In our search to find well-being (the balance of compassion and thought) we discovered the magic of meditation, the wonderful benefits of prayer, and the healthy infusion of mind, body, and spirit through the consumption of tea. Throughout these discoveries, we have come across various writings, videos, and artistic presentations which further this pursuit. To be of further service to you, we have compiled an assortment of these works which you may find beneficial. Please enjoy as we have.
The Pit In Your Stomach is Actually Your Second Brain
Gut feelings influence your mood and well-being
Posted Jan 17, 2019
The world is so much bigger and more interesting than we can see with our naked eyes. If we could, we could watch cells grow, morph, and split again over and over again on the backs of our own wrists—or the billions of foreign cells living in and among our own, forming what scientists are beginning to call our “second brain.”
As researchers turn their microscopes to these hidden environments, they have discovered something remarkable: There’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria and a vast neural network operating in our guts. This ecosystem is our second brain, and comprises some 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord. This is not a thinking brain—it does not reason, write poetry, or solve multi-linear regressions—but mounting evidence suggests that your gut’s health strongly influences your mood.
It’s not just that a stomach ache can sour your day. It’s more than that. The enteric nervous system is a mesh-like network of neurons that lines the entire digestive track. It causes the sensation of nervous butterflies or a pit in your stomach that are innate parts of our psychological stress responses. Up to 90 percent of the cells involved in these responses carry information to the brain rather than receiving messages from it, making your gut as influential to your mood as your head is. Maybe even more.
Even crazier is that our second brain is actually only half of us. Inside the digestive system, the enteric nervous system mainly communicates with bacteria. These are completely separate creatures that make up our microbiome, and there are just as many of them inside of us as our own human cells.
Don’t panic: This is not an alien takeover. Our gut bacteria have evolved with us since birth. They help digest our food and fight off unfriendly outsiders like viruses and molds. To keep us healthy they need to be healthy and plentiful as well. When they’re not, we feel it: This biomass of bacteria communicates with important neurotransmitters embedded throughout our enteric nervous system to send messages that influence the way we feel.
This could herald good news for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. Studies indicate that those with healthy and diverse gut microbes are less likely to suffer from either malady. And many of us who grew up in too—clean environments, frequently took antibiotics, and ate junk food have a decidedly unhealthy microbiome. So changing one’s dietcould well benefit far more than your waistline.
If you’ve seen the term “probiotics” recently, this is why. Probiotics are foods that nourish and promote your biome. They’re foods cultured with the strains of healthy bacteria. Yogurt is a perfect example of a cultured food. Unfortunately, many grocery store yogurts are little more than a thickened, sweetened milk product. But yogurt that lists strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis actually contain the healthy bacteria your gut needs. “Prebiotic” foods, meanwhile, support a healthy gut ecosystem in which your bacteria can thrive. Together, prebiotic and probiotic food help keep your second brain full of the vibrant bacterial community it needs to function
How exactly these gut-healthy foods help manage depression is not yet totally clear. The science on the gut-brain connection is still young, especially as it relates to our mood. But studies continue to find promising correlations. There is evidence that a healthy gut can curb inflammation and cortisol levels, lower your reaction to stress, improve memory, and even reduce neuroticism and social anxiety. Many of these preliminary studies were conducted on mice, but there’s little risk to conducting your own human test at home. Incorporate more gut-healthy foods into your diet like yogurt, sauerkraut, and dark chocolate, and see how you feel.
Yes, it’s unlikely that simply taking a sip of kombucha the next time you feel anxious will calm you much. And you can’t expect to replace your SSRIs with prebiotic pickles. As with most of medicine, the gut-brain connection is a complex, varied, and ever-changing system for which no one definition of “healthy” will do. Your gut is, after all, as unique as you are. But these emerging insights about our gut-brain connection make us reframe the way we think about—and treat—our bodies and minds. If a cupful of yogurt for breakfast can make the workplace more bearable, then it’s time to go grocery shopping.
Click here to leave a comment, or to email Dr. Cytowic and receive his low-frequency newsletter and a copy of Digital Distractions: Your Brain on Screens. Follow @Cytowic, check him out at LinkedIn, or at his website, Cytowic.net
Check out this video from AsapScience for more about the second brain and its connection to everything from food cravings to autistic traits.
About the Author
I’m sure you’ve heard of the long-held spiritual belief to the number 40, the philosophy behind it stating that it takes 20 days to break old habits and 20 days to form new ones.
I’m interested in knowing if this is just a mystical number or whether there’s any proof that 40 is associated with transformation. Because if it is, maybe we will be one step closer to lasting change?
As a coach, mentor and healer I work with women all the time seeking life and career changes, these are intelligent, ambitious, motivated women who are committed to making changes. Yet still many will openly admit, that without accountability, they fall at the first hurdle.
From my experience, both personally and professionally, it’s easy to initiate change and start a new project, but what’s the secret – and is there one – to lasting change?
I mean, how many diets have you started and gave up on, or exercise programs you never stuck to, or courses you bought and never finished, a new fashion trend you thought you’d wear, a weekly yoga practice, daily meditation, health supplementation or lifestyle changes. The list goes on.
Even things that are good for us, that we should be motivated to stick to long term, fall away and we step back into old habits. Habits were formed in the first place, so we should be able to change them right? (surely it can’t be that hard!)
So, to help my clients (and myself because I really would like to commit to that weekly yoga practice instead of blaming the exhaustion that motherhood has created!), I’d love to find a solution.
I’ve been researching how long it takes to achieve successful, long-lasting change and transformation. And it appears that 40 days IS a magic number, with relevance across many of the world’s religions from pre-enlightenment fasting to prayer formulas to post birth purification.
It would seem that 40 days isn’t just a superstitious practice that permeates so many cultures, but in fact a period of time that allows transformation (renewal, repair, regeneration and rebirth) to occur.
There’s a universal understanding the world over of the significance that 40 days holds, so I have briefly noted some practices here:
Kundalini Yoga is known as the yoga of awareness because it uses physical movement, breathing and sound to directly affect ones consciousness, develop intuition, increase self knowledge, and unleashes the unlimited creative potential that exists within every human being. In fact it’s with Kundalini yoga you practice for 40 consecutive days to make or break habits.
Forty days has sacred relevance throughout religion. In Judaism, there’s a mystical practice that says one who seeks an answer to their prayers should pray the same prayer request for 40 consecutive days. Forty days also has significance for Christians who fast for 40 days during Lent.
As with many other cultures and religions around the world, including Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, in China a new mother is confined to her home for 40 days after she has given birth.
According to Chinese culture after the birth of a child the mother is at her weakest. She therefore stays at home whilst female members of the family take care of her and the child.
Similarly (if you are interested in spells) after giving birth a Zoroastrian woman remains secluded with her baby for 40 days in order to be purified from the impurities of childbirth. After the 40th day she takes a ritual bath that allows her to rejoin the wider community.
If we delve into psychology, researchers have found that personality can be changed through handwriting exercises over a period of 40 days. Although this is a bit worrying because my handwriting is getting worse with age, so not sure what that says about my psychological state!
And finally, in physiology, our skin cells on average take 40 days to renew, our red blood cells start dying from 40 days onwards and sperm count can be increased in 40 days.
Forty days holds both a mystical and practical significance to transformation in many areas of our life and cultures.
By knowing how long it takes to change behaviour and create new patterns, we are *somewhat* more in control of achieving lasting change and transformation. Or am I just kidding myself?
I’d love to hear from you: what do you think it takes and what are your secrets to making changes and creating new habits – and sticking to them? Please comment below.
Want to transform your life? Join the SoulMama challenge, a transformational journey of connecting to your heart and soul for 40 days of soul-fueled practices to be a conscious, calm, connected mama, click here.
3 Steps to “Spiritual Awakening” by raising your brain waves to Gamma!
I’ve been amused by what we human beings can innovate through science. But truly, do we really innovate or we just get awake to what already exists through science? What does it study, observe, experiment? Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about nature, world, universe. Obviously, through science, we are testing and measuring what our consciousness can perceive.
Let’s take a look at the science of brainwaves — the language of the brain. Recently a research by the Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan, issued a device that can read people’s minds by detecting their brainwaves, which will be easily operated through smartphone apps in very near future. Are you aware of what this means? There is a device that can read your mind! Gosh, I guess we could have saved many women from burning, accused of witchcraft if this would have been published in the 16th century:)
Seriously, what has changed from 16th century or before to 21st century if not our awareness and consciousness?
We can not see the ‘Big Picture’ yet but we are coming closer to it, especially after EEG (A device that can record brain waves) was found in the 19th century we were able to segment different types of “brain waves”.
The measurement of electrical activity in the brain and its recording as a visual trace on paper or oscilloscope is called electroencephalography — EEGand is used for tracking and recording of various brain wave patterns, which change according to different brain stages and mental activities.
In the beginning, there were only 4 observations of brain waves (Different sources provide different frequency values, below are average Hz’s):
Beta Waves (12–27 Hz): Our brain waves or so-called “vibes” in between the 12–27 Hz when we are awake, alert, attentive, solving problems, decision making, critical thinking, action, and goal oriented. In between these frequencies “judgment” is at it’s high, more usage of Left Hemisphere which represents our Analytical Mind. Optimal Beta waving can support us to finish tasks, run away when we are exposed to danger, think faster. Nevertheless, exposing too much beta waves results in stress and chronic stress harms our wellness state. Beta waves can be stimulated with coffee, energy drinks, being in sync with vibrations that resonate in this wavelength.
Alpha Waves (8–12 Hz): When we detect brainwaves between 8–12 Hz frequency, we call this “alpha”. Alpha is the frequency of our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. We are awake but relaxed. Tranquil, pleasant, almost like “floating” feeling is dominant at alpha waves. Not much of thinking is done in this state, more of right brain hemisphere — Emotional Mind characteristics are observed. Anytime you have insight or inspiration our brains produce more Alpha waves than usual. We can reach Alpha Waves through relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, any kind of plants, drinks or vibrations that resonate in this wavelength support to takes us there. (🙄Could there be any corellation between age and brain waves?)
Theta Waves (3–8 Hz): Theta Brain Waves occur in sleeping states, rarely during deep meditation. In theta, we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond normal conscious awareness. Feeling deep, raw emotions belongs to these waves as well as hypnosis. Right brain hemisphere gets more active. However, too much vibing in this frequency might cause depression, melancholy or impulsivity.
Delta Waves (0–3 Hz): These are the slowest waves, experienced in a deep, dreamless sleep and in very deep, transcendental meditation or coma. This is where deep healing and regeneration takes place. Delta waves are absent in awake healthy adults but are physiological and normal in awake children under the age of 13. ( 👉Could there be any corellation to Jewish ritual to Bar Mitzvah 🤔)
Later on 20th & 21st century another brainwave (could there be more that we are not aware of yet?), mental activity with different qualities than above 4 has been discovered:
Gamma Waves (27 Hz and up): Predominant Gamma frequency is at around 40 Hz and this neural activity is by far the most interesting and anything beyond these waves. Gamma brainwaves are considered the brain’s optimal frequency of functioning as the whole neurons fire up in synch, at the same time. The 40 Hz gamma binds all senses in perception. Gamma brainwaves are usually very weak in normal people, mostly Tibetan Buddhists, martial art masters, highly elevated mystics, ascended spiritual masters can vibrate at this frequency.
When it’s activated, state of “Loving Kindness” — increased levels of compassion, feelings of happiness, and at the same time peak performance mental abilities come out. These vibes “unite” the reality that the object is perceiving. This is a state of mental awakening. Interestingly whales and dolphins also operate in this frequency range.
When someone vibrates at Gamma brain frequency, they have rapid and vivid memory recall, these are the people who can remember word by word what you said, including what you were wearing, where it was said, even to the state that which song was playing at the back or the movie was playing. They have hyper-sharp focus in the moment. This is called “in the moment, in the flow, being in now — in the zone” state.
Having high amounts of Gamma Brainwave activity has been associated with:
Having high levels of intelligence
Having high amounts of self-control
Having greater than average feelings of natural happiness.
Increased awareness through your five senses
The real questions are: Which brainwave is the best? Can shifting brain waves mean “spiritual awakening”? Do we have to be a “monk” to awake to “love, compassion and kindness” or over the age of 30 is doable 😋?
All different brain waves are an indication of different states of “being”. You are free to tap into different states at times of need. If you are sick and need sleeping to heal ( lowering your brain waves), there is no point of trying to drink coffee or take stimulants to keep you awake. Every vibration has its’ benefits per one’s needs. Each of us can use brainwave entrainment to achieve different results. You may want to target a specific brainwave frequency range to help you relax. On the other hand, you may want to increase your creative energy, improve your memory, deepen your sleep or get better results when playing a sport.
If you are looking into higher your consciousness states and how you attain a different perception of the world the world, asking your self “What is the meaning of my life? Why am I here? What is my life mission? What am I destined to live? How to be happy? How can I have peace within even in the middle of chaos? How can I be more loving and kind?” it might be the time for a consciousness shift for you.
Here are 3 things you can do to support you to shift your brain frequency to Gamma and above (non are scientifically proven yet):
- You become who you hang out with: Find one or more people who are awakened to love, kindness and compassion, people who are vibrating at Gamma frequencies. Add them on social meadia, read their blogs & books, hang out, meditate, breath with them. Learn from them, the way they think, the way they perceive the World, model what they eat, drink, do and don’t do.
- Use brainwave entrainments technologies: Technologies like neuro & biofeedback, new devices, and gadgets that helps us to synchronize to desired brain wavelengths are called “Brain Wave Entrainments”. Light, color psychology, sound, vibration, energy is used to create this synchronization.
- Consume high vibrational, nutritional superfoods: Superfoods are mostly plant-based, seldom fish & dairy. Spirulina, Moringa Oleifera, Matcha, Raw Cacao, all-berry family are the most nutritional superfoods. Interestingly most of the above superfoods were also used for “spiritual ceremonies” in the ancient times for “spiritual awakening”.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s almost like science is catching up with the language of the soul. We need to follow the signs to notice the synchronicities in our lives which will lead our brain neurons to fire up in sync with everything around us. I guess that is the “Ultimate Luc(k)y Mode ”! — I can feel every living thing.