In his breakthrough book, Spiritual Evolution, George Vaillant wrote about a scientific basis for faith. He mapped out why he believes that our world is destined to evolve to be more loving and compassionate.
With the stress of the pandemic, election, and climate change, his words ring more true to me than ever. After all, the brain's center for moral reasoning is connected to the prefrontal cortex. If we clear out stress, in response to a mere thought of the greater good or higher purpose, as the brain is in neural integration (Brain State 1), the message is shuttled to the reward center in our emotional brain and we feel ripples of relaxation and pleasure course through our bodies.
As we move into October, with more external stressors flowing into our brains, that's comforting.
Even more exciting is the way emotional neuroplasticity helps us become more loving. The stress may awaken us. Only in the most disconnected state (Brain State 5) do the synaptic connections between the neurons of our stress circuitry become fluid. As we go through the dark tunnel of stress overload and the seeming demise of all we have known, we can change. Stress overload is perfect for personal breakthroughs and transformations. If we can stay present to the wisdom of our bodies and bring to mind love and purpose, who knows what good things could happen?
After the Brain State 5 – a veritable spiritual cleanse – could come the 1! I'm going to watch for that all around me and inside me. Perhaps that's a good way to move forward and close out this most unusual of years.