Experiencing even a glimpse of an enlightenment state is at the holy grail of spirituality. Many who’ve tasted it struggle for words when attempting to describe what it was like. In this infographic, we clear the fog and share groundbreaking research behind the science of this mysterious state of mind. After reading, you’ll have the tools to one day experience it yourself. Let’s get started.
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The Fascinating Science of Spiritual Enlightenment
Experiencing even a glimpse of an enlightenment state is the holy grail of spirituality. Many who’ve tasted it struggle for words when attempting to describe what it was like. In this infographic, we clear the fog and share groundbreaking research behind the science of this mysterious state of mind. After reading, you’ll have the tools to one day experience it yourself. Let’s get started.
Different Names. Same Experience.
Samadhi – Buddhism and Hinduism describe this experience as the final stage of meditation where the mind becomes still, absorbed in the present moment.
Beatific Vision – Christianity describes this experience as the ultimate direct self-communication of God to the individual person.
Fanaa – Sufism describes this state of an individual ego passing away from worldly reality and a rebirth into a divine reality.
What does the brain experience in a state of spiritual enlightenment?
1. Intensity – A common report from those who’ve experienced a spiritually enlightened state is to say it was one of the most powerful events of their life. Light becomes the brightest they’ve seen. Music becomes the most beautiful they’ve heard. Love becomes the most intense they’ve felt. No matter the experience, they all agree on the profound sense of intensity of the event; too great to put into words.
2. Heightened Limbic System Activity – The amygdala and hippocampus help make up the brain’s limbic system; controlling emotions, survival instincts, and memory. This is the reason emotional times of our life become the most memorable, even decades after they occurred. During an enlightening experience, both the amygdala and hippocampus have dramatically heightened activity, explaining why such an intense, emotional experience later becomes one of the most defining and memorable events in their life.
3. Feelings of Unity – During a state of spiritual enlightenment, people often report a profound sense of unity with the universe, and with God. Why does this occur? The parietal lobe located in the back of the brain is associated with constructing a sense of self, separate from your surroundings. Research has found during an enlightening experience, this area of the brain begins to quiet down, leading to the dissolving of boundaries between the individual and their environment.
4. Permanence – Many say that an enlightening experience was the most influential event of their life; shaping their views on religion, life, death, and even reality itself. The thalamus (often viewed as the seat of one’s soul) is an area of the brain that takes in sensory input from its environment and sends the data to different areas of the brain. Oftentimes during a spiritually enlightening experience, the thalamus is drastically altered, which forever shapes one’s perception of reality.
5. Increase in Dopamine – Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain helping control a variety of functions like mood, emotional response, physical movement, and our reward centers. In a study following practitioners of Yoga Nidra meditation, when nearing an enlightening state, the level of dopamine release increased in their brains.
6. Sweat Gland Activity Decreases & Muscles Relax – Galvanic skin response (GSR) associated with sweat gland activity, and electromyography (EMG) associated with muscle contractions, are the body’s physical responses to mood and emotion. A recent study showed enlightened states of mind displayed a reduction in both GSR and EMG activity, further demonstrating that such an experience leads to a reduction in stress, and greater feelings of peace and joy.
7. Schuman Resonance – The Schuman Resonance is the electromagnetic frequency of the Earth, which is 7.83 Hz. When seasoned meditators were hooked up to EEG machines recording their brain activity, as they reached a spiritually enlightened state, their brainwaves were in the same range as the Schuman resonance. This helps to explain why during this state, people report to be in harmony with the universe.
8. Brain Synchronization – For nearly everyone, the brain behaves in a lateralized, unbalanced manner. Meaning one hemisphere of the brain tends to be more dominant than the other. Brain lateralization predisposes us to see and experience ourselves separate from our environment. Enlightened states of mind have produced synchronization between the two hemispheres of the brain, leading to a profound connection with one’s environment.
9. Transcendence of Time & Space – In a study to measure and characterize spiritual experiences, researchers at Harvard used factors within the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ), to describe such an event. One of the factors was the transcendence of time/space. After administering psilocybin (the active principle in magic mushrooms) to graduate divinity students at an Easter Sunday mass, almost all participants ranked the transcendence of time/space as a notable description of the event.
What are methods to induce spiritual enlightenment
- Brain Stimulation Devices
- Brainwave Entrainment
- Near-Death Experience
- Sweat Lodges
- Float Tanks
Who are the type of people that are having these types of experiences?
A common misconception is that spiritually enlightening experiences are solely reserved for monks, priests, shamans, or mystics from far away lands. In reality, these experiences are happening to everyday people. These include the religious, atheists, young, old, and everyone in between. These experiences aren’t just happening in monasteries and temples either, but all over the world in everyday places – maybe even next door to you. Maybe you’ve had an enlightening experience yourself, or will have some time in the future!
- Mega Brain – Book by Michael Hutchinson
- Thresholds of the Mind – Book by Bill Harris