Science of the Spirit


Understanding controlling people and how to protect yourself

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The need to control others may not make a lot of sense to you. If you're a live-and-let-live person, you'd never want to control someone else. Even if you're a perfectionist, you stay on your own case all day, not necessarily someone else's.

But controllers are out there. They want to micromanage what you say, how you act, even what you think quietly in your own mind. It could be your boss, your spouse, or even your parent. You can't be yourself around them. They insist on being your top priority and want undue influence over your life. They might push your buttons to get an emotional reaction out of you because they want to exploit it as weakness. They have no respect for you or your boundaries.

Comment: Often controlling people will instinctively prey on those who are vulnerable because they have not learned what healthy boundaries are and how to set limits on these toxic people:

Alarm Clock

Study confirms dreams occur even if they aren't remembered

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The man hasn't recalled any dreams for 26 years, but his sleep is unquiet. Sometimes he speaks in French and Spanish or starts swearing; he has also been known to point and kick and punch. Once, his movements propelled him right out of bed. Though the fall woke him and he needed stitches, the man could not remember any dream.

But just because he couldn't recall any dreams doesn't mean that he isn't having them, indicates a study of this man and others. People like him, who have a rare sleep disorder and do not lie still when asleep, are giving researchers a rare window into the dreaming mind.

Comment: See also: Brain Chemicals That Cause Sleep Paralysis Discovered


What it's like to have schizophrenia

© Alan Ajifo (Creative Commons)
Stuart Baker-Brown's first experiences with paranoid schizophrenia seemed, on their surface, not unreasonable at all. In 1991, Baker-Brown, a Briton, was in Russia, witnessing the fall of communism and marching in protests against communist hard-liners.

One night, the phone rang in Baker-Brown's hotel room. An angry stranger was on the other end, yelling in Russian. Baker-Brown became convinced that he was being stalked by the KGB, Russia's spy agency.

Magic Wand

Research Says: Meditation can improve heart health, manage stress and relieve pain

Don't get it twisted. Meditation isn't magic mumbo-jumbo. The practice has been probed, prodded, and scrutinized by some of the world's best scientists. Their findings reveal evidence that behind a meditator's feelings of calm and openness lie measurable physiological changes in the brain and bodily systems.

Here are a few thought-provoking studies that address some of the seemingly mystical effects of meditation through the rigorous lens of scientific examination.

Comment: There is one proven technique that can assist you with managing pain, reducing stress, calming and focusing your mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving quality of life, increasing sense of connection with others in your community. It will help you to have improved overall health, a stronger immune system, better impulse control, reduced inflammation, etc. It will also help you to heal emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent you from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

There is a myriad of relaxation techniques out there, but not many of them can attest to having not only immediate effects, but also having a highly practical application. With Éiriú Eolas, there is no need to sit in special postures, or be present in a carefully prepared relaxing atmosphere. The strength of the program comes from its high adaptability to stressful conditions of the modern world. Anyone can do it, be it a student, sitting outside of a lecture hall before the exam, a mechanic needing a break from tackling problems all day, a businessman just before signing an important deal, a mother having to raise three children and worrying if she will have enough money to pay the mortgage, etc.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.

Heart - Black

Dark thoughts could be a sign of healthy functioning

When we get stronger we're more capable of exploring our fears
The irony of human existence is that we are the highest forms of life on earth and yet ineffably sad because we are the only ones who know that we are going to die (Delillo, 1985).
My clients are often surprised when their progress in terms of health and functioning is accompanied by more frequent thoughts of death. One client in particular, who has started facing up to her own profound sense of self-doubt and who has stopped self-medicating almost nightly with marijuana or alcohol, has had moments she describes as full of "existential terror." To me, this supports my perception that she's doing much better, and is more able to let in more challenging forms of self-awareness.

Comment: Feeling intense emotions doesn't mean you're crazy, it means you're human

2 + 2 = 4

Why growing up is hard to do (But why the world still needs adults)

When I explain the Art of Manliness to other people, I often describe it as a site about growing up well, aimed at men. Our mission is to help young men mature into well-rounded adults, and to aid older men in improving areas of their lives they still feel are lacking.

Yet despite this focus, we labor under no delusions that growing up is an easy task. In fact, while maturing has always been a challenge, we'd posit that it's never been as hard to do as it is in our modern world. Consequently, many young people seem stuck in limbo - no longer a child, but not fully an adult.


People who believe that they are being punished by God have worse health outcomes

It is only human nature to displace responsibility and it has a major effect on our view of religion and spirituality. Most people cannot fathom a reality or truth that the events and circumstances in our life are generated by what WE think and do. Individuals who blame karma or other non-secular matters for their poor health have more pain and worse physical and mental health, according to a new study from University of Missouri researchers. Targeted interventions to counteract negative spiritual beliefs could help some individuals decrease pain and improve their overall health, the researchers said.

Every emotion, including love and hate tunes into a specific frequency. The problem is most people tune into a frequency they believe absolves them of responsibility.

Comment: Believing that you're being punished by a vengeful God who proclaims to love you at the same time can be quite stressful indeed.

People 2

Let go of your social anxiety by realizing that no one gives a damn

Ask yourself this question: Why do I care about what other people think?

Don't you want to live life on your own terms? Why are you letting others dictate your decisions and how you live your life?

Not caring about what others think is the ultimate freedom.

Are you constantly thinking about what couldhappen in every social situation, instead of being fully in the moment? The vast majority of the time, all of the hypothetical "What if..."projections (that are on replay in your head) don't even end up happening.

Let go and allow life to flow through you.

Comment: This phenomenon is otherwise known as the spotlight effect.
Basically, it is the result of egocentrism. We all are the center of our own universes. This is not to say we are arrogant, or value ourselves more than others, but rather, that our entire existence is from our own experiences and perspective. And we use those experiences to evaluate the world around us, including other people. But other people not only lack the knowledge of, for instance, the stain that you have, but they are the center of their own universes too, and in turn, are focused on other things!


Is there an evolutionary advantage to our emotional connection to music?

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Q: Why does music have a hotline to our emotions? What is the evolutionary advantage of this?
Philip Le Riche, via email

David Robson, BBC Future feature writer, answers:

Who hasn't ever felt a song pulling at their heartstrings? Whether it is the feeling of euphoria in a club, or a lonely cry to a heartbreaking ballad, music can cut us to the core, expressing emotions more eloquently than words ever can.

But as our reader, Philip, points out, the reasons for this are far from obvious. "It's clear to me the appeal of rhythm, and I get all the stuff about anticipation, surprise and fulfilment of expectations. These all help to explain why music is interesting - but why it moves us at such a deep level remains a mystery to me," he explained in an email to the BBC Future team.
Is music just "auditory cheesecake", or does it have a deeper meaning?
Posing this question puts Philip in good company. Even the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, was stumped by our musical faculty, calling it one of "the most mysterious with which [humankind] is endowed". Some thinkers, such as the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, have even questioned whether it has any particular value at all. In his view, we like music because it tickles some of the more important faculties, like pattern recognition. By itself, he says, it has no value - it is mere "auditory cheesecake".

Comment: Different notes for different folks: How music makes the brain happy


Intuition's important role in guiding our decisions

The intuition's most important role is that it alerts us to the path, people, and circumstances that we will uniquely find fulfilling.

Our intuition will tell you intimate and important things nobody else will—and it will also tell you things your own mind will argue with. As a culture, we have learned to believe that being rational is what should prevail when making decisions. But what about our "inner voice," our gut feeling—that "little something" instinctual from within, which tells us how we feel beneath those layers of logic?

Intuition can be either a moment where you instinctively know if something IS right—or isn't right. It's our inner voice that "that just knows," and it does understand what uniquely, sometimes seemingly illogically, will make you happy. It bridges the gap between between instinct and reason, between the conscious and unconscious mind.

Science tells us that only 20 percent of the brain's gray matter is used for conscious thoughts, while 80 percent is dedicated to non-conscious thoughts.