is called backward or reverse telescoping, also known as time expansion. This is when you guess that events happened longer ago than they really did. This is rare for distant events, but not uncommon for recent weeks.

[…]

The most straightforward explanation for it is called the clarity of memory hypothesis, proposed by the psychologist Norman Bradburn in 1987. This is the simple idea that because we know that memories fade over time, we use the clarity of a memory as a guide to its recency. So if a memory seems unclear we assume it happened longer ago.

And yet the brain does keep track of time, even if inaccurately. Hammond explains the factors that come into play with our inner chronometry:

It is clear that however the brain counts time, it has a system that is very flexible. It takes account of [factors like] emotions, absorption, expectations, the demands of a task and even the temperature .The precise sense we are using also makes a difference; an auditory event appears longer than a visual one. Yet somehow the experience of time created by the mind feels very real, so real that we feel we know what to expect from it, and are perpetually surprised whenever it confuses us by warping.

In fact, memory — which is itself a treacherous act of constant transformation with each recollection — is intricately related to this warping process:

We know that time has an impact on memory, but it is also memory that creates and shapes our experience of time. Our perception of the past moulds our experience of time in the present to a greater degree than we might realize. It is memory that creates the peculiar, elastic properties of time. It not only gives us the ability to conjure up a past experience at will, but to reflect on those thoughts through autonoetic consciousness — the sense that we have of ourselves as existing across time — allowing us to re-experience a situation mentally and to step outside those memories to consider their accuracy.

But, curiously, we are most likely to vividly remember experiences we had between the ages of 15 and 25. What the social sciences might simply call “nostalgia” psychologists have termed the “reminiscence bump” and, Hammond argues, it could be the key to why we feel like time speeds up as we get older:

The reminiscence bump involves not only the recall of incidents; we even remember more scenes from the films we saw and the books we read in our late teens and early twenties. … The bump can be broken down even further — the big news events that we remember best tend to have happened earlier in the bump, while our most memorablepersonal experiences are in the second half.

The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty. The reason we remember our youth so well is that it is a period where we have more new experiences than in our thirties or forties. It’s a time for firsts — first sexual relationships, first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home, the first time we get much real choice over the way we spend our days. Novelty has such a strong impact on memory that even within the bump we remember more from the start of each new experience.

Most fascinating of all, however, is the reason the “reminiscence bump” happens in the first place: Hammond argues that because memory and identity are so closely intertwined, it is in those formative years, when we’re constructing our identity and finding our place in the world, that our memory latches onto particularly vivid details in order to use them later in reinforcing that identity. Interestingly, Hammond points out, people who undergo a major transformation of identity later in life — say, changing careers or coming out — tend to experience a second identity bump, which helps them reconcile and consolidate their new identity.

So what makes us date events more accurately? Hammond sums up the research:

You are most likely to remember the timing of an event if it was distinctive, vivid, personally involving and is a tale you have recounted many times since.

But one of the most enchanting instances of time-warping is what Hammond calls the Holiday Paradox — “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.” (An “American translation” might term it the Vacation Paradox.) Her explanation of its underlying mechanisms is reminiscent of legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory of the clash between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”. Hammond explains:

The Holiday Paradox is caused by the fact that we view time in our minds in two very different ways — prospectively and retrospectively. Usually these two perspectives match up, but it is in all the circumstances where we remark on the strangeness of time that they don’t.

We constantly use both prospective and retrospective estimation to gauge time’s passing. Usually they are in equilibrium, but notable experiences disturb that equilibrium, sometimes dramatically. This is also the reason we never get used to it, and never will. We will continue to perceive time in two ways and continue to be struck by its strangeness every time we go on holiday.

Like the “reminiscence bump,” the Holiday Paradox has to do with the quality and concentration of new experiences, especially in contrast to familiar daily routines. During ordinary life, time appears to pass at a normal pace, and we use markers like the start of the workday, weekends, and bedtime to assess the rhythm of things. But once we go on vacation, the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences injects a disproportionate amount of novelty that causes these two types of time to misalign. The result is a warped perception of time.

We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special..

Source: http://www.brainpickings.org

What’s Your Greatest Barrier to Change?


Ever felt like there is something lacking within you or in your circumstances that prevents you from flourishing in your life? It’s common to have times in your life when you feel like there arebarriers to the change you want to create.

ChilddreamsFB-300x233

We are ever the seekers of data and evidence, so in order to see what was really going on out there amongst our followers we asked our peeps the question… “What do you believe is the single greatest barrier to positive change in your life?”

Below is quick snapshot of the responses:

  • Lack of self-belief and confidence – 40%
  • Unsure where or how to start creating change – 16%
  • Personal circumstances and resources – 15%
  • Lack of time and space to create change – 6%
  • Fear of failure – 6%
  • Fear of judgement and ridicule – 3.5%
  • Lack of support/motivation/inspiration – 3.5%
  • Other (such as ‘a little bit of all these things’, ‘familiarity of current situation is easier than the fear of the unknown’ and ‘uncomfortable being vulnerable/addressing true emotions in order to move forward’) – 10%

What You Believe Becomes Your Reality

You might have noticed that we worded the question, very purposefully, as “What do you BELIEVE….” in relation to barriers to change. That is because your beliefs are what create the barrier/s. And, you have the ability to shift your beliefs. That’s fab news!

It all comes down to how much you want to shift any limiting beliefs. Because you can, it is just a choice and willingness to look at the limitation and to put in the conscious effort (awareness) to retrain your belief system in a way that better serves you. The result will be an empowered version of self for the rest of your life. The effort is worth it! Think of it like a ritual, not a chore. If people put half the effort into themselves as they do into everything (and everyone) else, they would be astounded at the change that results.

A core reason many people don’t put that effort into themselves, is that they don’t put themselves first in their life. They come last after everything and everyone else. It’s time to drench yourself with love and to realise that you are the centre of your life experience, everything stems from you and the best thing you can do for everyone around you is to care for and love yourself (like during aeroplane safety briefings when they tell you to fit your own oxygen mask first before helping others!)

Shifting Yourself – Dissolving Barriers

So now you might be thinking… “Well, yes I believe that I have barriers to change, and I want to change those beliefs so that those barriers don’t block me any more. But, how the heck do I shift my beliefs?”

It was in response to this question that we created two of our online, self-paced workshops:

From your commitment to change, and from your self-belief, stems the endless possibilities available to you. Nothing and no one can tell you what to believe, what to think, how to feel or what to do. You and you alone create your life. You and you alone perceive what stands in your way. You and you alone create or break down the barriers that appear before you. It’s all about lifting your awareness, using your consciousness to your advantage, and starting to make choices moment by moment that will propel you upwards.

 

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