Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spirituality Spot Found in Brain

Here is yet another scientific study that validates the importance of letting go of our illusion of self and control that emanates from our Ego. This must happen in order for us to get in touch with our True Nature, our Source, Self, or God. We are experiencing some kind of spiritual awakening today that is finally getting into the mainstream media and will hopefully start many on their Path with Heart. When the skepticism of the scientific mind begins to find proof of this spiritual connection in the testable material world, we can all rejoice at the prospect of humankind finally understanding the Oneness of All and lead us to transcend this "Me Definer". When one hurts another, one hurts oneself and everyone else at the same time. We are all One and we must work together just as the left hand naturally works in concert with the right. After all, we are one body, one organism, one Self. Such is the joy, the wonder, and the ultimate bliss of our True Nature!

Spirituality Spot Found in Brain

By Robin Nixon, from LiveScience

What makes us feel spiritual? It could be the quieting of a small area in our brains, a new study suggests.

The area in question — the right parietal lobe — is responsible for defining "Me," said researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University. It generates self-criticism, he said, and guides us through physical and social terrains by constantly updating our self-knowledge: my hand, my cocktail, my witty conversation skills, my new love interest ...

People with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives, reports the study in the current issue of the journal Zygon.

Most previous research on neuro-spirituality has been based on brain scans of actively practicing adherents (i.e. meditating monks, praying nuns) and has resulted in broad and inconclusive findings. (Is the brain area lighting up in response to verse or spiritual experience?)

So Johnstone and colleague Bret Glass turned to the tried-and-true techniques of neuroscience’s early days — studying brain-injured patients. The researchers tested brain regions implicated in the previous imaging studies with exams tailored to each area’s expertise — similar to studying the prowess of an ear with a hearing test. They then looked for correlations between brain region performance and the subjects' self-reported spirituality.

Among the more spiritual of the 26 subjects, the researchers pinpointed a less functional right parietal lobe, a physical state which may translate psychologically as decreased self-awareness and self-focus.

The finding suggests that one core tenant of spiritual experience is selflessness, said Johnstone, adding that he hopes the study "will help people think about spirituality in more specific ways."

Spiritual outlooks have long been associated with better mental and physical health. These benefits, Johnstone speculated, may stem from being focused less on one’s self and more on others — a natural consequence of turning down the volume on the Me-Definer.

In addition to religious practices, other behaviors and experiences are known to hush the Definer of Me. Appreciation of art or nature can quiet it, Johnstone said, pointing out that people talk of "losing themselves" in a particularly beautiful song. Love, and even charity work, can also soften the boundaries of "Me," he said.

The greatest silencing of the Me-Definer likely happens in the deepest states of meditation or prayer, said Johnstone, when practitioners describe feeling seamless with the entire universe.
That is, the highest point of spiritual experience occurs when "Me" completely loses its definition.

"If you look in the Torah, the Old Testament, the New Testament, in the Koran, a lot of Sufi writings, Buddhist writings, and Hindu writings, they all talk about selflessness," said Johnstone.

We may be finding the neurological underpinnings of these writings, he said.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Study: Doing Good Makes You Feel Good

I have been happily busy visiting with friends and family this holiday season and came across this article by Melinda Wenner on LiveScience. It is always good when science validates the wisdom of Jesus, Lao-tse, Buddha, and other less known enlightened teachers. With Christmas just ending, this interesting study reveals our True Nature so well and is just one more agreement with the Oneness of all. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have and feel the innate need to open your heart to those in need and share the altruistic Love that is our Source, our Self, and the God within us all.

There's a new incentive to doing good things for others: It makes you happier, according to a new study.

Michael Steger, a psychologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, has always been amazed by how differently people lead their lives. Pat Tillman, for example, left the NFL to enlist in the Army and fight in Iraq and later Afghanistan (where he was killed), Steger said, but celebrity and socialite Paris Hilton continually pursues "a public life of shallowness."

Steger couldn't help but wonder which behavior makes people happier—seeking pleasure or doing good?

To find out, he and his colleagues asked a group of 65 undergraduates to complete an online survey each day for three weeks that assessed how times they participated in hedonic, or pleasure-seeking behaviors, versus meaningful activities, such as helping others, listening to friends' problems and/or pursuing one's life goals.

The surveys asked the subjects how much purpose they felt their lives had each day and whether they felt happy or sad. The subjects also completed two sets of questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study to assess how they felt about their lives more generally.

They found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt. Pleasure-seeking behaviors, on the other hand, did not make people happier.

Realizing that some people may feel guilty about reporting pleasure-seeking behaviors, Steger and his colleagues then modified the survey questions slightly to make them seem less exceptionable, and asked a new group of students to perform the study again, this time over a four-week period. The psychologists got the same results.

"A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself," said Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, who was not involved in the study. But "it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that's an important message in a culture that's pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect."

In order to make sure that the relationship between happiness and doing good wasn't the other way around—that happiness instead leads people to do good things—the researchers looked at which tended to come first. They found that the subjects became happier after they did something good, suggesting that happiness does, in fact, come about as a result of doing good things.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Flowing Through Karma

Living within the law of Karma can be a wonderful experience if one just accepts the obstacles in life and turns them into positive, albeit surprising, experiences. This is where attitude is truly everything! As we encounter these unexpected interruptions, we have a choice to make - do we allow our Egos to draw us into the negativity of anger and frustration because we lost "control" over our well-made plans or do we accept the fact that we are really not in control and then find the positive opportunities that this new situation offers? Well, the sage chooses the latter, understands that this departure is simply a natural occurrence on one's Path with Heart, and continues in this new direction with a curious smile. This is how one can "cheat" Karma and prevent creating a negative Cause or, preferably, pass through this situation as an observer do not create any Cause . This includes the all-important wisdom gained from understanding the enormous benefits that arise from "going with the Flow". This is always a choice that each of us has no matter what the circumstances are. So how about an example....

I am currently reaping the rewards from letting go of this illusion of control and allowing my Path with Heart to make an unexpected change of direction that now has me enjoying an extended visit with close friends (family) that have always occupied a very special place in my heart. There are very few, if any, more positive and pleasant situations to experience. So here I sit typing a post to my blog on a laptop computer - something I have never done before! Something simple yet just another example of a positive experience born from an event that most would perceive as misfortune. You see, while traveling to the college graduation celebration for my "niece", my vehicle lost power and forced me to pull off of the highway many miles from my destination. It had to be towed to a reputable repair facility over fifty miles from my destination on a Saturday night and obviously causing me to miss this very important event that I had so looked forward to attending for years. This started a series of unexpected interruptions to the plans of several other wonderful people and presented each one with a similar choice of whether to allow this surprise to ruin their evenings or to just accept it as part of their respective paths and change course with a smile and a sense of adventure. All I can say about their experiences is that each one of them greeted me with open arms, kindness, and a sincere concern for my welfare. Every moment was, and continues to be, a wonderful and very heart-warming experience. There is no doubt that they chose the way of the sage and therefore, something with the potential to anger and frustrate, became a positive and rewarding experience.

Although we do not have Free Will because Karma rules our Destiny, we do have a choice in how we deal with the "obstacles" in our lives. We can choose to relax, accept, and enjoy the positive within all such events or we can allow our Ego to beat us up in it's frivolous attempt to "control" the situation and add yet another negative Cause(s) to our Karma with the resulting adverse Effect(s) that must be faced down the road of life. I am far more wealthy and blessed by my choice. Which will you choose next time?

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