Research on omega–3 fatty acids has expanded enormously over the past 10 years. Beginning with the mid 1970s, most of the research focused on the role of omega–3fatty acids in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Epidemiological observations, animal studies, clinical intervention studies, and studies at the molecular level firmly established the importance of omega–3 fatty acids, in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, studies on the mechanisms and the need to balance the omega–6 to the omega–3 ratio for homeostasis and normal development have been carried out at the molecular level and in transgenic animals using lipidomics and informatics. It is now accepted that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) are essential for brain development during pregnancy, lactation and throughout the life cycle. Recently, studies on brain and retinal function as well as mental health have dominated the field. That DHA can affect brain function and behavior is no longer controversial. The studies on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) given supplemental DHA have revealed significant interactions between DHA and genetic variants. In animal experiments, deficiencies in DHA show impairments in cognitive development correctable by its repletion. Furthermore, the consumption of DHA or fish oil by humans slows cognitive decline in the aged and in subjects with early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and promotes mental development in infants. Over 60 countries worldwide have supplemented infant formula with DHA and AA, yet the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has not determined the nutritional requirement of DHA.
There have been a number of volumes in the series of the World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics (WRND) on various aspects of omega–6 and omega–3 essential fatty acids (EFA) beginning with Volume 66: Health Effects of Omega–3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Sea foods, published in 1991, which truly established the field. It was followed by Volume 75: Fatty Acids and Lipids: Biological Aspects, published in 1994. Volume 83: The Return of Omega-3 Fatty Acids into the Food Supply I. Land-Based Animal Food Products and Their Health Effects, published in 1998. Volume 88: Fatty Acids and Lipids – New Findings, published in 2001. Volume 92: Omega–6/Omega–3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence, published in 2003. The present volume 99: Omega–3 Fatty Acids, the Brain and Retina is the sixth in the series, published in 2008.
The volume begins with the paper by Artemis P. Simopoulos on Omega–6/Omega–3Essential Fatty Acids: Biological Effects’ which sets the stage for what follows. Dr. Simopoulos emphasizes the changes that have taken place in the food supply that led to high intake of omega–6 and low intake of omega–3 fatty acids, particularly the last 50 years, and the biological effects of the resulting imbalanced omega–6/omega–3 ratio. Major advances have taken place in the concepts of inflammation and proresolution of new lipid mediators, lipoxins, resolvins and protectins discovered by using new approaches mainly lipidomics and informatics. Finally the paper provides an overview of mental illness and eye disease that are presented in detail in the papers that follow.
Rhonda: Hello everyone. I'm here in...well I guess it's not really Amsterdam. It's somewhere close to Amsterdam. What's the name?
Wim: It's Stroe.
Rhonda: Stroe. I'm sitting here with someone I'm very excited to be having a conversation with, not only because he's extremely charismatic and passionate, but also because he's into the cold. And as you guys all know that I'm very interested in changes in temperature on human physiology, on brain function... His name is Wim Hof. You may have heard of him through the Tim Ferriss interview recently, or through the VICE documentary. He holds 26 different world records. Maybe you can tell us more about that?
Wim: I have 26. Different disciplines, like climbing Mount Everest in your shorts, or climbing Kilimanjaro in record times, or hanging by one finger in the air, or 1 hour, 53 minutes in direct contact with the ice, or swimming beneath a thick ice cap under the ice, or running marathons. Not been trained to do so, but then run a marathon, because, and a runners going to tell you, about breathing techniques. Very, very revolutionary. But tell.
Rhonda: Well, I want to ask you, Wim, I mean, I've been very interested in the effects of changing temperature on human physiology. Specifically, I've been interested in the sauna for a while, mostly because I sort of serendipitously started using the sauna when I was in graduate school, which is a very stressful time for me. And there was a sauna across the street from where I lived. And so I started using the sauna every morning before I would going to the lab and do my experiments. And I noticed that I felt really good after, and I was able to handle stress better. So I started to figure out, why is this? And so I started diving into the science and I'm trying to understand how it affects the brain. But how did you become interested in sitting in the ice or taking ice baths?
Wim: I thought there was more than meets the eye. There is more into all the system. And I was like grown up in a big family, but my, you know, school results were not so big. And everybody was into, "Hey, you have to become a doctor. You have to become this. You have to become that. Otherwise, you are lower in the system." And I thought, "No. What I feel is okay. What I feel, it's not what really I want." So I began to wonder. I began to look. Hundreds of books in psychology, philosophy. Though I was, by school system, narrowed down as being, "Yeah, you can be a carpenter. You can be a painter." And I said, "No." I knew there was something different. So I went into books. At my age of 12, I began to read about psychology already. Going into Hinduism and Buddhism and all these religions and traditions and cultures, and began to learn languages, different languages, by my own. Not by the schooler system.
Rhonda: By your own interest and passion for it.
Wim: Yes. And when I reached the age of 17, then my head was full up with all these philosophies and philosophying about it, all the traditions and cultures and the languages and everything, and all I did was karate and kung fu and yoga. I could do it all. All. But it still did not satisfy the depth of which I wanted to reach inside, which my mind, in the start, was looking for. And a Sunday morning, I was wandering throughout the park, and I saw this thin layer of ice on the water, and it attracted me. And I thought, I got to go in. I was looking around, nobody was there because, Sunday morning, everybody is working, you know, they have their tranquility...tranquilidad in Spanish. The have to...you know, they want to have a easy time in bed or something. So I could...take off my clothes and went in, and it just, in one minute, I felt the sense I'm really going deep in. This is really responding to the soul searching I did for many years before, and about that what I think is there is more than meets the eye, I found it at that moment. And I came out, and I felt great. And from there it all started to... Whenever you feel great, you come back. So the other day, I came back, and then once again, once again. And I noticed that the pattern of the breathing changed. It changed, and it brought me more oxygen inside the body, being able to withstand the cold, say, for 20 minutes, ice cold, huh? Ice water, and then stay for five to seven minutes under the water. And it brought me a sense of tremendous power within. A control. I was looking for that. That's the way it all began.
From there, I began to do my own study of life itself. And yes, it brought me to all kinds of challenges. Staying in shorts, no t-shirt, no nothing, just in freezing temperatures all night out. The human potential of his physiology is far beyond than what we exercise right now. And because of this comfort zone way of thinking, we think we can control nature, but we do not control the inner power anymore, which is the physiology, which goes far deeper than we exercise right now, which causes all these diseases, all the depressions, all the lack of oxygen. The right chemistry in the body is not there, causing all these ailments. And we have no control. And yeah, right now we have found the techniques, and we brought it back to the laboratory setting, showed that everybody is able just to tap into their deepest levels of their physiology, which is the autonomic nervous system, related to the immune system, related to the endocrine system, which means the immune system is the health. The layers of the immune system after millions of years are really perfect, but if you do not tap in, you're not making use of these immune systems. Another one is the endocrine system about glands, the hormones. If you don't feel good, if you don't feel happy, make some happy hormones working. If you don't feel strong, you feel weak and...make some strong hormones working. We have shown people lying in bed producing, it's all science now, producing within a half hour, more adrenaline than somebody in fear going for a bungee jump. Comparative study of blood results. So the endocrine system, the immune system, just in a couple of days, we are able to access, every individual in the world therein. And we got to spread this news, because it makes us happy, strong and healthy. And that's what we want. And now you come and you interview me, and you're a bright girl. You're a bright woman. Help me to bring this to the world. That's what we do. It's good, it's for everybody, that's what we're doing.
Rhonda: Yes. So you're talking about these couple of studies that were published, but before jumping into that, you've got this technique that you're referring to where you're getting in the cold, and you mention that your breathing, you noticed when you first were doing it, your breathing changed.
Rhonda: I'm just curious, is that how you decided to harness the breathing techniques? Was it something that you'd noticed you did automatically when you were in the cold? Or how did you couple those two together?
Wim: In the cold, if you go in the cold, and it feels good, because you feel, there's no thinking involved, you just feel, and just feeling is tremendous, nice. It's okay. It's strong. It's a strong feeling. That is what the reaction is of the cold. Okay, but then your breathing will change because it's naturally already there. And to withstand cold impact, which is of course coming in, it needs oxygen, combustion. It needs oxygen to go round. So you need oxygen, in a natural way, in every cell. But as we breathe shallow in our conditioned minds and in the comfort zone, etc., it doesn't get in all the cells, the right amount of oxygen. But the cold really forces you to breathe the natural way, which is very much more profound, bringing in oxygen in all the cells, taking up the pH level, and then you don't feel the pain, you don't feel the cold, you get control over them. The neurotransmitters in the body, they go fast and they listen to your will. They listen to what you have to say. That's the way nature built us to be. So I learned it in the cold by feeling, because I knew that there was no book. The book was me. The book was the interaction with the nature.
Rhonda: No, it's really cool. I was speaking with a mutual friend of ours yesterday, Peter Capel, who was explaining some of the science behind how the breathing techniques that you're referring to that you use when you're doing this hyperventilation. Do you want to explain it?
Wim: Hyperventilation is over...it gets to you. What we do...we go controlled to the level where hyperventilation occurs, but we do it controlled. So there is a neural activity contact with the brain and the way we get in oxygen to the right pH levels and then that's... Hyperventilation is a sort of a limited indication for now. But we are not suffering from hyperventilation, we make use of whatever goes on in hyperventilation to get a degree of mastery or a certain level of trance within our physiology, within our chemistry, and we do it right.
Rhonda: Okay, yeah. So your controlled breathing technique, what it ends up doing at the physiological level is it is decreasing the carbon dioxide level in the blood, which then, as you mentioned, has a response in raising the pH, which is usually very hard to do, you know? Normal blood pH is around 7.35, 7.4.
Wim: If that's the case, 7.3, 7.4, then everybody's okay. But everybody is actually suffering from lower degrees of pH. That's our problem in this society, because we build up a lack of oxygen throughout the daily life, and that's why we get lower pH levels, and from there all the problems of autoimmune diseases and probably cancer, etc. I don't want to mention all these words, but it's logical. If you go with a car, and you got petrol, diesel or gas, you put in sugar, you change the chemistry and you are not able to drive anymore. The same works with the body. If we get too long a time, too low pH degree, the auto, which is Greek for self, our physiology, is not working anymore, and then we get these chronic diseases and the autoimmune diseases. It's logic.
Rhonda: What's interesting to me is that there's the pain receptor, the acid sensing receptor that is coupled to the pain signalling pathway, and so when you are able to raise your pH by this brilliant technique, and lowering the carbon dioxide to 7.75 or 7.8...
Wim: Eight, average, last study.
Wim: It's still not published, but I can say...
Rhonda: Well, in the published study, it was about 7.75 or 7.8, which is still high. And that's too...that's a high enough pH to deactivate the receptor that senses the acidity, and therefore it is unable to send signals to the other pain receptors.
Wim: Wow, great. Science, I love this shit. If you get it to 7.6, the trimerization goes into monomer, so the pain signal is composed by three...
Rhonda: Receptors. They [inaudible 00:15:38].
Wim: ...receptors, then two get away because there's just no signal on them. I loved your...
Rhonda: And that's why you can sit in the pool.
Wim: And then it goes away. And there is no pain. That's the way we master our own body again. That's the way nature built us to be able to do.
Rhonda: Well, so that's just one interesting point about your breathing and cold...
Wim: Yeah whatever that mattered, I didn't got it out of books, I got it out of nature.
Rhonda: No, it's so cool. Right, yeah.
Wim: I brought it back to the laboratory, it's in the books right now, in American books, even, the Future of Biology and Medical Students, it's a full chapter, 'Testing the Ice Man', it's called, and it's not anymore about me. It's about a comparative study with 12 people who did the method just within 4 days, and it wasn't even really a puritan training, which I did with them, to make them able to go and tap into the autonomic nervous system, and the immune system, and get endotoxin injected, and have it controlled within a quarter of hour. That's what...
Rhonda: It's amazing.
Wim: Hundred percent. Hundred percent. Within four days. All this "Oh, so many years," and this, and that, and all they say, you know, people who are very puritan take years about it, "Acidic, alkaline, what we got to do," and always miming about it... Just in four days. And in the nights, in the evenings, we drank beer, and we had guitar playing, and we had some relaxation going on. And during the day, they were fully committed, and the fourth day, they were with me without prior experience, in the cold, at minus 10 Celsius. I mean, that's below freezing point. Celsius, Fahrenheit, you know, it's really below freezing point. They began at the foot of a mountain, and like hours it took to get to the summit in Poland-Czechia border in the wintertime, and all in shorts, like three hours or three and a half hours, and it was minus 27 at the top, and they were still... We were doing the Harlem Shake on top. Then I knew these guys, after four days of training, without prior experience, in the cold, having a real good time in the night, and during the day, go again. Four days later, and I knew it at the summit, they are...these people are ready. These people are back in their natural state of their physiology. They have control by the mind over their body the way a endotoxin experiment or a bacteria gets injected, and within a quarter of a hour they will have complete dominion of the bacteria. And that in spite of the others, who had no instructions, they suffered from three to six hours uncontrolled shivering, headaches and overall agony and all that. So we got to go back to nature. Our nature. The inner nature, the inner mechanisms. And it's not so difficult. It's very easy, actually. Very simple.
Rhonda: So I want to dive a little more into the science, but I have a question. So after the 4 days of training, these 12 individuals were completely untrained, they did the 4 days of training. How soon after that did they have the endotoxin injected?
Wim: Four days later.
Rhonda: Four days later. So they did training for four days and then they had the... So they weren't...were they doing any of the breathing techniques or anything right before the endotoxin?
Wim: Right before the endotoxin they did this breathing...
Rhonda: The breathing.
Wim: ...and that made them able to go into the brainstem, which is the cause of adrenaline, direct adrenaline. And in a way, comparatively, they compared it with studies wherein people go into a...in fear, first time, going into a bungee jump. And these guys were just lying in bed and producing more adrenaline. That means control within, you know, controlled stress hormone like adrenaline, epinephrine and all this, that means it works like medicine. It ignites the immune system, "Go and reset and do what you got to do." And what we are able to do is to fend ourselves off from disease, like animals, like mammals. I don't see any psychiatric asylums in nature. I don't see pharmacies in nature, no hospitals. But they still live and they run and they are fast and they go and they live and they enjoy life. Even though there are predators and everything, it's a beautiful cycle. But we thought we are better. We dominate nature. But we don't. We have to go back and this mammalistic brain, the limbic system, the brainstem, if it is in order once again, we become happy, strong and healthy.
Rhonda: So what you're saying is so interesting because the breathing techniques you're talking about does increase the epinephrine and the adrenaline, which has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. So that is able to secrete these anti-inflammatory cytokines that prevent the immune system from going crazy. So in the study where these 12 individuals did your method, I found it interesting that they were injected with endotoxin, which is like, by the way, it's something that humans are constantly exposed to small amounts of, because we have it in our gut, and it's a driver of the inflammation, it's a driver of aging, it's a driver of cardiovascular disease, everything aging-related. All aging related...
Wim: Cardiovascular diseases.
Rhonda: ...diseases come back to endotoxin.
Wim: Look what you mentioned. How big it is.
Rhonda: Yeah, it's a big thing. So what happened, you know, physiologically what's happening with the breathing techniques, specifically, which I'm calling it hyperventilation, it's controlled, you know, but for simplistic reasons, when you hyperventilate, you increase the adrenaline and the epinephrine, and that has a profound effect on anti-inflammatory. And so these individuals that were doing your method versus the control when they were injected with the endotoxin, their immune response was activated. But immediately, they had this anti-inflammatory cytokines coming out and quieting the immune system from not going crazy, and that's why they were not experiencing all the negative effects of when you have your immune system going overactive, it's inflammation. And then you get the pain, you get, you know, nausea, and things that you were describing. That didn't happen.
Wim: We got so many cases with rheumatic arthritis, atherosclerosis, we are doing... It's going to come, the studies, and the disease of Lyme, and the disease of Crohn, colitis and asthma, all kinds of... And it's all the same cause. And we are now very able to tap into that very direct...
Wim: ...but we have to show this scientifically. And I got so many cases of people using medicine for like 20 years and not using them anymore, there's no need anymore, in all these autoimmune diseases, about the inflammation, the cytokine production and all that, they control it. They control the pain. They control all the symptoms, and they don't need the medicines anymore. And we want to prove this by science, because I think there is a big industry behind...wants us to take medicine. So how much is the interest to look into a method which is natural, doesn't cost anything, anybody is able to do, and yeah, that's what we do. So that's what we do right now.
Maybe it's not so smart of me to say this or to mention this, but I have no fear. I have no fear. I think this scientific discovery that we are able to tap into the autonomic nervous system and relate it to the immune system and the endocrine system, brings back the belief to every person in the world that we are able to do so much more within our bodies. We lost this belief that we are unable to become happy, strong and healthy because we got lost in this sort of system, and we got confused, because then you get dependency. And now we turn around dependency and the disbelief and the discomfort into the ability by a natural method to bring about this consciousness of being happy and strong and healthy. That's my own thing. And we bring it about by scientific based evidence. And so there is no speculation going on.
And I love your study, I love your way of seeing things. That's good. So all what we do I think it's good, because what do we want for our children? That's love. And love, I think, is composed of what do you want for your child? Happiness, strength and health. That is what I want for my child. Is that love? Yes. That's love. But now, we will determine that by scientific scrutiny, by scientific results, evidence and that's it. And I call it crazy monkey sometimes. And we are making a song about it, and the crazy monkey is the brainstem. The brainstem, the primitive brain, is very able to direct... It's about to fight, to flight, food, to fuck and to freeze. Very primitive. But it's like a reptilian brain. It only reacts. It doesn't think. But because of our thinking, we are so dominated by our thinking, it doesn't get the right blood flow. And that heavier in the brainstem all to...resides the pineal gland, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, amygdala, which is the emotion. And it's all there and doesn't get sufficient blood flow. So if something happens, trauma or disease or danger, we don't know how to deal because there's not sufficient blood flow because this crazy monkey is all the time going around and actually wants to get and tap in back into its roots feeling okay. The crazy monkey. Eh, wow, it’s nice, huh?
Rhonda: Do you think that part of the effects of meditation in general, because a lot of meditation has focuses on breathing and breathing, do you think that the breathing itself may be responsible for some of those positive effects: meditation, respiration?
Wim: Sure. If you go in very... Capel, Professor Capel who was also talking about this, about the neocortex and the hypothalamus, which is the surface of the brain, and the hypothalamus is the brainstem, more or less, and we lose the contact, but it's all the time the neocortex going on with the world, like, "Hey, I got to do this. I got to do this." Then the blood flow will go to this, and it creates a sympathetic nervous system activity all the time. But to create new energy, it happens only, like a cow, it's going to sit down, it's going to chew on its grass, and this way, if these chemical processes are able...if she runs, these chemical processes to make milk are not able to happen. So we got a same process. We are mammals too. So in the cell, it needs peace. We need to sit down, relax, and to make new energy in the cell. But as we are always going on in the brain, the sympathetic nervous system is going on and on and on, and it only takes energy. And because we don't know how to get into the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables the cell production to make new energy, we are not able to disconnect therefrom. Therefore we get no new energy. And that's why life is so depressing, or too much going on, and you got to go all the time.
So now to get into this part by breathing, vipassana meditation and all that, every person [SP] and all these techniques, I worked them out. I wrote a manuscript on yoga as a technique, but so long a time it takes to get into it. And now we are doing a study with psychiatrical research, we are doing, to compare it with mindfulness. Mindfulness is actually a Western answer on the Asian meditation forms of the East, and it's called mindfulness. But still it takes such a long time to tap into the brain the right way to disconnect from the sympathetic nervous system activity course by the neocortex to get into the limbic system which is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, which creates energy, which gives space, which doesn't give anxiety, and all that. So if you go into this breathing, profoundly, then there is no danger. There is no danger. You don't need to be. And if it takes just four minutes or five minutes, then it will disconnect from the neocortex, which is the sympathetic nervous system activity, it shuts down. There's no blood flow anymore going toward it, and it goes down, and you feel relaxed. Okay, oh, nice, nice. Now, it takes time, because some people are so stubborn within the sympathetic nervous system related to the neocortex. It goes on and on and on and on and it doesn't stop. So what we do now with this breathing technique, cut down, disconnect completely. The conditioned breathing pattern which is providing the oxygen, the blood flow to the neocortex, we cut it down. And you know what they saw? After one and a half minute of retention, that's refraining from breath.
Rhonda: It's like holding in?
Wim: After exhalation, no air in the lungs. That means [inaudible 00:33:02]. No oxygen here. And we got the pH degree. We got it completely up. So nothing happens. The body is completely provided. But then we fooled the brain. We fooled the brain. It takes one and a half minutes for the brain to get back, because we oxygenize the body so much, we get the carbon dioxide out, but the pH level we get up. Oxygen gets so much freed. Now for the first time, deep breathing, it gets to work all the cells. And then after one and a half minute, it gets down to 100% because what I know its science doesn't yet know. We are able to oxygenize the body more than 100%. These are the devices. They took up abstract devices. They... This is 100 percent... This 30% people die. You know what I show? I took the device, I took it with this finger. It's one of the strongest fingers ever. I was hanging in the wintertime at one finger between two balloons. And for 23, 50.4 seconds. Yes. That's that. They got these oximeters. And it's showing your heartbeat and your saturation in your blood. After one...everybody, it will show in the physiology of everybody, after one and a half minute, it then begins again, 100%, 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, where people normally die, 40%, 30%, and the device goes 0, 0, 0. There's no measuring anymore.
Rhonda: On you?
Wim: Not on me only anymore, everybody who took part in the study in four days.
Rhonda: I saw the oxygen saturation went down by 50% in everyone, right?
Wim: Yes, yes. That's the average. But some guys just went out completely off the device.
Rhonda: So individual variation between the people. Some of them went down...
Wim: Yeah, a little bit, but everybody goes down. Like normally it's mortal. You are dying. If you would be acidic, you would die at that moment. So that's the way we trick the mind, because the reptilian mode is just reactive, to crawl, to freeze, to fuck, to flight, and to food. That's what a reptilian does. That's not us. We got a mind. But we don't know how to tap into this mode. Now we know. And this brings about the connection between all the parts of the brain, which also concerns disease.
Wim: And depression. The glands. The pineal gland. The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, and we got it. So it's so simple and so effective.
Rhonda: Yeah, for the relevance, for diseases. So, if you just think about the cold itself increases norepinephrine, which is used to treat ADHD, it's used to treat depression, they're giving norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors to treat that, which have all sorts of side effects. And then the breathing increases the epinephrine, which then causes all the anti-inflammatory response.
Wim: Say that again. It's very interesting. I love that you say it, girl.
Rhonda: So then couple the two, you're talking about increasing the focus, the attention...
Rhonda: Epinephrine. The norepinephrine is increased by the cold, and then the breathing, the controlled breathing, increases the epinephrine and the adrenaline, which then cause all the anti-inflammatory response and then it decreases carbon dioxide, which then stops the pain.
Wim: It is science. No speculation.
Rhonda: Yeah. So what you're talking about potentially, and this is what I'm interested in, is treating possibly depression, anxiety, OCD, inflammation...
Wim: Look how serious this is. This is, and I wanted science to back it up. Please help me with the scientific research. We got it, but we need to prove it.
Rhonda: You're doing a pretty good job. Right now, you've got two pretty good publications, one of them in the PNAS journal, which is a very nice journal. It's a great paper, you know, I read it two times. I think that you're on the right path to using science and harnessing the power of science to show the physiological changes, the brain changes that are occurring through the use of the cold, you know, shock, through the use of these breathing techniques and [inaudible 00:38:25].
Wim: You're very humble. She's a humble girl. Nice.
Rhonda: Thank you. I'm curious, like what made you decide to turn to the science? Just your curiosity? You got that scientific sort of mind where you wanted to understand?
Wim: Recognition, science, yeah, I already knew it 25 years ago that the autonomic nervous can be influenced, and the immune system, but everybody told me I was crazy. Yeah, I'm crazy, about my life,and about my wife. That's okay. But for the rest, no. I know, because of nature, of cold and all that. And I can think. I am able to deduct and to make conversation, like with you right now. I can recognize what you say. I can recognize where we are, what we do and what we need to do even more. So that's the way I began. And I began, of course, when I had the chance. And that was in New York. "Wow, now we're getting something."
Rhonda: In New York.
Wim: New York, Manhasset.
Wim: Yeah, Manhattan. I did a record over there standing in the ice during the winter, in January in front of the Museum of Himalayan Arts in New York, and I did like 1 hour 13 minutes then. Now it's 1 hour 53 minutes. Doesn't matter, you know? Every time, a little minute to hold on, it's being invited [SP] all over the world. "Don't try it." But I did it. And then the other day, I went to the Feinstein institute in Manhasset, New York, which is under the supervision of Doctor Kevin Tracey, which is a microbiologist, and he is an authority in the field. He is also in the board of Nobel Prize winners for medical research. So you should give me. By the way, making jokes, you know? But the real serious thing is that he then saw me influencing the vagus nerve. And not a little bit. And he saw it compared to a whole lot of test subjects before, and I was the first one who was doing this, actually. There's a whole story behind it, as he'd read, but then he taught me... We were going to do all kinds of research, comparative studies, because if this would be...if I would be able to pass it over to a group of persons, that would be huge consequences for human mankind.
A month later, I did not hear any contact anymore, and I found out they are quite sponsored by pharmaceuticals. But that's okay. That's okay. Everybody needs money to go around and blah, blah, blah, etc. But years later, I had this opportunity to show in the Radboud University here in Holland, in a physiological experiment, cold experiment, that I was able to, you know, go into 80 minutes immersion into the cold, direct cold, ice cubes and water and all that, and stay 80 minutes, and raise my core body temperature whilst doing. And they had blood retrieving from me, and they exposed it, ex vivo, without me, in a laboratory setting, and they saw 100% cytokine suppression. A hundred percent, eh? And then later, yeah, of course, they began to become interested by intensive care department, "Do you want to be injected, do you want to be part of an experiment like that?" And then they saw this, and then I said, "Yes, but maybe I could do it." And all these people didn't do it. All these hundreds of people who were not able to do it, and now I'm able to do it with such a big difference. But I say, "It's not because I'm the ice man. Anybody can do it." So you can do it, anybody can do it. Even the dog can do it. But she is out there calling for us. Let her in. She said, "I'm taking part of this interview." It's all about love.
Rhonda: So that's how it came... the endotoxins, they came to be.
Rhonda: Because that has, like I said, has huge, huge clinical relevance.
Wim: Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. Sorry. My little cytokine. Sit down. Doesn't do anything. I suppress the cytokine production in my body, but I cannot control my dog. It's all about the love, you know?
Rhonda: Absolutely. Very, very cool. I would love to see, you know, this, like I said, potentially be used to help treat depression, to help treat a lot of...
Wim: Oh yes, depression. It's my next thing.
Wim: My wife died because of being schizophrenic, as they say. Like no control. And I saw there was no control. I lost her, and I have four kids with her. That's the way I began to have interest in scientific studies to show we are able to do so much more. It's in there. It's a soul search. And that's the way I began.
Rhonda: Do you think that Holland may be open to this type of treatment? And the reason I say this is because, just a couple of days ago, I was at the Van Gogh Museum, you know, I'm a tourist, and going to the Van Gogh Museum, and we're all kind of drawn to van Gogh, because he has got this dark story, he cut off his ear, he killed himself.
Wim: Same thing. Same thing.
Rhonda: Yeah. And as I was reading through...you know, looking at his paintings and reading through, you know, the history behind it...
Wim: Emotions and all that, yeah. It's real.
Rhonda: Yeah. Well then, what happened was he went to this sort of psychiatric hospital, and I thought immediately, "Oh, they probably put him on drugs." I mean, that's what I thought. As I was reading, it said, "No, his prescription was two cold baths a day."
Wim: Look at that.
Rhonda: And that... I was... I mean, I looked at my husband, and I was like, "Are you kidding me? Is this really, you know..." So is that something you think that maybe... You know, because this was in the Netherlands.
Wim: Yes. Actually it was in the south of France with van Gogh.
Rhonda: Oh, was it in the south of France? I thought you said, oh, okay...
Wim: Yeah, but he was so depressed, and the light has got a lot of influence on depression. Melatonin, serotonin, the hormone production, etc. So he went to the south of France finally, and then Arles, somewhere south of France, he got into this psychiatric asylum, but they didn't know as well. Because the cold brings about the alarm cells in the body, which suppresses the cytokine production direct, but then the breathing even does more.
Rhonda: Yeah. Norepinephrine is increased by the cold, and it suppresses the cytokine production, but the epinephrine from the breathing does it even more robust. But I was so curious that back in the late 1800s they were saying cold bath. Why not now?
Wim: You are the first one to tell me he took a bath.
Rhonda: Twice a day.
Wim: I've lost my respect for Vincent van Gogh, who was a crazy motherfucker. I'm sorry.
Rhonda: It's okay.
Wim: We cannot say that. But he cut off his ear, and then shot himself. And my wife, you're like 200 years later, jumped from 8th floor, having 4 children. I'm working with the children right now, and we're having a great company, and we got a lot of happiness and all that, but those days we had a lot of discomfort and no power and being dependent on all these systems, and that's why I say, sorry about the F word, but it's the F word, these systems, F these systems, because we are going to do something about this. And this time we're going to bring back the belief, but also the real chemical connection within the body and the brain toward all the people. And that's regarding depression, any type of mental disorder or physical disorder.
Rhonda: Yeah. Inflammatory disorders in general.
Wim: Yes, inflammation. Cytokine production. Are we able to tap into that? Yes. Are we able to tap into the vagus nerve? Yes. Are we able to tap into the autonomic nervous system? Yes. I'm sorry, yes.
Rhonda: Please keep doing what you're doing, and, you know, it's awesome, your passion, your energy and what you're doing, I respect.
Wim: And likewise.
Rhonda: Thank you.
Wim: I respect your work, which is very good, and it is really needed.
Rhonda: So if people want to find out about Wim Hof?
Wim: Just go to innerfire.nl, you know, www, all these stripes, yeah, like that, .innerfire.nl. NL is Netherlands.
Rhonda: Uh-huh. Inner fire, like I-N-N-E-R F-I-R-E?
Wim: Yes. Inner fire is about, you know, "the cold is cold." But if you go into the cold, and this fire comes up, you feel good. That's the inner fire all about. So www.innerfire.nl, NL is the Netherlands. NL, you know, Netherlands.
Rhonda: And that's it?
Wim: That's it. And the rest, I don't know. I don't know nothing about Twitter and Witter and Batter and Letter, I don't know.
Rhonda: Yeah, and you've got like a training technique?
Wim: Oh yeah, we got like online videos and we got a free video course as well.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Dr. Rhonda Patrick discusses the differences between different forms of DHA in terms of bioavailability and transport into different cells. She talks about why a specific type of DHA (DHA in phosphatidylcholine) is more readily transported into the brain because it forms DHA-lysophsophatidylcholine. Krill oil and salmon roe both have a slightly higher concentration of DHA-lysophosphatidylcholine. She also talks about astaxanthin, a carotenoid that is unique to krill oil, and has potent antioxidant activity and prevents the oxidation of DHA and EPA.
Magnetite is one of the most magnetic substances on Earth. As you can probably guess, it has a diverse range of uses; from fridge magnets to generating electricity in power plants. But what you probably wouldn’t guess is that your brain actually synthesizes these crystals, and you have hundreds of millions of them inside your head. Much smaller ones of course.
Scientists are still unsure what role, if any, these crystals play in the brain’s function. Studies have inferred that it may play a role in long-term memory. In animals, like honey bees, homing pigeons, and dolphins, magnetite is believed to be associated with the ability to respond to the earth’s magnetic field.
While similar studies have yet to be performed on humans, we do know that earth’s magnetic fields affect everything from our mood to our ability to learn. Even stranger, research has begun to provide links between the electromagnetic field of our planet and psychic abilities. Could these crystals act like tiny antennas connecting our brains to each other and to the entire planet? It may sound far-fetched, but surprisingly, the evidence is there.
First, let’s look at what we know about the magnetite in our brains. To be honest, we don’t know much: In 1992, the first evidence of this mineral in the brain was published. It was shocking to uncover that this highly magnetic substance was actually synthesized by our bodies, and while we don’t know exactly what function it plays in brain activity, some interesting theories have emerged. A 2009 hypothesis proposed that magnetite plays a significant role in long-term memory. It suggests that cellular components of the brain communicate with each other through magnetic signals, with the magnetite particles acting as tiny antennas, simultaneously receiving information throughout the different parts of the brain.
Magnetite also acts as an antenna for external electromagnetic fields, including the geomagnetic field of the Earth itself. And this is where things start to get interesting. An enormous body of research is emerging that shows substantive links between magnetic fields and cognitive function.
Back in 1978, research physicist Dr. Robert C Beck published preliminary research on the effects of extremely low frequency magnetic fields on the moods of human subjects. ELF fields of 6.67 Hz, 6.26 Hz and lower tend to produce symptoms of confusion, anxiety, depression, tension, fear, mild nausea and headaches. On the other hand, oscillations of 7.8, 8.0, and 9.0 Hz produce anxiety-relieving and stress-reducing effects that mimic some meditative states.
More recently, magnetic fields have been used in successful clinical practices for eliminating depression and bipolar disorder, with over 1300 medical research papers published to date. The non-invasive treatment, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, uses a wand-shaped gadget to zap away the effects of depression.
While all of this is interesting, and can pave the way for new therapies and treatments, a group of researchers at Canada’s Laurentian University are exploring the role of electromagnetic forces in more extreme cognitive functions. Dr. Michael Persinger is a neuroscientist who has argued that all phenomena, including consciousness, spiritual experiences, and even “paranormal events,” can be explained by physical mechanisms, and can be verified using the scientific method.
Since 1971, he has been researching electromagnetic field effects upon biological organisms, and some of his recent studies sound straight out of a sci-fi movie: Dr. Persinger has shown in the laboratory that magnetic brain stimulation can create metal states conducive to human telepathy. A recent experiment placed two people at a distance in different rooms, each surrounded by an identical, computer-controlled magnetic field. When a light was flashed in one subject’s eye, the person in the other room showed responses in their brain as if they saw the flash of light.
As Dr. Persinger stated:
“We think that’s tremendous because it may be the first macro demonstration of a quantum connection, or so-called quantum entanglement. If true, then there’s another way of potential communication that may have physical applications, for example, in space travel.”
On a much larger scale, correlation has been shown between the geomagnetic forces of the planet and a variety of effects spanning large populations. A 2003 study found “strong empirical support in favor of a geomagnetic-storm effect in stock returns” and “evidence of substantially higher returns around the world during periods of quiet geomagnetic activity.”
Other research has linked geomagnetic activity to suicide, heart-disease, and even birth rates. A particularly curious global effect is related to a standing electromagnetic wave that exists between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere. Known as “The Schumann Resonance,” this wave has a frequency of 7.8 Hz, and is frequently referenced in alternative theories of consciousness. Measurements by Dr. Persinger have shown that the fundamental and harmonics of the Schumann Resonance were discernible in normal human brain activity, and in fact they correspond to Dr. Beck’s anxiety-reducing ELF fields.
Stranger still was Persinger’s study of the remote viewer Ingo Swann. “Remote viewing” refers to a technique used by “psychic spies” working for the CIA; they were able to see far off locations as if they were there; and they could even move through time. Ingo Swann was one of the first, and most accurate, viewers in this program. When Dr. Persinger measured his brain’s electromagnetic activity during viewing sessions, he found a spike in activity at 7 hZ which correlated with the most accurate viewings. Is it possible that Swann was able to project his consciousness by tuning into the standing geomagnetic waves of the Earth?
All of this adds up to a fascinating connection between our brains and the shared magnetic field not only of our planet, but potentially of the entire universe. It’s undeniable that the brain responds to magnetic forces on a local and a global scale. While no one has been able to prove the involvement of magnetite, it seems a likely suspect. If we learn to harness the power of these tiny antennas in our brain, who knows what kind of psychic superpowers we might unlock?
Woods, J. (2018). Tiny Crystals In Our Brain Could Unlock Psychic Powers. [online] Gaia. Available at: https://www.gaia.com/article/could-tiny-crystals-in-our-brain-unlock-psychic-powers [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].
How would you like to build new neural connections so that you can align your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with what you ultimately want to achieve? You're in luck. You are innately endowed with the ability to train your brain to become an elite performer (if that's what you desire to do).
Your Mental World
For a moment, imagine your brain as if it is it's own planet. Your "neural planet" has a population of some 85 billion neurons. Just as people in close proximity interact with one another, neurons communicate to each other via synapses and neurotransmitters. A synapse is an electrochemical junction between two nerve cells, in which impulses pass by diffusion of chemicals, also referred to as neurotransmitters.
If you took a consensus of your mental world, neurons of different sizes would be visible all over. Neurons that fire together look somewhat like a social gathering occurring. From a bird's-eye view, you would be able to see "remote villages" variably exchanging conversation, "towns" making more connections, and "large metropolitan areas" continuously in contact.
Synapses vary in size because the frequency of neural communication dictates the size and efficiency of their pathway. Infrequently used trails can become freeways and vice versa.
This connection between neurons, and clusters of neurons, is the essential function of the brain. Every time you think, feel, act, emotionalize, or remember, you reinforce existing brain neural connections or create new ones. There are neural patterns for everything, from standing to reading this page. The innumerable patterns in which your brain cells connect and share information reflects your brain's capacity to perform.
Neuroplasticity: The Brain's Ability to Change Itself
The old scientific paradigm held that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Fortunately, the old paradigm has evolved and incorporated the science of neuroplasticity, which suggests the brain can change and it can happen at any time. Like plastic, neurons can mold into new forms, creating new connections. Any time you learn a new skill, the brain is changing by making new neural connections. Whether it is learning to play an instrument, speaking a new language, discovering a new route home, eating whole foods, and so much more, your brain begins to change itself.
Learning is forging new connections. Remembering is maintaining and sustaining those connections. And just like a relationship, the more communication that occurs, the more bondage that takes place. Neurons are the same way.
What is really fascinating, is that you can change your brain, not only by doing, but also by thinking. Researchers have demonstrated that the act of focusing and being present through meditation changes the brain in many ways.
Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change itself, and it's the innate ability that you can harness to help you attain your goals.
Continental Shift: Three Ways Neuroplasticity Works
You are able to reshape your brain using the same principles that your brain was built - neurons firing and wiring, syncing and linking together.
There are three ways that neuroplasticity can change your mind:
More neurons, more connections, and more efficient connections. These are the three ways to exponentially transform your life. But, there is a caveat. As an adult, some of your neuroplasticity is turned off. But once again, you're in luck, you can turn it back on.
Teaching Old Dogs New TRicks: Turning On Neuroplasticity
As an infant, the brain is a sponge, absorbing what it can in an effort increase the chances of survival. As you age, your neuroplasticity slows down as new memories and skills are created; habitual patterns begin to direct most of your daily activities, and novel ideas get pushed to the back burner.
As an adult, learning processes, beliefs, and behaviors become, more or less "fixed" within the neural pathways of the brain. This means the plasticity switch is predominately in the "off" position, to varying degrees in each individual. One person may be so set in their ways that to try to get them to see things from a new perspective is like talking to a brick wall. Whereas another person may be more flexible and is able to take all sides into consideration. In either case, neuroplasticity can work at any age, so in the case of that brick wall, the only thing holding them back is themselves. They're not old dogs who can't learn new tricks, they're just uninformed, or perhaps unwilling.
Here are six time-tested principles to turn on neuroplasticity:
Here are some more ways to activity neuroplasticity:
Clearly more is better. Neuroplasticity is a ongoing process, and if you are committed to being the best version of yourself, then it is a lifelong process.
Assaraf, J. (2018). Innercise. Cardiff, CA: Waterside Press.
Dr. Joe Dispenza is teaching the world how to empower and heal our mind through meditation and mindfulness. His studies have proven that when well practiced these tools can put us on the path to understanding and breaking deep-rooted bad habits and even heal illnesses. The author of Becoming Supernatural explains how to stop your mind from controlling you on this episode of Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu.
It's a scientific fact that the hormones of stress downregulate genes and create disease. Long-term effects. Human beings because of the size of the neocortex, we can turn on the stress response just by thought alone. As I think about our problems and turn on those chemicals. That means then our thoughts could make us sick. So if it's possible, that our thoughts could make us sick then it is possible then our thoughts could make us well? The answer is absolutely yes.
Everybody welcome to Impact Theory. Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. Alright today's guest is a New York Times bestselling author and one of the most sought-after speakers in the world. He's lectured and given advanced workshops in more than 30 countries across five continents all with the aim of helping people better understand and unlock the power of their mind. His expertise is the intersection of the fields of neuroscience, epigenetics and quantum physics and he's partnered with other scientists across multiple disciplines to perform extensive research on the effects of meditation using advanced technologies such as epigenetic testing brain mapping with EEG s and gas-discharge visualization technology. Through his work he is endeavouring to help advance both the scientific community and the public at large as understanding of mind derived health optimization, a topic he covered extensively in his groundbreaking book, You Are The Placebo. His teaching has had such a profound impact on the way that people perceive a wide range of brain related topics around mindfulness and well-being. [that] He's a faculty member at the quantum University in Hawaii the Omega Institute for holistic studies in New York and the Kerr Paulo Centre for yoga and health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He's also an invited chair of the research committee at life University in Atlanta, as well as a corporate consultant where he delivers his lectures and workshops for businesses. So, please help me in welcoming the man who has appeared in such films as Heal, People Versus the State of Illusion and Unleashing Creativity, the author of the recent book Becoming Supernatural, Dr. Joe Dispenza.
Thanks for being here. So, diving into your world and how you perceive the sense of self and the way that you marry science to - the way that we form memories the way that we live in a perpetual state of reliving our past and things like that. It's really, really incredible and I want to dive into the whole notion of you sort of being a habitual construct like what? What is that? What is the habit of you?
Well a habit is a redundant set of automatic unconscious thoughts, behaviors and emotions that's acquired through repetition. The habit is when you've done done something so many times that your body now knows how to do it better than your mind.
So if you think about it, people wake up in the morning, they begin to think about their problems. Those problems are circuits, memories in the brain, each one of those memories are connected to people and things at certain times and places. And, if the brain is a record of the past, the moment they start their day, they're already thinking in the past. Each one of those memories has an emotion. Emotions are the end product of past experiences. So the moment they recall those memories of their problems, they all of a sudden feel unhappy, they feel sad, they feel pain.
Now how you think and how you feel creates your state of being. So the person's entire state of being when they start their day is in the past. So what does that mean? The familiar past will sooner or later be predictable future. So, if you believe that your thoughts have something to do with your destiny and you can't think greater than how you feel, or feelings have become the means of thinking, by very definition of emotions you're thinking in the past. And for the most part you're going to keep creating the same life.
So then people grab their cell phone they check their WhatsApp. They check their texts. They check their emails. They check Facebook. They take a picture of their feet. They post it on Facebook. They tweet something, they do Instagram. They check the news and now they feel really connected to everything that's known in their life.
And then they go through a series of routine behaviors. They get out of bed on the same side. They go to the toilet. They get a cup of coffee. They take a shower, they get dressed, they drive to work the same way. They do the same things. They see the same people, that pushed the same emotional buttons, and that becomes the routine and it becomes like a program. So now they've lost their free will to a program, and there's no unseen hand doing it to them. So when it comes time to change the redundancy of that cycle becomes a subconscious program.
So now 95% of who we are by the time we're 35 years old is a memorized set of behaviors, emotional reactions, unconscious habits, hardwired attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that function like a computer program. So then person can say with their five percent of their conscious mind. I want to be healthy. I want to be happy. I want to be free, but the body's on a whole different program.
So then how do you begin to make those changes? Well, you have to get beyond the analytical mind because what separates the conscious mind from the subconscious mind is the analytical mind and that's where meditation comes in, because you can teach people through practice how to change their brainwaves, slow them down. And, when they do that properly they do enter the operating system where they can begin to make some really important changes.
So most people then wait for crisis or trauma or disease or diagnosis, you know, they wait for loss
some tragedy to make up their mind to change and my message is, "Why wait?" You can learn and change in a state of pain and suffering or you can learn and change in a state of joy and inspiration. I think right now the cool thing is that people are waking up.
That's really interesting. And where I found the the deepest hooks into how powerful this can be for somebody is when you talk about trauma and you've talked about how people experience a traumatic event, but they then basically rehearse it and how that then has this knock-on effect. So, what is that? Why do people find it so hard to get past trauma?
Well, the stronger the emotional reaction you have to some experience in your life, the higher the emotional quotient, the more you pay attention to the cause, and the moment the brain puts all of its attention on the cause, it takes a snapshot and that's called a memory. So long-term memories are created from very highly emotional experiences. So what happens then is that people think neurologically within the circuitry of that experience and they feel chemically within the boundaries of those emotions. And so when you have an emotional reaction to someone or something most people think that they can't control their emotional reaction.
Well, it turns out if you allow that emotional reaction, it's called a refractory period to last for hours or days, that's called the mood. I say to someone, "Hey, what's up think?" "I'm in a mood," "Well, why are you in a mood?" "Well I had this thing happen to me five days ago and I'm having one long emotional reaction." If you keep that same emotional reaction going on for weeks or months that's called temperament. Why is he so bitter? I don't know. Let's ask him. Why is he so bitter? "Why are you bitter?" "Well, I had this thing happened to me nine months ago." And if you keep that same emotional reaction going on for years on end that's called a personality trait. And so learning how to shorten your refractory period of emotional reactions is really where that work starts.
So then people when they have an event what they do is they keep recalling the event because the
emotions of stress hormones the survival emotions are saying pay attention to what happened, because you want to be prepared if it happens again.
Turns out most people spend 70% of their life living in survival and living in stress. So they're they're always anticipating the worst-case scenario based on a past experience and they're literally, out of the infinite potentials in the quantum field, they're selecting the worst possible outcome and they're beginning to emotionally embrace it with fear and their conditioning their body into a state of fear. Do that enough times, the body has a panic attack without you. You can't even predict it because it's programmed subconsciously.
So then you say to the person, "Why are you this way?" And they'll say, "I am this way because of this event that happened to me 15 or 20 years ago," and what that means from biological standpoint is that they haven't been able to change since that event. So then the emotions from the experience tend to give the body and the brain a rush of energy. So people become addicted to the rush of those emotions and they use the problems and conditions in their life to reaffirm their limitation, so at least they can feel something. So now when it comes time to change you say the person, "Why are you this way?" Well, every time they recall the event they're producing the same chemistry in their brain and body as if the event is occurring, firing and wiring the same circuits and sending the same emotional signature to the body.
Well, what's the revelant behind that? Well, your body is the unconscious mind. It doesn't know the difference between the experience that's creating the emotion and the emotion that you're creating by thought alone. So the body's believing it's living in the same past experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And so then when those emotions influence certain thoughts, and they do, and then those thoughts create the same emotions, and those same emotions influence the same thoughts, now the entire person's state of being is in the past.
So then the hardest part about change is not making the same choice as you did the day before a period. And the moment you decide to make a different choice get ready because it's going to feel uncomfortable, it's going to feel unfamiliar.
So why does it feel so uncomfortable? Is it because of the neurons that fire together wire together?
So there's like an easiness to that loop. (Just because, literally, and you've talked very eloquently about this the way that the neurons connect in the brain how rapidly. I've seen you show footage of how rapidly those connections happen, which is pretty incredible." Is that what makes it so discomforting for people?
I think that the bigger thing is that as we keep firing and wiring those circuits, they become more hardwired. So there you have a thought and then the program runs but it's the emotion that follows the thought. If you have a fearful thought you're gonna feel anxiety, the moment you feel anxiety your brains checking in with your body and saying, " Yeah, you're pretty anxious." So then you start thinking more corresponding thoughts equaled how you feel.
Well, the redundancy of that cycle conditions the body to become the mind. So now when it comes time to change, a person steps into that river of change and they make a different choice in all of a sudden they don't they don't feel the same way. So the body says, "Well, you've been doing this for 35 years." Well, you're gonna just stop feel suffering and stop feeling guilty and stop feeling shameful and you're not gonna complain, or blame, or make excuses, or feel sorry for yourself.
The body's in the unknown. So the body says I want to return back to familiar territory. So the body starts influencing the mind then it says, "Start tomorrow, you're too much like your mother. You'll never change. This isn't gonna work for you. This doesn't feel right."
And so if you respond to that thought as if it's true, that same thought will lead to the same choice, which will lead to the same behavior, which will create the same experience, which produce the same emotion.
I want to talk about that notion. Give me a little more detail. We mean by the body becomes the mind or the unconscious mind. What do you mean by that exactly?
Well, those are two different things. Your body is your unconscious mind. In a sense, if you're sitting down and you start thinking about some future worst-case scenario that you're conjuring up in your mind and you begin to feel the emotion of that event, your body doesn't know the difference between the event that's taking place in your world, outer world, and what you're creating by emotion or thought alone.
So most people then, they're constantly reaffirming their emotional states. So when it comes time to give up that emotion they can say, "I really want to do it," but really the body is stronger than the mind because it's been conditioned that way. So, the servant now has become the master and the person all of a sudden once they step into that unknown, they'd rather feel guilt and suffering because at least they can predict it. Being in the unknown is a scary place for most people because the unknown is uncertain.
People say to me, "Well, I can't predict my future. I'm in the unknown." And I always say, "The best way to predict your future is to create it. Not from the known but from the unknown. What thoughts do you want to fire and wire in your brain? What behaviors do you want to demonstrate in one day?
The act of rehearsing mentally, closing your eyes and rehearsing the action.
The rehearsing the reaction of what you want.
The action of what you want by closing your eyes and mentally rehearsing some action. If you're truly present, the brain does not know the difference between what you're imaging and what you're experiencing in 3D world.
So then you begin to install the neurological hardware in your brain to look like the event has already occurred. Now your brain is no longer a record of the past. Now, it's a map to the future. And if you keep doing it, priming it that way, the hardware becomes a software program and who knows you just may start acting like a happy person. And then I think the hardest part is to teach our body emotionally what the future will feel like ahead of the actual experience.
So, what does that mean? You can't wait for your success to feel empowered. You can't wait for your wealth to feel abundant. You can't wait for your your new relationship to feel love, or your healing to feel whole. I mean that's the old model of reality of cause and effect, you know waiting for something outside of us to change how we feel inside of us and when we feel better inside of us. We pay attention to whatever caused it. But what that means then is that from the Newtonian world that most people spend their whole life living in lack, waiting for something to change out there.
What do you mean the Newtonian world?
Newtonian world is all about the predictable. It's all about predicting the future. But the quantum model of reality isn't is about causing an effect. The moment you start feeling abundant and worthy you are generating wealth. The moment you're empowered and feel it, you're beginning to step towards your success the moment. You start feeling whole, your healing begins. And when you love yourself and you love all of life, you'll create an equal. And now you're causing and effect and I think that's that the difference between living as a victim - In your world saying "I am this way because of this person or that thing or this experience. They made me think and feel this way." When you switch that around you become a creator of your world and you start saying, "My thinking and my feeling is changing an outcome in my life." And now that's a whole different game and we start believing more that were creators of reality.
So, how do we go from, "Okay, I have this negative emotion. It's controlling my life. It's got me in this cycle of I think about this emotion, which triggers a chemical reaction, which trains my body to feel that way, which makes it easier more likely I will do it again, and so now I'm in this vicious cycle." And it's unconscious right.
You said, "Does your thinking create your environment, or does your environment create your thinking," which I thought was really, really interesting. So, how do we then go from that, like mechanistically, to begin this visualization process of something that's empowering, its me in a different state, it's my future self. Is it meditation? What does that look like?
If you're not being defined by a vision of the future, then you're left with the old memories of the past and you will be predictable in your life. And, if you wake up in the morning and you're not being defined by a vision in the future as you see the same people and you go to the same places and you do the exact same thing at the exact same time, it's no longer that your personality is creating your personal reality. Now your personal reality is affecting or creating your personality. Your environment is really controlling how you think and feel unconsciously, because every person every thing every place every experience has a neurological network in your brain.
Every experience that you have with every person produces an emotion. So some people will use their boss to reaffirm their addiction to judgment. They'll use their enemy to reaffirm their addiction to hatred. They'll use their friends to reaffirm their addiction to suffering. So now they need the outer world to feel something.
So, to change them is to be greater than your environment, to be greater than the conditions in your world and the environment is that seductive. So then why is meditation the tool?
Well, let's sit down. Let's close our eyes. Let's disconnect from your outer environment. So if you're seeing less things is less stimulation going to your brain if you're playing soft music or you have earplugs in, less sensory information coming to your brain. So you're disconnecting from environment if you can sit your body down and tell it to stay like an animal stay right here. I'm gonna feed you when we're done. You can get up and check your emails. You can do all your texts, but right now you're gonna sit there and obey me.
So then, when you do that properly and the you're not eating anything or smelling anything or tasting anything, you're not up experiencing and feeling anything, you would have to agree with me that you're being defined by a thought, right? So when the body wants to go back to its emotional past, and you become aware that your attention is on that emotion, and where you place your attention is where you place your energy, you're siphoning your energy out of the present moment into the past and you become aware of that. And, you settle your body back down in the present moment because it's saying "Well, it's eight o'clock. You normally get upset because you're in traffic around this time and here you are sitting and we're used to feeling anger and you're off schedule. Oh, it's 11 o'clock and usually check your emails and judge everybody."
Well, the body is looking for that that predictable chemical state every time you become aware that you're doing that and your body is craving those emotions and you settle it back down into the present moment, you're telling the body it's no longer the mind, that you're the mind. And now your will is getting greater than the program. And if you keep doing this over and over again, over and over again, over and over again, just like training a stallion or a dog, it's just gonna say, "I'm gonna sit." And the moment that happens, when the body's no longer the mind, when it finally surrenders, there's a liberation of energy. We go from particle to wave, from matter to energy, and we free ourselves from the chains of those emotions that keep us in the in the familiar past and we've seen this thousands of times. In fact, we can actually predict it now on a brain scan.
That's so interesting. Let's go a little bit harder on metacognition, the notion that you don't have to believe everything you think. I love the way that you talk about that.
Hmm. Yeah, and we have a huge frontal lobe. It's 40% of our entire brain, and most people when they have a thought they just think that that's the truth. And, I think one of my greatest realizations in my own journey was just because you have a thought, it doesn't necessarily mean it's true.
So if you think 60 to 70 thousand thoughts in one day, and we do, and 90% of those thoughts are the same thoughts as the day before and you believe that your thoughts have something to do with your destiny, your life's not gonna change very much. Because the same thought leads to the same choice, the same choice leads to the same behavior, the same behavior creates the same experience, and the same experience produces the same emotion.
And so then, the act of becoming conscious of this process, to begin to become more aware of how you think, how you act, and how you feel, it's called metacognition.
And so then, why is that important? Because the more conscious you become of those unconscious states of mind and body, the less likely you're gonna go unconscious during the day. And that thought is not gonna slip by your awareness unchecked. It means to know thyself. And the word meditation means to become familiar with. So as you become familiar with the thoughts the behaviors and the emotions of the old self, you're retiring that old self as you fire and wire new thoughts and condition the body into a new emotional state. If you do that enough times, it'll begin to become familiar to you.
So it's so important. Just like a garden, if you're planting a garden, you've got to get rid of the weeds. You got to take the plants from the past year and you got to pull them out. The rocks that sift to the top that are like our emotional blocks, they have to be removed that soil has to be tenderized and broken down. We have to we have to make room to plant the new garden.
So primarily, we learn the most about ourselves and others when we're uncomfortable, because the moment you move into that uncomfortable state, normally a program jumps in. When that program jumps in, it's because the person doesn't want to be in the present moment and engage it consciously.
So when you teach people how to do that with a meditative process, turns out that when they're in their life, they're less likely to emotionally react. They're less likely to be so rigid and believe the thoughts they were thinking. They're more aware of when they go unconscious back into a habit, and that is what starts the process of change.
And, so we have to unlearn before we relearn. We have to break the habit of the old self before we reinvent a new self. We have to pre-synaptic connections and sprout new connections. We have to unfire and unwire and refire and rewire. We have to unmemorize emotions that are stored and then recondition the body that to a new mind into a new emotion. Like the deprogram and reprogram, that's the act, and it's a two-step process.
Yeah, I like the way that you call that out as an action. There was another thing that you said that I thought was really powerful, about how insights themselves are essentially inert, they don't do anything. What what then do we do with an insight? How do we take a breakthrough moment and make sure that it's not just a breakthrough moment? Like I guarantee people watching right now are having like a hundred aha moments. For sure, that was definitely the case for me as I was researching you and when you said that I was like and that's the danger that you have the aha and then nothing.
Yeah, and it is a danger, because then people will will shrink back into mediocracy and they'll use the insight to excuse them from taking a leap. They'll say, "Yeah, you know, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Yeah, my father was really overbearing, he was a perfectionist. That's why I am the way I am."
You know people, they come up with stuff to excuse themselves. The insight is actually giving them permission to stay limited. And it's an amazing idea because they'll say to you that they really want to get over their anxiety. But let's ok. Let's take your ex-husband. Let's put him in a straitjacket. Let's duct tape them and shoot them to the moon know what I mean. What are you gonna do now? You still have to make those changes. And so then the person's enemy dies or they're something shifts in their life and that person's gone, they'll find another person to hate. This is just how we function as human beings. We just slide another reason to feel those emotions.
So I think I think when people start to understand this, you know, I think knowledge is power. But knowledge about yourself is self empowerment.
So how much of this is really learning to just bifurcate the world into (there's) negative emotions that have negative neurochemistry - associated with, and you said that in those states if you're living in a perpetual state of stress hormones and things like that illness is like a step away and then just the other side of that is understanding - (but there's) [and] this whole other side of positive energy, which happiness, joy, empowerment - whatever that you know neurochemical cocktail is, but that when you're on that side your immune system is more likely to function well. Is that just sort of bringing it down to like a really base level. Yeah, that's sort of one of the biggies.
Well, let's talk about it in terms of survival or creation
As I said 70% of the time people live in stress and living in stress is living in survival. Now, all organisms in nature can tolerate short-term stress, you know a deer gets chased by a pack of coyotes, when it out runs the Coyotes it goes back to grazing and the event is over. And the definition of stress is when your brain and body are knocked out of balance, out of homeostasis.
The stress response is what the body innately does to return itself back to order. So you're driving down the road, someone cuts you off, you jam on the brakes, you may give them the finger and then you settle back down and the event is over and boom now everything's back back to normal.
But what if it's not a predator that's waiting for you outside the cave, but what if it's your coworker sitting right next to you and all day long you're turning on those chemicals because they're pushing all your emotional buttons. When you turn on the stress response, and you can't turn it off, now you're headed for a disease because no organism in nature can live an emergency mode for that extended period of time. It's a scientific fact that the hormones of stress down regulate genes and create disease, long term effects.
Human beings, because of the size of the neocortex, we can turn on the stress response just by thought alone, I can think about our problems and turn on those chemicals. That means then our thoughts could make us sick. So if it's possible that our thoughts could make us sick, is it possible that our thoughts could make us well? The answer is absolutely, yes.
So then what are the emotions that are connected to survival? Let's name them, anger, aggression, hostility, hatred, competition, fear, anxiety, worry, pain, suffering, guilt, shame, unworthiness, envy jealousy. Those are all created by the hormones of stress. And psychology calls them normal human states of consciousness, I call those altered states of consciousness.
So then we tend to remember those traumatic events more because in survival, you better be ready if it happens again. And in one's survival gene is switched on you could have ten really great things that happen to you in your day and you just have one bad thing that happens and you cannot take your attention off that unhappy thing because the survival gene is switched on.
It's really interesting. How does epigenetics come into play in all this. What's actually happening? You've talked pretty profoundly about proteins and like really at a deep level how we're signalling to our genetics to create these kinds of changes. What does that actually look like?
Well, epigenetics. Epi means above the gene. And many years ago after the DNA helix was discovered by Watson and Crick, they said the blueprints of life, you know, all diseases are created from genes. It turns out less than 5%, more like 1%. of people on the planet are born with a genetic condition like type 1 diabetes or Tay-sachs disease or sickle cell anemia. The other 95 to 99 percent are created by lifestyle and by choices. You can take to identical twins with the exact same genome, one dies at 51, the other one dies at 85, same gene different environment.
So, all of a sudden they said, "We lied. That was wrong. It's not genes that create disease. It's the environment that signals the gene that creates disease."
Well, ok, but that's not the whole truth too because you could have two people working side by side in the same factory, one gets cancer after being exposed to a carcinogenic for 25 years, both working for 25 years, he other one has no cancer at all. So there must be some internal order that would cause one person to not get it while another one does.
So is it possible then, if the environment signals the gene, and it does, and the end product of an experience in the environment is called an emotion, can you signal the gene ahead of the environment by embracing an elevated emotion?
We've done the research on this where we measured 7,500 different gene expressions in a group of people. It came to an advanced event for four days. And we had them doing a seated meditation, a walking meditation, a laying down meditation, a standing meditation. And at the end of four days, just four days, the common eight genes that were upregulated, two genes to suppress cancer cells and tumor growth; two genes for neurogenesis the growth of new neurons in response to novel experiences; and learning the gene that signals stem cells to go to damaged areas and repair them; the gene for oxidative stress was upregulated.
We started seeing all these genes that are very, very healthy to cause the body to flourish. Imagine if people were doing that for three months. We also measured telomeres - the little shoestrings on the end of DNA that tell us our biological age. We asked people to do the work meditation five out of seven days for 60 days. Measure their telomeres that determine their biological age. sixty days later, seventy four percent of the people lengthen their telomeres, 40 percent significant change, twenty percent a very remarkable change. That means that they got a little bit of their life back if it lengthened by ten percent. They got 10% of their life back.
Before I ask my last question tell these guys where they can find you online.
Sure. My website is just https://drjoedispenza.com. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, we're all over.
And then my final question. What's the impact that you want to have on the world?
I think that the end game for me is to empower people to such a degree that they realize that they need less things outside of them to make them happy, less things outside of them to regulate their moods and their behaviors, and that they begin to use the kind of the power that we all have access to, and into really, and to change the world, to make a difference so that there's more peace, here's more wholeness, there's more connection. That we support and love each other, and we serve better. And I think that we have to start for the most part if everybody's working on themselves. And trying doing their best to present the greatest ideal of themselves to the world, I think the world would be a better place. And so, that's my passion and I'm witnessing it happening now the more than I ever thought I would.
That was incredible Joe. Thank you so much for being here and amazing having you.
The Relaxation Response
Meditation is the practice of being in the here and now. Researchers have long observed that meditation, or the sense of presence, has the ability to:
Meditation has the ability to fundamentally change the way you live. Researchers have observed individuals who meditate and have discovered that the human mind wanders nearly half of the day. Moreover, research suggests that a wandering mind is a better predictor of happiness, independent of financial security. In essence, if your mind is wandering, you are much less likely to be happy. The sense of the present moment determines happiness.
Meditation develops two important skills to help keep the mind from wandering. The first is the ability to remain focused and attentive. The second, is the ability to recognize when the mind wanders so that it can gently be returned to the present moment.
An crucial concept to grasp before diving into meditation is the relaxation response. In the modern world, stress is chronic. The modern world is deluged with a vast amount of information and moves at such as fast pace, and this places everyone experiencing it in a state of stress. This often results in a surge of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones released by the adrenal glands, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response. As a result, the mind turns outward, seeking to evaluate and resolve anything that is the source of the stress. Unless you are relaxed, out of fight or flight, you cannot meditate. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system must occur (the mind must be turned inward) in order to practice meditation. This balance can be achieved by learning the relaxation response. Relaxation is the first step to meditation.
The key to the relaxation response is noticing what happens in your body when the response is activated. What physiologic cues are revealed to you when you are relaxed? It is different for everyone. Some may experience a release of tension in the shoulders, others in the neck, many in the jaw. What is important is knowing when your body is relaxed and is ready to begin meditating.
In 1975, Herbert Benson wrote the book "The Relaxation Response". As a cardiologist, he noticed that many of his patients who had high blood pressure felt worse with the medications that he prescribed. Patients simply visiting him made matters worse. Benson discovered that stress was the culprit and relaxation was the cure. Benson reluctantly began working with transcendental meditation meditators because they claimed to be able to reduce their blood pressure. He observed that they were in fact correct. The meditators were able to successfully reduce their heart rate, metabolic rate, and breath rate. Benson coined this effect the "relaxation response". After researching this phenomena more he discovered that the relaxation response could be triggered easily, quickly, and anywhere.
Just as stress can be triggered in a variety of ways, so too can relaxation, including meditation. Benson later discovered four key components underlying the relaxation response:
Eventually, Benson later discovered that only the last two are required, a mental device and an allowing attitude, to activate the relaxation response. This means that anyone can tap into the relaxation response anywhere and anytime.
Benson, H., & Klipper, M. (2000). The relaxation response. New York: HarperCollins.
Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1045-1062. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0013262
Blue Light Explained
"You hear all this talk about blue light being harmful, but do you know what blue light actually is?
Blue light is one of the types of light that form the white light we get from the Sun. Together with
red, orange, yellow, green, violet, and indigo. This is called the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum of visible light. At the end we have the UV light, which can't actually be seen by the human eye. The energy of these waves increases as we go towards the end, which makes blue lights one of the highest intensity types of visible light.
Light is made of EM waves that emit energy and it's this energy that we perceive as light. These waves come in different wavelengths, which means we get different colors of light. These are the different colors of light that we can perceive from the EM spectrum. So blue light is actually everywhere; it's in the light that travels from the Sun all the way to the Earth.
Because the wavelength of blue light is so small they collide with air molecules a lot more than any other color and they get scattered everywhere - that's actually what makes the sky blue. That's why your body uses this blue light from the Sun to make the difference between day and night and
regulate your sleep cycle. But our eyes natural filters barely provide us with enough protection from blue light on a particularly sunny day.
The blue light from your devices is even worse. LED devices emit much stronger blue light than we get from the Sun. Spending hours staring at a screen can cause eye damage and fatigue. This is due to most lower energy waves being absorbed by the cornea, the eyes outer membrane. Blue light goes straight through due to its high energy and slowly deteriorates the retina. And because our brains use blue light to differentiate between day and night and boost alertness, spending time on your phone tablet or laptop late at night fools your body into thinking it should keep you awake. It's all of them - phones, tablets, any gadget with an illuminated display. They all use blue LEDs because they are energy efficient and cheaper to produce, but your body disagrees.
Basically, what keeps you awake and alert during the day can severely affect the quality of your sleep at night. Blue light has also been shown to suppress secretion of melatonin, a hormone that is produced at night and helps your body prepare for sleep. Melatonin isn't just linked to poor
sleep, scientists have also managed to find a correlation between melatonin deprivation and conditions like cancer, diabetes and clinical depression. Do you still think your tablet is that harmless?
Well there is a way you can prevent it. Scientists have now designed special screen protectors that stop the blue light from reaching your eyes and causing damage to your retina at a microscopic level. This glass has tiny ridges that block blue waves and let the other less harmful light go through. These glasses can block up to 60% of blue light and 99% of UV rays. People have reported that their sleeping patterns were significantly improved after only a few days. There was also significant reduction in eye strain and headaches. Or you can go for full protection and buy eyewear that you can use for all blue light-emitting devices: computers, TV laptops, or your phone. These work in a slightly different way - the protectors as the yellow, absorbs rather than blocks blue and UV light, and lets other types of light go through.
No matter what you do, whether its buying a protective glass or reducing the time you spend on your device make sure you stay on the lookout for the unseen damage that your day-to-day gadgets can do to your health."
Welcome to the first episode of our brand new docuseries - Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness.
(If you are not registered for the full Remedy docuseries yet, click this link to join us for all 9 episodes - https://remedy.thesacredscience.com/r... )
Episode 1 is called “The Quest For Lost Medicine” and it lays the groundwork for the entire series - some of what you will witness may shock you… Over the 9-part Remedy series, we’ll be uncovering powerful herbal remedies for major diseases - but first, we need to understand why this vital healing information has been kept from us.
Here’s some of what we will reveal in this first episode…
This eye-opening episode sets the stage for everything else we cover in the Remedy docuseries. Again, if you are not registered for the full series, click here - https://remedy.thesacredscience.com/r...
People’s first experience of the system is often profoundly alienating. This is not the fault of their teachers but of the system itself, which assesses us for a particular kind of intelligence. We pass or fail on ridiculously narrow criteria.
I was lucky at school because I had the kind of intelligence that they were looking for - linear, analytical, hyperlexic. It was only after leaving school that I realized that in other respects I was a complete dummy. Give me any spatial task and I fall to pieces. I stumble over cognitive tasks that other people can perform in their sleep.
I have a close friend who can diagnose almost any engine fault just by listening. In this respect he is a genius: he has a spatial, navigational intelligence that is off the scale. But he was deemed a total failure at school. He was confronted with tests that did not fit the way his mind worked.
I expect you’ve come across plenty of people like this: people you know are bright, but they are bright in the wrong way. In other words, they are bright in a way that isn’t being assessed. The truth is that there are lots of different intelligences. And we shouldn’t be surprised. During the evolutionary phase of our history, a group of people would be more likely to survive if its different members saw the world in different ways. Some people could make excellent tools. Some people could hunt very well. Some people were good at looking out for danger. Some people could tell the stories that would inform the next generation. Some people were good at strategizing how to get through a long winter. We needed a load of different intelligences in order to survive. But nowadays we are treated as if only one kind of intelligence is valid. Anyone with a different intelligence is deemed stupid.
The way we are schooled compounds this alienation. How did we get to the point that we believe the best way of schooling children is to sit them behind a desk and insist they keep still. Children? Keeping still? That’s difficult for anyone, but especially for kids with a roaming, navigational mind.
I’ve done some volunteering with an adventure learning charity. The first time I took one of these groups out, we were rock pooling on the shore. Most of the kids had never seen the sea before, never visited the countryside before. And there was one kid who stood out. He was brilliant. He was there at my shoulder all the time. Whenever I said, “what’s this?” or “why is it this color?”, he would hazard a guess. And they were always interesting answers. He was finding things, catching things, picking things up. And after a couple of hours, I said to his teacher, “That kid is a genius.” She said “him? He’s bottom of the class.”
If a kid like that is failing, it’s not the kid’s fault. The fault is with the system. As I say, I don’t blame the teachers because they have to teach to the system. Plenty of teachers desperately want to do creative things with the children, to discover their different intelligences, but they are forbidden to do so. That child in the rockpools: if the system has failed to recognize his intelligence, the system has failed.
If an intelligent child fails the tests designed to assess a different kind of intelligence, they become alienated. Not just from school, but from the system as a whole. The danger is that they then become alienated from public life, alienated from society. Eventually alienated from themselves.
Determining The Daily Dose of Nature
Humans are ancient beings living in a modern world. We have been hard-wired through evolution to require and seek contact with nature. A healthy, balanced life, physically and emotionally, requires this contact. Exposure to nature is one of the key foundations to a meaningful life. Indeed, a growing body of evidence overwhelmingly suggests connecting with nature is paramount for optimal health.
Connection with nature has been associated with:
How much exposure to nature and outdoor natural environments is necessary, though, to ensure healthy development? Are there such things as minimum daily requirements of nature?
Determining a daily dose of exposure to nature is comparable to the nutrition pyramid that has been touted as a useful guide for the types and quantity of food consumption necessary to be healthy. It has been dubbed the Nature Pyramid,.
Referring to the standard nutritional pyramid, towards the top are things that are less healthful in larger quantities—meat, dairy, sugar—and should be consumed in the smallest proportions. Moving down the pyramid are elements in the diet—fruits and vegetables—that should be consumed more frequently and in greater quantity, and then finally the foods that contain the most nutrients that are needed on a daily basis. The Nature Pyramid would work in a similar way.
The Nature Pyramid challenges us to think about what the analogous quantities of nature are, and the types of nature exposures and experiences, needed to bring about a healthy life. Exposure to nature, that is direct personal contact with natural, is not an optional thing, but rather is a necessary and important element of a healthy human life. So, like the nutritional pyramid, what specifically is required for optimal health? What amounts of nature, different nature experiences, and exposure to different sorts of nature, together constitute a healthy existence? While researchers may lack the same degree of scientific certainly or confidence regarding a specific quantifiable amount of connection with nature necessary to ensure a healthy life, the pyramid at least begins to ask the right questions.
Nature-Deficit Disorder and the Nature Principle
In 2005, in Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv introduced the term nature-deficit disorder, not as a medical diagnosis, but as a way to describe the growing gap between humans and nature. Every day, our relationship with nature, or the lack of it, influences our lives. This has always been true. But in the twenty-first century, our survival — or thrival — will require a transformative framework for that relationship, a reunion of humans with the rest of nature.
The Nature Principle is an amalgam of converging theories and trends as well as a reconciliation with old truths. This principle holds that a reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, wellness, spirit, and survival. Primarily a statement of philosophy, the Nature Principle is supported by a growing body of theoretical, anecdotal, and empirical research that describes the restorative power of nature — its impact on our senses and intelligence; on our physical, psychological, and spiritual health; and on the bonds of family, friendship, and the multispecies community. What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in electronics? How can each of us help create that life-enhancing world, not only in a hypothetical future, but right now, for our families and for ourselves?
Our sense of urgency grows. In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lived in towns and cities. The traditional ways that humans have experienced nature are vanishing, along with biodiversity. At the same time, our culture’s faith in technological immersion seems to have no limits, and we drift ever deeper into a sea of circuitry. We consume breathtaking media accounts of the creation of synthetic life, combining bacteria with human DNA; of microscopic machines designed to enter our bodies to fight biological invaders or to move in deadly clouds across the battlefields of war; of virtually-augmented reality; of futuristic houses in which we are surrounded by simulated reality transmitted from every wall. We even hear talk of the “transhuman” or “posthuman” era in which people are optimally enhanced by technology, or of a “postbiological universe” where, as NASA’s Steven Dick puts it, “the majority of intelligent life has evolved beyond flesh and blood intelligence.”
This collective disorder threatens our health, our spirit, our economy, and our future stewardship of the environment. Yet, despite what seem prohibitive odds, transformative change is possible. The loss that we feel, this truth that we already know, sets the stage for a new age of nature. In fact, because of the environmental challenges we face today, we may be — we had better be — entering the most creative period in human history, a time defined by a goal that includes but goes beyond sustainability to the renaturing of everyday life.
Symptoms of Nature-Deficit Disorder
Do you or does someone you know experience nature-deficit disorder (NDD)? In this day in age, it is common to develop mild or severe forms of NDD. Here are several symptoms to look out for:
Interpreting the Nature Pyramid
At the bottom of the pyramid are forms of nature and outside life that should form the bulk of our daily experiences. Here there are the many ways in which we might daily enjoy and experience nature, both suburban and urban. As adults, a healthy nature diet requires being outside at least part of each day, walking, strolling, sitting, though it need not be in a remote and untouched national park or otherwise more pristine natural environment. Brief experiences and brief episodes of respite and connection are valuable to be sure: watching birds, hearing the outside sounds of life, and feeling the sun or breeze on one’s arms are important natural experiences, though perhaps brief and fleeting. Some of these experiences are visual and we know that even views of nature from office or home windows provides value. For school aged kids spending the day in a school drenched in full spectrum nature daylight is important and we know the evidence is compelling about the emotional value of this. Every day kids should spend some time outside, sometime playing and running outside, in direct contact with nature, weather, and the elements.
Moving from the bottom to the top of the pyramid also corresponds to an important temporal dimension. We need and should want to visit larger more remote parks and natural areas, but for most of us the majority of these larger parks will not be within distance of a daily trip. Each week, we should seek out a local park or area larger than your backyard. Each month, we should seek out a larger, national park. At the top of the pyramid are places and nature experiences that are profoundly important and enriching yet are more likely to happen less frequently, such as remote verdant areas, perhaps only several times a year. They are places of nature where immersion is possible, and where the intensity and duration of the nature experience are likely to be greater. And in between these temporal echelons (from daily to yearly) lie many of the nature opportunities and experiences that happen often on weekends or holidays or every few weeks, and perhaps without the degree of regularity that daily neighborhood nature experiences provide.
Like the food items higher on the food pyramid, the sites of nature highest on the Nature Pyramid might best be thought of occasional treats in our nature diet—good for us in small and measured servings, but actually unhealthy if consumed too often or in too great a quantity. For many urbanites from industrialized nations, large amounts of money and effort are expended visiting remote areas, from Patagonia, to the cloud forests of Costa Rica, to the Himalayas. It seems we relish and celebrate the ecologically remote and exotic. While they are deeply enjoyable nature experiences, to be sure, they come at a high planetary cost, as the energy and carbon footprint associated with jetting to these places is large indeed. No longer are such trips appreciated as unique and special “trips of a lifetime,” but fairly common and increasingly pedestrian jaunts to the affluent citizenry of the North. The Nature Pyramid sends a useful signal that travel to faraway nature may as glutinous and unhealthy as eating at the top of the food pyramid.
A Solution - Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing)
Forest bathing—or Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy—is a Japanese healing method that allows an individual to immerse in the forest’s atmosphere. It stills the mind, leaving bathers focused and more alert. Researchers have observed that evergreen trees secret a natural chemical called phytoncide, which directly reduced stress levels and boosted immune systems in subjects (Li, 2009).
Researchers (Hansen, Jones and Tocchini, 2017) have determined with the healing components of Shinrin-yoku specifically hones in on the therapeutic effects on:
How to Forest Bath
Beatley, T. (2012). Exploring the Nature Pyramid – The Nature of Cities. [online] The Nature of Cities. Available at: https://www.thenatureofcities.com/2012/08/07/exploring-the-nature-pyramid/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2018].
Hansen, M., Jones, R. and Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(12), p.851. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080851
Li, Q. (2009). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 15(1), pp.9-17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3
Louv, R. (2012). The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. Algonquin Books.
More than 2000 references on the biological responses to radio frequency (RF) and microwave radiation, published up to June 1971, have been documented. Devices that emit RF and microwave radiation include, but is not limited to, cellphones, two-way radios, Wi-Fi routers, cellphone towers, smart watches, bluetooth devices, Smart meters, cordless cell phone base stations, wireless baby monitors, microwave ovens, and any WiFi-connected smart devices that receives and transmits data. Particular attention has been paid to the effects on man of non-ionizing radiation at these frequencies.
Reported Biological Phenomena (*Effects') and Some Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation
A. Heating of Organs*
(Applications: Diathermy, Electrosurgery, Electro-coagulation, Electrodesiccation, Electrotomy)
B. Changes in physiologic function
C. Central Nervous System Effects
D. Autonomic Nervous System Effects
E. Peripheral Nervous System Effects
F. Psychological Disorders ("Human Behavioral Studies") - the so-called "Psychophysiologic (and Psychosomatic) Responses"
G. Behavioral Changes (Animal)
H. Blood Disorders
I. Vascular Disorders
J. Enzyme and Other Biochemical Changes
Changes in activity of:
K. Metabolic Disorders
L. Gastro-Intestinal Disorders
M. Endocrine Gland Changes
N. Histological Changes
O. Genetic and Chromosomal Changes
P. Pearl Chain Effect (Intracellular orientation of subcellular particles, and orientation of cellular and other (non-biologic) particles) Also, orientation of animals, birds, and fish in electromagnetic fields
Q. Miscellaneous Effects
Glaser, Z. (1971). Bibliography of reported biological phenomena ('effects') and clinical manifestations attributed to microwave and radio-frequency radiation. Navel Medical Research Institute. http://safeschool.ca/uploads/Navy_Radiowave_Brief_1_.pdf
Researchers set out to identify geographical characteristics that constitute an enriched environment affecting the human brain. A total of 341 older adults participated to establish three latent brain factors (amygdala, pACC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)) to test the effects of forest, urban green, water and wasteland around the home address. The results reveal a significant positive association between the coverage of forest and amygdala integrity. This evidence suggests that forests may have health-promoting effects on the integrity of the amygdala. Since cross-sectional data does not allow causal inference it could also be that individuals with high structural integrity choose to live closer to forest (Kühn et al., 2017).
In experiments conducted on rodents, researchers have observed experience-dependent alterations of the brain in the form of adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity using so-called “enriched environments”. In such an environment, rats could roam freely with those held in cages with access to food, water and bedding. That is, a complex environment that offers a higher degree of stimulation has been observed to facilitate brain plasticity as revealed by studies measuring neurons. Still the evidence acquired in studies on enriched environments in animals provides important information to infer what an enriched environment may look like in humans.
At first sight one may conclude that city dwellers experience more complexity and novelty in their environment compared to people living in more rural regions. However, in contrast to this, a growing body of research suggests that urban environments encompasses a set of adverse psychosocial influences that facilitate chronic stress. This is in line with epidemiological evidence showing that mental health problems are more frequent in urban as compared to rural areas. This has been shown for mood and anxiety disorders as well as schizophrenia, with up to 56% higher prevalence rates when comparing most to least urbanized regions. Reasons for this may lie in the repeated infringement of personal space in cities that may trigger the brains’ threat system and in particular the repeated exposure to strangers may facilitate chronic engagement of the amygdala.
At the same time a growing body of research has shown that living close to natural landscapes has beneficial effects on mental health as well as well-being, mood, cognition, but also longevity and mortality. Researchers have observed that moving to greener urban areas is associated with improvements in mental health. Moreover, it has been shown that more green space in deprived urban neighbourhoods is associated with less perceived stress and healthier diurnal cortisol responses. In Japan a so-called practice of “forest bathing” has been established under the term “Shinrin-yoku”. Although the empirical evidence base on Shinrin-yoku is small, first studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of passive viewing and active exploration of forest landscapes onto stress markers such as concentrations of cortisol, pulse rate, blood pressure, parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve activity.
Green landscapes and forests may be viewed as environmental enrichment factors in humans. What has been shown in the neuroscientific literature is that urban upbringing and city living might be detrimental by affecting stress processing in humans. More concretely, current city living has been associated with increases in amygdala activity in comparison to living in more rural areas, whereas being brought up in an urban environment in the first 15 years of life increased stress related functional brain activity in the perigenual anterior cingular cortex (pACC).
Researchers set out to apply established characteristics of geographical features within cities in more depth and associate these cross-sectionally with brain structural integrity. The purpose of the study was to investigate what may constitute an enriched environment for human beings on the micro level within the city of Berlin, complementing previous studies that discriminated brain differences of inhabitants of cities, towns and rural regions on the macro level (Kühn et al., 2017).
Amemori, K. and Graybiel, A. (2012). Localized microstimulation of primate pregenual cingulate cortex induces negative decision-making. Nature Neuroscience, 15(5), pp.776-785. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3088
Ernst, J., Hock, A., Henning, A., Seifritz, E., Boeker, H. and Grimm, S. (2016). Increased pregenual anterior cingulate glucose and lactate concentrations in major depressive disorder. Molecular Psychiatry, 22(1), pp.113-119. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2016.73
Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Eibich, P., Krekel, C., Wüstemann, H., Kolbe, J., Martensson, J., Goebel, J., Gallinat, J., Wagner, G. and Lindenberger, U. (2017). In search of features that constitute an “enriched environment” in humans: Associations between geographical properties and brain structure. Scientific Reports, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12046-7
The Awareness domain contains research, news, information, observations, and ideas at the level of self in an effort to intellectualize health concepts.
The Lifestyle domain builds off intellectual concepts and offers practical applications.
Taking care of yourself is at the core of the other domains because the others depend on your health and wellness.