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Consciousness

10 Scientifically Proven Methods to Increase your Happiness Right Now

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

 The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. ~ Richard Bach

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Do you even remember the last time you felt sheer pleasure, or unmitigated glee? What is your most recent recollection of bubbling over with happiness? I mean, when you felt so giddy that your cheeks were glowing, your heart was thumping, and your eyes welled up with unfettered joy? If that hasn’t happened to you in the last little while (or even a very long while), don’t fret.

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As John Barrymore once said, “Happiness often sneaks in a door you didn’t know you left open.” Chasing happiness isn’t really going to make it magically appear, but you can create the circumstances that ‘leave the door open’ to a joyful and meaningful life by setting the stage for happiness, and allowing it a grand entrance. You can feel happier right now, with these scientifically proven methods.

Exercise for seven minutes.

I don’t care if you stand in one place and jump up and down, go for a walk, or climb the stairs at your office, you can feel happier right now by being physically active. In a study described in the book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with medication, exercise, or a combination of both medication and exercise. The results of this study should be extremely motivating. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels early on, the follow-up assessments proved to be radically different. When tested at six months to see if they had ‘relapsed’ into depression, 38 percent of those who took medication alone slipped back into a depressed state, and for those who exercised? Only nine percent relapsed. The proof is evident. You can feel better by exercising, and it doesn’t take much.

Write down 20 things you are grateful for.

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Don’t type up what you are grateful for, write them down, since it requires more neurons to do so, and you’ll feel much better. Robert Emmons, often called the world’s leading expert in the science of gratitude, says that people who keep gratitude journals experience higher levels of positive emotions, more joy and pleasure, and stay alert and optimistic more easily.

Take a 15-minute power nap.

Getting more sleep is one of the best ways to feel happier. “You’re putting energy in the bank when you go to sleep,” says Barry Krakow, MD, medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences, Ltd. in Albuquerque, N.M. “On a cellular level, the body is literally repairing and restoring itself. Without it, you can’t do what you want — physically or mentally.” This also means that you’ll likely find negative emotions creeping in more easily, and find it difficult to constructively handle emotions like anger or frustration, because sleep deprivation increases amygdala activity (a brain structure integral to experiences of negative emotions such as anger and rage) and a disconnect between the amygdala and the area of the brain that regulates its functions. Power napping for at least 15-20 minutes will already start to improve your mood and cognitive functioning, and getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, which usually takes 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems. Napping is even better for you than drinking a cup of coffee.

Get outside.

There a 101 reasons nature makes us feel good, but ‘green science’ as it is called, is learning more about how the blue sky and green trees really affect us all the time. For one thing, nature teaches us that we are perfect just the way we are. When we are alone in nature, there is no classism, racism, homophobia, or sexism. A rushing river doesn’t care what level of the social hierarchy you’ve reached, or haven’t. Time slows to a more manageable pace, and we experience profound healing on levels mainstream medicine likely will never understand. For starters, you are breathing in fresh air, and absorbing Vitamin D, which is a known precursor for making happy hormones. Being outdoors is so uplifting that many people describe is as being a spiritual experience. If you can only be outside for a few minutes every day, take advantage of that opportunity. Your happiness is forever connected to being one with nature.

Be with your peeps.

Spending time with friends and family is one of those ‘can’t buy me love’ things that really does add to our overall happiness. Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. The professor tells us that most of the things we do in life are to acquire more time with friends and family – so why not just cut to the chase, and DO that. The ‘happiness’ expert says, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” The ‘can’t buy me love’ aspect is quite real, in fact. The connections we have with friends and family is worth as much as $132,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction, according to the Journal of Socio-Economics. If you don’t have friends, you can make some new ones by taking a class at a community college, joining a sports team or look for a social event to meet new people in your city.

Meditate.

A study by the University of Sydney surveyed 350 people who had meditated for more than two years, and compared those results with existing government surveys on people’s mental and physical health. Those who meditated were found to be ten percent happier than those who didn’t. While that doesn’t seem like much, meditation can also give us more mental clarity, feelings of peace and of gratitude (see number two), and 76 other scientifically verifiable benefits that you’d otherwise be missing out on.

Watch the Weather.

The American Meteorological Society has published research that found temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity. It also found that happiness is maximized at 57 degrees (13.9°C), so keep an eye on the weather forecast and head outside when the weather is prime. If you live in a warmer climate, find a shady spot and sit in nature.

Help somebody.

Doing good deeds, or helping someone else for 100 hours a year contributes massively to your overall feelings of peace, well-being, and happiness. “A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself,” said Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, but “it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.”

Stop the commute.

Okay, so you can’t just up and quit your job, but you might be able to work out a ‘flex’ schedule that allows you to work from home a few days a week, or you might even consider moving closer to your workplace. Why? Commuting makes us unhappy. A Swedish study found that commuting is so hard on folks that people are 40% more likely to divorce if one person commutes more than 45 minutes to work every day. If you absolutely must sit in traffic for an average of 38 to 60 hours a year, then at least listen to an uplifting book on tape, or learn a new language. This can make you happy, too.

Learn something new.

A core psychological need for humans is to learn and master new skills. Psychologists call this need ‘mastery.’ You can see it in babies learning to crawl or sit up for the first time, but also in grown adults mastering a violin concerto, or learning how to converse in a second language. Learning something new in one area of our lives also often triggers an add-on bonus of learning something new in another area. It’s a win-win-win situation. You learn one thing, and this helps you learn a bonus skill or concept, and this also leads to more happiness. You don’t have to get formal certificates or professional qualifications. Just learning how to plant a garden or play a new chord on your guitar can boost levels of happiness.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Consciousness

Super Moon In Capricorn: Proceeding With Changed Perceptions

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a Full Moon in Capricorn on June 24th/25th, which will appear the brightest on the night of the 24th throughout the world. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Gemini on June 10th which is still affecting this period and beyond. It will also be a ‘Supermoon’, which is when the Moon appears larger and brighter due to its closer proximity to the Earth.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Capricorn and the Sun in Cancer. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Capricorn side and others expressing the Cancer side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Sun In Cancer Opposite Moon In Capricorn

Cancer season began when the Sun entered this sign on June 20th/21st which will conclude on July 22nd. Cancer is associated with family, domestic life, security, emotional needs, emotional sensitivity, nurturing, and nostalgia. It is caring, personal, motherly, empathic, vulnerable, instinctual, intuitive and protective. Cancer can also be moody, clingy, insecure, as well as overly subjective.

This Full Moon is in its opposite sign of Capricorn, triggering a push-pull or integration effect between both of these signs. Capricorn is associated with ambition, achieving, duties, career, productivity, and discipline. It is responsible, cautious, prudent, practical, orderly, masterful, worldly, business oriented, realistic, and a social climber. Capricorn can also be cold, narrow minded, controlling, pessimistic, cynical, and overly concerned with status.

Although Cancer is the emotional sign here, the Moon rules emotions and the sign of Cancer. With it being in Capricorn, emotional drive will generally lean towards Capricorn needs and expressions. The Cancerian themes will generally be more expressed externally or through ego, even though they can be emotionally oriented. However, these are all generalizations, and each of our experiences and perceptions of this polarity actualizing will be different from each other.

Full Moon Sextile Jupiter & Trine Uranus

This Full Moon is in a sextile with Jupiter in Pisces which has begun its retrograde four days prior and is nearly stationary. Jupiter ruled areas of education, beliefs, experiential pursuits, and travel may be more prominent. Business wise, it could have to do with marketing and publishing. Considering it is in Pisces with Neptune also about to retrograde here, themes or manifestations pertaining to spirituality, compassion, creativity, escapism, or idealism may also come up.

This Full Moon is also in a trine with Uranus which brings the potential of originality, positive surprises, or perhaps experiences that can be liberating, stimulating, new, or unconventional. This can be good for changing things up, experimentation, or some sort of renovation. This energy will come up more so on July 5th/6th when the Sun is aspecting Uranus.

Mercury Is Now Moving Forward, Applying Square To Neptune 

Mercury in Gemini ended its retrograde on June 22nd/23rd and is now slowly starting to move forward (from our Earth perspective) as it gradually increases in speed. The areas of our lives that have been affected by this retrograde and pre-retrograde shadow since mid-May will go through a conclusion process over the next few weeks. This may start to become apparent over the coming days.

We will have a better perception on how to proceed forward in regards to certain circumstances and developments that come up over the last 5-6 weeks. Things can fall into place more easily and we may experience resolutions. We can feel that we are in a better place to move forward in the areas of life that have been impacted (reflected in our individual astrology charts) and pertaining to how Gemini themes played out for you.

As Mercury moves forward it is applying towards a third square with Neptune. Although we are in this post-retrograde period, in some ways it can still feel somewhat like retrograde until July 5th/6th when the square occurs and is most potent. This can play out as some confusion, lack of focus, scatteredness, unrealistic thinking, missing details, or complications involving communication, misinterpretation, or technology. Due to this. it would be best to wait until after it is done (from July 7th/8th onward) if you need to make important decisions.

Saturn Sextile Chiron,  Mars & Full Moon Also Aspecting Chiron 

At the time of this Full Moon and the weeks before and after, Saturn in Aquarius is in its second exact sextile with Chiron in Aries. This is part of the astrological backdrop all year as the first sextile was in February and the final one will be at the end of the year. Although this isn’t a very strong aspect, it can be supportive depending on how we apply ourselves.

This is good for taking a disciplined approach to healing, overcoming negative patterns, and addressing some of our core wounds. It can also be good for efforts that are integrating, bridging, holistic, unorthodox, or reflective of our natural gifts. Mars is in the mix this time around, peaking July 2nd, which emphasizes being proactive in this way. This Full Moon is in a square with Chiron as well, and perhaps some of the themes or potential conflicts we experience at this time may require some sort of bringing together of opposing or fragmented factors.

Mars In T-Square With Saturn & Uranus

Mars in Leo is moving towards an opposition to Saturn in Aquarius and then a square to Uranus in Taurus, creating a T-square pattern. This combined energy peaks from June 30th-July 4th and Mars will also be making its trine to Chiron (mentioned above) at this time.

On the days leading up to July 1st/2nd, and especially at that time, we may experience our actions being blocked, restricted, resisted, or limited in some way as Mars’ opposes Saturn. We can get frustrated more easily and we may need to do things with caution, better structure, or extra effort. Conflicts around boundaries may also come up.

Mars’ trine with Chiron in the first few days of July and square to Uranus in the following days can be good for taking an unorthodox approach or applying creative solutions. However, Uranus in the mix can also play out as rebellious and impulsive energy.

Mars here is also triggering the Saturn square Uranus aspect that is happening all year. As a result this can also play out as conflicts around, or assertiveness towards, ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Things To Consider

What have been the main themes for you over the last month and is there anything coming up now that could point to some sort of conclusion or an important next step forward? What area of your life is calling for more determination? Is there something that you need to achieve? Should you be experimenting with new or unusual approaches to things?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 6:40pm Universal Time on June 24th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

New Study Finds Humans Can Access a Higher Level of Consciousness

Gautam Peddada

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study sheds light on the existence of a higher level of consciousness in humans that is accessible.

  • Reflect On:

    Does consciousness originate in the brain or somewhere else? What does this say about who 'we' are as humans?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

New research has discovered verifiable evidence of a higher level of consciousness. Researchers used brain imaging equipment to analyze the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across three psychedelic substances, one measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

Neuroscientists discovered a prolonged increase in neural signal diversity — a measure of the complexity of brain activity — in persons under the influence of psychedelic substances as compared to when they were awake.

The variety of brain impulses gives a mathematical indicator of awareness degree. People who are awake, for example, have more diversified brain activity than those who are asleep, according to this measure.

However, this is the first study to show that brain-signal diversity is more than baseline, that is, greater than in someone who is merely ‘awake and aware.’ Previous research has focused on decreased states of awareness, such as sleep, anesthesia, or the so-called vegetative state. More research utilizing complex and diverse models is required, according to the researchers, who are cautiously hopeful.

Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, stated:

“This discovery demonstrates that the brain on psychedelics functions quite differently than usual.”

“As evaluated by ‘global signal diversity,’ the electrical activity of the brain during the psychedelic experience is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during regular conscious wakefulness.”

“Since this measure has already shown its value as a measure of ‘conscious level’, we can say that the psychedelic state appears as a higher ‘level’ of consciousness than normal — but only with respect to this specific mathematical measure.”

For the study, Michael Schartner, Adam Barrett, and Professor Seth of the Sackler Centre reanalyzed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD.

Using brain imaging equipment, scientists examined the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across all three medicines, this measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

The researchers emphasize that this does not imply that the psychedelic state is a “better” or “more desirable” state of consciousness; rather, it demonstrates that the psychedelic brain state is distinct and can be related to other global changes in conscious level (e.g., sleep, anesthesia) by using a simple mathematical measure of signal diversity.

“That identical improvement in signal diversity was discovered for all three medications, despite their rather distinct pharmacology, are both quite remarkable and also encouraging that the results are robust and reproducible,” said Dr. Muthukumaraswamy, who was involved in all three original research.

The findings might help feed ongoing conversations concerning the strictly supervised medical usage of such medications, such as in the treatment of severe depression.

“Rigorous research into psychedelics is garnering greater interest, not least because of the therapeutic potential that these substances may have when taken wisely and under medical supervision,” said Dr. Robin Cahart-Harris of Imperial College London.

“The current study’s findings assist us to comprehend what happens in people’s brains when they experience psychedelic consciousness expansion. People frequently report having “insight” when using these substances, and when this occurs in a therapeutic setting, it can predict beneficial outcomes. The current discoveries may help us understand how this is possible.”

In addition to informing potential medical applications, the study contributes to developing scientific knowledge of how conscious level (how conscious one is) and conscious content (what one is conscious of) are connected.

According to Professor Seth:

“We discovered links between the intensity of subjects’ psychedelic experiences and variations in signal diversity. This shows that our metric is closely related not just to global brain alterations caused by medicines, but also to features of brain dynamics that underpin specific kinds of conscious experience.”

The study team is currently concentrating their efforts on determining how particular alterations in information flow in the brain underpin certain components of the psychedelic experience, such as hallucinations.

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Consciousness

Does Consciousness Create Our Material Reality?

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study authored by Robert Lanza suggests observers" are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

  • Reflect On:

    We observers, people like you and I, are responsible for how consciousness forms into physical matter, what does this say about the power of our individual and collective beliefs?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Where does the “physical” world come from? Matter at its smallest observable form, atoms, pop in and out of existence all the time. The idea that physical matter is birthed from a non physical realm, such as the “quantum vacuum” or the “void”, or something else we are unaware of is not novel.  Nikola Tesla himself believed that “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.” (Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907)

A paper published by Parahamsa Tewari in the journal Physics Essays explains,

“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.”

This non-physical “field” may also be dark energy, we don’t really know or understand it quite well, but we know it exists. A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document touches on this,

“We do not understand why it exists or how it is created; we simply know it provides an ever-present force on spacetime, causing the universe to expand. Indeed, recent high-precision experimental observations indicate dark energy may be a cosmological vacuum energy.”

So, if our material world is birthed from this non material “stuff”, does consciousness play a factor? It’s interesting to contemplate, especially given the fact that consciousness is not a physical thing, nor is it the result of any known physical process or biology. You cannot pinpoint or find the source of consciousness within the brain. Even at the quantum level, factors associated with consciousness have been known to change the behavior of matter, like photons, suggesting that matter itself may be a conscious perceiving thing.

Does this mean that all “physical” things possess some type of consciousness? Photons don’t have a brain, do they? What about plants? There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that plants act and behave in ways suggesting that they are a thinking things, capable of feelings, emotions, perceptions and thoughts.

If consciousness can have such an influence over matter, and is a non physical property that exists within all physical things, could it somehow be responsible for the creation of reality? This has been a common theme discussed within the realms of quantum physics for quite some time. In fact, the discussion of “ether”, this non physical, indescribable “stuff” has been the subject of contemplation for thousands of years. Plato wrote about the ether  in his work Phaedo, and explained how life exists within it. He believed what air is to us, the ether is to them. Is the ether alive? Is the universe itself, which could be primarily made up of this non-physical stuff, a conscious living entity?

You cannot explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals like space, time, mass,  and charge. As a result, the logical thing to do is postulate whether consciousness itself is something fundamental to the existence of reality, to view consciousness itself as one of these fundamentals.

“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?” Cicero, c. 44 BCE 

A New Paper

Another paper has emerged claiming that “observers” are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

What’s interesting to contemplate here is that, if this is true, it would include all “observers” within the universe itself, not just human observers. It reminds me of the double slit experiment, where tiny bits of matter are shot through a slit forming what’s called a wave pattern of probabilities and possibilities, but when an observer is introduced the wave function collapses.

One of the authors of the paper, Robert Lanza, told Big Think that observers can dramatically affect the “behavior of observable quantities” both at a microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales. In fact, a “profound shift in our ordinary everyday worldview” is necessary. The world is not something that is formed outside of us, simply existing on its own. “Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself.”

How does this work? Lanza contends that a network of observers is necessary and is “inherent to the structure of reality.” As he explains, observers — you, me, and anyone else — live in a quantum gravitational universe and come up with “a globally agreed-upon cognitive model” of reality by exchanging information about the properties of spacetime. “For, once you measure something,” Lanza writes, “the wave of probability to measure the same value of the already probed physical quantity becomes ‘localized’ or simply ‘collapses.'” That’s how reality comes to be consistently real to us all. Once you keep measuring a quantity over and over, knowing the result of the first measurement, you will see the outcome to be the same

The implications of this are and have always been quite large. The idea that consciousness itself is fundamental to reality suggests that it must have played an integral part in the creation of reality, that consciousness itself had to exist prior to the birth of physical material reality. One could go on and on contemplating things like: if consciousness is fundamental to the creation of physical matter, then what created consciousness itself? Where does consciousness itself originate from? Does existence itself even have a beginning? Can the future change the past, can the past change the future?

Who knows, but the most important point to takeaway here is that consciousness itself is fundamental to the creation of our physical experience. If we want to change the world, ultimately we have to change the way we think, feel and perceive. This is a key factor that is directly intertwined with the type human experience we create for ourselves.

This is why, perhaps, sometimes it seems that the greatest resource for powerful people, politicians and corporations is human consciousness itself.  If we ourselves determine what direction humanity heads simply by what we think and feel, just imagine what somebody could do if they could manipulate that aspect within us? The state of the world today, some might say, is chaotic, and that could be a direct result of the fact that the collective mind and heart is not in a state of coherence.

You might say “we are all over the place.” We’re separated by our beliefs and unable to come together in understanding and harmony. This collective state of being in turn will create a physical experience that reflects that, which is exactly what we are seeing today and have seen throughout human history.

Below is a great little documentary from a colleague of mine, it’s based off an essay he wrote for his philosophy master’s degree. It dives a bit deeper into this discussion.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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