Consciousness controls brain chemicals, Brain chemicals control consciousness

I guess that most everyone intuitively understands that we can alter our brains and our perception of consciousness with chemicals, food, herbs and more. Society has embraced drinking alcohol as a socially acceptable form of altering consciousness. Prescription depression and anxiety meds, have increased an amazing amount in the last few decades. Also, there are tons of vitamin supplements and chemical derivatives available at health stores everywhere, to improve mood. So, this business of altering human consciousness with chemicals is HUGE. Why is that? Because everyone wants to be happy and we also intuitively understand that that comes from within, so everyone is trying different chemicals and lifestyles to get there. Right? The trouble is that these are all artificial and temporary. Also, the body seeks balance so altering the bodies natural chemistry with outside chemicals will usually create a reaction and sometimes later imbalance, which can lead to addictions or dependency. The body is designed to adjust. It keeps us alive! We are all seeking happiness and balance, and that balance of the nervous system and endocrine system equals bliss. I believe, this blissful balance is how we were designed to feel.


The way we think, also controls brain chemicals. In other words, HOW I THINK about things, REACT to situations, CHOOSE to PERCEIVE (my limited version of reality) actually alters brain chemicals. 

In large part much of this is up to each of us. We each have control. We each have a much greater degree of choice with our physical reactions than we give credit for. I AM the driver of my ship.

Physiologically speaking, I am both the producer and experiencer of stress (cortisol, adrenaline etc...)

Physiologically speaking, I am both the producer and experiencer of BLISS, JOY and EUPHORIA. (serotonin, dopamine, anandamide..etc)

Coming out of my deepest anxiety I started to become aware of how my brain chemicals, hormones and my body reacted to my thoughts. A phrase that came to me was "wear a smile on your heart".  I began to use that as a way of reminding myself to tune my brain to the good vibes within myself. Usually that also involved putting the focus on others instead of focusing on myself. For me it was like tuning into a radio station, and I could feel it when the frequency "clicked".

It has been scientifically proven that by thinking happy thoughts people have increased their serotonin levels (the "happy" hormone). In fact, it's one of the top ways psychologists help people find balance via talk therapy. It's also common knowledge that stress levels decrease serotonin. By working through faulty thought patterns it's possible to release stresses, come to different realizations (about myself and others) and increase happiness. Of course, this happiness isn't just mental, it's an actual physiological response.

So how can a person find this balance with consciousness alone? Well, I personally think that meditation and yoga are key to finding a place of balance in the body. Meditation gives a space of stillness and distance to "see" our thoughts before they become reactions in the physical body, and yoga is a great way to essentially work out stresses that have built up into the physical body (and respond to future stress). There is also a lot more evidence these days that meditation can actually balance brain chemicals...which of course have a huge impact on the way I feel and "see" the world. 

My experiences also tell me that sound therapy also has a direct effect on brain chemicals. I have noticed reactions within myself that seem to be boosts in serotonin, and endorphins in response to sound therapy. 

All of these (yoga, meditation, and sound therapy ...and food) can also RAISE AWARENESS of the link between our mind and body..and give the space to react, adjust and choose the physical reactions we desire. This awareness, really seems to be the key for just raise my own level of awareness inside of myself and from there simply choose the patterns that serve me. For much of my life, I just acted on knee jerk patterns and reactions..patterns and reactions that I just thought were "me" and that I thought reflected my preferences. I can now see that wasn't exactly the case. I have learned more about this (and how I practice) that I'll share it in a future post..

Here is part of an article about scientific testing that was done to determine the effect of thoughts on serotonin levels.

         (page 4 and 5)

The article by Perreau-Linck and colleagues36 (page 430 of this issue) provides an initial lead about one possible strategy for raising brain serotonin. Using positron emission tomography, they obtained a measure of serotonin synthesis in the brains of healthy participants who underwent positive, negative and neutral mood inductions. Reported levels of happiness were positively correlated and reported levels of sadness were negatively correlated with serotonin synthesis in the right anterior cingulate cortex. The idea that alterations in thought, either self-induced or due to psychotherapy, can alter brain metabolism is not new. Numerous studies have demonstrated changes in blood flow in such circumstances. However, reports related to specific transmitters are much less common. In one recent study, meditation was reported to increase release of dopamine.37 The study by Perreau-Linck and colleagues36 is the first to report that self-induced changes in mood can influence serotonin synthesis. This raises the possibility that the interaction between serotonin synthesis and mood may be 2-way, with serotonin influencing mood and mood influencing serotonin. Obviously, more work is needed to answer questions in this area. For example, is the improvement in mood associated with psychotherapy accompanied by increases in serotonin synthesis? If more precise information is obtained about the mental states that increase serotonin synthesis, will this help to enhance therapy techniques? 

As a man thinks, so is he.

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness, if you are attentive you will see it.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

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Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.

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