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Study Shows The Difference Between The Brains of People Who Meditate VS. People Who Don’t

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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.

Human knowledge is constantly evolving and changing, yet most of us believe scientific theories to be fact rather than working understandings of a topic. But they are theories, and our understanding of ‘what is’ continues to change. These are always difficult times, because long-held beliefs enforced by scientific dogma are, for many people, difficult to adjust or relinquish. Anger and disbelief are common reactions, no matter how thoroughly an old theory is disproven. Just think back to when we discovered the Earth was round, not flat, or that Earth was not the center of the universe — the Catholic Church went so far as to persecute and even put to death scientists and ‘free-thinkers’ who opposed them.

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Fast forward to today and, fortunately, much has changed. Although several industries that we rely upon are plagued by corruption, fraud, and disinformation, some would argue that it’s not as bad as it used to be, as evinced by the scientific study of concepts once deemed to be spiritual ‘nonsense’ by the community, like meditation, or non-material science.

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Over the past few years alone, a wealth of scientific data has outlined the many benefits meditation can have on our biology, furthering strengthening the scientific validity of the mind-body connection.

For example, an eight-week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation can literally rebuild the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. They also released a study showing that meditation can have a significant impact on clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  The study showed that elicitation of the relaxation response (a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress) improves symptoms in all these disorders. It was also recently discovered that meditation creates a distinct network of anti-aging genes and improves cellular health.

This time, new research from the UCLA School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology has shown that long-term meditators have younger brains, with higher concentrations of tissue in the brain regions most depleted by aging. The study found that meditation can protect against the decline we normally see occurring through old age and keep our brains young.

According to the study, “On average, the brains of long-term meditators were 7.5 years younger at age 50 than the brains of non-meditators, and an additional 1 month and 22 days younger for every year after 50.”

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Pretty remarkable, isn’t it? Some showed a brain that is a full decade younger.

The study used brain imaging data from a previous study that had examined the impact of meditation on cortical thickness. To compare the brains of meditators aged 50 and over to the ones of non-meditating controls, they went through the data. Both groups included 22 women and 28 men with an average age of 51.4 years. Meditators had close to 20 years of meditation experience on average, though experienced ranged from 4 to 46 years.

A press release by the university explains further:

It is important to note that this study relied on estimates of brain change based on age and not actual values. Although these findings are consistent with prior research that detected significant differences in brain structure among meditators compared to non-meditating controls, results of the present study are inferential, and do not answer questions regarding how many years of meditation are necessary to attain this effect, or whether structural brain change directly corresponds to cognitive, behavioral, or psychosocial functioning.

The authors conclude by hypothesizing several different explanations for the results they observed. Firstly, meditation could be stimulating growth in neural structures and promote increased connectivity and efficiency within neural networks. Secondly, it “buffers the brain and nervous system against the deleterious effects of chronic stress, which may reduce pro-inflammatory response, stimulate telomerase activity, and inhibit age-related brain change”

This is precisely why these practices are being introduced into the workplace and at school.

These current findings can now be added to a long and growing list suggesting that meditation (along with other mindfulness-based practices) does wonders for our biology, and is another great example of how, sometimes, we don’t need scientists to validate something that is clearly already known. This isn’t the first time ancient wisdom has been validated by modern science, and it certainly won’t be the last.

How to Meditate

A common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide. All you have to do is place yourself in a position that is most comfortable to you. It could be sitting cross-legged on the floor, relaxing in a chair, or lying down in a bed — it’s your choice.

Another common misconception about meditation is that you have to “try” to empty your mind. One important factor I enjoyed reading from the study mentioned above is that participants were engaged in “non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.” When meditating, you shouldn’t try to “empty” your mind. Instead, try to let your thoughts, feelings, and whatever emotions you are experiencing at the time flow. Don’t judge them and don’t attach to them; just let them come and go and recognize that they are transitory.

I also believe that meditation is a state of being/mind more than anything else. One does not have to sit down for half an hour and “meditate,” so to speak, in order to reap the benefits of it, or to be engaged in the practice itself. One can be engaged in meditation while walking, for example, or while preparing for sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.

“You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation: that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific bio-feedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned.Meditation is not a byproduct of any technique. Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind.”

– Osho

That being said, partaking in the style of meditation that involves actively sitting down, breathing, and concentrating on quieting your mind or on a specific intent can be particularly helpful. The following article can help you with that: “How To Meditate: 6 Methods That Can Get Anyone Meditating.

To read more articles from Collective Evolution on meditation, click HERE.

 

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Rationality & Seriousness

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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 Aquarius on July 23rd/24th. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 23rd throughout most of the world and on the night of the 24th in the time zones East of Japan. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 9th/10th.

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 Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. 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 Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

Leo season began 36 hours before the Full Moon and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, social issues, groups, teams, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. This energy is unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, scientific, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Quincunx Venus, Conjunct Saturn, & Square Uranus

This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Venus which has recently entered Virgo. Our feelings, emotions, needs, or domestic lives may be at odds with friendships, values, finances, pleasure, or matters of love. It can be hard to integrate these areas but being flexible and making adjustments can be the solution.

The Full Moon is moving towards Saturn in the same sign. This can reflect a serious energy and we may be faced with limitations, restrictions, delays, or obstacles. We or others may be emotionally distant, pessimistic, or reserved. However, this can be good for some sort of effort that requires discipline, structure, and orderliness. After the Full Moon period, some of these energies will be strong again on August 1st/2nd.

Following the conjunction with Saturn, the Moon forms a square aspect with the disruptive Uranus in Taurus. This is activating the square between Saturn and Uranus that is happening throughout the year which I’ve covered in previous articles. Themes around ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Jupiter Going Back Into Aquarius

Jupiter entered its home sign of Pisces in mid-May for a short stint as it is returning back into Aquarius on July 28th/29th. The planet of expansion, freedom, beliefs, perspective, education, is unrestrained in Pisces and gets to express itself more ideally in this sign. We have seen examples of this as many jurisdictions loosened up covid related restrictions during this period.

With it going back into Aquarius, a traditionally Saturn ruled sign with Saturn currently present there, Jupiter will be more inhibited until late December when it re-enters Pisces again. It’s possible that during this 5 month period may experience more restrictive measures return or new ones implemented. We may also experience this in different ways in our personal lives such as not being able to expand the way we’d like to. However, this might not be noticeable immediately.

The combination of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius (which began last December) can be good for building towards something or planting seeds pertaining to some sort of technological integration, social networking, collective or social pursuits, activism, new scientific approaches to things, and innovation.

Venus Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Jupiter

Venus will be in a square with the Lunar Nodes which will be strong from July 28th-30th. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to friendships, love, values, or financial matters. We may need to complete something and address what is holding us back  to help us move on and take a step forward in an evolutionary way when it comes to these areas of life. Venus is in Virgo so therefore discernment, details, practicality, health, organization, or efficiency may be key.

At this time Mars will be switching from Leo to Virgo while in an opposition to Jupiter. We may begin to feel the need to apply ourselves in a way that is more productive, sustainable, healthy, and clean. However, we can overextend ourselves and take on more than we can handle. This can also play out as conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, or judgements.

Mercury’s Superior Conjunction

Mercury will be in its Superior Conjunction on August 1st/2nd which is in an important phase of Mercury’s cycle with the Sun. From this point onward we may have a better perception around certain things that were seeded or occurred in the previous two months which may also help our momentum forward. .

Circumstances and developments that happen at this time can help us gain more clarity or facilitate necessary realizations to help us make the right decisions and appropriate mental focus. During this conjunction, the Sun and Mercury will be opposing Saturn which can play out as hindrances or the need to be pragmatic as part of this process.

Things To Consider

How can you balance or integrate your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What areas of your life do you need to be more orderly, structured, disciplined, or take more seriously? Is there anything that you need to separate from? How can you apply yourself in a more noble way?

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 2:37am Universal Time on July 24th, night of the 23rd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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How To Embrace New Ideas & Envision A Better World

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CE Staff Writer 1 minute read

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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.

In this video I explore how to look in our minds and bodies for resistance towards new solutions and ideas. If we are to create a more thriving world, what has to happen within us? How do we use new and emerging solutions in a pure form, without applying the old dominance or capitalistic stories to them?

It can, very understandably, be hard to imagine something different than what we’re doing now. Especially when we consider we don’t know HOW things would change or what will happen to the current life we’ve built.

What if real global solutions involve shifting our long term plans? How do we gain a sense of comfort and stability in challenges we seek to solve at their core?

Every time I’ve been faced with some pretty big changes I had to make in my life, if I ever sensed resistance in myself, I had to find it in my body as well as navigate it in my mind.  I explain more in the video below.

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

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Consciousness

Raising Our Vibration Through Compassion & Unconditional Love

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CE Staff Writer 9 minute read

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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.

An internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization, the Institute of HeartMath dedicates itself to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology, and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with that of their minds at home, school, work, and play.

It’s becoming clearer to many of us that working together with kindness, compassion and acceptance are the missing pieces for resetting humanity’s fast and furious trajectory into separation and division. It’s also becoming obvious that we cannot create solutions from the same consciousness level that’s creating the problems. Raising our consciousness vibration for drawing peaceful solutions is an undertaking that calls for kindness, forgiveness and an inclusive love that respects our differences.

A large portion of their research has investigated heart and brain interaction. Researchers have examined how the heart and brain communicate with each other and how that affects our consciousness and the way in which we perceive our world. For example, when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a certain message. Because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, it can yield significant data for researchers.

HeartMath has discovered that  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.

This is very important work, as it shows how the heart plays an important role far beyond what is commonly known. For instance, did you know that your heart emits electromagnetic fields that change according to your emotions, or that the human heart has a magnetic field that can be measured up to several feet away from the human body? Did you know that positive emotions create physiological benefits in your body, and that you can boost your immune system by conjuring up positive emotions? Did you know that negative emotions can create nervous system chaos, and that positive emotions do the complete opposite? Did you know that the heart has a system of neurons that have both short term and long term memory, and that their signals sent to the brain can affect our emotional experiences? Did you know that in fetal development, the heart forms and starts beating before the brain is developed? Did you know that a mother’s brainwaves can synchronize to her baby’s heartbeats? Did you know that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa?

All of these facts, published research papers, and more can be accessed at heartmath.org.

I recently came across an article published by HeartMath titled “Raising Our Vibration Through Compassion & Unconditional Love” written by Sara Childre, Pres. of HeartMath Institute and Doc Childre, HeartMath Founder. I thought I would post it below for those who are interested.

Vibrations

HeartMath and many systems use the term vibration in reference to the quality of thoughts, feelings, emotions and attitudes that are generated and influenced by our beliefs, memories, choices, environmental stimuli and more. For example, you often hear people say, “I had to leave that office, the vibes were so low it was draining my energy, or, “I felt a lift from being in her positive vibration.”

The vibration of our moods, attitudes, thoughts and feelings can rise and fall throughout the day, based on our actions and reactions to others, ourselves, or to life’s issues. The vibes we emanate to others and to the environment vary, based on our resilience for balancing our mind, emotions and disposition – especially in today’s dynamic emotional climate.

Lower-level vibrations can occur at every turn in connection with frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, judgment, comparisons and much more. These emotions are part of being human, but it is within our power to shift out of these debilitating feelings into higher vibrational attitudes and perceptions.

An easy way to maintain a higher vibration is to interweave the qualities of our heart in our connections and interactions. These heart qualities include love, care, compassion, kindness, appreciation, forgiveness, and more. Anyone who experiences these qualities knows their power to lift our feelings into a kinder and more stress-free outlook.

Raising Others’ Vibrations

For evidence that the heartfelt intentions of one individual can raise the heart vibration of others, HeartMath cites studies it has conducted. You may be familiar with the study in which a dog’s incoherent heart rhythms became coherently aligned with a boy’s heart rhythms as he radiated intentional love and care to his dog. Go to Josh and Mable to read more.

Science tells us that human beings and all creatures radiate an electromagnetic field produced by the heartbeat. Our feelings broadcast like radio waves through this field. When you are in the presence of a group of friends, family or others, everyone’s thoughts, feelings and attitudes are intermingling in your immediate area — which HeartMath calls the field environment.

Another study, with 40 participants, explored the effects of being in a coherent field environment. The participants were divided into 10 groups of four people who were seated around a table. They were all connected to equipment that simultaneously measured their level of heart rhythm coherence. Three of the participants had been previously trained in the Heart Lock-In technique and were instructed to get into a coherent state at random times unknown by the fourth untrained person. Overall, as the coherent vibration of the three HeartMath-trained participants increased, the untrained person’s coherence level also measurably increased from being in that more coherent field environment.

Poised in Higher Vibrations

When poised in our higher vibration, we experience many benefits. Decisions and solutions flow more easily due to increased access to our heart’s intuitive wisdom; our discernment becomes more inclusive and our choices become clearer and more effective; it gets much easier to deflect frustration, anxiety, impatience and other chronic stress producers that strain our critical thinking and reasoning.

Most all of us feel more self-secure when in our higher vibrational composure, yet it can be harder to maintain in the midst of challenges and ramped up stress. We can learn to lift our vibration to meet challenges by adding heart qualities of conscious care, kindness, gratitude or compassion in our interactions. As these qualities of love move through our system, it lifts our attitudes automatically for the highest way to deal with the situation at hand.

Unconditional love and compassion are among the highest vibrations of love and are not subject to preconditions, limitations, or requirements of others. They serve the greater interest and benefit of all sentient beings and the environment in which they exist. Many people are realizing that unconditional love and compassion are from our higher consciousness potentials with the capacity for healing and attracting solutions for social transformation.

Uncountable numbers of people have experienced the benefits of compassion and more individuals are resonating with this powerful expression of love in these times of robust change. Practicing compassion is something we can do that benefits all, yet it takes heartfelt commitment to anchor this responsibility to the whole of which we are a part.

Summary of Benefits From Raising Our Vibration Levels

  • Increased care and kindness flow more automatically in our connections.
  • We are more clear-minded and self-secure in our choices and actions.
  • Our mind and emotions interact more harmoniously to suit our needs.
  • We deflect common stress triggers – frustration, impatience, intolerance, etc.
  • We are much more resilient and resistant to fears and self-doubt.
  • Our heart’s deeper care is not overridden by our disruptive mind and emotions.
  • The lift in our attitude wards off anxiety, excessive worries and overwhelm.
  • We tend to lift others and the environment when our vibration is up.
  • We are less judgmental and intolerant with others and ourselves, which prevents mega stress accumulation.
  • Lifting our vibration amplifies our intuitive heart feelings for better choices and outcomes.

Simple Exercises to Raise Your Vibration

(Adapted from exercises in the Heart Intelligence: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart book.)

How to replace lower vibrational feelings, such as sadness, anger, insecurity, anxiety, self-judgment, rejection, etc.

1. Exercise: Find a quiet place where, for a few minutes, you can breathe easily, imagining with each breath that your mind, emotions and body are becoming still inside. In this stillness, desire the uplifting feeling you would like to have, and as you breathe, imagine breathing this new feeling into your being for a while. Imagine you are creating it with your breath.

2. Another Exercise: When feeling low, just sit quietly and imagine radiating love, compassion and stillness into your mental and emotional nature. Self-care is often allowing ourselves to have a low moment without compounding it with self-criticism. When our light is dim, it helps to give ourselves the feeling of compassionate heart warmth that we would give a child or a pet that is infirm. Even if it doesn’t stop the pain, we know it can help energetically. If we feel awkward while trying this, it helps to ask ourselves, “What’s the difference in nurturing ourselves with compassionate intention than taking the vitamins and health foods we consume for self-care?” Or, “Why do we teach kids to put their hand over a hurt area and radiate sunshine from their heart to help it feel better?” We do this because it’s a natural expression of self-compassion, with benefits to their mental, emotional and physical nature.

You can soon feel a difference when doing these exercises, unless extremely challenged. If it doesn’t work the first time, be patient and simply try again later. Being genuine makes a difference. This activates your heart energy. Practicing for a few days in a row strengthens your capacity to reset unwanted feelings and lower vibrations.

Simple exercises such as these can do more to lift your vibration than you may think. Make it fun to consciously reset your vibration throughout the day and watch your spirit lift and the stress accumulation diminish.

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!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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