How meditation rewires your brain to be more positive
A recent controlled study showed that meditation was associated with increased grey matter in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory, and decreased grey matter in the amygdala, which is the initiator of the brain’s pre-cortical alarm system. These physiological changes parallel the theory that meditation increases conscious control over emotional, behavioral, and attentional response to threat.
Patients in another mindfulness study demonstrated significantly greater changes in brain electrical activity from activation in the right to the left cortical hemisphere, from before to immediately following meditation and several months later, compared to a control group. This pattern of brain activity is associated with a shift away from negative and towards more positive emotional experience. In other words, mindfulness meditation regimen appeared to help people to experience more positive emotions such as love, compassion, or contentment.Simple Breath Awareness Meditation Instructions
- Pick a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be disturbed
- Sit with the spine upright on a cushion on the floor or a chair. If you use a chair, make sure your feet are touching the ground.
- Begin to notice your breathing. Try to maintain an open and curious attitude. Notice where the breath goes when it enters and leaves your body.
- Do not try to change the breath in any way. It may change naturally as you observe it.
- If your mind wanders away, note what it is doing, than gently bring your attention back to the breath.
- Continue observing the breath for 15-20 minutes.
As we live our life one of the things that happens is we pick up a lot of negative energies. We take baths and showers to clean our physical bodies, this exercise cleanses our energy bodies.
The following exercise is short but very powerful. Do it regularly and you will definitely feel the difference. This can be done anywhere except of course while driving. It may be necessary for you to do this where there are no distractions until your concentration and focus improves.
Sit comfortably or lie down. (After some practice you can do this while you are showering)
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth.
Visualize a golden cloud above your head.
See golden rain drops coming out of the cloud.
See these drops and feel them cleansing your Aura.
(The area around you, from your physical body out to
about three feet.)
See the golden drops penetrate your skin, in through all parts of your body, all the way down to the cellular level. Knowing that all aspects of you are being cleansed. Feel the joy this exercise provides. See this residue wash into the earth, knowing that as you release these negative energies you are also providing nourishment to the earth. See plants and flowers growing and blooming all around you.
Sit with this experience for awhile.
Take a couple breaths to complete.
The “conditioned life” cannot grow beyond certain limits because it is imprisoned by world views and social conditioning. It is better to strive for an “unconditioned life” because it conserves energy. This energy is now available to us and can be used to access the noncognitive information of right brain, which reveals the unknown, and eventually, the unknowable.
The Person Living a Conditioned Life
Sensitivity to Negative Information
The brain typically detects negative information faster than positive information. Take facial expressions, a primary signal of threat or opportunity for a social animal like us: fearful faces are perceived much more rapidly than happy or neutral ones, probably fast tracked by the amygdala. In fact, even when researchers make fearful faces invisible to conscious awareness, the amygdala still lights up. The brain is drawn to bad news.
High Priority Storage
When an event is flagged as negative by the brain, the hippocamus makes sure it’s stored carefully for future reference. Once buried, twice shy. Your brain is like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive ones - even though most of your experiences are probably neutral or positive.
Negative Trumps Positive
Negative events generally have more impact than positive ones. For example, it’s easy to acquire feelings of learned helplessness from a few failures, but hard to undo these feelings, even with many success. People will do more to avoid a loss than acquire a comparable gain. Compared to lottery winners, accident victims usually take longer to return to their orignal baseline of happiness. Bad information about a person carries more weight than good information, and in relationships, it typically takes about five positive interactions to overcome the effects of a single negative one.
Even if you’ve unlearned a negative experience, it still leaves an indelible trace in your brain. That residue lies waiting, ready to reactivate if you ever encounter a fear provoking event like the previous one.
Negative expiriences create vicious cycles by making you pessimistic, overreactive, and inclined to go negative yourself.
Avoiding Involves Suffering
As you can see, your brain has a built in “negativity bias”, that primes you for avoidance. This bias makes you suffer in a variety of ways. For starters, it generates an unpleasant background of anxiety, for which some people can be quite intense; anxiety also makes it harder to bring attention inward for self awareness or contemplative practice, because the brain keeps scanning to see if there is no problem. The negativity bias fosters or intensifies other unpleasant emotions, such as anger, sorrow, depression, guilt, and shame. It highlights pass losses and failures, it downplays present abilities, and it exaggerates future obstacles. Consequently, the mind continually tends to render unfair verdicts about a person’ character, conduct, and possibilities. The weight of those judgments can really wear you down.
- excerpts from Buddhas Brain, Rick Hansone PH.D and Richard Mendius, M.D
1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. A single detail may be picked out, and the whole event becomes colored by this detail. When you pull negative things out of context, isolated from all the good experiences around you, you make them larger and more awful than they really are.
2. Polarized Thinking: The hallmark of this distortion is an insistence on dichotomous choices. Things are black or white, good or bad. You tend to perceive everything at the extremes, with very little room for a middle ground. The greatest danger in polarized thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself. For example-You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.
3. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized. This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event.
4. Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you. Mind reading depends on a process called projection. You imagine that people feel the same way you do and react to things the same way you do. Therefore, you don’t watch or listen carefully enough to notice that they are actually different. Mind readers jump to conclusions that are true for them, without checking whether they are true for the other person.
5. Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s.” What if that happens to me? What if tragedy strikes? There are no limits to a really fertile catastrophic imagination. An underlying catalyst for this style of thinking is that you do not trust in yourself and your capacity to adapt to change.
6. Personalization: This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself. For example, thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc. The underlying assumption is that your worth is in question. You are therefore continually forced to test your value as a person by measuring yourself against others. If you come out better, you get a moment’s relief. If you come up short, you feel diminished. The basic thinking error is that you interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth and value.
7. Control Fallacies: There are two ways you can distort your sense of power and control. If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you. Feeling externally controlled keeps you stuck. You don’t believe you can really affect the basic shape of your life, let alone make any difference in the world. The truth of the matter is that we are constantly making decisions, and that every decision affects our lives. On the other hand, the fallacy of internal control leaves you exhausted as you attempt to fill the needs of everyone around you, and feel responsible in doing so (and guilty when you cannot).
8. Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair, but other people won’t agree with you. Fairness is so conveniently defined, so temptingly self-serving, that each person gets locked into his or her own point of view. It is tempting to make assumptions about how things would change if people were only fair or really valued you. But the other person hardly ever sees it that way, and you end up causing yourself a lot of pain and an ever-growing resentment.
9. Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem. Blaming often involves making someone else responsible for choices and decisions that are actually our own responsibility. In blame systems, you deny your right (and responsibility) to assert your needs, say no, or go elsewhere for what you want.
10. Shoulds: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules. The rules are right and indisputable and, as a result, you are often in the position of judging and finding fault (in yourself and in others). Cue words indicating the presence of this distortion are should, ought, and must.
11. Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true-automatically. If you feel stupid or boring, then you must be stupid and boring. If you feel guilty, then you must have done something wrong. The problem with emotional reasoning is that our emotions interact and correlate with our thinking process. Therefore, if you have distorted thoughts and beliefs, your emotions will reflect these distortions.
12. Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them. The truth is the only person you can really control or have much hope of changing is yourself. The underlying assumption of this thinking style is that your happiness depends on the actions of others. Your happiness actually depends on the thousands of large and small choices you make in your life.
13. Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities (in yourself or others) into a negative global judgment. Global labeling ignores all contrary evidence, creating a view of the world that can be stereotyped and one-dimensional. Labeling yourself can have a negative and insidious impact upon your self-esteem; while labeling others can lead to snap-judgments, relationship problems, and prejudice.
14. Being Right: You feel continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. Having to be ‘right’ often makes you hard of hearing. You aren’t interested in the possible veracity of a differing opinion, only in defending your own. Being right becomes more important than an honest and caring relationship.
15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You fell bitter when the reward doesn’t come as expected. The problem is that while you are always doing the ‘right thing,’ if your heart really isn’t in it, you are physically and emotionally depleting yourself.
1. Déjà vu is the experience of being certain that you have experienced or seen a new situation previously – you feel as though the event has already happened or is repeating itself. The experience is usually accompanied by a strong sense of familiarity and a sense of eeriness, strangeness, or weirdness. The “previous” experience is usually attributed to a dream, but sometimes there is a firm sense that it has truly occurred in the past.
2. Déjà vécu (pronounced vay-koo) is what most people are experiencing when they think they are experiencing deja vu. Déjà vu is the sense of having seen something before, whereas déjà vécu is the experience of having seen an event before, but in great detail – such as recognizing smells and sounds. This is also usually accompanied by a very strong feeling of knowing what is going to come next. In my own experience of this, I have not only known what was going to come next, but have been able to tell those around me what is going to come next – and I am right. This is a very eerie and unexplainable sensation.
3. Déjà visité is a less common experience and it involves an uncanny knowledge of a new place. For example, you may know your way around a a new town or a landscape despite having never been there, and knowing that it is impossible for you to have this knowledge. Déjà visité is about spatial and geographical relationships, while déjà vécu is about temporal occurrences. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote about an experience of this in his book “Our Old Home ” in which he visited a ruined castle and had a full knowledge of its layout. He was later able to trace the experience to a poem he had read many years early by Alexander Pope in which the castle was accurately described.
4. Déjà senti is the phenomenon of having “already felt” something. This is exclusively a mental phenomenon and seldom remains in your memory afterwards. In the words of a person having experienced it: “What is occupying the attention is what has occupied it before, and indeed has been familiar, but has been forgotten for a time, and now is recovered with a slight sense of satisfaction as if it had been sought for. The recollection is always started by another person’s voice, or by my own verbalized thought, or by what I am reading and mentally verbalize; and I think that during the abnormal state I generally verbalize some such phrase of simple recognition as ‘Oh yes—I see’, ‘Of course—I remember’, etc., but a minute or two later I can recollect neither the words nor the verbalized thought which gave rise to the recollection. I only find strongly that they resemble what I have felt before under similar abnormal conditions.” You could think of it as the feeling of having just spoken, but realizing that you, in fact, didn’t utter a word.
5. Jamais vu (never seen) describes a familiar situation which is not recognized. It is often considered to be the opposite of déjà vu and it involves a sense of eeriness. The observer does not recognize the situation despite knowing rationally that they have been there before. It is commonly explained as when a person momentarily doesn’t recognize a person, word, or place that they know. Chris Moulin, of Leeds University , asked 92 volunteers to write out “door” 30 times in 60 seconds. He reported that 68 per cent of his guinea pigs showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that “door” was a real word. This has lead him to believe that jamais vu may be a symptom of brain fatigue.
6. Presque vu is very similar to the “tip of the tongue” sensation – it is the strong feeling that you are about to experience an epiphany – though the epiphany seldom comes. The term “presque vu” means “almost seen”. The sensation of presque vu can be very disorienting and distracting.
7. L’esprit de l’escalier (stairway wit) is the sense of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late. The phrase can be used to describe a riposte to an insult, or any witty, clever remark that comes to mind too late to be useful—when one is on the “staircase” leaving the scene. The German word treppenwitz is used to express the same idea. The closest phrase in English to describe this situation is “being wise after the event”. The phenomenon is usually accompanied by a feeling of regret at having not thought of the riposte when it was most needed or suitable.
8. Capgras delusion is the phenomenon in which a person believes that a close friend or family member has been replaced by an identical looking impostor. This could be tied in to the old belief that babies were stolen and replaced by changelings in medieval folklore, as well as the modern idea of aliens taking over the bodies of people on earth to live amongst us for reasons unknown. This delusion is most common in people with schizophrenia but it can occur in other disorders.
9. Fregoli delusion is a rare brain phenomenon in which a person holds the belief that different people are, in fact, the same person in a variety of disguises. It is often associated with paranoia and the belief that the person in disguise is trying to persecute them. The condition is named after the actor Leopoldo Fregoli who was renowned for his ability to make quick changes of appearance during his stage act. It was first reported in 1927 in the case study of a 27-year-old woman who believed she was being persecuted by two actors whom she often went to see at the theatre. She believed that these people “pursued her closely, taking the form of people she knows or meets”.
10. Prosopagnosia is a phenomenon in which a person is unable to recognize faces of people or objects that they should know. People experiencing this disorder are usually able to use their other senses to recognize people – such as a person’s perfume, the shape or style of their hair , the sound of their voice, or even their gait. A classic case of this disorder was presented in the 1998 book (and later Opera by Michael Nyman) called “The man who mistook his wife for a hat”.