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My Relativity Journey: A Series Of Unlikely Events

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The name Einstein is synonymous with “someone who is really smart.” His name crops up frequently in pop culture and perhaps even more in scientific discussions about the nature of matter, energy, space and time. As someone with a science background (evolutionary biology and ecology) and a deep curiosity about how our universe works, I began to dive into the world of Einstein about six years ago. I’ve been pretty surprised by what I discovered and this little essay is about my own personal journey and some thoughts on modern physics and the nature of time specifically.

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I’m scientifically literate but my physics math isn’t well developed so after seeing Einstein’s popular book, Relativity: The Special and the General Theories at the bookstore in the SFO airport I snapped this little tome up and was pleasantly surprised to find it quite accessible and interesting to read. It was also a nice introduction to his technical papers on his theories.

I learned in his little book about Einstein’s two relativity theories. The first, special relativity, was proposed by Einstein in 1905; the second, general relativity, in 1915. I’m going to focus on Special Relativity in this essay.

Special Relativity was Einstein’s first foray into upending our long-standing notions on the nature of space and time. Counter-intuitively, Special Relativity holds that both space and time are malleable and the speed of light is absolute (i.e., constant for all observers, no matter what their speed). In our normal life, of course, space and time seem pretty absolute in a physical sense. Yes, time can seem to pass more quickly or more slowly based on our mental state but generally we realize that this feeling is psychological and not indicative of an actual change in the passage of time in the world around us.

Einstein’s “time dilation” was not, however, merely psychological. He suggested that time dilation was real and is a function of the speed of the observer. The faster you go the more time slows down. “Moving clocks run slow” is the shorthand for this phenomenon. If a person in a spaceship were able somehow to get to the speed of light, time would literally stop. This isn’t actually possible in Special Relativity because the mass of the spaceship increases the closer it is to the speed of light, requiring more and more energy to go even faster. So massive things can never reach the speed of light. Only massless particles, like photons and neutrinos, can travel at the speed of light.

tambookSimilarly, “length contraction” is a function of the speed of an object. This means that what you would measure as a one-meter stick when the stick is at rest would be measured as shorter than one meter when it is in motion. And if that stick were accelerated to almost the speed of light it would be very short indeed when measured by you as a stationary observer.

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Why do these things happen? Well, Einstein describes it very clearly in his little book: it all comes down to his choices in defining simultaneity. As described also in Peter Galison’s excellent book, Einstein’s Clocks; Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time, clock synchronization was a big issue when Einstein was writing on relativity. Railroads, map-making, colonization and other economic activities all depended in various ways on the ability to synchronize clocks. This is what is meant by simultaneity: how do we know when two events occur at the same time? Einstein chose to define simultaneity operationally, that is, by how we can measure it, rather than as a more abstract notion about when events are “really” simultaneous. Einstein’s approach was part of a tendency toward “positivism,” the scientific choice of focusing only on what can be measured, and downplaying or eliminating entirely those concepts that can’t be measured directly.

Einstein suggested that simultaneity should be defined operationally as the perception of simultaneous events, and this perception would include an assumption that the information being perceived traveled at the same speed no matter where it came from. The example he gives relies on a passenger on a moving train. If the passenger sees two lightning strikes at the same time, one in front and one in the rear of the train (using mirrors if necessary in order to see both ways), they will be considered simultaneous.

But for a person on the embankment next to the moving train these same two lightning flashes would not be simultaneous because of the time it takes for those flashes of light to reach each observer. This is because the train is moving toward one flash and away from the other. But that’s not the case, of course, for the person on the embankment. In this way, simultaneity becomes relative and depends on the motion of the observer. This is a key point and is literally the origin of the entire structure of Einstein’s relativity theories and the strange relativistic effects of time dilation and length contraction.

There is a remarkable and telling passage in Einstein’s little book where he explains his reasoning for his proposed definition of simultaneity (p. 27 of the 1952 edition, emphasis in the original):

“There is only one demand to be made of the definition of simultaneity, namely, that in every real case it must supply us with an empirical decision as to whether or not the conception that has to be defined is fulfilled. That my definition satisfies this demand is indisputable. That light requires the same time to traverse the path [from the first lightning flash in front of the train and from the second lightning flash behind the train] is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own free will in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity.”

Einstein is, then, stating his view that he’s simply assuming (stipulating) that the speed of light is constant for all observers, no matter their speed, and then seeing where this assumption takes us. A key consequence of the relativity of simultaneity is the idea of a “block universe” in which past, present and future all in some manner exist already. As Einstein stated in a 1952 letter: “The distinction between past, present and future is a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

Einstein’s ideas became widespread after his theory of general relativity was spectacularly confirmed in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington’s scientific expedition to Sao Tomé and Principe during a solar eclipse. Eddington found that light did indeed appear to bend around the sun during the eclipse and by the amount Einstein predicted in his general theory. The rest is history.

But not so fast. Once I understood what Einstein had done in crafting his special theory, I objected to his logical moves. When I read and re-read the passage above, I objected to his statement that there is “only one demand” to be made of the definition of simultaneity: that the empirical demand of judging simultaneity in each case is fulfilled. There is also a need to avoid contradiction and to avoid contravening empirical facts. I’m going to focus here on the latter item: contravening empirical facts.

Here’s my beef with Einstein: Special Relativity leads to the idea that the flow of time we know intimately is actually an illusion, as suggested by the Einstein quote above. Even though in every moment of our experience time proceeds from moment to moment, with each present becoming a new present, Special Relativity says this flow is an illusion. And even though the past is, based on our common experience of time, only memory, and the future only imagined, Special Relativity says that the past and future co-exist in some manner with the present “in block.” Moreover, if the past, present and future are all in some manner already in existence then there is no room for free will. As with the flow of time, I sure feel like I have free will so there is an empirical issue when a theory suggests otherwise.

What are we to do?

What do we do when a widely accepted theory seems to clash so directly with our direct evidence of the world around us, particularly with our experience of the flow of time? Falsification is the gold standard of good science and this simply means that experiments that disprove (falsify) a prediction of a theory should lead to rejection of that theory. Now, with our experience of the passage of time there’s no experiment even required for a certain kind of falsification of Special Relativity. We can simply look around us and look to the heavens and see that there is indeed an arrow of time and a flow of time, everywhere we see. This isn’t a trivial issue for Special Relativity. Reconciling time’s arrow and the flow of time with special and general relativity remains a serious issue in physics today.

When asked by my colleague Jonathan Schooler how he reconciled the illusory nature of time in relativity theory with our experience of the flow of time, the physicist Brian Greene said that he sees a psychiatrist. This moment of humor highlights the very real problem that modern physics faces in reconciling the flow of time with our best physical theories about time. Lee Smolin’s 2013 book Time Reborn, examines these issues in detail and he asserts that perhaps relativity theory isn’t the last word about time. He suggests a number of ways in which time may be reclaimed.

We are, then, in a new era of debate about the nature of time. I’ve written a number of short essays challenging the completeness or accuracy of the interpretations of relativity theory that render time illusory and these are included in my book, Eco, Ego, Eros: Essays on Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science. My book also includes an interview with Smolin about his ideas.

Back to the present moment. I’m writing this little essay on a train to Seattle on the winter solstice. I’ve seen no lightning. Yet. Night has just fallen on this, the longest night of the year, a nice reminder of the historical importance of the passage of time and of the seasons.

It turns out that my ongoing interest in Einstein’s theories has led me to chairing a panel on these issues at a conference next June in Helsinki, Finland. Part of the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, our panel will look at “The physics and metaphysics of time in relation to consciousness.” More interestingly, my colleague, Jonathan Schooler, who I mentioned above, will be joining me on that panel.

Not only that, Schooler is on the same train with me now and we’ve been discussing the implications and alternatives to relativity theory for some time. There was a nice synchronicity in our discovering that we’d be on the same train. It’s the first time for both of us to take Amtrak from Santa Barbara to Seattle. My family is in Seattle and Jonathan’s girlfriend’s family is too. I only found out that he’d be on the train with me a few days ago, after we’d been discussing for a matter of months the Helsinki conference panel and our respective presentations. What’s even weirder about this particular synchronicity is that I got my days wrong with respect to when I was actually supposed to board my train. I boarded the train a day too early! I was able to avoid getting kicked off the train by calling Amtrak and changing my ticket. So the synchronicity of being on the same train with Schooler was even more striking because I wasn’t actually going to be on the same train until I made the mistake of thinking my train left on Sunday when it actually left on Monday.

Anyway, I bring up this personal anecdote because it relates directly to the nature of time and our experience of time. Synchronicities (“same-time”) are all about strange and meaningful coincidences. What do they mean? That’s for each of us to decide. But for now, I’m going to continue to take it as a cue from the universe that I’m on the right (train?) track in continuing to examine the nature of time in relation to consciousness. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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Geckos Are Able To Heal & Regenerate Parts Of Their Brain, Which May Mean We Can Too

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The human brain has more in common with lizards than it does with amphibians. The discovery that geckos can regenerate parts of their brains leaves some scientists thinking that maybe humans can too.

  • Reflect On:

    Perhaps it is possible for the human brain, when healthy, to regenerate damaged or diseased cells? We are a step closer to finding this out.

Lizards have a unique ability to regenerate their tails and spinal chords, and recently, researchers from the University of Guelph discovered that geckos can actually regenerate parts of their brain as well. Because of the connection between lizard brains and human brains (reptilian brain), this could be good news for us too. It could be the beginning of a new realm of research for treatment methods of injuries and degeneration from the human brain.

The study was published last month in the journal Scientific Reports. Because of the knowledge of the geckos’ ability to regenerate parts of their body, it led the researchers to see what was going on in gecko brains. They injected leopard geckos with a chemical label that allowed them to detect within the DNA any newly formed cells, which allowed them to examine new cells as they showed up in the geckos’ brains.

The Results?

The researchers found even more cells than what they had anticipated — including a type of stem cell that regularly turned into brain cells in the geckos’ medial cortex. This is the part of the brain that has the same function as the hippocampus in humans. This was the very first discovery for scientists finding out that stem cells were involved in the formation of new neurons in the leopard gecko’s brain.

“The brain is a complex organ and there are so few good treatments for brain injury, so this is a very exciting area of research,” said Prof. Matthew Vickaryous in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

“The findings indicate that gecko brains are constantly renewing brain cells, something that humans are notoriously bad at doing,” he said.

If you didn’t already know, lizards are more closely related to humans than amphibians or fish, which are typically studied in research involving regeneration. This groundbreaking study could actually change the way that the human brain is studied, more so that previous studies involving regeneration.

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“Most regeneration research has looked at zebrafish or salamanders. Our work uses lizards, which are more closely related to mammals than either fish or amphibians,” said Rebecca McDonald, a master’s student who led the study.

“The findings indicate that gecko brains are constantly renewing brain cells, something that humans are notoriously bad at doing,” said Matthew Vickaryous, McDonald’s co-author on the study, in the news release. “The next step in this area of research is to determine why some species, like geckos, can replace brain cells while other species, like humans, cannot.”

Neuroplasticity

While human brains may not be the best at regenerating brain cells (although fasting has been shown to do this), there has been a great deal of research over the past decade or so into the study of neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to form new neural connections throughout one’s life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (specifically, nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

This is the opposite of the saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. To just assume that the brain is how it is and can only learn new information up to a certain age is incorrect, and luckily we are seeing a lot of science that is proving this.

Perhaps combined with the research of gecko brains, scientists will be able to determine how to trigger this type of regeneration. It has the potential to help heal degenerative diseases and those who have suffered brain injuries or brain damage.

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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New Physics Theory Questions The Big Bang: How Did Our Universe Really Begin?

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Popular writer and scholar Graham Hancock once said that we’re like a species with amnesia, and it’s true, the origins of the human race, and the universe is supposedly unknown to us. But it’s human nature to question things, and as a result, we’ve developed a few theories that despite being pushed as fact within the mainstream educational realm, they’re not scientifically sound in several ways and actually appear to be very weak. The theory of evolution is one great example, and the big bang is another.

The big bang theory suggests that everything in existence results from one event that sparked the creation of physical matter and that everything in our entire universe, and in existence as we know it, was part of a single, infinitely dense point, also known as the “singularity.”  Scientists estimate that it occurred approximately 13 billions of years ago, which created ‘cosmic inflation’ milliseconds afterwards.

The theory has come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny over the years, almost to the point where it should be deemed false, or at the very least, admit that our universe, other universes and also dimensions, have resulted from something far greater and perhaps more complex than our ‘intelligent’ explanation.

There are numerous examples that span scientific literature for several years. For example, the cover story of the April 2011 edition of Scientific American included the article, “Quantum Gaps in Big Bang Theory: Why Our Best Explanation of How the Universe Evolved Must Be Fixed – or Replaced.”

As Jim Mars points out, in his, “Our Occulted History.”

“In the article, Paul J. Steinhardt, director of Princeton University’s Center for Theoretical Science, pointed out that astrophysicists have left a number of problems with the theory unresolved, stating that “the case against the Big Bang theory challenges the logical foundations of the theory. Does the theory really work as advertised? Are the predictions made in the early 1980’s still the predictions of the inflationary model as we understand it today? There is an argument to be made that the answer to both questions is no.”

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Numerous discoveries have come to light when it comes to examining the nature of our reality, and we now know, through quantum physics, that consciousness has a direct relationship with what we regard as physical material matter. We also have evidence which suggests that consciousness might not be a product of our brain, and can exist without the physical body. On the other hand, we have no evidence that shows consciousness is a direct byproduct of the brain.

Research in quantum physics and parapsychology has also seen quantum phenomenon occur at classical physical scales, which is also very interesting. One example in itself would be how consciousness can influence physical material reality, but also real world, documented examples of people with special abilities who are about to influence matter with their mind.

This also brings up huge questions with regards to consciousness, does it come before matter, or after matter? Is consciousness required for the creation of matter, and, if it is, what does that say about the big bang theory? The fact that the origins of our universe might have a non-physical, non-material origin, which is being shown by science, is simply hard for many to accept.

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, the originator of quantum theory (source)

It’s not only the connection between quantum physics and our physical material world but what we once thought was nothing, is actually something.

No point is more central than this, that space is not empty, it is the seat of the most violent physics – John Wheeler

The fact of the matter is, space is not empty, and it’s full of energy. What we once thought was nothing, is not, and this is no longer trivial in the world of physics. How much energy? According to Nassim Haramein, “there’s a lot of it and we can actually calculate how much energy there is in that space and that reality might actually come out of it. Everything we see is actually emerging from that space.

Now we know that there is the possibility that matter is formed from this void, from this ’empty space,’ it’s one of many examples where ancient knowledge is coming together with modern-day science. We see this with quantum physics, neuroscience, Buddhism and other sects of ancient eastern philosophy.

Idham thadhakshare parame vyoman

This is from ancient Vedic scripture, and it means “the aakaash is not destructible, it is the primordial absolute substratum that creates cosmic matter and hence it is:

The Aakash is not destructible, it is the primordial absolute substratum that creates cosmic matter and hence it is:

Parame vyoman

“The aakaash is the eternally existent, superfluid reality, for which creation and destruction are inapplicable.”

This “aakaash” has been written about since the beginning of time, which again, is super interesting given the fact that in this day in age, we can actually detect it!

We’ll get to that later…

Mainstream science and education, or those who create it, continue to hide this from our textbooks, in the same way, they don’t teach students about Nikola Tesla…

All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena – Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907.

This is one of my favourite examples from antiquity, although there are several:

And they allowed Apollonius to ask questions; and he asked them of what they thought the cosmos was composed; but they replied; “Of elements.” “Are there then four?” he asked. “Not four,” said Larchas,  “but five.” “And how can there be a fifth,” said Apollonius, “alongside of water and air and earth and fire?” “There is the ether,” replied the other, “which we must regard as the stuff of which gods are made; for just as all mortal creatures inhale the wire, so do immortal and divine natures inhale the ether.” “Am I,” said Appollonius, “to regard the universe as a living creature?” “Yes,” said the other. – The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Philostratus, 220AD (source)

Related CE Article: How Vedic Philosophy Influenced Nikola Tesla’s Idea of “Free Energy.” 

The most recent discovery in this field comes from the late Paramahamsa Tewari, the former Project Director of the Kaiga Atomic Power Project, and retired Executive Nuclear Director, Nuclear Power Corporation, in the Department of Atomic Energy in India.  He recently published a paper in Physics Essays titled  “structural relation between the Vacuum Space and The Electron. You can access the full study here.

The study discusses how this non-material superfluid, also discussed by the ancients, is the makeup of space, also known as the vacuum. It’s incompressible, non-material, massless and not perceivable to the human senses, and it can pose a steady flow varying from zero to light velocity.

This paper presents a formulation of Absolute principles for vacuum-space that enable revealing the process of creation of a stable electron and its known properties of mass and charge. Fundamental questions on the electron’s charge and mass are derived from first principles from the vacuum vortex of the electron’s structure. Also, generation of electrostatic, electromagnetic, and gravitational fields are shown to arise from the vacuum vortex structure of the electron. The electron and positron have been pinpointed to be the fundamental particles of matter.

So basically, the matter is created within these pockets of “empty space” which exists from space.

What’s even more shocking is that Tewari has developed an electrical generator that proves the theory, and it’s over-unity (free energy). A prototype of the machine was built and tested by Kirloskar Electric, a manufacturer of electrical generators in India. There, it exhibited 165 % efficiency (over-unity).

Below is a picture with, from right, Paramahamsa Tewari, Executive Director Nuclear Power Corporation, Ret., Murlidhar Rao, Technical Director, Karnataka Power Corporation, Ret., Chief Engineer, electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer. From Left, Vice President of Kirloskar Rotating Machines Group, General Manager Hubli facility.

 

Below is a Discussion of test results during the filming of AUS DEM NICHTS (Out of the Void), with the device in the Kirloskar facility.

The information listed above is a tidbit of information on why the Big Bang theory isn’t really a sufficient explanation for the creation of matter. This ‘void’ seems to be, and we actually have the ancient knowledge and theoretical physics by real-life experimental demonstrations, like the machine above. These are concepts that are being published in physics journals all over the world.

One study even suggests that the universe has no beginning, which again, correlates to the information above, stating that this ether or ‘Akash’ do not fit in the same category of creation or destruction, meaning that creation and destruction are inapplicable to the Akash, which is definitely hard to wrap your head around.

The theory also suggested as Tewari has for years, that there are no singularities or dark matter, and that the universe is filled with a “quantum fluid,” which is itself filled with gravitons,  According to Phys.org:

The scientists propose that this fluid might be composed of gravitons—hypothetical massless particles that mediate the force of gravity. If they exist, gravitons are thought to play a key role in a theory of quantum gravity.

“A century from now, it will be well-known that: the vacuum of space which fills the universe is itself the real substratum of the universe; vacuum in a circulating state becomes matter; the electron is the fundamental particle of matter and is a vortex of vacuum with a vacuum-less void at the center and it is dynamically stable; the speed of light relative to vacuum is the maximum speed that nature has provided and is an inherent property of the vacuum; vacuum is a subtle fluid unknown in material media; vacuum is mass-less, continuous, non viscous, and incompressible and is responsible for all the properties of matter; and that vacuum has always existed and will exist forever….Then, scientists, engineers and philosophers will bend their heads in shame knowing that modern science ignored the vacuum in our chase to discover reality for more than a century.” – Tewari

If all this IS, then how can the big bang theory hold true? Perhaps there is a lot we are missing…

Huge Implications

“Ether has got to be, once again, established, then there will be the meaningful understanding of physics, meaningful understanding of metaphysics, and meaningful understanding of spiritual processes” – Tewari (source)

Just like anything else, this information has indeed been suppressed, in various forms, but it’s slowly creeping into the mainstream, and the acknowledgment of these machines, and this science in general, which goes way beyond just energy generating devices…

As you can see above, science is now confirming the spiritual realms…

According to Sir James Jeans: “the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”…The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual/”  Richard Conn Henry, Professor in Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University (source)

Once the world accepts this, and if it does, it means a complete paradigm shift with regards to the perception of reality. This has happened multiple times, our laws of science were made to be broken, Einstein’s paper on special relativity is one example, the Earth not being flat anymore, is another…

Non-material science, in general, has huge implications, we are at the beginning of the next scientific revolution.

Today, this work is breaking long-held science beliefs that have now turned into dogma, but what we think we know is always changing. Take Lord Kelvin, for example, who stated in 1900 that there is nothing new to be discovered in physics and that all which remains is more and more precise measurement. This assertion was shattered only five years later when Einstein published his paper on special relativity.

Related CE Article: Distinguished Scientists Gathers To Emphasize, Matter is Not The Only Reality

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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4 Keys To Well-Being & Happiness: According To Neuroscience

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Consciousness, our perception, beliefs, actions, emotions and feelings play an integral role in shaping our biology. In this article, a neuroscientist explains mindfulness actions that can change your brain.

  • Reflect On:

    With so much validity coming from the realm of mind/body science, which does mainstream medicine continue to focus primarily on chemical medication interventions?

The human brain is fascinating. It’s so complex that it’s hard to believe we will ever understand it. We still have yet to think in quantum terms about our biology, and just like physics, factoring consciousness into the equation is going to change everything. Right now, we are in the midst of a new scientific revolution, and that’s non-material science. It has huge implications for health, and science is now confirming just how strong the mind-body connection really is. It’s fascinating, to say the least.

Take neuroscience, for example. The brain has an incredible ability to change itself. We can change our brains by the emotions we feel,  how we perceive our overall environment, and how we react to various situations that pop up in our everyday lives. By being aware of our feelings, our perception of the environment, our emotions and other non-physical factors, we can spark positive changes in the brain:

All of the work that my colleagues and I have been doing leads inevitably to this central conclusion. Well-being is fundamentally no different that learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of well-being, one will get better at it…Based on our research, well-being has four constituents that have each received serious scientific attention. Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity – so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen. Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.

The quote above comes from Richard J, Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Minds. His research has outlined the following 4 key principles to improve your well being.

Resilience

Resilience is basically the ability to spring back up after a perceived downfall. How good is your ability to let go of something, mentally speaking, that no longer serves your best interests? How quickly can you bounce back from a disappointing event or circumstance?

Resilience is the rapidity with which we recover from adversity; some people recover slowly and other people recover more quickly. We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of well-being. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.

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Resilient behaviour has the power to re-wire your brain so you’re not ‘hit so hard’ when life gets you down because you’re so used to getting back up.  All it takes is practice, that’s why some of our darkest moments have the power to slingshot us forward, and this is why we can use our ‘negative’ or ‘bad’ experiences as lessons and stepping stones.

Recent research that we’ve conducted in our lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—very new work that’s not yet published—asked whether these specific brain circuits can be altered by regular practice in simple mindfulness meditation.

The answer is yes—but you need several thousand hours of practice before you see real change. Unlike the other constituents of well-being, it takes a while to improve your resilience. It’s not something that is going to happen quickly—but this insight can still motivate and inspire us to keep meditating.

Outlook

With mindfulness studies, never has the power of positivity gained so much credibility. No doubt, having a positive outlook on any experience can be the key to experiencing joy. This could be described as our ability to focus on our positive experiences while learning from the negative ones, as well as the ability to see other human beings as grounded in basic innate goodness.

Davidson explains how individuals who suffer from depression show activation in the brain circuit that underlies outlook, but it doesn’t last long. To improve one’s outlook, studies have shown that practicing love, kindness, and compassion may alter this circuitry “quite quickly, after a very, very modest dose of practice.”

We published a study in 2013 where individuals who had never meditated before were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received a secular form of compassion training and the other received cognitive reappraisal training, an emotion-regulation strategy that comes from cognitive therapy. We scanned people’s brains before and after two weeks of training, and we found that in the compassion group, brain circuits that are important for this positive outlook were strengthened. After just seven hours—30 minutes of practice a day for two weeks—we not only saw changes in the brain, but these changes also predicted kind and helpful behavior.

This is interesting. How often do you look at the good? On a collective note, imagine how much the world would change if we focused on our similarities and the things that unite us, instead of what makes us different?

While we’re on the subject of emotional intelligence, it’s important to bring up research regarding the science of the heart conducted by the HeartMath Institute. They show what positive emotions can do to our biology, how they affect our electromagnetic field, and how this field interacts with us and those around us. They have also shown that the heart actually sends messages to the brain, and that positive emotions can have a great effect on how we feel.

How we feel and learning to regulate our emotions is showing huge correlations with human biology. You can read more about that here:

What Science Is Telling Us About The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

This Is How Powerful The Mind-Body Connection Really Is

Attention

An interesting study out of Harvard found that most people are not really paying attention to what they’re doing 47 percent of the time. We’re not talking about ADHD here either. It was a study on happiness, and perhaps this goes to show just how much human beings are not stimulated by their environment. Attention issues are not usually the result of problems with the mind, but a lack of passion that results from not following the heart. This is our current human experience: we are forced from birth into doing and participating in things we may not want to participate in. Perhaps the lack of stimulation within the current human experience is the problem?

Generosity

Generosity is a natural tendency for those who feel a connectedness with others. Cultivating generosity within us can have profound effects on our own well-being, as Davidson points out:

There are now a plethora of data showing that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being. These circuits get activated in a way that is more enduring than the way we respond to other positive incentives, such as winning a game or earning a prize.

Human beings come into the world with innate, basic goodness. When we engage in practices that are designed to cultivate kindness and compassion, we’re not actually creating something de novo—we’re not actually creating something that didn’t already exist. What we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.

Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly—most of the time unwittingly. Through the intentional shaping of our minds, we can shape our brains in ways that would enable these four fundamental constituents of well-being to be strengthened. In that way, we can take responsibility for our own minds.

These discoveries could serve as the backbone of global change.

Practicing Emotional Well-Being

Imagine if all humans on this planet practiced attaining this type of emotional well being. Currently, learning how to regulate our feelings is completely left out of school, where, all we learn to do is memorize facts while completely neglecting the growth of our emotional intelligence.

If everybody in the world just got closer to being their natural selves, all of the wrongdoing and suffering in the world would stop. The refusal of all human beings to participate in anything they innately know is “wrong” is what is needed for us to move forward as a collective.

According to sociologist Thomas Scheff, a big supporter of emotional education from the University of California, many Western societies simply view emotions as an indulgence or a distraction and less important than other things. And he’s right — we are often taught to bury our emotions so we can be more productive, and we are made to feel as though our emotions are not as relevant or important; they always seem to come secondary, if at all, especially within an educational setting. Scheff, among many others, believes that emotions provide valuable information, and yet we are taught not to listen to them. “Just as dangerous,” Scheff said, “is the practice of hiding one emotion behind another.” He has found that “men, in particular, tend to hide feelings of shame under anger, aggression and, far too often, violence.”

Related CE Article: Why Emotions Should Be Taught In Schools Rather Than Ignored & Suppressed

So follow your heart, treat others as you would want to be treated, and even consider some of the practices described here. In doing so, you will no doubt start experiencing more joy and happiness in your own life.

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