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Solar Eclipse In Leo: Time To Shine In New Ways

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We are having a Total Solar Eclipse in Leo on Monday, August 21st in the Western world, and in the early hours of August 22nd in the East. This eclipse has been dubbed ‘The Great American Eclipse’ as its pathway of totality will be cutting across the US from coast to coast. The peak of this eclipse and the exact moment of the New Moon will be at 6:30pm Universal Time, although the start and peak times of when the eclipse is visible depends on your location.

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This eclipse will be visible throughout North America, Central America, and in the Northern part of South America, as well as part of Western Europe and the west coast of Africa. However, it would be visible only as a partial eclipse unless you are on the pathway of totality which travels through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and most of South Carolina.

If you are located on the path of totality, you may be able to see Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Venus (in that order) in the dark sky as the Sun is completely covered. This will be a great sight to see if the conditions are right. Also, it’s very important to keep in mind that no matter where you are viewing the eclipse, make sure to be wearing certified viewing glasses when looking at the Sun as your eyes can damage without them.

Solar Eclipses are like a supercharged New Moon which occur every 6 months. They happen back to back with a Lunar Eclipse which is a supercharged Full Moon. Eclipse periods coincide with endings and beginnings and in some cases can feel like starting a whole new chapter depending on how they are influencing your natal astrology chart.

They can be a bit of a ‘wild card’ sometimes.  The energies are strongest within a month of occurring which is when related events or circumstances may transpire. However, the effects of eclipses can still manifest over the following 6 months and gradually leading up to it.

In the lead up to this, we had a Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius. Its energies signify changes around our friendships, associates, colleagues, groups, teams, or some sort of collective. It could even have to do with how we express ourselves in these dynamics, and also potentially lead to new growth in relationships and partnerships.

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We started Mercury retrograde in Virgo on August 12th/13th which will last until Septeber 5th/6th when it will be in late Leo. Mercury Retrograde is a time of adjustments, insights, revisitation, and reorientation. The fact that this one is coinciding with eclipse season really emphasizes significant changes occurring between late July and late September, especially in the 2-3 weeks following this Solar Eclipse.

I also previously wrote an article covering this eclipse from a geopolitical perspective, and more specifically what is going on in the US and with Donald Trump, which you can read here.

Total Solar Eclipse Near North Node Is A Strong Significator Of New Beginnings

Solar Eclipses always occur when there is a New Moon near one of the two Lunar Nodes, which in this case it is the North Node. The Nodes are where the pathway of the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic which is the pathway of the Sun from our (geocentric) perspective. The closer a New Moon is to a Node, the more totality/coverage the Moon will have in blocking the Sun making it more astrologically significant as far as changes are concerned. The other Lunar Node, known as the South Node, is always on the opposite side and sign as its counterpart.

The Nodes are an important thing to look at when considering eclipses. The North Node (in Leo) is about the future and where our evolutionary potential is at this time. The South Node (in Aquarius) is about the past and what potentially could be holding us back if expressed in a way that is inhibiting what the North Node is calling for. They entered the Leo-Aquarius axis on May 9th and will stay there until November 6th, 2018 extending those themes until then.

The last Lunar Eclipse (mentioned above) we had a few weeks prior triggered and initiated the Aquarian South Node side of this process. However, considering that this one in Leo is a North Node Solar Eclipse in totality, and the previous one was a partial Lunar Eclipse, the new beginnings surrounding the Leo energy are much stronger than potential endings signified by the Aquarian side of the polarity. It is probable that some of the developments and changes indicated by the previous eclipse could be directly connected with some of the new beginnings indicated by this Solar Eclipse.

Solar Eclipse In Leo Aligned With Regulus and Trine Uranus

Leo is ruled by the Sun and it is the sign of the creator, the performer, the leader, and the superstar. It is about love and heart centred self-expression, whether that is in our creative efforts, joyful activities, or in relationships. Leo is passionate, inspired, and inspiring, which is what earns Leo natives the spotlight they may crave. Leo is also associated with children and has childlike and playful qualities. Expressed negatively, Leo energy can be demanding of attention, egotistical, arrogant, and get too caught up in drama.

The energy of this sign can be expressed in different ways and areas of your life depending on how it is interacting with your natal astrology chart and the types of things that you do. For example; the Leo ‘performer’ theme may be expressed in the arts or in sports, or perhaps you are taking on a leadership role in your workplace, maybe children coming into your life somehow, or maybe you are doing something new regarding a hobby. These are just some examples of how this can play out, but many more potentials of its expression can exist related to the above mentioned themes.

This Solar Eclipse is aligned with Regulus, which is the brightest star that is closest to the Sun’s pathway (ecliptic). It is the ‘heart of Lion’ of the Leo constellation, which emphasizes some of the themes mentioned above. Traditionally it has been referred to as the ‘star of kings’ as part of which highlights the superstar potentials of Leo energy and could also suggest a theme of being the king/queen of our world. A negative expression of Regulus can be seeking revenge and going to war.

Uranus is in a very tight harmonious trine with this Regulus aligned Solar Eclipse. Uranus can bring excitement, innovation, revolution, authenticity, freedom, and the sparks of intuition and inspiration that could lead to revolutionary developments in our lives. It likes to challenge the status quo, take a more progressive approach, and could also be rebellious. Uranus also strongly emphasizes the new beginnings of this Solar Eclipse.

This eclipse is also separating from a quincunx aspect with Chiron which will be finishing a square with Saturn in the Fall. Although this eclipse can make us more bold and potentially have a liberating effect, there may be challenges and required adjustments when trying to incorporate the Leo energy while addressing our blocks, wounds, or emotional patterns. This theme could also come up from mid October until mid November at times in which we could go beyond some of these challenges if we apply discipline.

Mars conjunct the North Node in Harmonious Aspects with Jupiter and Saturn Going Direct

Mars is also in Leo not too far from where this eclipse is occurring, however it is much closer to the North Node making it a key planet to look at in consideration of the future. Mars is the planet of assertiveness, action, and desires. In Leo it likes to do things in a ‘grand’ way and with passion. This is about applying your drive and being active towards all of the Leo themes mentioned above in consideration of the future and your evolution.

Saturn and Jupiter, which both have opposing qualities, are making a harmonious sextile with each other and with Mars involved as well. This energy is strong during the first 2 weeks following this eclipse, especially after the 25th when Saturn finishes its retrograde.

Saturn is about commitment, structure, discipline, work, responsibilities, caution, and being realistic. Jupiter is about expansion, the big picture, growth, freedom, learning/teaching, morals, beliefs, travel, or anything to do with broadening your horizons. These two planets in a sextile with each other shows that these two energies are working in a compatible way and helps to provide balance between them.

For example, perhaps there is a theme of committing to, solidifying, or building towards something that can be expansive for you. It could also mean being able to more easily exercise caution while applying yourself in growing towards your goals. For some, it may be about moving forward with a realistic perspective or perhaps better defined beliefs, morals, or ideology.

This can also be good for commitments around relationships and partnerships considering Jupiter is in Libra. However, considering all of the Uranus energy at this time, partnerships and relationships will work best when there is something Uranian about it which could be exciting, electric, innovative, involve technology, or provide some sense of freedom.

Things To Consider and Setting Intentions

The last time an eclipse happened at this location of the zodiac was in August of 1998. In 1999 we also had an eclipse belonging to the same ‘Saros Series’ as this one. Depending on your age, it can be good to look at what has happened in your life during those years, especially in the second half of 1998. Some of the same themes that occurred then will manifest now, but in a different way as the overall astrology now is not the same as it was then.

Many of the themes related to this eclipse will be strongly activated during the first week or so of September. This is when Mercury ends its retrograde (September 5th) and stations forward at the same spot where this eclipse is occurring, all while in a trine with Uranus. At that time there can be new developments, and potentially surprises, that will help us in how we can proceed forward in our new beginnings.

What is your heart telling you to create at this time? What steps can you take to help you in fulfilling your passions? What possibilities out there currently excite you and perhaps make you feel more free? What is getting in the way of you expressing your heart more? In what area of your life do you need to be the King, Queen, or Superstar? How can you express yourself in ways that are more innovative, authentic and reflective of who you truly are?

These are some examples of what to reflect on during this eclipse and even more so in the coming weeks. If you wish to do your New Moon intentions for this eclipse, it is best to make them within the following 24 hours, as close to the New Moon/Eclipse as possible. You can click here to see what that is for your time zone. If you wish to know the times and specifics around viewing the eclipse in your region, you can find that here.

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Looking for more insight and a better understanding on how this eclipse season is affecting you? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. You can also FOLLOW ME on Instagram for more astrology related content.

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Supermoon In Virgo: Balancing Practical Matters With Idealism

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We are having a Full Moon in Virgo on February 19th at 3:53pm Universal Time. This is the peak of the Lunar Cycle that began on February 4th with a New Moon in Aquarius. It will also be a Supermoon, which is when the Moon appears larger and brighter due to its closer proximity to the Earth. For those in North and South America, it appears the brightest on the night of the 18th.

A Full Moon is when we feel a push-pull between the two opposite signs where the Sun and Moon are located, in this case being Pisces and Virgo. It gradually builds up and becomes more noticeable on the day of and days surrounding it. It is also  part of the backdrop of the other astrological energies over the following 2 weeks.

Pisces season begins less than a day before this Full Moon occurs. It is associated with sensitivity, compassion, empathy, spirituality, creativity, inspiration, dreams, imagination, oneness, and idealism. Negatively, this sign can also be unrealistic, flaky, elusive, delusional, deceptive, and is associated with escapism and intoxication.

The Moon brings in the sign of Virgo into the equation which can either be at odds with Pisces energies or could work harmoniously with them in some sort of balance. Virgo is associated with duty, service, productivity, practicality, organizing, analyzing, perfection, cleanliness, and purity. It is systematic, detailed, discerning, and good at problem solving. Negatively, Virgo can be cynical, overly critical, fussy, high strung, and too much in the the head.

Both signs are associated with health, wellness, and healing, with Virgo being more about physical health and physical modalities, while Pisces is more about spiritual/emotional health and modalities. They are adaptable signs and are both about helping others.

Full Moon Trine Mars and Uranus

This Full Moon is in a trine with Mars and Uranus which are separating from a conjunction with each other. Mars just recently entered Taurus on February 14th. Uranus is making its final transition from Aries to Taurus which will happen on March 6th, hours before the next New Moon.

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The Mars-Uranus influence could signify a period of doing certain things differently or acting on new experiences. It could be about applying ourselves in a way that is more liberating, exciting, innovative, unconventional, experimental, or breaking from limitations. Considering that Uranus is changing signs, over the next few weeks there can also be some surprises, significant shifts, and sudden changes which can either be harmonious and supportive or disruptive and challenging.

The Sun will also be travelling while in a close aspect with Mars until early March, but will be strongest from February 27th-28th. With Mars in Taurus, this is a time of asserting ourselves in a way that is methodical, practical, and even sensual in some cases.

Sun and Moon Aligned With Prominent Stars

This Full Moon will be in a tight alignment with the star Regulus which is known as the ‘heart of the lion.’ This star is in the constellation of Leo but moved into the tropical sign of Virgo in 2012 and still on the cusp of those signs. It is about courage, leadership, and prominence. It is daring, proud, and can also be big hearted.

The Sun is aligned with the star Fomalhaut which is in both the constellation and sign of Pisces This star amplifies the qualities of its sign and has magical, artistic, and otherworldly qualities.

The ‘Great American Eclipse’ that occurred in August 2017 and the following Solar Eclipse in February 2018 were near the same spots of where the Sun and Moon are during this Full Moon, yet in different signs. It is possible that you may see some areas of your life get triggered over the next few weeks similarly to areas of your life that were affected over a year long period from mid 2017 until mid 2018. However, it will still be different and those eclipses had more significance overall.

Mercury In Pisces Conjunct Neptune, Sextile Venus/Saturn/Pluto, Square Jupiter and Going Retrograde In Two Weeks

Mercury begins its pre-retrograde shadow period hours before the peak of this Full Moon. Over the next few weeks, much of what plays out or develops will go through a sorting out and adjustment period throughout March until early April. I will be writing a separate article on it, you can join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive my content.

Virgo’s ruler Mercury is in the opposing sign of Pisces which is where the Sun is. It is also aligned with Neptune, a modern ruler of Pisces, which makes it even more Piscean. Mercury doesn’t perform the way it wants to when in this sign. It lessens the analytical, intellectual, and rational qualities of this planet. Instead it perceives things in a more abstract, symbolic, sensory, or intuitive way.

All the Neptune/Pisces energy can make us more dreamy, less in touch with reality, forgetful, and inhibit mental focus. Communications and thoughts can be less direct, confusing, and misunderstood. However it can also be divinely inspired, psychic, compassionate, fantasy based, or directed by emotional energy.

Mercury and Neptune are also in a sextile with Saturn, Venus, and Pluto. Usually Mercury in aspect with Saturn can be good for practical thinking and focus, however, the Neptune influence mentioned is a lot stronger here. If anything this aspect with Saturn can good for constructive effort towards ideals, visions, creativity, selfless acts, or anything to do with spirituality.

Many people can also experience increased social interactions or romantic developments that can have some significance. However, considering that the South Node and an upcoming retrograde is in the mix, some of of this could have to do with the past or perhaps old behaviours and aspirations being triggered.

Mercury is moving towards a square with Jupiter which is the traditional ruler of Pisces. We can be overly broad minded, idealistic, or even judgemental. We can overlook details easily, over-exaggerate, and overextend ourselves. However, this can also be good for learning and expanding our minds. This energy will be strongest on February 22nd in the West, and the 23rd in the East.

Chiron Returns To Aries, Will Be There Until 2027

Chiron has just re-entered Aries where it will be until April 2027. We already got a taste of this energy last year from April to September before it retrograded back into Pisces. This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Chiron, and therefore it is possible that some of the issues below might come up during this period.

Chiron is the ‘wounded healer’, it reflects our wounds, blocks, traumas, and negative patterns. However, it is also the key unlocking our untapped or suppressed potential. Through our own healing and self-awareness, we become more whole and more of who we truly are. This is what Chiron is about, it is both the roadblock and the bridge.

Collectively, Chiron is going to trigger Aries themes for the next 8 years. However, like all other astrological influences, much of how it plays out for depends on how it is interacting with your personal birth chart based on the exact time you were born.

Aries is about self-identity, independence, leadership, initiation, and assertiveness. It can be direct, competitive, combative, hot tempered, impulsive, and forceful. Our wounds and challenges connected to these things could come to help us grow, become more aware, and make positive changes. We will see more of this unfold during certain periods over the upcoming years.

This Chiron in Aries period will be the most significant for those born between February 1969 and May 1976, as well as for those born between early April and mid-October of 1968. For these groups it will bring up deeper core wounds to help facilitate the potential for healing, awareness, and empowerment. It can help to develop a constructive relationship with aspects of oneself that have either been destructive, limiting, distorted, or inhibiting.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. Now offering forecast reports at 20% off introductory offer. More information here.

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In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consciousness

Science Says Silence Is Vital For Our Brains

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Studies have shown that excessive environmental noise not only decreases one's quality of life and cognitive function, but also reduces lifespan. The good news is that spending time in silence can reverse these effects.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you living in an environment that is consistently loud? Do you take much time for intended silence? Have you tried the 5 Days of You Challenge?

If you’re the average person, you wake up to the sound of an alarm. That alarm sends you to the bathroom where you quickly get yourself ready for your workday. If you have the time, you might eat something before jumping into your car to listen to music or the radio while you sit in traffic on your way to work.

Once you get there, it’s all people, customers, co-workers, cars, trucks, planes, lawn mowers, construction, phone calls, and tasks for the next 8 hours. These noises that most of us experience in excess send our bodies into stress states, decreasing our quality of life and potentially reducing our lifespan. It appears that noise, in excess, is not healthy for humans. Silence, on the other hand, can have huge benefits, but let’s explore the damage caused by noise before we get to the benefits of silence.

Before we get into the research, I’d like to note that the word ‘noise’ is said to come from the Latin word nausea, or the Latin word noxia, meaning seasickness, sickness, hurt, damage, or injury. Is it any wonder ‘noise’ is not healthy for us?

The Studies

Outside of your anecdotal reflection, there is scientific evidence that supports the negative effects of noise on our health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) examined and quantified its health burden based on a European study that involved 340 million people living in Western Europe. It found that residents were cumulatively losing about a million years off their lives due to noise every year. That’s like one in every three people losing an entire year off their life due to excessive noise!

A study that was published in 2011 in Psychological Science examined the effects Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Professor Gary W. Evans of Cornell University noted that the children who were exposed to noise developed a stress response that caused them to ignore the noise. These children not only ignored harmful noises, but also regular stimuli that are important to pay attention to like speech. Wonder why people have trouble paying attention these days? Perhaps we are exposed to too much noise and too many sounds.

This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise–even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage–causes stress and is harmful to humans. – Professor Gary Evans

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Going back to anecdotal evidence for a moment, I always find that staying with my friends who live in cities produces a much more uncomfortable situation for myself than when I’m in more quiet situations, or living at my quiet, somewhat isolated home in nature. I always share with friends that the environment of living in a city seems to be unhealthy; not just the air, but the energy, hustle and bustle, and the noise as well. Reading these studies clearly illustrates that it does not appear to be natural or healthy for humans to live or work in loud environments every day.

Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus, and loss of sleep. Living in consistently noisy environments will cause you to experience much higher levels of these harmful hormones. Of course, there is something you can do about this should you take action on it, but it requires that–action.

The Benefits of Silence

Again, pointing to anecdotal evidence for a moment, think back to the moments where you were on your own, retreating to the cottage or somewhere else quiet. Did you notice how often you NOTICED the silence? Not only that, but you likely felt a lot better after 3 or 4 hours of being there.

It isn’t just cleaner air or taking some time away from work, it’s the silence and lack of distraction. This can be observed by playing loud music and partying the entire time at a cottage as well. You’ll realize it isn’t relaxing, but simply another distraction. When you contrast the two different experiences, the benefits become more clear.

An interesting study observed the effects of noise, music, and silence on the brain. The study was published in the journal Heart and found that the two minute pauses randomly placed between the ‘relaxing music’  in the study were far more relaxing for the brain than the relaxing music. The longer the silence, the more benefits experienced by the participants. Study author L. Bernardi found that his ‘irrelevant’ blank pauses were the most important aspects of the study. Silence is heightened by contrast.

What You Can Do & The Takeaway

So, what can you do if you experience a lot of noise and are looking to avoid loud noises or simply take a break? Firstly, the good news is that the brain recovers from too much noise over time. According to the attention restoration theory, the brain’s finite cognitive resources can begin restoring when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input. In silence, the brain essentially lets down its sensory guard and restores some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.

The practical end of this would look like making an extra effort to be or spend time in silence. This means no music, movies, friends, conversations, phone chimes, etc, even if it’s only for 30 minutes or an hour each day.

This silence would not only allow your brain to restore its cognitive functions like creativity, but it can give you the opportunity to disconnect, quiet down and connect with yourself as well.

Years ago, I created a challenge called the 5 Days of You Challenge that’s designed to do just that – help people slow down, reduce noise and distraction, and connect deeper with themselves. Over the years, I have sent 180,000 people through this challenge and it has resulted in an incredible number of positive transformations.

If you’re looking to:

  • Clear emotional blocks
  • Connect deeply with yourself
  • Find more peace in your life
  • Develop greater self-awareness and presence
  • Slow down and enjoy life more

Then this challenge is something I highly recommend. I’ve made this challenge available to everyone to experience for free. You can check it out on CETV here.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

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Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Scientists have discovered that feelings of gratitude can actually change your brain. Feeling gratitude can also be a great tool for overcoming depression and anxiety. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that the heart sends signals to the brain.

  • Reflect On:

    Every time we struggle with depression, why are we constantly encouraged to take prescription medication when mindfulness techniques actually show more promise?

Gratitude is a funny thing. In some parts of the world, somebody who gets a clean drink of water, some food, or a worn out pair of shoes can be extremely grateful. Meanwhile, somebody else who has all the necessities they need to live can be found complaining about something. What we have today is what we once wanted before, but there is a lingering belief out there that obtaining material possessions is the key to happiness. Sure, this may be true, but that happiness is temporary. The truth is that happiness is an inside job.

It’s a matter of perspective, and in a world where we are constantly made to feel like we are lacking and always ‘wanting’ more, it can be difficult to achieve or experience actual happiness. Many of us are always looking toward external factors to experience joy and happiness, when really it’s all related to internal work. This is something science is just starting to grasp as well, as shown by research coming out of UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. According to them:

Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant. Now that’s a really cool way of taking care of your well-being.

There are many studies showing that people who count their blessings tend to be far happier and experience less depression.  For one study,  researchers recruited people with mental health difficulties, including people suffering from anxiety and depression. The study involved nearly 300 adults who were randomly divided into three groups. This study came from the University of California, Berkeley.

All groups received counselling services, but the first group was also instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks, whereas the second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group did not do any writing activity.

What did they find? Compared to the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counselling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health for up to 12 weeks after the writing exercise ended.

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This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief. (source)

Previously, a study on gratitude conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami randomly assigned participants to be given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another group recorded daily troubles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the troubled group. They reported fewer health complaints and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more. (source)

Researchers from Berkeley identified how gratitude might actually work on our minds and bodies. They provided four insights from their research suggesting what causes the psychological benefits of gratitude.

  • Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
  • Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it
  • Gratitude’s benefits take time & practice. You might not feel it right away.
  • Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain

The brain part is very interesting. The researchers at Berkeley used an fMRI scanner to measure brain activity while people from each group did a “pay it forward” task.  During the task, the participants were given money by a “nice person.” This person’s only request was that they pass on the money to someone if they felt grateful.

They did this because they wanted to distinguish between actions motivated by gratitude and actions driven by other motivations like obligation, guilt, or what other people think. This is important because you can’t fake gratitude, you actually have to feel it. If you don’t feel grateful or practice trying to feel grateful by taking the necessary steps like keeping a gratitude journal, you may not experience as much joy and happiness.

In a world where emotions aren’t really taught in school and the importance is put on striving for high grades, it’s not abnormal to have difficulty feeling grateful. This is especially understandable if you’ve been brought up in the western world, which is full of consumerism and competition, a world where we’re constantly made to feel we are lacking so we need to strive for more.

Participants were asked to rate how grateful they felt toward the person giving them the money and how much they wanted to pay it forward to a charitable cause as well as how guilty they thought they would feel if they didn’t help.  They were also given questionnaires to measure how grateful they felt in general.

We found that across the participants, when people felt more grateful, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity related to guilt and the desire to help a cause. More specifically, we found that when people who are generally more grateful gave more money to a cause, they showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making. This suggests that people who are more grateful are also more attentive to how they express gratitude.

Most interestingly, when we compared those who wrote the gratitude letters with those who didn’t, the gratitude letter writers showed greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex when they experienced gratitude in the fMRI scanner. This is striking as this effect was found three months after the letter writing began. This indicates that simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.

It’s also interesting to note that a recent study just discovered a brain network that “gives rise to feelings of gratitude. The study could spur future investigations into how these ‘building blocks’ transform social information into complex emotions.” (source)

What About The Heart?

The work and research above is great, but where do we actually experience these feelings? They are clearly not a product of our brain, they are products of our consciousness, and when we feel them the brain responds.  Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain.

A group of prestigious and internationally recognized leaders in physics, biophysics, astrophysics, education, mathematics, engineering, cardiology, biofeedback, and psychology (among other disciplines) have been doing some brilliant work over at the Institute of HeartMath.

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

Another great point made below by the Institute:

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – experiencing stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them are greater mental clarity and ability, including better decision making.” (source)

In fact, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends in return. What’s even more amusing is the fact that these heart signals (from heart to brain) actually have a significant effect on brain function.

Research findings have shown that as we practice heart coherence and radiate love and compassion, our heart generates a coherent electromagnetic wave into the local field environment that facilitates social coherence, whether in the home, workplace, classroom or sitting around a table. As more individuals radiate heart coherence, it builds an energetic field that makes it easier for others to connect with their heart. So, theoretically it is possible that enough people building individual and social coherence could actually contribute to an unfolding global coherence. –  McCratey

So far, the researchers have discovered that the heart communicates with the brain and body in four ways: neurological communication (nervous system), biophysical communication (pulse wave), biochemical communication (hormones), and energetic communication (electromagnetic fields).

“HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive function. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect. It facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability.” (source)

Gratitude and Positive Feelings Can Change The World

It gets deeper:

Every individual’s energy affects the collective field environment. The means each person’s emotions and intentions generate an energy that affects the field. A first step in diffusing societal stress in the global field is for each of us to take personal responsibility for our own energies. We can do this by increasing our personal coherence and raising our vibratory rate, which helps us become more conscious of the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that we are feeding the field each day. We have a choice in every moment to take to heart the significance of intentionally managing our energies. This is the free will or local freedom that can create global cohesion. – Dr. Deborah Rozman, the President of Quantum Intech (source)

Overall, this type of work suggests that human consciousness in general can change the world.

One study, for example, was done during the Israel-Lebanon war in the 1980s. Two Harvard University professors organized groups of experienced meditators in Jerusalem, Yugoslavia and the United Sates and asked them to focus their attention on the area of conflict at various intervals over a 27-month period. Over the course of the study, the levels of violence in Lebanon decreased between 40 and 80 percent each time a meditating group was in place. The average number of people killed during the war each day dropped from 12 to three, and war-related injuries fell by 70 percent. (source)

Another great example is a study that was conducted in 1993 in Washington, D.C., which showed a 25 percent drop in crime rates when 2,500 meditators meditated during a specific period of time with that intention.

This type of information is heavily correlated with quantum physics, as many experiments in that area as well as parapsychology (telepathy, remote viewing, distant healing) indicate similar findings. (source)

This holds true as far back as 1999. Statistics professor Jessica Utts at UC Irvine published a paper showing that parapsychological experiments have produced much stronger results than those showing a daily dose of aspirin helps prevent heart attacks. Utts also showed that these results are much stronger than the research behind various drugs like antiplatelets.

This type of work has statistically significant implications, yet is heavily ignored and labelled as pseudoscience simply because it conflicts with long-held beliefs we have trouble letting go of … But times are changing.

“For many years I have worked with researchers doing very careful work [in parapsychology], including a year that I spent full-time working on a classified project for the United States government, to see if we could use these abilities for intelligence gathering during the Cold War… At the end of that project I wrote a report for Congress, stating what I still think is true. The data in support of precognition and possibly other related phenomena are quite strong statistically, and would be widely accepted if it pertained to something more mundane. Yet, most scientists reject the possible reality of these abilities without ever looking at data! And on the other extreme, there are true believers who base their beliefs solely on anecdotes and personal experience. I have asked debunkers if there is any amount of data that would convince them, and they generally have responded by saying, “probably not.” I ask them what original research they have read, and they mostly admit that they haven’t read any. Now there is a definition of pseudo-science-basing conclusions on belief rather than data!” – Utts, Chair of the Statistics Department, UC Irvine (Dean Radin, Real Magic)

The Takeaway

Emotions and other factors associated with consciousness have the power to transform our inner world in ways we don’t fully understand yet. These findings show how consciousness can actually transform the physical/material world, and that’s huge. This validates the idea that if we can change our inner world through gratitude, empathy, compassion, and meditation, we can make our outer world more peaceful.

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