- 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?
Before you begin...
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.
--> Our latest podcast episode: Were humans created by extraterrestrials? Joe sits down with Bruce Fenton, multidisciplinary researcher and author to explore the fascinating evidence behind this question. Click here to listen!
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.
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)
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.
How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?
Before you begin...
When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.
This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.
How does Anesthesia work ?
From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.
In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds.
Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.
Why we still don’t know…
If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?
These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.
First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.
The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.
We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness? Can consciousness ever be represented materially?
A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it. To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.
What happens when someone goes “under”?
The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.
Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.
There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.
How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively.
During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?
What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?
If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.
Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.
What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?
The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.”
By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.
Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?
Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?
Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.
In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.
Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.
4 Key Steps To Heal From Any Kind Of Trauma
- The Facts:
Trauma can be seen as stress that has been trapped in the body. It can affect our daily life in many ways, and given our neuroplastic brain, trauma can create undesirable habits if gone unchecked.
- Reflect On:
Do you feel consistent stress? Perhaps unexplainable low energy? Feeling as though you are on edge for no reason? This could be a sign of a body and nervous system stuck in a trauma trained pattern.
Before you begin...
Trauma can be challenging, but the moment we are willing to do work on it is the moment that so much potential for healing and growth opens up. The more aware we are of the bigger picture, the less we suffer.
As a general rule, the mind clings to negative, fear-based experiences as a biological survival mechanism. But when we can consciously step outside of our own stories, outdated beliefs, and personal perspective, we can empower personal transformation through self-awareness.
Below are some useful questions to ask yourself in different instances of trauma. They are designed to help clear your mind, open your heart, and begin the healing process.
1. Life Is About Evolution. Find The Lesson In Your Experience
The Big Bang has revealed a universe to us that is radically evolutionary. It is constantly growing, evolving, and developing, and has been for more than 14 billion years. Life is evolution. It is an ongoing process of transformation and conscious expansion. This is a natural law, and this means that from a higher perspective, all of the experiences in our lives are happening for us, not “to” us.
While things may create suffering on an egoic level, there is often a different layer of meaning from a higher perspective. You must be willing to look for the hidden order in your perceived chaos. Ask yourself:
What am I supposed to learn?
How did I play a part in the creation of this, and what habits or behaviours do I need to clear?
How can I grow from this?
These questions will take you out of a state of learned helplessness and begin shifting your mind to focus on the solution rather than the problem.
I recently worked with a client whose house burnt down. She was overcome with grief. While discussing the situation, she mentioned to me that it was also days within the ten-year anniversary of her husband’s death.
I asked her if she felt that the two situations were somehow connected. Right away, she mentioned that she had still kept all of her husband’s belongings in that house and their bedroom exactly the same, more than ten years later.
She also mentioned how consistently her family begged her to move on. One family member specifically said to her, “If you don’t let go and choose to move on, the universe will eventually force you to.” She felt that this was a lesson in moving forward in her life, and in letting go. She also knew that by holding on so tightly to the past, she was preventing new love and peace of mind from entering her life.
She knew it was time to let go, and as challenging as it would be, it couldn’t be more painful than spending every day trying to pretend that nothing had changed.
Finding the lesson is an important first step to opening our minds to the evolutionary process, and finding a higher meaning in the sequence of events occurring in our lives.
“The wound is the place where the light enters.” – Rumi
2. See The Other Side
Beyond simply learning from our experiences, we can also find the hidden benefits in all of the circumstances we are faced with.
Our beliefs and expectations will often create one-sided stories in our mind about whether events are good or bad. This often causes us to focus primarily on the drawbacks of unmet expectations. And yet the exact events that challenge us most in life often have the greatest unseen blessings embedded within them.
Ask yourself, “What are the unseen benefits of this traumatic experience?”
Based on the natural laws of duality that exist on our planet, this technique I’ve learned from Dr. Nima Rahmany in The Overview Method is very effective. It works to un-filter your selective perception so that you can see both sides in a traumatic situation.
Where are you being supported in the face of this challenge? How is this trauma actually supporting the things you care about most in your life?
If you are courageous enough, you will be willing to go directly into the challenges you face, open up your perspective, and do the work. The more benefits you find, the closer you will get to neutralizing the feeling of loss within yourself.
3. Look Beyond Your Perspective
There is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is a feedback loop, while suffering is the story we create about the pain itself. It adds another layer to our pain
If someone else has hurt you, ask yourself: “Why, according to this person’s life story and perception of events, did this person feel justified in making their decision?”
Every single one of us makes a decision because the combination of our conscious + subconscious mind believes there are more benefits than drawbacks in that decision.
This means that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they understand at the time. And more often than not, the people who do the most careless or destructive things are often the ones hurting the most.
The same principle applies to you also, meaning that the notion of having regret is illusory. It is based on only being able to see the conscious mind’s perspective, putting us in a state of limited awareness. If we could open up the selective filter and see the bigger picture, we would find that the subconscious mind saw greater benefits in our decision at the time, that we weren’t consciously aware of.
In the words of Yehuda Berg, “Hurt people, hurt people.” With awareness and understanding, we can work to break the cycle.
4. Find What’s Missing
In the case of a traumatic loss, developed by Dr. John DeMartini:
All positive and negative particles in the universe are created simultaneously, in perfect one-to-one balance. We are made of these particles, and if these laws apply to all matter (in both quantum mechanics and classical physics), they must apply to the whole.
This perfect one-to-one balance exists within all things, but our senses create imbalanced perceptions. It is completely normal to become attached to the form of what we’ve lost, but it can be very healing to find where what we’re missing still exists in our lives.
Ask yourself, “What do I miss about who/what I’ve lost?”
For example, let’s say that you’ve lost a friend and you miss:
- His sense of humour
- Having deep conversations with him
- Playing video games
- His awesome hugs
Keep listing until you’ve covered all of the things you miss about that person.
Now, see where these things still appear in your life, but in different forms:
- Who do you laugh with now/who has a good sense of humour?
- Who do you have deep conversations with now?
Go through all of the traits that you’ve listed. Sometimes, you’ll have to look very carefully to open up your selective perception. The things you miss in your friend might not only come in the form of other people. For example, you might laugh with your aunt or siblings more often, but you might also find yourself watching more comedy television or funny videos.
If you look carefully, you will find that what you’re missing isn’t actually gone, it has only changed forms. Universal laws state that everything is always in a state of balance, a state of wholeness. While grieving is a necessary part of dealing with trauma, it is often the form we are attached to that creates the most suffering.
Then, what are the benefits of these new forms, that the old one didn’t have?
Some of these questions can be challenging to go through, but if you truly want to create transformation, they are well worth it.
Love yourself enough to do the work, ask the questions, and set yourself free. You deserve it.
Full Moon In Virgo: Taking Important Steps Forward
Before you begin...
IMAGE CREDIT: Sergey Svistunov
We are having a Full Moon in Virgo on February 27th which will appear the brightest on the night of the 26th for countries West of Central Asia and on the night of the 27th for countries East of there. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Aquarius on February 11th/12th. 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.
Full Moons are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Virgo and the Sun in Pisces. 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 Virgoan side and others expressing the Piscean side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.
Virgo is an Earth sign ruled by Mercury. It is associated with tasks, duty, service, productivity, practicality, organizing, analyzing, perfection, physical health, cleanliness, sustainability, and purity. It is systematic, detailed, discerning, discriminating, diligent, and efficient. Virgo corresponds with problem solving, adjusting to changing conditions, and coming up with solutions. Negatively, Virgo energy can be cynical, overly critical, fussy, high strung, and too much in the head.
Pisces is a Water sign linked to Neptune and traditionally ruled by Jupiter. It is associated with sensitivity, compassion, empathy, spirituality, creativity, art, inspiration, dreams, imagination, oneness, and idealism. Pisces can be psychic, mystical, healing, and retreating. Negatively, this sign can also be unrealistic, flaky, elusive, delusional, and deceptive. Drugs, alcohol, escapism, fantasy, and illusions are also under the domain of Pisces.
Full Moon Opposing Venus and Trine Uranus, Both Planets In A Sextile With Each Other
This Full Moon is in a trine with Uranus in Taurus. This can be a stimulating energy which can be good for trying new things or anything involving originality, innovation, technology, metaphysics, or science. Some people may also experience breakthroughs or surprises in a way that is welcoming and beneficial in most cases.
The Full Moon also opposes Venus in Pisces which will be closely behind the Sun over the next month until they make an exact conjunction in late March. Venus themes pertaining to love, relationships, friends, values, pleasures, money, and aesthetics may also be at odds with duties and other Virgo themes mentioned. This can also emphasize certain Piscean energies such as creativity, art, escapism, and intoxication. However, if we emphasize the Virgo side of the polarity, this can also be good for productive efforts around our relations, finances, art, or other Venus ruled areas of life.
The combination of all of this can also reflect taking new creative approaches to things which can be potentially for our work. Social, romantic, and financially related occurrences and undertakings can be exciting, unusual, liberating, ingenious, tech related, or experience a positive and/or evolutionary change. Generally, Venus in Pisces can also bring a magical, spiritual, or compassionate tone in our relations with others which can also play into this configuration with Uranus. This energy will build up as we approach March 3rd/4th when Venus will make its exact sextile with Uranus.
Virgo Ruler Mercury Conjunct Jupiter & In Post Retrograde Shadow
The ruler of this Full Moon is Mercury which had finished its retrograde in Aquarius on February 20th/21st. From that point until March 12th/13th it is in its post retrograde shadow which is the conclusion of the retrograde process. Certain areas of our lives that have experienced shifts, complications, changes in perception, or revisitation over the last month are becoming more clear. Things will fall into place more easily and we will be in a better position to proceed ahead in a way that is revised based on what has transpired.
Mercury is closely approaching a conjunction with Jupiter in the same sign of Aquarius. This can be good for anything educational or applying our minds in expansive or explorative ways. Thinking or communicating about the big picture, ideals, or undertakings involving media, marketing, or foreign places may also come up. This energy will be strong on March 4th/5th and build up as we approach that date.
Halfway Point Between Eclipses with Squares To Lunar Nodes
This Full Moon is in a square aspect with the previous Lunar Eclipse in Gemini which is also a grand cross when we factor in the oppositions with the Sun. The period between now and the next New Moon in Pisces marks the halfway period between the previous eclipse season in November/December (which also included a Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius) and the upcoming one in May/June.
We may experience developments pertaining to the themes of these eclipses. It can be a time of making important steps forward while also releasing certain expressions of ourselves or expired aspects of our life to help us in our evolution. The areas of our lives that are being affected by these eclipses depend on how they are configured to our natal astrology charts and are also connected to expressions of Gemini and Sagittarius.
Developments connected to communication, information, duality, intellectual matters, our immediate environment, local issues, neighborhood/neighbors, or siblings, cousins, or friends from an earlier part of our life can be part of this process. This is represented by the North Node and previous Lunar Eclipse in Gemini. The Sagittarius side of this polarity can reflect shifts connected to beliefs, opinions, dogmas, judgments, morals, higher education, travel, foreign lands, and excessiveness.
A significant part of this halfway period will be on March 5th/6th when the Sun will be in a square with the Lunar nodes. The themes and potentialities mentioned in the above paragraphs can come up more strongly at that time. Considerations may involve where we are coming from and where we are heading or being stuck between things that can be holding us back and things that can facilitate growth. Activities and developments happening at this time can also involve incorporating beneficial aspects of the past and applying/experiencing them in an evolved or forward moving way.
On March 9th/10th, Venus will also be in a square with the Lunar Nodes. The themes mentioned in the above paragraph may come up again. However, they can also involve Venus ruled areas such as love, friendships, financial matters, values, pleasures, art, aesthetics, and creativity. We may experience turning points or perhaps we may also feel that we are at a crossroads when it comes to these areas.
Things To Consider
How can you integrate creativity, compassion, spirituality, inspiration, originality, or innovation into your work, duties, and service to others? What new approaches can you take for your health or to help you be more organized, productive, and efficient? Do you need to be more attentive to details? What is coming up for you now, and in the days prior to this Full Moon, that is bringing more clarity to help you move forward in a revised way? How do your friendships, social network, groups, the collective, technology, innovation, ideals, the big picture, education, or media tie in to this?
Is there a connection between current/recent developments, issues, insights, realizations, or ideas with happenings that occurred for you back in November and/or December? If so, these newer developments can be a next step for you to proceed forward in new ways and move on from certain behaviors, tendencies, or aspects of life that are holding you back.
These are just some examples of themes that could come up during 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 connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is at 8:17am Universal Time on February 27th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.
I’m currently doing a DISCOUNT with 20-30% off personal readings. Gain more astrological insight into what is going on in your life and have a better understanding of your individual 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.
Was Stanley Kubrick Telling Us Something With His 1999 Film ‘Eyes Wide Shut’?
Stanley Kubrick’s last film before his untimely death, ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was perceived as...
Russian Astronaut On The ISS Allegedly Sees 5 UFOs In New Footage
I’m not sure this story would have been so widely covered if it had happened 3 or 4 years ago,...