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Sooner or later, all of us seek to make known the unknown, to expand our consciousness beyond the habitual and limited “box” of comfortable thinking patterns. Whether this is motivated by pain or desire, a spiritual student challenges him or herself to change their thinking, to change their reality, to become new. And any thorough, disciplined spiritual study is designed to produce the changes desired, and even facilitate mastery—mastery of service to others and God, and mastery of the mind and creative powers. To make these changes, there needs to be a commitment of mind, soul, and body. Mind creates the desire, but just how does the body follow? How do our changing attitudes take effect in our bodies? How can we most effectively align these physical bodies that we still have in this journey?
Tibetan monks and lamas used to have a competition among themselves of who could completely dry up the most wet blankets placed over them while outside in the freezing Himalayan mountains. These spiritually committed people could influence their bodies powerfully through thought, on command. In several early studies, which tested brain activity of spiritually aware people, notably swamis from India and lamas from Tibet, the meters jumped way out of calibration—the brain wave activity was off the charts regularly in both active thinking (like drying blankets) and in peaceful meditation.
Every thought we have creates our reality—our life is our collective experience, and our consciousness through it affects our lives, and it affects our bodies. Many believe that when we have full control over our bodies, time, and reality (our thoughts and experience) we in effect can “graduate” from this earthly plane. We are free from the bonds of karma and entrapment. So how do we cause our higher consciousness to bring this all the way into our daily lives? How does our mind interface with our body to build and manifest higher consciousness in our lives? What are the mechanics and metaphysics of this? Let’s explore the brain and nervous system first and then how we can use it to its highest potential to receive and direct our thoughts into manifestation at the cellular level. That’s where we can see and experience directly the effects of our thinking.
The Brain and Neurons
There is certainly enough evidence that we exist beyond the body and brain—as spirit, soul, and thinking intelligence. More of concern in this paper is how we as thinkers connect with our senses, interpret our environment, and register thoughts into our bodies accordingly. Because we have these bodies to learn through experiencing, it makes sense we master the whole process of life and creation, and learn with purpose and awareness.
The brain is a busy place. The brain hooks us, as thinking consciousness, up to physical reality through the nervous system. The brain is the guide and controller tool of our responses and reactions to our environment. The interchange/hookup point is in the brain, through our pituitary and pineal glands, which interpret our inner and outer environments, and our medulla oblongata, and cerebellum, which are in contact with our higher mind divisions. The brain receives images from our outer environment as well as our dreams and conscious imaging, and transmits images to our higher subconscious and superconscious divisions of mind.
There’s an evolutionary anomaly that we ought to look at, which gives a clue how to direct our use of our brain. It is commonly noted that we use less than ten percent of our brain. The old adage “use it or lose it” seems like it should apply, right? Evolution has eliminated so many obsolete species and appendages, but the human brain has gotten larger over time. Why?
The brain has ten to 100 billion neurons in it. These are the very tiny connectors that facilitate the movement of electrical impulses—thoughts and responses to them--throughout the body and brain. Neurons look like little oak trees with their branches touching each other. They pass thought impulses and other command signals to all parts of the body.
The possible number of connections this affords is greater than the number of atoms in the universe. For comparison, there are ten trillion atoms on the head of a pin, and you could fit 30,000 neurons on that same pinhead. Doing a little math on this is staggering, the number of potential patterns of nerve firings we can arrange in our brains. Essentially it’s unlimited, compared to how we use this system now.
Conversely, habitual thinking leads to restricted thinking, as well as restricted brain activity. Our minds and brains were both designed to think non-linearly, meaning we can think abstractly and sequentially equally well, and the speed of thought is about 270 mph in the brain. Neurons are associated with each other to create what is called neuro-plasticity, meaning channels can disconnect and reconnect as needed to pass information and construct pathways for repeated impulses. Over time, if the neuron impulses stay relatively the same, as from similar thought patterns practiced over and over (habits), neurons begin losing their neuro-plasticity. The more habitual a person is over time, the harder it becomes to trans-connect the wires, or less “plasticity” is possible in the brain.
Our awareness of life and ourselves is reflected in our use of the brain. The human brain can be aware of 400 billion bits of information a second—it is able to process this much information simultaneously because of the sheer number of connections possible. But we are typically aware of only 2,000 bits of information per second on average. Where is the rest of our awareness? It is mostly occupied in sensory and conscious mind thinking. This brings the question of how can we tap into the vast potential of expanded use of our awareness capability?
If the brain is already wired and ready to process 400 billion bits per second, we merely need to expand our awareness—what our attention processes at any given moment to use our brain and body to the fullest extent. Humans have the largest neo-cortex, in relation to the rest of the brain, of any species on Earth. We have tremendous untapped potential for processing information in the brain, and our command of our attention is the means of capitalizing on it.
There is a difference between attention and awareness. Attention is what we do with our senses; it is how we gather our senses to a common point of focus. Singular-pointed attention is when we have trained our senses to let go of all outside distractions, as well as internal distracting thoughts, and commit all our senses and receptive powers to merging with a particular object—a person, place or thing. Awareness is what happens through this process. As our attention becomes so focused in concentration, more of the mind’s capabilities become available for conscious use. An analogy would be when you have a big project due very soon and there are a lot of people and noises in your environment, you close the door, turn off the music or television, and put away the food—you are focusing your senses on the task at hand. At that point, you have much more of your mind’s resources ready at your command.
Our awareness is in all levels of the mind. It is how and where we plan, decide, and assess our environment. It is what we use to obtain facts, data, and information. It is what we have built understandings of. This expanded use of the mind causes the dendrites of the neurons to make further connections. Experience also makes connections between neurons. New experiences, or even shades of difference in old experiences, cause there to be re-wiring and whole new connection patterns to be made in the brain.
A large percentage of our brain connections are concerned with survival of the body, what will be pleasurable, and what will be a threat. These kinds of brain pathways are based on a type of past experience database. There are two principles of the mind that apply to how we learn. The first says that new information is automatically related to past experiences of the senses, and this is primarily done in pictures. So if the new item or scenario looks similar to an old scenario or object, then we tend to process it in the same way as that old pathway. When there is no association available, the new object or scene tends to register as danger, as uncomfortable—fear of the unknown.
The second principle of learning is that as we repeat any process, or expose ourselves to something over and over, it becomes less “dangerous” or uncomfortable, and eventually we can have so many experiences that are stored as association that it becomes familiar and even pleasurable. A good example is learning to drive a manual clutch car. The first experience is usually NOT pleasurable, and may be a very tense encounter. We try to remember all the steps—give it some gas, slowly off the clutch, keep the RPMs up, is it in the right gear? How about steering? Oh no, the car is lurching forward! But as we repeatedly image and concentrate mentally, we make more connections in the brain, and we can manifest the picture that much quicker and more accurately.
When we see that learning something new is really just dependent on how much we practice and build comfort with the new brain pathway, the biggest limits remaining are time related. It is a matter of how much time and practice can we give the new pathway? Even something as magical as manifesting loaves of bread out of the ethers becomes a possibility, given enough practice and concentration and imaging.
Expansion of Mind
Now that we see how the brain is structured, the connectivity and plasticity of the neurons, how important attention is, and the two basic rules of how we learn, we need to consider thinking “outside the box” of familiar patterns—how to expand our mind and awareness. We have to remember we as thinkers, as souls, direct our mind functions, and thereby our brains and physiology.
The cerebellum is the lower, reptilian part of the brain. It is considered evolutionarily the oldest part of the brain. Here there are one million connections per neuron, and it is the densest part of the brain tissue, referred to as very ‘granular’ in density. Whereas the neo-cortex is associated with people, places, things, times, and events especially concerned with survival of the body, the cerebellum “endorses” the cortex. Endorsing means it accepts and promotes the reality of what the cortex sends it. The cerebellum can be seen as the part of the brain that communicates directly with the subconscious mind. What we think in the cortex, and especially the frontal lobe of the brain, is transferred to this area and becomes our reality.
When a person thinks the same way over and over—the same set of beliefs, staying safe with imagination--they create a box or “neural-net” and think they ‘have it all figured out.’ Really they are staying in a ‘box’ of familiar neural pathways which are based on the past associated thought patterns they have repeated over and over. This is how people continue to stay safe, and it is a natural function of the brain and nervous system to preserve safety for the body. Now, what happens if we give someone permission to think “outside the box,” or if they get fed up with being the same or creating the same situations for themselves? The cerebellum relates more to unlimited experience—all answers are available. It has been called the Observer because it observes and then endorses whatever is held in the frontal lobe as real, and will then seek to manifest the images. This is how our mind and thinking causes our brain to construct our reality.
The moment we are so involved in thinking outside the box, the brain activity and neural net connections literally move to the frontal lobe; the neurons fire in a different region than usual. The new images inside the mind become more important than the old box, and the cerebellum endorses the images in the frontal lobe. One important thing to remember here—any concerns for the body and attention given to the senses will bring us back to the old box, and this is where our conscious ego becomes a big factor.
The ego is our motivator, and it will question what we are doing and why. In the unaware person, the ego will seek to keep the body safe and happy and will want to end and get rid of uncomfortable situations, especially new ones it can’t find a comfortable association with. When we transcend the ego repeatedly, saying “I will do this anyway—despite the fear,” we activate the frontal lobe with the images we want to be real, and the lower cerebellum supports this transition. Once the images in the frontal lobe become more real than reality, they move to the cerebellum, which draws on the unlimited resources it has associated with it in subconscious mind. The power of controlling our concentration and imagination becomes all-important in creating the new reality—disciplined thinking sets you free!
When we do get to the place where we accept the new scenario as possible, time stops, the outside body and senses don’t matter, and we become totally involved in the image that we desire. The picture moves to the frontal lobe, and then the lower cerebellum or impartial “observer” creates the reality with its “analogical” mind (knowing no limits or fears). The manifestation of our creation occurs in earnest when there is acceptance of the image in the mind.
Anytime we by-pass our neo-cortex “box” of present life experience (and ego), we start operating from our lower cerebellum and therefore unlimited mind (subconscious). An example of creating a new box would be learning astral projection. The first time we try it, maybe nothing happens. Then the next few times we will concentrate on our breathing, image ourselves projecting, and we may get the feeling of swaying inside our body. Then one day, after imagining even further and really wanting the experience, we pop out of the body, and we are so startled by this, that we get scared and flop back in, saying “next time I won’t get so scared.” The next time, we move out, we aren’t scared, but look at our body, and our attention goes right back to the body. So, step-by-step, over and over in the face of trial and error, we make something very new into something safe and familiar. We use imaging to by-pass the old box, or old brain pathway, and create a whole new scene of how we want reality to become. We eventually create a new reality that continually expands into greater and greater possibilities. Curiosity is the key, as is the courage to stand up in the face of our beliefs and believe in something new. The sooner we accept the new images, the faster the manifestation occurs.
In order to change our physiology and complete the alignment of inner and outer in our bodies, we have to consider how emotions play a part. Thought moves through the mind into our emotional level and begins impacting our physiology from there. And in times of stress, there can be created a short circuit in our body’s reactionary nervous system, and we have to override the instinctual emotional reaction. Just like when a dog is trapped in a corner and someone threatening approaches it, it snaps into reaction mode, or sympathetic nervous system response. Any time there’s a sympathetic nervous system response, the adrenals secrete adrenaline, the blood pressure goes up, the heart rate quickens, and there is the urge for “fight or flight.”
Any time there is a stress in a human, the same responses happen in the body. But what we often do in response is we rationalize right over the natural adrenals and sympathetic reaction. We hide our fear, and we don’t fight or fly, but stand there and try to collect ourselves. All those chemicals released in the body are still there pumping through our system. What can happen over time is many people actually become addicted to this boost or rush of adrenaline, that high of excitement. The suppression of these emotional reactions can even make it a stronger addiction because there is not a productive use or outlet for all the chemicals secreted by the brain and adrenals.
Everyone is addicted to ego-oriented emotions that keep us entrapped—fear, anger, hate, doubt, weakness. There is some repeated brain pathway that we follow that leads to an emotional charge or rush, to some degree. It’s the same with food addictions: they create a chemical stress in the body, sometimes even an allergic reaction, that triggers the fight or flight rush from within, chemically. The chemicals are recognized as dangerous or potentially harmful by the body, it mobilizes its defense response, and in the process we satisfy a hunger for the stress-produced chemistry.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are told by your boss or doctor or even teacher to take break because of stress—to just take a few days to go relax somewhere and rejuvenate. Sounds great. While driving you are starting to relax, looking forward to the break. But pretty soon, you find yourself wanting to think about the issue you left behind, the stress, the annoyance or whatever it was. Why? Your body starts “missing” the chemical “hit” that is triggered by the stressful situation.
So what happens in the brain? You open up the hippocampus, our “file cabinet” access to stored images in the brain, and pretty quickly start to work yourself up again about the scenes you left behind. Any time you dig up an image like that, you flash it in the frontal lobe, it triggers the hypothalamus factory to manufacture chemicals of emotional response (particular peptides), and then these are transferred to the pituitary and are dumped to every cell of the body. The body becomes awash in the chemical response to the image that causes stress for us. We may not feel good in the process, and get all upset, but the body’s craving for these chemicals is satisfied for the time being.
DNA and Emotional Addiction
Scientists say we use about five percent of our total DNA, and most of this is used up in our physical expression. The other 95 percent is sometimes called “junk” DNA or ‘evolutionary leftovers,' because we don’t know what it does. Notice that the five to ten percent of our brain usage corresponds nicely with the five percent of our DNA usage. When we think of what we can potentially do with our brains, through disciplining our thinking and expanding our awareness, we have available the DNA to become practically anything we want.
We do need to let go of our emotional addictions, though. When there are chemical signals or stimuli in the DNA’s environment of hate, fear, weakness, these give the signal to the DNA to recreate emotional chemicals that correspond with these attitudes and emotions. Emotional reactions cause our very cells to flood the blood with peptides in response to the brain chemicals produced in the stress. This chain reaction occurs whether it is a real environmental stress, or an internal metabolic stress, or an imagined stress from our hippocampus file cabinet flashed across our frontal lobe.
When the emotional peptide chemicals regularly bathe the cells of the body, many of the cells produce their own versions of the peptides in order to maintain the level of these emotion chemicals in the bloodstream. Our DNA recognizes it as important to maintain their presence in the body, because it sees we continually need them—the cells in effect crave them and also produce them. These cell-produced peptides, as opposed to brain produced peptides, are a “cheaper” version of the molecules, built with whatever components and amino acids that are available. A process called “down regulation” starts occurring, which means new cells that are created have more receptors for the emotional chemicals and less of others, because the cell recognizes the environmental abundance and urgency for the processing of emotional chemicals. Our attitude gives the orders to the hypothalamus, which gives the orders to the body, to use many of our amino acids available to create peptides “tainted” with “emotional peptides.”
Kicking Emotional Addiction
To break this cycle of negative emotional addiction and perpetuation of our negative attitudes in our DNA expression, we need to disassociate from the emotional reactions—have a ‘fast’ from the emotions in question. You can see that when we react, we quite literally re-create the reactive situation in our cells. And you can tell you are addicted to certain emotions when you recognize it’s really hard to stop. Think about what negative emotions you may continually conjure up in your life. Anger? Jealousy? Sadness? Fear? The change we desire involves cleansing the cells of receptor sites, step by step, generation by generation of cells. By refraining—with our strengthened willpower, desire, and purpose—from invoking the emotional ‘hit,’ the cells may starve a little for the emotional peptides, but then the next generation of cells has fewer receptor sites craving, because there was less chemical in the environment for it to respond to.
When we image what we do want, and cultivate the attitudes that we do want to become a part of our consciousness—divine love, joy, bliss—the cell-craving for the “hit” goes to joy. The cells are ready, and our DNA is ready for receiving powerful peptides from the pituitary and hypothalamus. We have the choice of paths: the path of overcoming the body’s control of our consciousness, or the path to the body and the senses and emotions. We can create a whole new neural net, or brain pathway, and cellular response based on joy, love, and inspiration.
When we image and practice these positive, productive attitudes, they become our consciousness, and through the bio-chemical and nervous system responses, they become our physiology as well—right down to our DNA.