Transcending…and re-setting emotional balance
Under stress, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain disables itself. Transcending reactivates it.
Through recent discoveries about brain functioning, we can now explain how stress interrupts the normal functioning of the brain and increases impulsive behaviour.
Normal functioning of the brain
The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain right above our eyes, is responsible for our “higher thinking” – long-term planning, impulse control, deciding whether something is right or wrong. This part is sometimes also referred to as the general director or “CEO of the brain”, as most decisions are made there. The pre-frontal cortex is one of those aspects of the human brain that differentiates between man and animal.
When the brain functions normally, the flow of information is as follows – information enters via the senses, is sent to the pre-frontal cortex and is processed there and decisions made are then sent to the motor parts that drive the relevant muscles to respond.
Functioning of the brain under stress.
In the case of stress, this flow of information changes. Information by-passes the pre-frontal cortex and flows directly from the senses to the motor parts. There is a good reason why our brains have evolved in this way. When, for example, we cross a street and see a car approaching rapidly, we need to react fast without undue reflection. There is no time to think. We need to jump out of the way immediately, impulsively. This mechanism exists to protect us when threatened.
It has been known for a long time that emotional instability is linked to stress, but researchers are now able to provide a clear scientific explanation for this. Stress causes the frontal part of our brain – the part of our brain responsible for our emotional stability – to disable itself (for more detail on how stress affects the brain, see Impulsivity). Chronic stress can cause the amygdala, that part of the brain that governs fear, anger, etc., to get locked in “on” position.
Transcending activates the frontal brain
Transcending has the opposite effect on stress. It actually increases activity in the pre-frontal cortex.
Transcending is a situation in which the body experiences a deep state of rest, allowing it to remove even deepest tensions, and cause the frontal brain to become more active. This can be measured, for example, via neural imaging scans that measure blood flow to the brain. The activity in the thalamus (related to bodily functions) reduces, indicating a state of relaxation, while activity in the frontal cortex increases.
These changes in the brain turn out to be unique to the experience of transcending during Transcendental Meditation. Ordinary relaxation, experienced with most other meditation or relaxation techniques, do not show these changes to the same extent.
During transcending, the frontal brain not only becomes activated, but also the coordination with other parts of the brain, disrupted during stress, is restored. This can be measured through EEG coherence measurements – for more info see Transcending = Full Brain Development. Recent research has shown that emotional stability is also directly linked to EEG coherence, on which transcending also has a strong positive effect.
The experience of transcending is one of increasing inner peace and emotional calm.
Transcending’s effect on the brain is the opposite to that of stress. Transcending can increase activity in the frontal part of the brain and release the amygdala from its permanently “on” position. The more we experience this state, the more the brain will habituate to this experience with consequent improvements in emotional stability.
How can a simple technique do so much?
600 studies confirm the effect of TM with:
- Less stress
- How TM works
- Emotional stability
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Better Health
- General Health
- Becoming Younger