Many times, people speak of an experience of bliss, something beyond happiness. Even something that feels divine in nature, like there is a way to access a perfect power within. But, in the end, you’ve always had to take their word for it. Are they telling the truth or not?
Through the process I’ve talked about, using a lot of time, a change in my brain, which is scientifically observable was created. This change leads to activity which creates bliss itself — an state that feels utterly unlike anything else.
Below, you can see some of the scans of my brain when bliss is within and when not. (I worked hard to achieve permanence of bliss, so I have to chew not to experience bliss, not sure why, but that’s how it is!) This shows you that activity is taking place which is causing what I claim.
This is irrefutable proof beyond any doubt that it can be done.
My Scans – The background
I knew I was touched by something I had never felt before in my life. So I decided to visit Dr. Zoran Josipovic of NYU, to see if he could find what it was. He is someone who is renowned for his work on scanning Buddhist Monks to see if there is any scientific evidence of their state. He’s being widely reported for his pioneering work – for example by the BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12661646.
Now whilst Zoran doesn’t advocate my method in anyway, nor was he with me through my many hours of practice, he was able to scan me. He took scans of me when in bliss, and when not in bliss as a part of his ongoing studies of the effect of contemplative states on the brain. He also provided a detailed analysis.
I was astounded by the results. They showed there were significant differences in my brain when bliss was there, and when not.
We found big differences between my brain activity when I was in the bliss state, and when I wasn’t.
We did two types of scans, the first below is an fMRI scan which measures brain activity by looking at blood flow. In the fMRI part of the experiment we tested the effects of bliss on functional connectivity in a number of regions.
The second is an MEG scan. In the MEG part of the experiment we tested whether there was an effect of the bliss state on auditory processing by measuring Evoked Response Potentials (ERP) during presentation of pure (sinusoid) tones.
My scans and what they show
Images 1 and 2 – fMRI scan of my brain not in bliss and bliss
The image on the left is of my brain when I’m blocking bliss. The image on the right is my brain when experiencing bliss. The red areas are areas of positive connectivity, indicating higher activity, the blue levels of negative connectivity, indicating lower activity. Whilst I am in bliss, you can clearly see the increased level of activity (red) in some areas of the brain and decreased levels of activity (blue) in other areas.
Here is what Dr. Josipovic said.
“The image shows functional connectivity during bliss and during ‘rest/blocking’ Yellow/red areas indicate areas of positive functional connectivity while blue/green indicate areas of negative functional connectivity. Bliss condition resulted in the overall increase of functional connectivity within the default mode network, (also know as the intrinsic network, responsible for the sense of self and self-awareness) especially along its main axis – medial Prefrontal cortex (mPFC) – medial Parietal / Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC).
The results for bliss condition could be interpreted as indicating increased access to subjective pole of one’s experience, and enhanced self-awareness. Impairments in the connectivity between mPFC and PCC have been seen in a variety of disorders, such as ADD. The bliss state may contribute to positive changes in the plasticity of default network, and may have beneficial effects on one’s attention and self-awareness.”
In the bliss state I certainly feel not only far more relaxed and happy, but more focused and able to take in the world around me.
Images 3 and 4 – fMRI scans – Bliss in right Inferior Frontal Gyrus and left ventral striatum/Nucleus Accumbens area.
Here we can see two images that I believe go a long way so showing why I experience permanent bliss
This is what Dr. Josipovic says.
“In the fMRI part of the experiment we tested the effects of bliss on functional connectivity in a number of regions in the cortex belonging to both default/intrinsic and extrinsic networks. The scans showed increased functional connectivity within the main nodes of default mode network (mPFC – Precuneus), which can be contrasted with disorganisations in the area with people diagnosed with ADD and Alzheimer’s. Overall, we found some differences in all regions of interest. Most significantly, increases in functional connectivity were observed in the right Inferior Frontal Gyrus (Fig 3 ), which is involved in response inhibition; and in left ventral striatum/Nucleus Accumbens area (Fig 4), which is involved in the experiences of reward and pleasure.”
Increases in functional connectivity were observed in the left ventral striatum/Nucleus Accumbens area which is involved in the experiences of reward and pleasure.
The right Inferior Frontal Gyrus area is recruited when cues are detected, whether it results in the inhibition or generation of a motor response or no external response at all. (1) The second image shows increased activity in the left ventral striatum/Nucleus Accumbens which is sometimes referred to the pleasure centre of the brain. It receives dopamine projections from ventral tegmentum and has a big part to play in rewards and addiction. (2) Alcohol also stimulates dopamine and serotonin in this part of the brain, (3) and people that learn to produce greater levels of alpha brainwaves of their own fruition have shown greater ability to recover from alcoholism than control groups, plus greater levels of qualities such as warmth, stability, conscientiousness, boldness, imaginativeness, and self-control, plus decreases in depression and anxiety. (4)
So if we take the increased functioning of the right Inferior Frontal Gyrus and the left ventral striatum/Nucleus Accumbens at the same time, this maybe the reason I experienced uninhibited bliss, for no external reason at all.
Image 5 – MEG scan showing increase in Alpha Brainwaves in parietal area during Bliss.
Here we have my brain scanned in bliss the row marked as “meditation” – and at no bliss the row marked as “rest”.
You can see the different brainwave frequency ranges. Delta to Gamma.
You can see a difference in Alpha brainwaves between the two states evidenced by the red.
When in bliss, my Alpha brainwaves are significantly higher then when in a state of non-bliss.
This is what Dr Josipovic had to say.
“MEG showed increase of amplitude of alpha frequency over the medial parietal area. The image shows response power for meditation (bliss) and rest (chew) in different frequency bands. Row 3 shows power differences between two conditions for those frequency bands. There was more power for bliss in alpha and beta frequencies over medial parietal region; less power for bliss in gamma over frontal and temporal regions. We could interpret these results, however speculatively, as a decrease of conceptual processing and an increase of relaxation and background awareness during bliss.”
Whilst it’s important to highlight that Dr Josipovic did not measure me for neurochemical release (this is involves taking blood and is outside his area of expertise), I attribute my blissful state to the Alpha brainwaves. There is increasing scientific evidence to show that an increase in Alpha brainwave activity correlates with an increase in release of dopamine and serotonin. (5)(6) This I think may explain why I experience what I call bliss.
Image 6 – MEG scan showing suggestion of decreased mental noise in Bliss.
“This shows waveforms and topographies of responses to the 1 kHz pure tones during meditation (bliss) and rest (non bliss) Auditory responses of M100ms/200ms are observed in the waveform responses in both meditation/bliss (green line) and rest/non bliss (blue line) conditions. Topographies of magnetic field of the brain at M100 and M200 components are presented in the same color-coded box around the peak latency for each condition.
At M100 we observed larger magnitude and shorter latency (faster processing) during bliss (compared to control condition).
At M200 we observed lesser magnitude for bliss, but also a shorted latency (faster processing).
These indicate that bliss could allow for more sensory registering in the early phase of auditory processing (one becomes more sensitive to stimuli), accompanied by less perceptual formation (there is less of needing to ‘recognize’ what one is experiencing) in the later stage of sensory processing. This may also be indicative of a decrease in the overall noise levels in the brain during bliss as compared to the control condition.”
I can certainly say that during bliss, my mind really quietens down, allowing me to take more of the world in, and I just naturally feel more calm and relaxed.
The state is more important than what we call it.
As I’ve said, this state goes under many names – flow, illumination, enlightenment, God, nirvana, the absolute, source energy, life force, bliss, being, consciousness, awareness, emptiness, the self, non duality and oneness.
I’m not here to tell you what it is, or where it came from; that’s really a matter of interpretation and something we’ll likely never all agree on. Yet no matter how you interpret it, the state remains, and is real. What I am here to do is simply show you that it’s real and, if you desire, help take you to it. Call it what you like; it’s irrelevant.
Ultimately, no matter what name you give it, no matter what you call it, it only comes down to one thing – you can either experience it or not (Even those well practiced will at times experience it and at other times not).
When you do experience it, you shall then absolutely know it’s real for yourself.
Find it for yourself
So you’ve read some of the science behind bliss, and there’s an infinite amount out there if you have the time. My advice is however to press on with your own journey of experience! Just like being alive doesn’t require you to know every process at work to live, or laughing doesn’t need you to know how it works in order to be fun, so to with bliss!
Experiencing bliss is very much like being in love but far more powerful.
Like love, bliss exists, whether you feel it or not. Just because a person has never been in love doesn’t negate loves’ existence and so too we see it’s the same with bliss. Just like love, it’s hard to explain to another what experiencing bliss is like; you really have to experience it for yourself.
The ability to begin right now is within everyone. You just need a little switch of vantage point.
1) Neuroimage. 2010 Apr 15;50(3):1313-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.109. Epub 2010 Jan 4. The role of the right inferior frontal gyrus: inhibition and attentional control. Hampshire A, Chamberlain SR, Monti MM, Duncan J, Owen AM. Source Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK
(2) The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction [Paperback] Dirk HansonBookSurge Publishing; 1st edition (April 12, 2009) – http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/nucleus-accumbens.html
(3)Alcohol. 1992 Jan-Feb;9(1):17-22. Alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin in the nucleus accumbens. Yoshimoto K, McBride WJ, Lumeng L, Li TK. Source Department of Psychiatry, Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.
4) Peniston, E.G., and P.J. Kulkowski. “Alpha-Theta Brainwave Training and Beta-endorphin Levels in Alcoholics.” Alcoholism 13: 271–79. 1989.
(5) Dr. Margaret Patterson and biochemist Dr. Ifor Capel, at the Marie Curie Cancer Memorial Foundation Research Department, iSurrey, England, showed that different brainwave frequencies increase and enhance the production of a variety of neurotransmitters. The 10 Hz alpha brainwave boosts production and turnover rate of serotonin, which increases relaxation and eases pain. Capel, “…as far as we can tell, each brain centre generates impulses at a specific frequency based on the predominant neurotransmitter it secretes. In other words, the brain’s internal communication system—its language, if you like—is based on frequency… Presumably, when we send in waves of electrical energy at, say, 10 Hz, certain cells in the lower brain stem will respond because they normally fire within that frequency range.” McAuliffe, Kathleen. “Brain Tuner.”Omni, Jan 1983.
(6) Increase in prefrontal alpha during Zen meditation correlated with increase of serotonin and improved mood (Yu et al., 2012). (However, this can be contrasted from my increase which was in parietal alpha.)