In my early 30s, as a faculty member at UCSF, I was eager to find happiness and stop the internal chatter of angst. I had a private practice on the side and rented space from an unusually happy therapist.
I asked him why he was so happy, as if he had brought heaven down to earth.
He said, "I did my work."
At that time, there was no EBT or its scientific basis, which unfolded between 1980 and 2010. I did not know that psychotherapeutic work had a scientific basis.
Now I understand what he was saying, that he had done the emotional work to rewire his brain, clearing it from the little bits of hell we find ourselves in when faulty circuits run the show.
In a time of great uncertainty, this is comforting, as it seems as if heaven on earth is accessible to all and has a scientific basis . . . .
What is hell on earth?
We've all been there, the overthinking, overreactions, torment, losses of loved ones, and ruminations of the past that haunt us. Yet, scientifically, it's a Reactive Circuit. They beat up the brain, dividing the thinking brain and emotional brain and activating surges of stress chemicals that spawn extremes, hate, numbness, accelerated aging, health problems, and death.
How do we feel heavenly in this lifetime?
Those sublime moments happen now and then, when the colors of the flowers look neon, or love swirls around us, or seems to land in our lap. However, in the world of neural circuits, they occur when Resilient Circuits are activating. Think of them as an internal love and compassion machine, as they hold the brain in a state of connection that activates surges of healing chemicals. Those blessed chemical surges bring us balance, love, and transcendence, as well as delaying aging, promoting optimal health and, perhaps, even giving us life everlasting.
The role of EBT is to give us all access to the emotional pathways that switch off Reactive Circuits and activate Resilient Circuits as a regular daily practice of self-care and spiritual renewal.
Switch from hell to heaven - you gotta be kidding!
The notion that Resilient Circuits bring heaven to earth is not that difficult to support. It's biochemical. The Resilient Circuits deliver optimal physiology and are the neural foundation for health. See the renowned scientist Peter Sterling's What is health? For the science behind that premise.
The idea that these wires enable us to live beyond our bodily experience has some scientific basis, too. All we have to work with is chemicals and electricity, and emotions transmit electricity that enters the brains of others.
Circuits control our reality
Apart from the heaven described in religions, scientifically, it is through the emotions that we radiate our inner life. A loving act lives on in the circuits of those we have loved; that moment in time encodes circuits that are reactivated and then spread their healing chemicals. Our circuits continue to live within them and, when activated, transmit to others.
So, long after we are gone, we are still alive in others. The work of one of the most influential psychiatrists of our time, George Vaillant, MD, in his book, Spiritual Evolution, shows us this science. Through the pathways of elevated emotions like love, compassion, gratitude, hope, forgiveness, awe, and joy, the best of who we are is transmitted to the emotional brains and neural reality of others.
A little slice of heaven, anytime and anywhere
Yet apart from living on in others, my angst vanishes each time I spiral up to Brain State 1, and I often laugh. It's an amused and grateful laugh, an amalgam of hope, love, awe, and joy.
That's enough heaven for me, and I know it is just one spiral up away, which is comforting. The ultimate goodness of life? We each have the power to use our emotional brain to create a little slice of heaven on earth, anytime and anywhere.