By Samantha Glorioso
We live in a world where our thoughts are still largely viewed as these passive, almost inconsequential passages of ideas or associations that are kept in stasis until physically acted upon—mere electro-chemical reactions that tickle our 100 billion nerve cells via the trillion synapses joining them. As biophysicist Francis Crick succinctly put it, we are really nothing more than a pack of neurons.
But what if thoughts were more than just thoughts as we know them?
Creating in the Unseen
What if, every single thought you had today actually shaped the foundations of your reality before you even thought of doing anything about them? What if, instead of worrying about how much we did or didn’t do with our actions, or what was done to us by others, we began shifting the role of chief architect and engineer of our lives, to our brains?
Stay with me.
This is not a wild pseudoscientific conjecture, nor does it imply that in optimising the true power of our brains we will never again have to lift a finger to make things happen in our lives—what I am positing is that the link between thought and outcome (‘passive’ cause and ‘active’ effect) is subtle but present if we believe it and actively begin to shift our complete awareness inwardly. By paying close attention to our thought processes and identifying our limited beliefs, past programmed dogma and latent trauma, we are able to better detect and observe the mechanisms of behind-the-scenes processing and thoughts, how they manifest outwardly into the physical world and then alter them.
A move towards this has begun to be observed in the psychosomatic realm of science. We know that how we think and feel has colossal consequences on our physical wellbeing, but what too many of us don’t yet appreciate, is how much that notion is applicable to all areas of our lives, not just our bodies.
The Placebo Effect
Many doctors have heard about the intriguing story of ”Mr. Wright” who, whilst hospitalized with life threatening tumors, had become convinced that a newly discovered drug would cure his terminal cancer. A few days after administering the miracle cure, Mr Wright’s physician wrote that the tumors ”had miraculously disappeared.”
Interestingly, this is not where that story ends. A few months later, after Mr Wright read that the drug in question had no actual lasting effects, he immediately relapsed. His doctor, curious to study the potential undercurrent of a Placebo effect, offered him a stronger and improved version of the drug (whilst actually only injecting him with saline water). The tumors disintegrated at once – Mr Wright’s faith in the drug was strong.
The final episode in this story is fascinating. Despite going on to live for months in blissful health, Mr Wright finally read a concluding report confirming the drug’s inefficacy once and for all and died a few days later.
One could argue that coincidences and randomness were at play with this story, but such placebo-type effects have been found to be applicable to many other drug studies as well. A few years ago, a review of randomized controlled trials on the efficacy of a drug for Parkinson’s Disease versus placebos, showed that both had been equally beneficial in increasing the release of a vital endogenous dopamine as well as the subjects’ overall motor abilities, therefore highlighting that when patients were administered with placebos, their minds (and thus belief systems) were systematically aided in the improvement of the functionality of their nervous systems. In other words, the expectancy of well-being and indeed of healing were found to be nested within the brain’s neurochemistry.
The Power of the Subconscious
Now, the power of belief has been widely documented and researched (albeit as of yet, without a grounded scientific explanation) and in recent decades we have gravitated increasingly towards a more holistic framework of ontological perception. However, that very framework will need to evolve and develop towards the possibility of a post-materialist ideology to explain how something as intangible as a belief system can affect the configuration of the body, which is one extent of the brain’s true power.
From a scientific standpoint, the real discovery occurs when we individually begin to pay attention to the mechanistic properties of our realities and notice that the real causal nexus of our lives is closer to home than what we have been led to believe: our deep meditative and subconscious mind. Therefore, what should we already be able to observe in the brain’s relationship with our bodies and our daily lives? Are we brave enough to be open and honest about what lies beneath the surface?
Science in the making
What is critical is that discarding a post materialist theory because it doesn’t fit into the dogmatic rigour of our reductionist perspective is not only counterproductive, but irrational. After all, science is nothing but the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
But is there in fact more to consider? By adopting a non-dual standpoint, we may find ourselves needing to widen the enquiry to research the many different states of consciousness itself. Are our conscious minds derived from a brain or from a primordial awareness of the Self that transcends the limitations of the mind?
In our current climate of physicalism, the physical world (such as the formations of neurons and their activities) imposes the idea that the brain’s more mechanistic functions are more real than any other properties discussed in this article. What this view seems to have dismissed, is how we have come to discover what we know today. From the invention of microscopes to view particles invisible to the naked eye to the observations made by our scientists, we are perennially evolving our understanding of nature and ourselves to match our conscious experience. By holding onto an absolute presupposition of materialist science, we halt the development of our next evolutionary shift.
The world we journey in is intelligent and logical, with an insurmountable amount of processes through which everything we know to be true, unfolds. Such intelligence cares not for any of our subjective beliefs that we may hold about life – be it religious, social or cultural. Nor does it actually differentiate between our dualistic tendency to deem things, people or situations as either good or bad, as one thing or the other – it simply exists, like a mathematical equation by which the same properties have shaped the Universe. Consciousness is as infinite in its scale, as we humans are currently lost to define it.
In our ever-growing supermarket of choices presented to sate our ontological predilections, how can we invite discernment into the equation so that each new piece of information is carefully scrutinized for their individual contribution of knowledge and not merely as added fuel to our already identified selection of belief systems? By adopting a captious reasoning system that is perennially patrolling forgeries in perception, we align ourselves towards a higher understanding of ourselves and ultimately, the understanding of human consciousness. Until we are able to recreate the power and effects of our thoughts in a lab, the exploration of the true powers of consciousness will remain a singular and subjective venture, which, while not only expanding the awareness of Self as part of a greater whole, also enables us to experience the immense ability we each have to heal, guide and empower.