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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wrinkles and Love Addicts: Your Internal Pharmacy

       The things we say and do in life become grand gestures of our innermost goodness or representations of the ugliness we harbor and lock away.  Regardless which side of this you spend most of your time dwelling on the important thing to realize is that, though every moment of our lives is valuable, moments themselves are fleeting.  What lingers on with us is not the moment but the emotion we felt from that moment.  Feelings, you see, are what compose us, not moments.  So do we have a choice in our emotion?  Do we get to choose which emotions we hang onto?  This is a tricky question as it seems as though emotion is more like an act of God, uncontrollable and unpredictable.  The good news is that emotion is also a habit.  Just like everything else.  Our emotions are slaves to our thoughts and, in turn, we are slaves to our emotions.  So, it would appear that we have circled back into choice of thought patterns. 
       All any emotion is is a combination of chemicals released into your nervous system by the hypothalamus gland.  Not only does this gland's chemicals control emotion, but also hunger, thirst, balance, etc.  In extreme cases, that gland releases too much or too little of a certain chemical and medication is the only way to rectify the imbalance.  But for most people a simple choice in thought can reprogram the hypothalamus to release different combinations of chemicals.  The hypothalamus is like our own, internal drug dealer.  We think and it creates a batch of "stuff" suited to our thoughts.  Then it sends that batch out into our bloodstream where it hunts for cells to infect.  If you've ever known a drug addict then you know that after awhile they need more and more and more of the drug to get the desired affect.  Our cells are similar, they become addicts to chemicals and crave more of certain ones.  We are all addicted to different emotions, our cells screaming at us from the inside out for the chemicals we have gotten them addicted to based on our thoughts.  This is one of the reasons that so many scientists say that stress causes aging.  Stress is an overload of chemicals and those chemicals are bombarding your cells.  This bombardment eventually damages the cells ability to take in important proteins and amino acids which in turn begins to affect health.  With these unhealthy cells dwelling around inside of you, your skin loses elasticity at rapid rates and before you know it you look haggard.  One more example of why healthy thought patterns are so important.
      It's like that pendulum swing of love.  While you're in it, you're glowing, you feel energized, healthier even.  But then, when it's over, you can feel physically ill, tired, and miserable.  Ever wonder why that is?  It is because the person feeling love is merely getting an excess of a happy chemical from their hypothalamus gland.  So when "love" dies, people are almost like addicts having withdrawals from the chemical which they had become so accustomed to feeling in their bloodstream.  
     The good news is that emotions aren't bad, they just are.  They are present in every function of the body from digestion to sleep cycles.  Once those chemicals are released into our bloodstream they dock onto cells and can even change the cells nucleus to a degree.  In order to maintain health, in order to live at our fullest potential we must first recognize the way we are affecting our reality.  Thought, perception creates emotion and emotion creates us.  What are you cooking up in your internal pharmacy?  Who will you be today?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Power of Thought: Boners and Bad Days

We've all heard the many cliched is what you make it, believe and you'll receive or my personal favorite by Buhddha, "We are what we think," but do we really see them as true? People have been studying the brain ever since they realized that we have a brain and still amidst all of the technological advances and amazing discoveries we haven't come close to understanding the way our brains work fully. The power of thought has been pondered and argued about for generations. Books like "The Secret," make claims that we attract both negative and positive elements into our lives by merely thinking of them. Just the idea that something as fundamental as thought could affect our lives so dramatically is almost impossible to imagine. Almost but not entirely. Science is at work all of the time to develop a mastery of the world, the universe, and the unknown. The studies we hear about are generally those dealing with illness, disease and the environment but there are countless other experiments occuring all over the world that rarely make headlines.

One experiment of particular interest here was done by a japanese water scientist named Masaru Emoto. Using a high powered microscope and really fancy photography equipment he tried to prove the power of thought by using the most manipulatable of the elements, water. In one set of experiments he exposed water to different kinds of music and in another he taped written phrases to cups of water and left them out overnight. The results were astounding. After countless experiments he was able to prove that the direction of positive or negative thought and intention actually changed the appearance of the water molecules.
The phrase taped to this water was "You make me sick."

The phrase taped to this water was ""Love and Gratitude" 

Taking into consideration that our planet is composed mostly of water and so are our bodies, if thoughts can do that to water what do we do to ourselves and our world with our negative thoughts?
In another experiment done in 1993 in Washington D.C. four thousand randomly chosen participants over a period of two months were able to decrease the occurence of violent crimes in D.C. by 24%simply through meditation. It sounds astonishing and unbelievable but google it. It is real. They even brought in statistical analysts to determine the probability of a random decrease in crime in that particular interval during the study. The chances of that they found to be two in one billion. Pretty amazing what thoughts can do, isn't it?

If scientific experiments don't convince you then let's go at this another way. The thoughts we have on a daily basis do affect us physically and mentally. One blatant piece of proof is a boner. Men can get a boner without having any physical interaction. Most of the time it is their thoughts that create a hard on. It seems odd to jump from science to hard ons but this is an undeniable truth.  Thoughts can make things happen.  Thought isn't just a part of us......we are thought, it makes us who we are. Our thoughts are all encompassing, we are creatures of thought and our lives are the products of the choices we make based on our thoughts. If one negative thought directed at water can change a water molecule's shape so dramatically in one night without so much as a touch, then why is it so hard to believe that we can create our world based on what we think?

The world is a wave of possibility, if we can think of it then it can be real. It is our thoughts that restrain us. Internal chains are what keep us because external influences are only as real as the thoughts that give them the power to be. It is our beliefs that seperate what is from what isn't. What we believe in is paramount to what kind of lives we live. Belief, faith is just a choice in thought pattern. If we can make something as extraordinary and amazing as God a reality in our minds, if we can change water at it's most basic form with thought, if collective positivity can alter the course of crime in a densely populated metropolis, then what else can our thoughts accomplish?  Imagine the possibilities!  If thoughts are infinitely powerful then couldn't it also be said that we ourselves are equally as powerful?  If our thoughts are choosing our environment, if we are carelessly creating our world by not making the choice to acknowledge our part in it's construction, then why not try to take a more proactive stance?  Try to master your thoughts, to focus the positive ones and abandon the negative ones, if only to prove this theory wrong.  This puts the responsibility of your joys and sorrows back into your hands where it should be. What is real and what isn't? That is the ultimate question. But if you accept your world as it is and don't seek more then the more you desire but don't reach for will never find you. Energy exists all around us and within us, floating around like a swirl of endless fireflies until a thought manifests it as an action or a word or a smile. What will your thoughts manifest today?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mastering Anger: A Shotgun in A Room of Chandeliers

Anger is like fire in a paper mill, it can consume you so quickly that you don't even realize what is happening until you are a pile of ash. People battle anger daily and a lot of times they lose. Even though in the moment it feels like a boiling cauldron whose overflow cannot be denied there are ways to master your anger. Some say you should count to ten, some say to hit a pillow but these methods don't seem to be as effective as some might hope. I like the analogy of the angel and the devil on either shoulder. We all have one of each and we all decide which one to listen to. It is a constant struggle because what is good in us sometimes sounds like a whisper compared to the incessant screaming of our more negative sides. When anger wins out over patience we can hear that voice in our head saying, "what am I doing?" That voice is what I call your true self. It is who you are at the core and who you fight to protect everyday from what is damaging and negative in the world.

Anger is one of the ninjas we employ to battle for us when our better half feels unable to meet the challenge. Most of us try patience first. We try to reason and communicate. That is our true self trying be a problem solver. When it doesn't work we call in the artillery. Our anger is a coping mechanism and it can be very effective at conveying our ideas. People listen when you are angry and screaming, just not for the right reasons. Picture a room with a really high ceiling, full of hanging chandeliers. Above one of the chandeliers there is a light switch on the ceiling. This light switch when turned on fills the room with the most beautiful feeling of peace. We want to turn on the switch because we want to feel the peace it will bring but the ceiling is too high. We try to use a ladder but the switch is still just beyond our reach. We begin to try other methods but every time we are close to touching it, the chandeliers are too thick and our fingers can't fit through the spaces between them. So we run out of options, or so it seems and we go and get a gun. That gun is our anger. We begin to shoot the chandeliers until none remain. All we want is to flip that switch and fill the room with peace and we are willing to do anything to make sure it happens. Once we have destroyed everything in our way we climb up and try to find the switch but then we realize that we have destroyed all of the lights and the room is dark. Now we can't see the switch and we are stuck in a dark room covered with broken glass. In the aftermath of an angry outburst we find ourselves even farther away from our goal of peace and walking around in the dark, cutting our feet on the broken glass of our hateful words. That is what anger does, it destroys. Anger has one goal and it is blind to all else but that one goal. Anger wants only to be heard. It doesn't care about the feelings of others. It doesn't care about property or image or even someone else's safety.

If you think of your anger as a seperate entity it will help you fight against it. After all, at the close of a rampage you feel just as bad as whoever was at the recieving end of you rage. This is because the things that were said and done weren't said and done by you but by your anger. You, too, are at fault of course for affording it the power to act.  You have seen what anger can do and even knowing this you still let it hold the gun and pull the trigger so you feel guilt and remorse. You see, once you allow it to be in control you become an observer, chained in a corner and helpless. You have quit and given your hands and your mouth away to be used in ugly ways. It is true once you have given anger the power to act it is hard to stop it. But what you must remember is that anger needs your consent. When you feel your anger beginning to rear it's head think of it as a possession. You are being taken over. You are giving the controls away to a thing who does not have your best interest in mind. You must say to yourself, "I am in charge of me." You have to fight to keep your hands on the steering wheel, don't relinquish your power. You have to make the choice to be the driver. If you allow anger to drive, you are the one who suffers the injuries of an imminent collision. You are the one left to clean up the mess. You have to learn to admit that you are losing control. You need to learn to visualize your hands slipping from the wheel and you need to learn to maintain your grip. If for you that means walking away or asking for time to think then that is what you do. In any case you must make a choice to never allow anger to use your mouth or your hands. Take back your power. Clutch that steering wheel as tightly as you can and never let it go.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Synapses and Decision Making

Have you ever had a moment where you are frantically searching for something, your keys for instance, and then eventually find it in an obvious place that you had already looked in? You wonder on these occasions how it is possible that you didn't see it the first time you looked. The reason is that the first time you looked, your keys simply weren't there. Sometimes when we are looking at something we aren't actually seeing it, we are remembering it. Your brain is really busy and because of this, fails sometimes to process new information. Physics is the study of matter and energy and their relationship with each other. Some physicists believe that most of what we think we see is really just our brain sending us a memory of what we've seen before. What this means is that to truly view something as new we must pause and focus on seeing it. This is why we couldn't see our lost keys. When we were looking for them our brain sent us a memory of the spot we were looking in and in that memory our keys weren't there. It's like sitting at a stop sign and when you looked for traffic, you saw none. But then when you pull out into the street suddenly there's a car there that you hadn't noticed before. You weren't actually seeing the intersection, your brain was assuming.

We become accustomed to living so quickly, to moving at such a fast pace that we don't actually consume what is in front of us. Science by way of physics has proven this. When you ask yourself the question, "How did I miss that when it was right in front of me," you are acknowledging the idea that the connections made by your nervous system have become habitual. For instance, why do we feel physical pain? It is because when we cut our skin or touch something hot our nerve endings are built to send the message to our brain that we are hurt. When you go to the dentist and they numb your mouth, what they are doing is impairing the ability of those nerve endings to send that message which means that the brain isn't able to tell us that we are hurt. When the medication wears off and your nerve endings "wake up" what we feel is the aftermath, the wound but not the initial injury. We can't feel the initial injury because our nerve endings were sleeping when it occured and are therefore completely unaware of it. We spend the first years of lives building more synapses or connections in our brains than any other time in our lives. A three year old actually has twice as many connections as an adult. From age ten to twenty, trillions of extra connections are eliminated. The connections that have been used consistently have become stronger and stay; those that have not been used often enough do not. If two children fall down in exactly the same way at the same time one may cry hysterically while the other just stands up and dusts off their knees. It's not because one child is hurt more than the other, it is because their environment has helped them form synapses that tell their nerve endings to tell their brain that they are more hurt. The point I'm making is that the way we react to life is based on the connections our brain has been building since birth. All of the cells in our brain have the potential to form a connection but only the connections which are used remain. It is survival of the fittest.

The phrase "practice makes perfect" takes on a whole new meaning. Since our nervous system dictates our reactions to stimuli based on the connections or synapses that are there then how do we change something in ourselves? Are we powerless against these habits? As adults we are forming connections too, just less frequently. Learning a new skill forms a connection, learning a language. Habitual decision making reinforces connections and branching out and trying new things forms new connections. What you must do is to realize that your brain is never in a static, permanent state. It changes everyday based on the choices you do or do not make. You are creating pathways everyday which determine how you are projected onto the world. Make conscious decisions don't live based on presumed circumstances, don't let habitual connections determine how you consume your environment. Open your eyes, make a choice to really see what you're looking at. Retrain your brain and open the gate to your endless possibility.