As someone who has practiced meditation for years, I wanted to “simplify” what Dr. Joe Dispenza’s research has revealed.
- Focus on negative thoughts and release unwanted chemicals into your body.
- Focus on good thoughts and your bodily functions and overall health will improve.
Sound too easy?
Here’s the science.
The supposed benefits of meditation have been tossed around for years.
But Dr. Dispenza’s work has documented the true benefit and the ‘reason why‘ it should be practiced.
His work involves neurology, brain function, chemistry, and memory formation.
We Have An Old Brain
When primitive man was confronted with a dangerous situation like a tiger showing up to eat him the fight or flight survival mechanism kicked in.
His body would unconsciously, take action (fight) or run (flight) instantaneously because these survival instincts don’t give you time to think.
The role of Catecholamines
Let’s get scientific for a moment.
The following information is brought to you by HarvardHealth.edu.
Catecholamines include neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which are released during the body’s stress response. The adrenaline rush you have probably felt when scared is the result of catecholamines.
During a fight-flight-freeze response, many physiological changes occur.
The reaction begins in your amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for perceived fear. The amygdala responds by sending signals to the hypothalamus, which stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The autonomic nervous system has two components: the sympathetic nervous system, and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers.
In the 1920s, American physiologist Walter Cannon was the first to describe the fight-or-flight response. Cannon realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactionsinside the body helped to mobilize the body’s resources to deal with threatening circumstances.
Here’s The Point
When your body recognizes a threat or acute stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated by the sudden release of hormones. This chain of reactions increases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, as you prepare to deal with the threat.
After the threat is gone, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.
But many of us are in “toxic environments” where this, unconscious, response is constantly being triggered. Now because most of us are not confronting tigers in bushes these days, life-threatening situations become more mundane.
Regular stress becomes our trigger:
- Pressure at school.
- Co-workers hassling us.
- Bosses yelling at us.
- Bullying (yes, even adults can get bullied).
- Financial pressure (a huge source of stress).
- Fear, phobias, etc.
For a stressor to activate your body, a message has to be sent from the brain through your nervous system to the receiving organs and muscles.
When we have a thought or we perceive something, that thought or perception is transformed by the brain into an emotion.
That emotion or feeling sends a signal through the spinal cord out to the muscles and organs in need and causes them to take action. (That’s the fighting or flighting response).
To have a better grasp of this system at work we need to dissect it further.
The nervous system can be divided into two main categories: the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).
The CNS is constituted of the brain and the spinal cord.
When information (as an event or experience) is presented to the brain, it is processed on three different levels.
First, the neocortex collects the sensory input. The neocortex is the center of our higher-level functions, such as language, perception, and decision-making. It is the newest part of the brain, in terms of evolution.
Second, the limbic system transforms those thoughts or perceptions into emotions. The limbic brain is linked to our emotional self, our memory, and learning.
Third, the stimulus is processed in the brain stem. The brain stem is home to our most basic needs. It is the most ancient part of our brain, responsible for managing our heart, respiration, sleep, hunger, and for keeping us alive.
The brain stem is where the fight or flight response activates the body.
Staying alive is our most basic need, so when our brain detects danger, it sends a signal through the spinal cord to the autonomic nervous system that will then alert the targeted organs and muscles to take appropriate action.
Chronic Consequences and Illness
Because this primitive response happens automatically it is being triggered all of the time. The problem here is that this stress reaction evolved to be a quick fix for a temporary problem; it is not sustainable over weeks, months, and in some cases years. This response does incredible harm to the body-mind.
When we maintain stress in our lives over long periods, the body will eventually enter a stage of exhaustion when our internal resources become depleted.
We cannot live in overdrive for too long. If we do, without giving ourselves the proper recovery, health issues and illnesses will inevitably surface.
Research is now indicating that this stress is a leading cause of chronic illnesses in the body.
Living In Survival Mode
When we are living with stress, we are continuously in survival mode. In survival mode, we tend to give in to the more animal part of our nature; we react to the environment.
When we feel like our life is threatened, this is certainly not a good time to take chances or risks, to try different pathways, or get creative.
When we are focusing on survival, all of our attention is locked onto what is directly in front of us that is causing distress. We want to get this thing right, we don’t want to fail or simply feel like we don’t have the option of failure, so we become blind to new options or routes that might be riskier but also more rewarding. In the same way, it’s hard to approach the obstacle from a different angle or with an open mind.
We want to find safety and comfort, and what is safe is usually what is known and familiar, so we tend to do it the way we always have. We are inclined to retreat into our routines, the coping habits we have learned have become unconscious and automatic, not always because they are effective or we like them, but because they are familiar, and what is familiar we know to be safe.
Survival is connected to the past, our habits and routines, the sense of safety, and the familiarity that is built of our past experiences. If we react from our experience and habits, taking the familiar action based on what we did before, we are likely to repeat just more of the same resulting in the same outcome.
When you get stressed out, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This stress hormone can cause all sorts of problems inside your body:
- Cloudy thinking,
- disruption of sleep,
- high blood pressure,
- and anxiety are a few of the side effects of cortisol.
A series of repetitive, highly charged, emotionally stressful events that occur in a person’s life within a short time frame could turn on the body’s stress response over and over again.
When the stress response is turned on and can’t turn off, the body’s survival mechanisms are activated and can stay that way for long periods.
When someone lives in survival mode, they are living in a state of emergency, and are continually prepared for peril. The brain and body are always highly aroused.
Here is where things can go from bad to worse.
In preparation for the next perceived threat, a person will think about some future worst-case scenario – based on a specific memory – and will emotionally embrace it with such focus and concentration, that their body begins to believe that it is living in that future reality in the present moment.
Because the body is the unconscious mind.
It does not know the difference between an experience in life that creates an emotion or when emotion is created by thought alone. As a result, the body can get knocked out of homeostasis just by thinking!
It is the redundancy of this process that conditions the body to become the mind of fear. In other words, anxiety is now subconsciously programmed into the body.
When someone falls prey to a panic attack, they can try to control it with their conscious mind, but it has been programmed into the body subconsciously, they cannot stop it because their body has become the mind of anxiety.
Since anxiety attacks are a byproduct of hyper-vigilance – of constant preparation for the next stressful experience – then is it possible to reverse the process and teach an individual, through meditation, to become conscious of their subconscious or unconscious thoughts and feelings related to an imagined horrible outcome?
If the purpose of meditation is to get beyond the analytical mind to move from the conscious mind into the subconscious mind, then is it possible to change the program?
What if a person was taught how to settle the brain and body into the present moment over and over again?
By living in the present moment even for 20-30 minutes at a time, shouldn’t the body (as well as the brain), start to feel safe, more relaxed, and ultimately more balanced?
Is it also possible to then recondition the body to a new mind?
To a mind of peace or joy, just by doing the exact same process that created the anxiety?
In other words, what if a person selected a new future healthy or joyful experience and emotionally embraced that future with the same passion that created the anxiety in the first place?
Over time, could their body begin to be conditioned to believe that it is living in that future scenario and subconsciously become the mind of joy?
Regaining Control of Your Frontal Cortex
To recover from stress and reconstitute the balance (called homeostasis), our body has a built-in compensatory Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Also known as Rest and Digest, the PNS redirects blood and energy back to the digestive tract, regulates the size of the pupils to protect the retina from intense light, and regulates the immune system’s proper functioning, keeping your body healthy and on track.
You can prevent or stop an amygdala hijack by breathing, slowing down, and trying to focus your thoughts. This allows your frontal cortex to regain control.
Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work is scientifically proving the negative results of prolonged stress on the body can be neutralized through meditation.
This is the breakthrough of his work.
Studies show that meditation can make physical changes to your brain.
These physical changes to the brain create emotional stability and reduce stress.
It breaks the habitual negative thoughts and gives your nervous system a moment to reset. When the body-mind gets into the positive habit of meditation and reaching this ‘reset point’ amazing benefits take place. Dr. Joe Dispenza has thousands of documented cases of physical healing from chronic illness.
The Ancient Practice
Some archaeologists date meditation back to as early as 5,000 BC, according to Psychology Today, the practice itself has ties in ancient Egypt and China, as well as Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and, of course, Buddhism.
Sara Lazar, Mass General, and Harvard Medical School’s neuroscientist made the following discovery:
“Those who had been practicing meditation for a long time had increased gray matter in their auditory and sensory cortex, in the insula and sensory regions of the brain, and several other areas.
Increases in gray matter were also found in a region of the brain linked to the frontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making and memory. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the study was that while most people’s cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.
Imagine that—meditation can make you have a younger brain. It can also cause your brain to grow new neurons, contrary to the antiquated theory that was once said this was impossible.”
I believe that based on this research and documentation the ancient ‘art’ of meditation is being transformed into a natural antidote that is being adopted by the masses.
It may one day become a daily habit as important as brushing your teeth!