Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall. These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed. This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas--in particular fear processing and memory--could also be affected by breathing.
Scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing. When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.
Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. "When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network," Zelano noted.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: The breath-brain circuit includes the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, controlling bodily functions such as sexual arousal, urination, hunger, digestion, etc. This circuit, when disrupted by extreme conditions, panic, fight or flight situations, can move into a chronic stress state when environmental stressors are constant. To normalize these reactions, we recommend our E-1 Stress Relieving formula. It will bring the nervous systems back into normal range. Use this formula with breathing techniques.
6 Red Flags About Choosing a Healer
How do we tell the difference between an ethical, heart-centered healing practitioner or other spiritual mentor, and one who is interested in (or addicted to) sucking others' energy by way of wearing the "costume" of a spiritual leader, or healer, or teacher, or shaman, or guru?
Red flags to consider:
1. Needs to claim superiority/inferiority with regards to another. In my experience, someone who is centered in their own heartspace and aligned with their own power with regards to their healing work, teachings, and offerings will not attempt to leverage themselves into a position where they are “above” another in a hierarchical sense, by claiming that they are privy to realms of holiness, divinity, and power that are categorically not available to others—as a means of trying to gain control or power. They will not make claims to be more “advanced,” “awake,” or “evolved” than another.
2) Believes that their path is the only way to enlightenment. Recently, I encountered a a guru who claimed that he was a “level 10” of enlightenment, whereas everyone around him was at a much lower level of five or six on whatever arbitrary scale of enlightenment he was using.
3) The talk doesn’t match the walk. If a teacher or healing practitioner claims to be loving, do they then uphold this with grace toward those around them, including their clients? Do we see the evidence of this in the fruits of their life? Can they allow healthful dissent and disagreement? Do they have grounded, real love, stability, and fulfillment in their lives? Do they lead by example, rooted in the sort of life that you yourself would like to lead?
4) Boundary violations. This brings me to another huge point: the tendency for many so-called spiritual masters and teachers to routinely violate—or in subtle ways to promote the violation of—others’ boundaries. These types will often demote “selfhood” and personal identity in favor of an undifferentiated “oneness” that creates confusion about where the client ends and the healer begins, which sets up a dynamic of easy predation. This is particularly easy to implement in the case in which the client is an abuse survivor, already wounded with regards to boundaries and holding an underdeveloped sense of self.
5) Exhibits coldness and/or cannot account for their own shadow. Another big question to ask is, does the spiritual mentor in question admit to you and freely own his or her shadow? Do they admit to being human, to having human needs, frailties, failings, room for growth, a path of learning of their own through which they learn how to more closely embody the truth that they have learned in the first person?
6) Lives a kind of life you don’t personally wish to lead. The teacher or healing practitioner you choose is ultimately someone you might like to more closely resemble. This needs to go deeper than just looking “successful” in terms of having money, a pretty person on their arm, and the right kind of house or car. It needs to be bone-deep.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: The old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear," is an interesting observation, yet many "Teachers" can abuse this relationship. Mindfulness and an ability to remain emotionally un-attached is key. Use our Zen Meditation Elixir to help improve mindfulness and social awareness.
Getting to the Present Moment
Do you find yourself concerned too often about the past or future? How often are you able to let go and absorb yourself in the present moment? While distant issues weigh us down from time to time, wouldn’t it be overly satisfying to learn how to simply live in, and hopefully enjoy, the present moment? If you’re having trouble, here are 5 ways to learn how to enjoy the present moment:
Adopt a Carefree Attitude -- While all social engagements don’t allow us to let loose entirely, wouldn’t it be nice if we gave ourselves permission to kick back with a less controlling attitude? Adopting a carefree attitude on a night out with a loved one or on a date with closer friends, for example, could allow you to enjoy the present moment, freeing uneasiness, and capitalizing on enjoyment. Try it out, and perhaps it could save you from some unneeded fret.
Reverse Your Roles -- What would I want him/her to say to me? If you’d want to be asked the question, then why not ask it yourself? Returning to the present conversation by displaying such respect and empathy for the other person, in turn displaying your communication and understanding skills, is a great way to be in the present moment. At the same time, you can feel somewhat confident you’re making a quality connection.
Engage in Deliciously Positive Self-Talk -- Engaging in positive self-talk can keep your spirits higher than average, especially in the present moment. For example, consciously being grateful often is one of the ways you can enjoy positivity and happiness more often. Further, learning the art of positive self-talk can help you create and reach new goals by the motivation it generates.
Acknowledge all the Different Emotions in Yourself and in Others -- When we acknowledge emotions in ourselves and verbally or non-verbally in others, we demonstrate that we see value in and understand ourselves and others. Try to acknowledge feelings, listen, and be there for yourself, first, and then for others. Expressing understanding in this way can be very liberating, releasing baggage from your shoulders and allowing meaningful connections to take place with so many others.
Strive to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle -- Most of us know what is meant by a "healthy lifestyle". It is an individual thing--something we've noticed makes us a better, stronger, more vibrant person. When we remain aware of how we are implementing a healthy lifestyle it keeps us present to our own needs.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Environmental and emotional stressors can throw us into reliving past traumas, or launch us into worry about the future. You can literally spray away this negativity instantly with our Clean Sweep clearing spray, and return to the present moment.
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Whoa! We Ran out of E-3 Energy Cream!
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"Stone of Spirituality and Contentment"
Spiritually: One of the most spiritual stones, encouraging selflessness and spiritual wisdom. It opens intuition and enhances psychic gifts; excellent for meditation.
Emotionally: Balances out highs and lows, promoting emotional centering. Dispels anger, rage, fear and anxiety; alleviates sadness and grief.
Mentally: Facilitates the decision making process, bringing in common sense and spiritual insights, and putting decisions and insights into practice.
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