The anatomy of the body, the weight and size of the brain are almost the same in all humans. God has been uniformly kind to everybody in this respect. The white and the black, the tall and the short, the savage and the sage all have brains of similar size and shape with same anatomical structure. In spite of that, we find startling diversity and difference in the emotional, intellectual and mental faculties, talents and skills in individual human beings.
Some people are wise and exceptionally brilliant, while others, despite living under same socioeconomic conditions and having similar physical health and appearance, find it difficult to efficiently perform even the ordinary tasks and essential duties of life. Some are altruists, generous, affectionate and kind, while others are apathetic, selfish and cruel. Some have cheerful temperament and enthusiastic fervor to perform their duties and daily chores; some enjoy playing and have special talents in sports; still there are many who are not interested in any game, they live a lethargic, dull and aimless life…., and life is a burden for them. Why this contrast? How the mental, emotional and intellectual levels of people vary so drastically? These questions have always motivated research in the areas of behavioral psychology and neurochemistry. The quest for scientifically probing the magical world of human-brain has been going on ever since the advent of human civilization.
The scientists of yore had adopted the approach of subtle science of spirituality to gain knowledge about human mind and to creatively control the functioning of the brain. Modern scientists have adopted an approach beginning from the gross analysis of the physicochemical reactions and study of their effects manifested in behavioral changes. Progress of this research is now opening newer dimensions of the subtle aspects of human brain. The study of hormones has offered amazing information to the researchers who consider physiological and biochemical processing to be the basic cause of different functions of the brain. The front-line researchers now believe that the root cause of secretion of the enormous varieties of hormones are yet unknown because of the subtle nature of different levels of consciousness affecting the mind.
Even a single drop of some hormones secreted within the brain is found to bring about drastic changes in the body-functions.
The temperament and the emotional manifestations too are found to vary because of the fluctuations in specific hormonal levels. Many hormones and neurochemicals contained in the tiny neurons, have now been identified and analyzed in the laboratories. These include; those found to be associated with fatigued or energetic state of the body and the alacrity of mind, and those which can stimulate or suppress the expressions of love, compassion, cheerfulness etc.
The hormone-secreting glands seem to offer even newer wonders before the endocrinologists to further accelerate research in the related areas of neuroscience.
It is a surprising coincidence that the existence of the mysterious neuro-chemicals came into light through the study of some diseases like aboulia and amnesia in which the mind goes into depression or becomes dull and dormant by losing memory and intellectual sharpness. Some scientists at the American National Institute of Mental Health had found that the activity or inhibition of an enzyme called MAO (Mono Amine Oxidase) is largely responsible for the changes in peoples temperaments.
The normal as well as the unusual emotional expressions of different persons – cheerfulness and irritation, alacrity and accede etc. – are found to depend on the inhibition or activation by other enzymes and chemicals of the neurohormonal secretions of MAO.
According to Dr. Andrew Baptist, a behavioral psychologist by profession, there are two major classes of neuro-chemicals: one, the group of MAO-enzymes and the other, that of different neurotransmitters such as, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonine, etc. The MAOs suppress the functions of the neurotransmitters. A third group of neurotransmitters has also been discovered which preserves the activity and blood-level of the neurotransmitters. This helper group mainly consists of the enzymes of endorphin category. The research findings of Dr. Andrew and others indicate that excessive secretion of MAO often triggers lethargy, dullness, mental restlessness and tension. The activation of the second group can suppress the effects of MAO and induce alacrity, enthusiasm, relaxation and cheerfulness. The enzymes like encephalon etc of the endorphin group further enhance the activity of the neurotransmitters and accelerate positive effects on mental and emotional conditions. People are found to show greater mental concentration and efficiency in their tasks-in-hand when the secretion and activities of the neurotransmitters and hormones of the latter groups are on.
Dr. Kraftsman and Dr. John Crookschank of Baltimore University have carried out intensive research on human psychology and psychosomatic diseases. The results of their studies suggest that whenever the activity of MAO increases, it inhibits the normal secretion of the neurotransmitters in the brain. This gives rise to mental restlessness, gloom and distress. Similar effects are induced by the rising toxicity in the environment. In view of the analysis of positive effects of some anti-depression drugs, these scientists prescribe the hormones of endorphin family as the inhibitors of the negative effects of MAO. Persons having substantial levels of active endorphins enjoy an open, happy and healthy mentality free from emotional complexes and stresses. Such temperamental traits can be triggered to some extent by balanced doses of anti-depressant medicines and steroids, which stimulate the secretion of different neurotransmitters.
Apart from the medications, some behavioral psychologists also found use of autosuggestion, hypnotism and biofeedback techniques as effective. They opine that the steroids, though useful in inducing positive effects by activating the secretion of the corresponding hormones, are not harmless. The side effects of steroids are often so severe that they create other serious physiological and mental problems that require further stronger drug medication.In order to avoid this vicious cycle, these and many other researchers are now investigating the alternative techniques of autosuggestive biofeedback based counseling etc to maintain healthy functioning of neurotransmitters in a natural manner. Considering the fast increasing pollution in physical, mental and emotional spheres of life and the associated rise in the occurrence of mental stress, hypertension, depression and other psychosomatic disorders, investigations of this kind appear all the more important and necessary.
Stanford Research Centre in USA has a separate department for studies on oriental meditation-based psychotherapies.
The scientists of this centre have found that the above mentioned three major types of hormones/ neuro-chemicals responsible for inducing gloom and despair or energy and joy etc, express the reactions of internal emotions through the medium of the secretions of the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in the brain. Their experiments show that these neurohormonal secretions can be regulated by the practices of dhyan, dhara, yoganidra and other sadhanas of mental and emotional control.
The results of initial research on a few hormones whose secretion in the blood manifests remarkable reactions and effects had excited the scientific community towards further research on these astonishing biomolecules. Hormonal effects on physical structure of the body, complexion and beauty, youthfulness and aging, puberty, concupiscence etc, and the fight or flight type reactions against mental stress and strain, etc have been the focus of research in neurochemistry and endocrinology.
Growing research in the fields of brain-chemistry or neurohormonal secretions has offered deeper insight into many aspects of behavioral psychology and personality- development, which were unknown to the modern scientists until recently. Although, the science of spirituality and associated yoga-sadhana had detailed mentions of the subtle aspects of human mind-body relationships, the modern scientists were not attracted to study them owing to the lack of visible evidences.
The laboratory research on the micro world of hormones and recognition of the tremendous effects of mental and emotional levels on neurohormonal secretions has now opened up new frontiers of collaborative research in associated fields of the ancient and modern sciences.
According to the experts of neurochemistry and neurohistopathology, the chemistry of brain is quite peculiar and arcane. Several hormones that were believed as secreted by the glands in the digestive system and were found present in the corresponding portions of the body have now been discovered to be present in the brain as well. The group of such hormones includes ACTH (acetylcholine) and epinephrine. Significant amount of cholesystiqunine responsible for controlling acidic secretions in the stomach and glucoverticoides, secreted by the adrenal gland, is detected in the brain too. Scientific studies suggest the possibilities that these hormones might also be reacting as neuro-spinal transmitters whose excess in the brain may cause different psychosomatic disorders.
The psychosomatic diseases which manifest as peptic ulcer, cardiac arrest, mental instability, irritation, Bowels syndrome, ulcerative colitis, etc, are believed to be caused by the imbalance in the concentrations of above hormones. It should be noted that the occurrences of these types of diseases are increasing at a rapid rate and at present almost three-fourths of the world population especially in the developed and developing countries – is suffering from such abnormalities.
Little perturbation in the normal secretion pattern of the hormones such as the dopamine, gawa, serotonine etc, causes deformation in very sensitive centers of the brain and the nervous system and gives rise to amnesia, mental instability, Parkinsons disease, etc.
A healthy, well-educated, multi-talented scholar might also lose his memory and intelligence during the transition period of aging when such hormonal disorders are more likely to occur. Those who remain cheerful and keep themselves active in creative tasks and thus naturally restrain the secretion and negative effects of the MAOs and inhibitors, do not risk such hormonal problems in old age.
Neurochemists have found that the hormones secreted by the pineal and pituitary glands not only control the sex related activities, but, more importantly, they also affect and regulate ones decision making capabilities, thinking and sense of time and space etc. Thus, the hormonal secretions associated with puberty serve multiple purposes. Scientific studies have shown that the level of androgen sex hormone in males that is responsible for manhood and body-characteristics including the shape of testicle etc and the ability of time and space recognition and grasping power of men are interrelated. Lesser the level of androgen more would be the possibility of impotency and mental dullness. Similar interrelationships between mental sharpness, sex related functions of the body and mind, and specific hormonal secretions are found to exist in the females too.
The complexity of neurohormonal chemistry is so high that only a small fraction of the related reactions and functions has so far been analyzed in the laboratories. Collaborative research in psychology, endocrinology and neurology has become essential for identifying some of the latent activity and sensory centers in the human brain. The collective efforts of researchers at the Michael Ridge Hospital, Chicago, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Stanford Research Center are progressing well in this direction. Let us hope that deeper investigations in this regard would one day provide the knowledge of the subtle centers like sahastrara, brahmrandhras, anandmayakosha, agya chakra, etc, described in the ancient science of yoga, in a manner comprehensible to the modern scientists.
Findings of the above kinds of research would explain, in new scientific light, the mechanisms of rousing or suppressing the development of personality and transforming human behavior with the help of activation or inhibition of these subtle centers of consciousness in human brain.
Elucidation of psychosomatic disorders and knowledge of controlling related mental complexities would be the other benefits of these developments.
The now available knowledge of the sensitivity and multiplicity of neurochemical reactions gives us a glimpse of how the disciplined experiments of different sadhanas could awaken the internal powers of the brain. Practicing of many spiritual sadhanas is easy, harmless and inexpensive. Everybody can benefit from them in a natural way. Adopting them in day-to-day life can bestow manifold benefits on human society. The sincere practices of specific sadhana can transmute an ailing human life into one of immense peace and creative bliss.
—- The Article has been taken with due permission from All World Gyatri Pariwar. One can refer to the original Article here.