Tag Archive: Emotions


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Here’s some concept art I’m working on for my book project ‘The Smiling Masters’ to show how holding one thought in the mind generates a steady emotional state.

Here’s how it works
You receive sensory information about the object you’re focusing on (in this case it’s a rose). That information gets processed and filtered by the reticular formation in your brain (point 1). The filtered information is sent to the brain’s higher centres (point 2), where we perceive the rose. Our perception of the rose triggers an emotional reaction from the brain’s emotional centres (point 3). From here, the brain releases neuro peptides (messenger molecules) into the blood stream. Your emotional response then spreads to all areas of your body as it becomes flooded with these tiny emotional messengers. So whatever emotion we experience in response to the sensory input, let’s say in this case it’s joy, that emotion is felt throughout our entire body. Emotion is a mind-body experience.

When the body experiences an emotion, a feedback loop is created where the brain is told that the body feels that emotion (joy). When the brain gets this information, it produces more neuro peptides. This process continues until it gets interrupted by a new thought or another source of sensory input that changes our emotional state.

In the normal course of events we experience lots of emotional ups and downs because our thoughts are unfocused and tend to drift here and there, landing on whatever catches our attention for the most part. But once we learn to focus the mind and hold one thought, our emotional state becomes stable. And if we continue to bring the mind back to that one thought over and over again, eventually the emotion it produces becomes like an emotional reset point. That emotion becomes our dominant mood and state of being. So, I think it’s worth saying, be mindful of what you think about; your thoughts dictate your state of being.

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If your mind is your reality, and mind is a stream of thoughts, then your state of mind (the thoughts you’re having) is reflected back to you by your reality. Smile, not just with your lips, but with your mind too 🙂

IMG_1151Uddiyana bandha awakens the emotional centres of the brain and allows the heart to expand. It can be applied in one of two ways. The first and most commonly used method is to apply it while holding the breath out. While the second method is to apply it while the breath is being held in.

Here’s the basic method:

  1. Sitting or standing, place your hands on your knees.
  2. Take a deep breath in, then fully exhale all of the air from your lungs.
  3. Holding the air out, bend forward slightly and, pushing down on your knees, draw your abdomen back in and up, towards your spine.
  4. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable. Then contract your abdomen and slowly inhale. Repeat steps 1 to 4.

When first starting this practice stick with five repetitions t the most, then gradually increase. While the effects on the physical body are obvious, what’s happening to the nervous system, brain and subtle energies isn’t so obvious. As I said before, Uddiyana bandha lights up the emotional centres of the brain. So it’s probable that you’ll experience an emotional type of cleansing once you start using the practice regularly. Although in the beginning this can feel a bit like regressing back to your teenage years, it eventually settles down and when it does your emotions become much more stable and are expressed without attachment. So slow and steady is the best practice.

Now for the second method:

Sitting or standing, place your hands on your knees.

  1. Begin to inhale, and as you do, draw your abdomen in and up towards your spine. Hold this position for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
  2. Exhale while allowing your abdomen to relax into its normal position. And that’s it.

So why use the second method? Well applying uddiyana bandha in this way allows us to combine it with mula bandha to create a powerful pumping action on the subtle energies of the body. this way Uddiyana becomes a very dynamic practice that has a powerful stimulating effect on the mind’s evolution and expansion into self realisation.

Tip

I like to do a few rounds of the basic form of Uddiyana bandha first thing in the morning before any other practices. This creates space for the lungs to expand during breathing techniques and calms the mind in preparation for meditation.

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When we begin to harness the feeling of gratitude, we become capable of changing the world around us.

When we experience an emotion, our brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides. For every emotion we have there’s a specific neuropeptide. So love, gratitude, anger, joy, resentment, are all represented by specific chemicals in the brain. When these chemicals are released from the brain, they travel through the blood stream and attach themselves to receptor sites located on cell walls throughout our body.

When a neuropeptide locks into a receptor, it changes the behaviour of the cell to fit with the emotion represented by that specific neuropeptide. This is why, when we experience an emotion, it’s not just a mental process, but rather, it’s experienced as a physical feeling in the body. So, for example, when you feel nervous you get a feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Or you get so scared that you go weak at the knees.

Relating this biological process to how we see the world, think of it like this. You perceive something in your outer environment. Let’s say it’s a shadow in the corner of your room. Based on how you perceive that shadow your brain will release chemicals that will create a reaction in your body. So in this case, let’s say seeing the shadow makes you feel scared because you think it might be a burglar that has broken into your house. Your brain releases fear neuropeptides, which lock into receptor sites in your cells. Your body then reacts by generating physical symptoms associated with fear.

Emotional Feedback Loop

Once your body reacts in a specific way, it sends messages back to your brain saying, I’m afraid, which enhances the initial response of fear. So we now have a feedback loop between the brain and body, which is very difficult to break. This applies to all emotional reactions.

How does this relate to positively changing the world around us? Well, reality responds to the way we perceive it. That’s to say, if I see the world as a happy place, my experience of life will be a happy one, just as if I perceive the world as a sad place, my experience will be a sad one. So by changing our perception, we change our experience, and this is where gratitude comes into the equation.

Most of us experience gratitude as the effect of something positive happening to us, and this is perfectly fine, however, if we only experience gratitude in this way, we’re missing out on a powerful tool that could transform our lives. What if, instead of experiencing gratitude as an effect, we experienced it as a cause? What would happen then?

So let’s say we want to have a really amazing, happy, fun-filled day tomorrow. To make this a reality, we imagine the gratitude we would experience in response to having such a day. You can try this for yourself right now. Imagine that you’ve just had the happiest, most fun-filled day of your life. Now try to generate a feeling of immense gratitude for that experience. What do you think is happening in your body right now? Your brain has released gratitude neuropeptides. In response, your body is beginning to experience gratitude. Now a positive feedback loop is being generated between your brain and body, enhancing your feelings of gratitude, which in turn, changes your perception of the world around you.

In effect, you’ve turned your body into a kind a magnet, designed to draw positive experiences into your life. We can use this powerful tool in every aspect of our lives.

Gratitude is the key to creating positive change.

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