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The Remarkable Health Benefits of Love (That You Probably Didn’t Know)

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“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Embracing the inner ‘mush’ might give you sweaty palms and butterflies, accompanied by feelings of exhilaration and sheer joy, but being in love also offers numerous surprising health benefits that scientists have only recently begun to quantify.

This love doesn’t have to be of the romantic flavor, either. It can be love for a family member, a friend, a complete stranger, or even a non-ego based love for yourself, really.

When Christian, played by Ewan McGregor in the movie Moulin Rouge, said that the “greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” he was on to something; because love, quite plainly, can save your life, and possibly even prolong it.

Love Literally Makes Your Heart Stronger

There are numerous theories about why love makes the heart healthier, including one proposed by Christopher Suhar, MD, a cardiologist and the director of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. He says that people in love tend to feel more calm and at peace, which translates to lower blood pressure. Love has also been shown to help people recover faster from heart and other surgeries. In addition to this evidence, there are dozens of recent studies suggesting that the heart may be more important for our overall health than we might have imagined.

The Heart is Even Smarter than the Brain

The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, but it is surprisingly even smarter than the the brain. In the 1930s, Dr. Walter Cannon of Harvard Medical School showed that the heart responds to external nerves and hormones to help with a fight or flight response to keep us healthy. With 40,000 sensory neurons, and a stronger electromagnetic field than the brain, its no wonder that feelings of love translate, not just to our nervous system, but to every cell in our body, helping to heal us and make us feel more alive.

The HeartMath Institute has recorded the heart to be approximately 60 times greater electrically and up to 5,000 times stronger magnetically than the brain. In fact, the heart might be the most influential organ in the entire body.

The more you pay attention to how you feel – including those feelings of love – the more coherence there is between your heart and brain, and all the other systems of the body. Every time you feel gratitude, compassion, or love, your heart emits an electromagnetic signal that heals everything it comes into contact with – some would argue even, outside your own body.

Rollin McCraty’s book, The Energetic Heart, explains how the heart carries out the bioelectromagnetic interactions within and between people. For example, when we are not consciously communicating with others, our physiological systems are interacting in subtle and surprising ways. The electromagnetic signal produced by our hearts is registered in the brain waves of people around us. The heart is in fact an important carrier of emotional information and a key mediator of energetic interactions between all living things. When the energy of our hearts is coherent, our bodies change, as do our lives.

You could go as far as to say that the heart overrides the brain. It sends messages to the grey mass between our ears, and the brain obeys. The heart can even inhibit or facilitate the brain’s electrical activity, thus influencing how we perceive the world – essentially over-riding the analytical, mechanical, left-brain cognitive dominance of most of modern society, and all the stress that world creates, leading eventually to disease, or the eradication of it.

Love Reduces Anxiety

When dealing with anxiety, a loving, stable relationship is superior to new romance, but love is still at play, no matter the nature of the relationship. Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook used functional MRI (fMRI) scans to look at the brains of people in love. They compared passionate new couples with strongly connected long-term couples. Both groups showed activation in a part of the brain associated with intense love.

“It’s the dopamine-reward area, the same area that responds to cocaine or winning a lot of money,” says Arthur Aron, PhD, one of the study’s authors. In longer-term relationships, “you also have activation in the areas associated with bonding … and less activation in the area that produces anxiety.”

This means that the oxytocin and dopamine dumps we see when people first fall in love are supported by other brain chemicals, and heart resonance as we learn to love someone through thick and thin.

Love Helps You Live Longer

A growing body of research suggests that love helps us to live longer. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, researchers found that people who had never been married were 58% more likely to die than married people.

It is thought that love in marriage helps to garner mutual practical support, financial benefits, and children who provide love and support also. It also fends off feelings of isolation that can accompany people as the grow older. A sense of love and connection are what give people a reason to live longer.

Love Gives You a Happier Outlook

When you first fall in love with someone – a new baby, a beautiful person you met on a blind date, or the elderly coupe you met while volunteering at a retirement home – you see everything as a long-time meditator does. Flowers smell more fragrant. The sky seems more blue. The wind on your face feels completely amazing, and even regular people’s faces seem more attractive. You could say that you are seeing through the hyper-sensitive, rose-colored glasses of increased oxytocin and other happy hormones that love helps to boost in the body, but who really cares what chemical cocktail is making you feel so good? If love can make colors more vibrant and sounds more sweet, why not cultivate love wherever you can?

Love makes your outlook more positive because of the neuro-cardio-feedback loop which then creates a hormonal cascade to reinforce that feel-good high you are experiencing. Dopamine creates feelings of euphoria while adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation with your object of love. To make it last, rely on the fact that your brain is plastic – it can learn new things – and keep honoring love when it appears in your life.

In time, you can learn to feel this love for all people – not just a romantic love, or love for your own, close family members. Decades ago, Dr. Lobsang Tenzin Negi began developing research protocols with Emory graduate students used to systematically and rigorously study the effects of compassion on both physiological and behavioral levels. Negi helped to teach meditative practices that cultivated love and compassion. The scientific results accumulated since that time have been utterly astonishing. Love and compassion for others changes absolutely everything.

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Consciousness

9-Year-Old Mexican Girl With Higher IQ Than Albert Einstein Already Studying to be Astronaut

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Adhara Pérez may only be nine years old, but she already has big dreams – which is only fitting, considering the Mexico City native has an IQ of 162, a score even higher than quantum scientists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Adhara has been taking IQ tests since she was only four years old, and has been applying her considerable brain power to studying advanced subjects that some of us could only dream of grasping.

At the age of seven, she was already ranked by Forbes magazine in 2019 as one of the most powerful women in Mexico.

The young prodigy is already studying for two degrees: one is systems engineering at the Universidad CNCI, and the other is industrial engineering at UNITEC.

She’s also been invited to pursue a master’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Miami; as well as an offer to study physics at the University of Israel.

To top it off, she’s been invited to join the Aeronautics Program in Alabama and to study Space Science at NASA, reports Telemundo. She hopes to eventually become an astronaut.

However, the youngster is aiming to continue her studies at the University of Arizona and is quickly learning English in hopes of preparing to pursue her dreams.

“I have to stay there for three months to learn and get accustomed to hearing and speaking English,” Adhara explained to NBC San Diego.

At the age of three, Adhara was diagnosed with autism and bullied by neighborhood kids in the Mexican capital for being different. The youngster eventually fell into a deep depression, but this also began her journey toward a brighter future.

Upon being placed in therapy by her mother, she underwent various IQ tests and got a score of 162 – two points higher than Einstein and Hawking, who each scored 160.

Upon finishing high school at the age of eight, she began working on her degrees online. She’s also already written a book about her experience being bullied and the need for perserverence.

Her advice?

“Do not give up, and if you don’t like where you are, start planning where you want to be!”

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7 Powerful Books That Will Unleash The Hidden Potential Of Your Mind

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“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” ~George R.R. Martin

There it is: your mind –all leashed-up, bored, bookless and chasing its own tail in the corner. It’s time to unleash it. It’s time to toss it back into the shocking waters of wonder and awe. It’s time to distract it from the all too familiar tail (or tale, to wit), and give it a juicy carrot to chase around instead. Seven juicy carrots, to be exact.

So, store that leash, open up your mind, curl up with your best friend, and dive right on in to the following mind-unleashing books. But keep the light on. As Groucho Marx wittily opined, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

1.) “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsche

“We never know any data before interpreting it through theories. All observations are, as Popper put it, theory-laden, and hence fallible, as all our theories are.” ~David Deutsche

From epistemology and quantum fungibility to environmental ethics and societal evolution, David Deutsche takes us on a thought-provoking journey into answering a single question: Is there a limit to what can be understood? He comes at a mind-expending answer of “no” by diving deep into the expanding waters of epistemology and ontology. He profoundly claims that our understanding of anything is always at the “beginning of infinity” and there will always be an infinite amount more left for us to understand. Basically surmising that, with accurate and adaptable knowledge, anything is possible unless it is prohibited by the laws of physics.

Highly rational and integrating, The beginning of Infinity launches us into higher thinking on the path toward better and better explanations. He takes us from parochial, outdated ways of thinking to the concept of universality and updated ways of thinking about the universe as a thing to be progressively evolved into using ever-expanding technologies. Thus bridging the gap from man to overman. As he made clear, “There is only one way of thinking that is capable of making progress, or of surviving in the long run, and that is the way of seeking good explanations through creativity and criticism.”

2.) “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.” ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Thanks to Csikszentmihalyi, the idea of the “flow state” has become a vital aspect of our cultural awakening. The optimal experience is gained through deep discipline in a particular field/art/sport that provides intrinsic reward, challenge, and feedback, thus integrating confidence, concentration, control, adaptability, and connectivity. Time stops or slows down. Insecurities disappear. We stop caring about what others think of us. A creative unfolding of something larger manifests. Everything flows effortlessly in interconnected unison with us as its interdependent spearhead. In short: we stop thinking and just do.

By simply asking the question, “When are people most happy?” Csikszentmihalyi, through time tested research, pinpoints flow states as the answer. Athletes call it “being in the zone,” mystics have described it as “ecstasy,” and artists term it “rapture.” Unleashing optimal experience is about doing what we love as a pathway toward greater meaning, happiness, and a self of higher complexity. By doing what we love in challenging ways, we leverage optimal experience into our lives. This book powerfully explains the psychology of this vital process.

3.) “Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul” by Giulio Tononi

“Murky thoughts, like murky waters, can serve two purposes only: to hide what lies beneath, which is our ignorance, or to make the shallow seem deep” ~Giulio Tononi

Phi takes the reader on a mind-altering journey through the nature of consciousness. It interweaves science, art, and the imagination with golden ratios, Fibonacci sequences, and fractal cosmology. The reader has the joy of perceiving the world through such masters as Galileo, Alan Turing, Darwin and Francis Crick, among others. From neuroscience to pseudoscience, from deep introspection to mindful meditation, Tononi elucidates on how consciousness is an evolving, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves as finite, spiritual beings in an infinite universe.

We learn how consciousness is integrated information and how the power of that integration requires the utmost responsibility and credulity. It teaches how the brain is the seat of our perceptions, and is a creative force par excellence, and can even create new shapes and new qualia. It teaches how, by growing consciousness, the universe comes more and more into being, and synthesizes the one and the many, the ego and the eco, the individual and the interdependence of all things into a unified force of Nature.

4.) “The Art of Fear” by Kristen Ulmer

““Everything is fine” is actually a copout, a stuck place, an obstruction to the exploration of who and what you are expanding into higher and further, not to mention the evolution of humanity.” ~Kristen Ulmer

The Art of fear is about curiously embracing fear rather than conquering or repressing it. It’s about rebuilding our understanding of fear from the ground up. It’s about realizing that Fear is only one of 10,000 employees at You Incorporated, and how they all need a voice. But Fear most of all, lest all voices become repressed shadows. The key to fear, she explains, is being curious about it, thereby harnessing its power rather than conquering it. Between courage and curiosity is everything we need to be fearless.

Ulmer’s personal journey with fear eventually led her to study with Zen masters, from which she learned a mindfulness tool called “Shift” which shifts our perspective of fear from ignorant repression to proactive curiosity, thus aligning it authentically with our true nature. The basic tenet being this: Instead of repressing fear, empower it, by being curious and questioning rather than judgmental and accusing. Honor it with deep respect so it doesn’t operate covertly in twisted ways beneath the surface.

5.) “Endgame: The Problem of Civilization” by Derrick Jensen

“Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.” ~Derrick Jensen

Endgame will take everything you think you know about being a social being in a seemingly functional society and turn it on its head. Definitely not for the typical statist, nor the faithful law-abiding citizen. Endgame is about the imperative need to immediately dismantle the unhealthy civilization that surrounds us. Endgame is a scathing, raging critique against the unhealthy, unsustainable, and ecologically unsound man-machine that is our modern culture.

Breaking the book down into a series of simple but increasingly provocative premises, Jensen takes us on a mind-bending and convincing ride into the unhealthy belly of the violent, ecocidal beast that is modern day civilization. His basic premise is simple: Industrial civilization is unsustainable. It’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when” it’s going to fail.

He argues that the longer it takes civilization to fall, the worse the tragedy will be. In that light, there are two things we should be doing: Bringing about the fall sooner rather than later; and preparing to survive it. His attitude is caustic and cavalier, but all the better for the shock value it provides. This book really flattens the box we’re all so desperately trying to think outside of. A complimentary (and perhaps less aggressive) read is Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn.

6.) Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth, and Art by Lewis Hyde

“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humor; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one’s way anew from the materials at hand.” ~Lewis Hyde

Trickster Makes This World is a mythological cornerstone for Sacred Clowns and practicing trickster-gods the world over, digging into the guts of the primordial importance of sacred play and rowdy behavior. Hyde explores how trickster figures represent the “disruptive imagination” that inverts, rearranges, and overturns conventional wisdom. From Raven to Coyote, Monkey to Crow, Hermes to Loki, Eshu to Legba, Hyde reveals connections between mythological tricksters that form a hidden network that connects cultural divides.

The best part about this book is its ability to show how mythology becomes reality. “Trickster consciousness’” is a vital component of human imagination. It reveals that we are the gods of renewal and rebirth, if we choose to be. We are the creators of mischief and mayhem. We are the trickster gods in training. Trickster is us, and we are Trickster. We are the ultimate boundary-crossers. No manmade rules or laws can contain us, unless we let them. Even cosmic rules and laws can hardly contain us. Trickster makes this world by tearing the old world down through high humor, moral ambiguity, foolishness, and strategic transgression and then dances in the ashes of its destruction. But it is precisely from the dancing, the kicking up of dust and ash, where brave new worlds emerge.

7.) “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them” by Joshua Greene

“We need a kind of thinking that enables groups with conflicting moralities to live together and prosper. In other words, we need a metamorality. We need a moral system that resolves disagreements among groups with different moral ideals, just as ordinary first-order morality resolves disagreements among individuals with different selfish interests.” ~Joshua Greene

Moral Tribes is hands-on moral psychology and a refreshing new take on utilitarianism. Greene wraps game theory, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience into a nice digestible package to bolster his theory of cognition, which builds elegantly into a theory of moral psychology. A sweeping synthesis of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, Moral Tribes opens a can of psychosocial worms that takes the concept of morality to the next level, revealing how we are exceptionally well-adept at solving the dilemma between “Me” and “Us,” through the concept of the “tribe,” but how we are ridiculously less-adept at solving the meta-dilemma between “Us” and “Them.”

Greene’s concept of metamorlity squares this psychosocial circle by counterintuitively applying utilitarianism to our base, knee-jerk reaction to morality (evolved morality) by becoming aware of our apathy in order to become more empathetic. By reinforcing humanity instead of nationalism, and worldly patriotism instead of patriotic nationalism, we turn the tables on both xenophobia and apathy and we become more compassionate and empathetic toward others. When we celebrate diversity instead of trying to cram the square peg of colonialism into the round hole of cultural affiliation, we turn the tables on the monkey-mind’s one-dimensional moral tribalism and we usher in Joshua Greene’s multi-dimensional metamorality.

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