It became clear to me, after years of interviewing people who had experienced spontaneous remissions and healings, that most of these individuals had four specific qualities in common. They had experienced the same coincidences.
I invite you to have a single thought, any thought. Whether you choose to think of feeling angry, sad, inspired, joyful or even sexually aroused, you’ve changed your body. You changed you. Even thoughts like, “I can’t,” “I’m not good enough, “No one cares,” or even “I love you,” have the same measurable effects. As you sit casually reading this magazine, without moving a single muscle, bear in mind that your body is capable of a host of dynamic changes. By thinking your most recent thought, did you know that suddenly your pancreas and your adrenal glands are already busy secreting a few new hormones? Adrenal glands, where are they? Like a sudden lightning storm, different areas of your brain just surged with increased electrical current, and you made a mob of neuro-chemicals that are too numerous to name. Your spleen and your thymus gland are sending out a mass e-mail to your immune system to make modifications. Several different gastric juices are now flowing. Your liver is now processing enzymes that were not present moments before. Your heart rate is modified, your lungs are changing their stroke volume and blood flow to the capillaries in your extremities is now different. All from just thinking one thought. You are that powerful.
Technological advances in the delivery of information have presented the world with countless opportunities to send and receive news tailored to the demands and desires of the recipients. The prospects appear unlimited to communicate positions, to create and mobilize communities, and to generate inspiration and motivation for new ideas. Change would seem inevitable in the Information Age. But is it? Is it possible that our technological culture is creating an addiction to the external world and homogenized communities? Is a society committed to finding satisfaction from external stimuli prone to the comfort of conformity and less likely to seek, much less embrace, change? Let’s take a look at what neuroscience and biology have to say about change.
Current neuro-scientific theory tells us that the brain is organized to reflect everything we know in our environment. The different relationships with people we have met, the variety of things we own and are familiar with, the cumulative places we have visited and have lived at different times in our lives, and the myriad of experiences we have embraced throughout our years are all configured in the soft plastic tissues of the brain. Even the vast array of actions and behaviors that we’ve repeatedly performed throughout our lifetime is also tattooed in the intricate folds of our gray matter. For the most part, our brain is equal to our environment.
Therefore, in our waking day, as we interact with all of the diverse stimuli in our external world, it is the environment that activates different circuits in the brain and, as a result, we begin to think (and react) equal to the environment. As this process occurs, our brains will then fire familiar circuits that reflect past known experiences already wired in our brain. When we associate with the external world we think in familiar automatic hardwired ways. If we believe the notion that our thoughts or our actions have anything to do with our future, how can we ever be in control of our destiny?
In other words, in a normal day, as we consciously or unconsciously respond to familiar people, as we recognize the host of common things in different known places at certain predictable times, and when we experience the same conditions in our personal world, we will, more than likely, think and behave in automatic memorized ways. To change then is to think and act greater than our present circumstances. It is to think greater than our environment.
We have been told that our brains are essentially hardwired with unchangeable circuitry ” that we possess, or better put, are possessed by, a kind of neurorigidity that is reflected in the type of inflexible and habitual behavior we often see exhibited. The truth is that we are marvels of flexibility, adaptability and a neuroplasticity that allow us to reformulate and re-pattern our neural connections to produce the kind of behaviors that we want. The truth is that we have far more power to alter our own brains, our behaviors, our personalities, and ultimately our reality, than previously thought possible. How about those individuals in history that have risen above their present circumstances, stood up to the onslaught of reality as it presented itself to them, and made significant changes?
For example, the Civil Rights Movement would not have had its far-reaching effects if someone like Martin Luther King, Jr., had not, despite all the evidence around him (Jim Crow laws, separate but equal accommodations, snarling attack dogs, and powerful fire hoses), believed in the possibility of another reality. Though Dr. King phrased it in his famous speech as a “dream”, what he was really promoting and living was a better world where everyone was equal. How was he able to do that? Simply put in his mind, he saw, felt, heard, smelled, lived and breathed a different reality from most other people at that time. It was the power of his vision that convinced millions of his cause. The world has changed because of his ability to think and act greater than conventional beliefs.
Not only did King consistently keep his dream alive in his mind, he lived his life as if his dream was already unfolding. He was uncompromising to a vision greater than his circumstances. Therefore, even though he hadn’t embraced the physical experience of freedom yet, the idea was so alive in his mind that there was a good possibility that his brain “looked like the experience already happened”.
Neuroscience has proven that we can change our brains just by thinking differently. Through the concept of mental rehearsal (to repeatedly imagine performing an action in the mind or to think about something over and over again), the circuits in our brains can reorganize themselves to reflect our very intentions. People who were taught to mentally rehearse one handed finger exercises for two hours a day for five days demonstrated the same brain changes as the people who physically performed the same movements. (1) To put this into perspective, when we are truly focused and single-minded, the brain does not know the difference between the internal world of the mind and the external environment.
Because of the size of the human frontal lobe and our natural ability to make thought more real than anything else, this type of internal processing allows us to become so involved in our dreams and internal representations that the brain will modify its wiring without having experienced the actual event. This means that when we can change our minds independent of environmental cues, and then steadfastly insist on an ideal with sustained concentration, the brain will be ahead of the actual external experience. In other words, the brain will look like the experience already happened. As the brain changes before the future event actually occurs, and we embrace the very circumstances that challenge our mind because there is no evidence of the particular reality we are insisting on, we will have created the appropriate circuits in place to behave equal with our intentions. Simply said, the hardware has been installed so that it can handle the challenge. When we change our mind, our brain changes and when we change our brain, our mind changes.
What made Dr. King unique, or any great leader for that matter that changed the course of history and the world, was that his mind and body were united to the same cause. In other words, he did not think and say one thing and then behave contrary to his intentions. His thoughts and actions were completely aligned to the same outcome. This is not a bad working definition of true leadership. When we can place our mind on a desired goal and then we discipline the body to consistently act in alignment with that end, we are now demonstrating greatness. We are literally living in the future and, even though we cannot physically experience that reality yet with our senses, the vision is so alive in our minds that the brain and the body will begin to change in order to prepare us for the new experience. In one study, men who mentally rehearsed doing bicep curls with dumbbells for a short period of time every day, showed (on the average) a 13 per cent increase in muscle size without ever touching the weights. Their bodies were changed to match their intentions. (2)
So when the time comes to demonstrate a vision contrary to the environmental conditions at hand, it is quite possible for us to be already prepared to think and act, with a conviction that is steadfast and unwavering. In fact, the more we think about or formulate an image of our behavior in a future event, the easier it will be for us to execute a new way of being, because the mind and body are unified to that end.
So what is it then that talks us out of true change? The answer is: our feelings and our emotions. Feelings and emotions are the end-products of an experience. When we are in the midst of any experience, all of our five senses are gathering sensory data and a rush of information is sent back to the brain through those five different pathways. As this occurs, gangs of neurons will string into place and organize themselves to reflect that event. The moment that these jungles of nerve cells become patterned into networks, they fire into place and release chemicals. Those chemicals that are released are called emotions.
Emotions and feelings then are neuro-chemical memories of past events. We can remember experiences better because we can remember how they feel. For example, do you remember where you were on 9/11? You probably can clearly recall very well where we were that day at the exact time interacting with certain people, because you can remember that novel feeling that woke you up enough to pay attention to whatever was causing that unique internal change in chemistry. More than likely, it was a different feeling from one you had in a long time.
Back to the concept of change. If emotions brand experiences into long-term memory, then, when we are faced with current obstacles in our life that require thinking and acting in new ways, when we use familiar feelings as a barometer for change, we will most certainly talk ourselves out of our ideal. Think about this. Our feelings reflect the past. They are familiar to us in the sense that they have already been experienced. To change is to abandon past ways of thinking, acting and feeling so that we can move into the future with a new outcome. To change is to think (and act) greater than how we feel, to be greater than past familiar feelings that root us back to the past behaviors and attitudes. Emotions like fear, worry, frustration, sadness, greed, and self-importance are familiar feelings that, if in the midst of transformation we decide to succumb to, will surely point us in the wrong direction. Most likely, we will return to the old self, driven by those same emotions and performing the same behaviors.
Can we then begin to contemplate change for ourselves? To take the time and begin to think independent of the barrage of environmental stimuli, is a skill that when properly executed, will change the brain, the mind, and the body to prepare us for the future. The art of self-reflection is dying in a technological culture that saturates us with so much information that we become addicted to the external world and we rely on the outer conditions to stimulate our own thinking. How free are we? Most are lost without the thrill of entertainment, text messaging, phone calls, and the internet. To make the time to meditate, to remind ourselves of new ways to live independent of the external world, to plan our future, to mentally rehearse the behaviors we want to change and to think about new ways of being, will surely set us apart from our predictable genetic destiny.
Janis Schonfeld, a 46-year-old interior designer living in California, had suffered with depression since she was a teenager. She’d never sought help with the condition until she saw a newspaper ad in 1997. The UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute was looking for volunteer subjects for a drug trial to test a new antidepressant called venlafaxine (Effexor). Schonfeld, a wife and mother—whose depression had escalated to the point where she had actually entertained thoughts of suicide—jumped at the chance to be part of the trial.
Memories, Habits, Fantasies, Fears, Hopes, Skills
Everything that makes us up; the “you” and the “me”- our thoughts, our dreams, our memories, our hopes, our secret fantasies, our fears, our skills, our habits, our pains and our joys – is etched in the living lattice work of 100 billion brain cells. If you learn even one bit of information today, tiny brain cells will make new connections between them, and who “you” are will be altered.
The images that we create in our mind as we process different streams of consciousness leave footprints in the vast endless fields of neurological landscape, which contribute to the identity called “you.” For the “you” as a sentient being is immersed and truly exists in the interconnected electrical web of cellular brain tissue. How our nerve cells are specifically arranged by what we learn, what we remember, what we experience, what we feel, what we envision, as well as what we think about ourselves defines us individually and it is reflected in our internal neurological wiring. We are a work in progress.
Here is what I mean. According to the working model of neuroscience, mind is the brain in action. Mind is the brain at work. It is the product of brain activity when it is animated with life. With 100 billion nerve cells seamlessly wired together, it becomes apparent that we can produce many different levels of mind.
For example, the mind we use to treat patients is different than the state of mind we use to drive our car. We make the brain work differently when we brush our teeth compared to when we play the violin. Equally, we make a different mind when we play the victim in contrast to when we demonstrate joy. All of this is so because we can, quite simply, force gangs of nerve cells to fire in unique ways.
Not more than thirty or forty years ago, there was a unanimous belief in biology that the brain was hardwired, meaning that we are born with a certain amount of neurological connections and the finality in life was that we were going to turn out like our parents. It was an accepted perception that this delicate organ was unable to upscale its hardware. But with the advent of the latest technologies in functional imagery it is apparent that it is very possible to make the brain work differently. In fact, the research out of the University of Wisconsin has proven something as simple as attention or focused concentration is a skill just like golf or tennis. In other words, the more you practice being conscious or mindful the better you get at it.
In addition, functional imagery has clearly proven that we can also change the brain just by thinking differently. For example, people that never played the piano were divided into groups. (2) The first group physically played one-handed finger exercises like scales and cords, and as a result of the new activity, their brains changed. The before and after results of the functional brain scans showed new areas of the brain activated. In essence, not only did they make a new mind, literally new brain circuits flourished.
However, when a second group was asked to mentally rehearse the same scales and cords in their mind for the same amount of time, they grew the same amount of brain connections as the group who physically demonstrated the activity. Simply put, when we are truly focused and attentive, the brain does not know the difference between what is happening in our minds eye and what is happening in the external world.
Other research has proven similar results not only in the brain but in the body as well. These tests have shown that there is veritable a mind-body connection—in fact, the mind changed the body. In one study, subjects who were asked to do a finger exercise against the resistance of a spring over the course of four weeks for an hour a day showed a 30 percent increase in muscle strength. (3) Nothing special here. However, the second group never lifted a finger. They mentally practiced the same activity for the same length of time and demonstrated a 22 percent increase in muscle strength without any physical activity.
This research is significant because it clearly showed that the body as well as the brain changed before the experience of really pulling the spring. In other words, without touching the spring or physically doing the exercise, the body was stronger to reflect a mental effort not a physical effort. These two studies show that physical changes can occur by our thoughts, our intentions, and our meditations.
So, when you take the time out of your busy schedule and begin to intentionally dream a new reality, plan a new life, set a new practice goal, or design a new event for you to experience in your future, just remember that your brain is rewiring itself to your desires and your body is being reconditioned in order to prepare itself for that new event. Therefore, if you would mentally rehearse daily what it would be like to experience any event (just like the piano players), there would be internal changes taking place as if you were already beginning to experience your dream.
By applying this understanding to the quantum model, which states that our subjective mind has an effect or control over our objective world (consciousness creates reality), we can begin to explore the idea that if our brain and our bodies are evidencing physical changes to look like the experience has already happened as a result of our mental efforts well before the physical manifestation has occurred, then theoretically the experience will find us!
By Dr. Joe Dispenza
As seen in Science to Sage E-Magazine
Dream a New Reality
Most of us already know that the brain is electro-chemical in nature. When nerve cells fire, they exchange charged elements that then produce electromagnetic fields. In fact, we generate more electrical impulses between our ears in one day, than do the total number of cell phones on the planet during that same amount of time. Because the brain’s diverse electrical activity can be measured and calibrated, these effects can provide us with important information about what we’re thinking, feeling, learning, dreaming, and creating, as well as how we are behaving or processing information. The way scientists record the brain’s changing electrical activity is by utilizing an electroencephalograph (EEG).
Research over the years has displayed a wide scope of brain wave frequencies ranging from very low brain activity found in deep sleep called Delta waves, to high thinking brain waves called Beta waves. By understanding the different patterns of brain wave activity in human development, we can better influence how children learn, experience, and act. Let’s look at the progression of developmental brain wave stages found in growing children.
Between birth and two years old, the human brain functions primarily in the lowest brain wave activity, which is from 0.5 to 4 cycles per second. This range of electromagnetic activity is known as Delta waves. In other words, a young baby is typically asleep with their eyes open. This phenomenon explains why a new born usually cannot remain awake for more than a few minutes at a time. The trance state that infants exhibit suggests that new-borns have very little analytical faculties. Information from the outside world enters their mind and brain without any analysis, judgment, editing, or critical thinking. In fact, sensory information that an infant processes is encoded directly into their subconscious mind.
From about 2 years to 5 or 6 years of age, a child begins to demonstrate slightly higher EEG patterns. These brain waves are called Theta waves and they can be measured between 4 to 8 cycles per second. Theta waves are the twilight state in which some people find themselves half awake and half asleep. This state is evident in adults when the conscious mind is awake and the body is somewhat asleep. This is also the hypnotic state where there is access to the subconscious mind. In Theta, we are more programmable because there is a thin veil between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.
Let’s examine what is meant by the subconscious mind. Because of the research done in brain wave frequencies, we now know that when we are born, we are totally subconscious mind. The developing human learns from positive and negative identifications and associations that give rise to habits and behaviors. A good example of a positive identification is when an infant is hungry or uncomfortable and cries out. As the child makes an effort to communicate in order get its mother’s attention and as the nurturing parent responds by feeding the child or by changing her diaper, the infant makes an important connection with the outside world. It only takes a few repetitions before the infant learns to associate crying out with being fed or becoming comfortable. It becomes a behavior.
A good example of a negative association is when a two year old child puts his finger on the hot stove. He learns very quickly to identify the object he sees, the stove, with the pain he is feeling and, after a few tries he learns a valuable lesson. In these examples, we could say that it is the sensory stimuli from the outside world that produces an internal chemical change in the body. And in time, when the developing mind pays attention to whatever it was in the environment that created the internal change, be it pleasure or pain, that process is an event in and of itself. It’s called a memory. This type of associative memory requires little conscious awareness.
Somewhere between the ages of 5 and 8, our brain waves change again to an Alpha wave pattern. In Alpha, the brain is in a light meditative state. When we close our eyes and eliminate all of the sensory information from the environment, alpha waves are produced in the brain. We tend to think less because there is little information being integrated from the external environment. We relax. It is at this point in child development that the analytical mind begins to form. The child is genetically changing and along with the sum total of the environmental cues he has experienced, both will influence the growing nervous system. As a result of this type of brain wave activity, children begin to interpret and draw conclusions about the laws of external life. This is just about when children figure out that there is no Santa Claus. As the analytical mind forms at this age, it acts as a barrier to separate the conscious mind from the subconscious mind.
Most psychology texts tell us that the subconscious mind makes up about 90% of who we are. The conscious mind is therefore 10% of the total mind. While the subconscious mind is made up of those positive and negative identifications and associations that give rise to habits and behaviors, the conscious mind is primarily made of logic and reasoning which contribute to our will. It is at this point in development that we function more of the time from our rational thinking as well as conscious decision making abilities. We begin to form the ego. Resultantly, this type of thinking creates Beta wave patterns on EEG machines.
Young children therefore, have the ability to absorb vital information directly into their subconscious minds because of the way the brain develops. We are highly adaptive during our early years of life so that we can organize cultural beliefs and societal behaviors into our nervous systems. The opportunities we provide for our offspring will directly dictate the experiences they will embrace in their own personal reality at some future time. And their actions will then influence the next generation the same way. The brains plasticity, combined with the multitude of mirror neurons it contains, afford the young mind the natural innate ability to imitate whatever that mind embraces in the environment. By providing the proper models early enough in a contemporary educational system, in a family setting, or in society, we may subconsciously teach our children the proper rules of this game called of life.
Current neuro-scientific theory tells us that the brain is organized to reflect everything we know in our environment. The different relationships with people we have met, the variety of things we own and are familiar with, the cumulative places we have visited and have lived in, and the myriad of experiences we have embraced throughout our years are all configured in the soft plastic tissues of the brain. Even the vast array of actions and behaviors that we’ve repeatedly performed throughout our lifetime is also tattooed in the intricate folds of our gray matter. For the most part, our brain is equal to our environment.
In a normal day, as we respond to familiar people, as we encounter common things in known places at predictable times, and as we experience recurring conditions in our personal world, we will more than likely think and behave in automatic memorized ways. To change, then, is to think and act greater than our present circumstances. It is to think greater than our environment.
We have been told that our brains are essentially hardwired with unchangeable circuitry— that we possess or, better put, are possessed by a kind of neurorigidity that is reflected in the type of inflexible and habitual behavior we often see exhibited. The truth is that we are marvels of flexibility, adaptability, and a neuroplasticity that allows us to reformulate and re-pattern our neural connections to produce the kind of behaviors that we want. We have far more power to alter our own brains, our behaviors, our personalities, and ultimately our reality than previously thought possible. Consider those individuals in history who have risen above their present circumstances, stood up to the onslaught of reality as it presented itself to them, and made significant changes.
For example, the Civil Rights Movement would not have had its far-reaching effects if someone like Martin Luther King, Jr., had not, despite all the evidence around him (Jim Crow laws, separate but equal accommodations, snarling attack dogs, and powerful fire hoses), believed in the possibility of another reality. Though Dr. King phrased it in his famous speech as a “dream,” what he was really promoting and living was a better world where everyone was equal. How was he able to do that? Simply put, he saw, felt, heard, lived and breathed a different reality in his mind than most other people at that time. It was the power of his vision that convinced millions of the justness of his cause. The world has changed because of his ability to think and act greater than conventional beliefs.
Not only did King consistently keep his dream alive in his mind, he lived his life as if his dream was already unfolding. The idea was so alive in his mind that there was a good possibility that his brain “looked as if the experience had already happened.”
Neuroscience has proven that we can change our brains just by thinking differently. Through the concept of mental rehearsal (to repeatedly imagine performing an action), the circuits in our brains can reorganize themselves to reflect our very intentions. In one study, people who mentally rehearsed one-handed finger exercises two hours a day for five days demonstrated the same brain changes as people who physically performed the same movements.1 To put this into perspective, when we are truly focused and single minded, the brain does not distinguish between the internal world of the mind and the external environment.
This type of internal processing allows us to become so involved in our dreams and internal representations that the brain will modify its wiring without having had experienced the actual event. When we change our minds independent of environmental cues and then steadfastly insist on
The spinal cord acts as a ‘fiber optic’ cable that conveys impulses from the brain to other parts of the body and relays messages from the body back to the brain.