Gut Brain Connection - Pt 2 connection to spirituality

So, as I mentioned, I feel the gut bacteria had a major impact on my mental health.  I also feel that it was a major factor in the "awakening" I described here too. This awakening was like being freed from a mental prison. It was not a pleasant prison break, but the resulting freedom certainly was. I have long theorized personally that this awakening was inextricably tied to my cleansing of candida at the time. I had been on the candida diet for a couple of years, but had really kicked it up a notch during this time. I was eating lot's of anti-fungals including raw garlic cloves, coconut water kefir and also drinking my milk kefir and eating some of the grains directly occasionally. Of course, the probiotics and anti-fungals were just part of the picture for me at the time, but had I known that this might lead to such an intense experience, I might have proceeded with more caution.

I have also theorized that this cleansing was closely tied to what I felt was a sort of re-balancing of my endocrine system. I associated this closely with the idea of the "chakras" too, that I was just beginning to learn about after hearing it mentioned in yoga classes and googling later for more info. Why? Because in this major cleansing/awakening process I felt these energy centers open...or became aware of them more intensely. My body began to feel as if it was becoming a bio-feedback machine. I became hypersensitive to emotions in myself and others.. I had to quit watching TV because I couldn't stand to see humans treating each other with such cruelty. It was weird.. I had never felt this sensitive before. As I would experience different psychological stimuli. anger.. sadness.. fear.. etc.. I would feel these feelings in different parts of my body. I later realized that these physical feelings also corresponded physically and psychologically with the concept of the chakras. I realized that to some degree I had been living before with quite a thick shell around me, and that shell had been stripped away.. at least temporarily. How much of this had to do with the candida cleansing?... I don't know for sure. What I do have a strong feeling about is that the bacteria itself also seemed to be triggering stress responses and fear responses as I was in the cleansing process. I even remember thinking "this fear is a trick". I began to try to actively learn to "breathe" through the stresses and monitor my body's physiology the best I could and try to look inward at my physical responses rather than react to whatever circumstances seemed to be presenting themselves.  So, why would fear be a trick? My theory was that the fear would trick my body into releasing adrenaline and then cortisol, which also releases sugar from the liver. As the bad bacteria in my system was slowly being starved in my system it was freaking out and my body (or the bacteria) wanted more sugars.  One way to get these sugars was to create these panicky, fearful responses.  I also learned that some of these bad bacteria also produce their own serotonin, so another possibility is that as these bacteria were dying, the serotonin they produced were also being diminished and creating food cravings. (I also noticed how I used to crave "comfort foods" when my moods were low. Was this just feeding the bad bacteria (candida), which would provide a rewarding hit of serotonin?) Does this sound too far out? Yes, well maybe it is and it's always hard to completely understand an experience from within it. However, with and more research being done about how bacteria affects our mind and bodies, it doesn't seem like a very far stretch.

I have since talked with several people who have gone through similar experiences. A few that also said that they felt that they were even to the point of feeling that they were battling an "inner darkness", with feelings of extreme anxiety, and fear as they progressed through the cleansing and rebuilding process.

I wonder if bacteria also play a role in neuro-plasticity and our ability to change and modify deeply ingrained behavior patterns and perceptions? (as in spiritual/psychological "awakening")

I found the article below especially interesting as it talks about how bacteria could possibly alter our behavior and food cravings.

Gut bacteria may manipulate what we eat in order to ensure for themselves the best environment. One of the major determining factors of our intestinal environment, of course, is the food we eat. Some gut bacteria prefer to consume fat, for example, while others prefer sugar. That’s why the researchers have suggested that gut bacteria might seek to actively manipulate their environment for their own benefit. That, in turn, would mean manipulating our behavior by means of food cravings, food aversions or feelings of distress that are only satisfied by eating certain foods. 
While it is unclear exactly what mechanisms bacteria would use to manipulate our behavior, there is strong theoretical support for just such a possibility. Research has confirmed a strong connection between the makeup of our gut flora and the functioning of the immune, nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems. Some research has suggested that bacteria may release signaling molecules that affect the activity of the vagus nerve, which runs from the gut to the base of the brain. 
“Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,” senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, said. 
So I think we can manipulate our bacteria that's manipulating us by giving them the food they need (prebiotics) and the strains of bacteria they need in cultured food. You'll feel the difference in your body and mind. If you can't beat them you might as well work with them- all 100 trillion of them.

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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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