Sunday, April 15, 2018

A System for Spiritual Development: Hacking Your Brain Chemistry Without Drugs

Below are links to, and excerpts from, four related articles on my blog and website which together describe a set of practices that can produce positive feelings and reduce stress. This can help you live according to spiritual values such as love, kindness, forgiveness, and tolerance.

The subjects covered in the articles include:

  1. How to use meditation to set up a feedback loop in the brain that increases production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins and reduces levels of cortisol.

    A meditation technique is described that produces a relaxed mental state and a pleasant contented mood. Taken further, it can produce intense positive emotions and spiritual experiences. However, the main purpose of the meditation is to give you the skills you can use in daily life to maintain a pleasant relaxed mental state and contented mood between meditation sessions.

  2. What it is like.

    This is a description of extreme spiritual experiences that can be produced by the meditation technique described in the first article.

  3. How to increase serotonin production in the brain through diet and nutrition.

    This article explains how eating carbohydrates and protein in the right sequence and at the right times can help increase serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in how the brain produces pleasant feelings. This can be helpful in producing the experiences described in the first two articles.

  4. How to turn off the body's reaction to stress.

    This article tells you how to turn off the body's reaction to stress naturally by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is helpful in learning to breathe in a relaxing way and can help you make more progress faster using the meditation technique described in the first article.

Links and Excerpts

  1. How to use meditation to produce spiritual experiences by setting up a feedback loop in the brain that increases production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins and reduces levels of cortisol:
    Simplified Instructions

    Sit comfortably in whatever way you prefer, in a chair or on the floor. No special meditation posture is needed. Close your eyes. Notice how you feel throughout your body. Do you feel anxious or tense? Try to relax your whole body. Take a deep breath and relax your whole body as you exhale. Notice the pleasant feeling of relaxation? Now breathe normally and relax your whole body as you exhale. Notice the same feeling of relaxation. Relax your whole body as you inhale and notice a similar feeling of relaxation. It might help you to relax if you slow down your breathing somewhat. Continue to relax your whole body as you inhale and exhale and notice the pleasant feelings of relaxation. Your whole body may begin feel heavy as you become more and more relaxed. While you meditate this way, also say to yourself, (inwardly not aloud) "in" as you inhale, and "out" as you exhale. Notice the absence of mental chatter as you focus your attention on the words "in" an "out". Meditate this way with the understanding that you are trying to have a pleasant, relaxing, calming meditation session. After a while, observing the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you inhale and exhale might make you want to smile.

    If you feel like it, go ahead and smile, even if it's just a little bit, and notice the pleasant emotions that accompany smiling as you continue to meditate


    Smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which are molecules that will elevate your mood. Smiling also reduces levels of the anxiety causing stress hormone cortisol. These chemical changes will produce a pleasant effect and may make you want to smile even more. This can result in a feedback loop that produces intense feelings of feelings of happiness, loving kindness, and connectedness.

  2. What it is like:
    But this type of serenity meditation creates a feedback loop causing the brain to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.

    It really is like a drug trip, maybe not a psychedelic trip but it's not normal meditation. Every breath you take is like a hit from a bong, but there's no bong. And it is hugely spiritual. It doesn't require super intense concentration so I think most people could learn to do it. I had to stop the other day because it was so intense I was getting nervous. How many people do you know who were feeling so happy, and connected to all things and feeling such intense metta that they were worried they might never get back to normal? And I felt the presence of non-physical entities too.

    It also creates a kind of synesthesia where everything I see and hear I also feel in my body as if they are part of me. There is an effect like the brain is a virtual reality machine and what I see is really a movie inside my head projected on the unchanging screen of pure awareness, like my mind contains the whole universe including me walking around inside it. Other times I feel like my self and its boundaries are dissolving and I am expanding to merge into infinite space. It's not scary, it's like coming home.

    This meditation changes the "energy" of your surroundings too. You could go to the filthiest shack in the poorest slum in the most miserable godforsaken corner of nowhere and meditating this way would make it a place of beauty and joy. These effects are not gross like a psychedelic trip they are subtle like a change in understanding. And these experiences are not restricted to sitting meditation, you can have them walking around town or out in nature. When you do this, you see it transforms reality because when you walk around smiling, people smile back. In that way, it doesn't just change you, it changes the people around you. It doesn't just make you happy, it makes the world friendly.

    It also produces a state of mind where nothing can upset you because you find something within you which you can relax, and when you do, any unpleasant emotions flow away as soon as they arise. It's as if relaxing opens a door and unpleasant emotions go out through the door as soon as they appear. They just appear and go. Not just during meditation but during daily life.

    It's not nirvana, I still experience some worries, annoyances, and emotional ups and downs, but this type of meditation showed me that happiness is a choice.

    The best thing about this type of meditation is not the intense experiences, the best thing is that between meditation sessions I'm happier and I worry less.

    And it doesn't cause vomiting or diarrhea like Ayahuasca does. It's 100% free. And as far as I know it's legal everywhere.

  3. How to increase serotonin production in the brain through diet and nutrition:
    It is possible to increase serotonin production in the brain by eating protein 20 to 40 minutes after eating carbohydrates. Eat at least 25-35 grams (about 120 calories) of carbohydrates, wait 20 to 40 minutes, and then eat protein. (The source of carbohydrates should be low in protein and fat.) A simple way to do this is to eat the carbohydrate portion of your meal first then wait 20 minutes before eating the protein portion...

  4. How to turn off the body's reaction to stress:
    The sympathetic nervous system is involved in producing the body's response to stress. The parasympathetic nervous system is involved in turning off the body's response to stress.

    Anything that activates the parasympathetic nervous system suppresses the sympathetic nervous system and helps you to relax.

    There are many undesirable effects of stress on physical and mental health so learning to turn off stress can make your life better in many, many ways.

    Learning to turn off stress is also helpful in spiritual development because when you are stressed, you are more likely to be thinking about yourself and your problems ie. being egocentric. But when you are relaxed, you are less likely to be thinking about yourself and more likely to be in harmony with spiritual values like love, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance etc.


    The best way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and turn off stress that I know of is to do exercises which involve gently moving or stretching your muscles while exhaling slowly as you count to ten. This technique is extremely effective because it combines four separate methods for activating the parasympathetic nervous system in one technique...

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