I have little, VERY little, memories of my childhood or adolescence – or adulthood for that matter. It concerned me when a therapist colleague said “not remembering” was an indication of repressed memory probably of horrible childhood trauma. Ai yiiii yiiiiii. Maybe I was beaten, or worse, and all these years believing I had nice parents.
I told a psychiatrist friend about my memory “affliction”thinking he would suggest decades of psycho-analysis at best and in-patient treatment at worst. He looked passively at me and without the slightest hesitation said, “All that indicates is your childhood was boring.”
This is one of my aha moments that I DO remember and spurred me to investigate the neuro-biology of emotion. What does that have to do with hang-over? Read on!
You already know without a doubt that most of your memories are ones that were highly emotional experiences.
“Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience,also shows that this emotional “hangover” influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.”
“How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states–and these internal states can persist and color future experiences,”explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.”
“‘Emotion’ is a state of mind, . . . findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”’
” . . . data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.”
“We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” observes Davachi.
I’m so relieved! Not only wasn’t I beaten . . . or worse . . . the biggest hang-over I’ve experienced was the result of my exceptionally boring life.
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
Hold up your hand for just a second. Feel anything?
At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body . . .RIGHT NOW.
The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second. That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.
There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.
I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years. Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical. Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.
I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .
. . . and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed. I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.
Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.
When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh. It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.
Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,
. . . perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later. Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances, past clients and a prayer for those who have passed. The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror.
* * *
I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.
To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE
Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .
“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”
Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe. All is from the same matter.
We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.
Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.
When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us.
The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.
There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses: The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future.
I admit I don’t understand science.
How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat? We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .
Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.
Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.
* * *
To read Part I, Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE
“A team of researchers from UCLA and the University of Adelaide studied 35 non-demented adults who were from 45 to 75 years old. They gave each study participant the International Physical Activity Questionnaire to determine how many hours on average they spent sitting and how much physical activity they got each day. Each study participant also underwent a high-resolution MRI scans of his or her brain.”
The researchers found that the more hours the subjects sat the thinner the medial temporal lobes of their brains tended to be. (Each hour of additional sitting correlated with a medial temporal lobe that’s 2% thinner.) This was regardless of how much physical activity they engaged in when not sitting.
Some of the possibilities of how sitting impacts your brain include:
Your blood may not be circulating as much throughout your body and therefore your brain. This could mean that your brain is not getting as much oxygen or the waste products in your brain aren’t being cleared out as effectively.
You don’t burn as many calories, which could lead to weight issues, which then alter a wide variety of mechanisms in your body.
Your body’s metabolic machinery and hormones may be impacted so that your brain is not getting as many nutrients or is being exposed to other conditions such as higher blood sugar.
More recuperation by Peggy
Correlations and associations do not mean cause-and-effect.
A study with only 35 people has many limitations and does not prove that sitting will make part of your brain thinner. “Maybe in this study, the people who were more likely to sit more each day also were more likely to be less active socially, have less stimulating jobs, or have other circumstances that could be affecting their brains. Alternatively, could thinning medial temporal lobes somehow be affecting their behaviors so that they sat more? More studies are needed to figure out what is actually happening.”
*The medial temporal lobe is part of the brain responsible for forming longer term memories. It tends to thin as you age to begin with!
“Nonetheless, this study does add to the concern that “sitting is the new smoking”, which by the way nothing to do with “cigarette butts.” Other studies have associated regularly sitting for lengthy periods of time with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, muscle and back problems, cancer, and other health problems.”
Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day, change your relationships, change your life.
I’m not being overly dramatic as there is a body of research which shows that simply putting pen to paper changes your brain.
Easy Peasy Writing How-to
Write on! by Peggy
Choose a focus – a situation, feeling, thought and create a “topic Sentence” If you can’t think of a specific begin with “Right this moment I am thinking . . . ” or “I am feeling . . .” or ” “I can’t think of anything . . . “
It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.
Use a pen that writes smoothly and comfortable to your hand. Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important. Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as the movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not).
Set a timer for approximately 20 minutes. It takes that long for your unconscious brain to push through your logical thinking processes.
Use a journal, a piece of paper, a brown bag – it doesn’t matter.
Start with your “topic sentence”, thought, feeling . . . just start.
Write continuously for 20 minutes, never letting the pen stop.If your mind goes blank simply makes loop-d-loops with the pen until you have words to put down. Write quickly, spontaneously, intuitively. It doesn’t matter what you write just put down on paper where your mind takes you.
Do not be concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
Do not be concerned if it doesn’t make sense.
Read research How Writing About Past Failures May Help You Succeed In The Present,click here