When I began this blog it centered on my Camino Walk, after several posts I did a reflection post, reflecting on some of the high points of my journey.
There was a spiritual aspect to that walk for me. It was a journey taken by myself and a journey that, in many ways, reflected on my life.
All of the posts in this blog center around my experiences in life and what I have learned from them.
The idea was meant as an encouragement for anyone reading the blog to reflect on their own experiences, and the significances and lessons that can be learned about oneself.
Before I move on to other posts that I have in the works, I want to give you an idea of one of my companions that have been an encouragement or challenge on my life’s journey.
My mission was to understand my life and what could be expected from it. It has been a rewarding and enlightening experience to this point.
The journey is physical and spiritual, both intertwined, providing balance for me.
A great help to me in understanding some of my experiences and what was going on or what had went on, was from Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain That Changes Itself.”
I’m going to use quotes from chapter four “Acquiring Tastes and Loves.” When I quote something from that chapter it will be italicized.
This book has helped me articulate on some of my experiences.
There is nothing to learn, but when you know what is taking place there is less desire to rebel against it.
In many of my posts “Lateral Thinking,” “Neurotransmitter,” Neuromodulator” have been talked about. I will expand on what those terms mean in more detail. For me there was a transition taking place and sometimes caused me concern.
Now, it is like peering through a dark glass, there is an idea of what is taking place and it is getting brighter each day.
I never really know what is taking place until after the fact, that was hard to comprehend initially.
Acquired tastes are learned versus tastes which are inborn. (Many tastes we think “natural” are acquired through learning and become second nature to us.)
We are unable to distinguish our “second nature” from our “original nature” because our neuroplasticity brains, once rewired develops a new nature, every bit as biological as our original.
The “second nature” is the primary nature we operate under, it is learned through our five senses. It is totally physical and is given to us by our neurotransmitter. We see it is a perception of who we are, because it has been given to us by everyone and everything we have come in contact with since we were born.
The “original nature” is who we really are, it is the nature we were born with. Almost from the moment we were born the transition from the original nature to the second nature begins to take place. The original nature is known through our neuromodulator. This comes from within a person and is much more powerful than the neurotransmitter.
Dopamine is called the reward transmitter. (It gives a surge of energy, exciting pleasure and confidence.)
The pleasure system that has to do with satisfaction.
(Its neurochemistry is based on the release of endorphins, which are related to opiates and give a peaceful, euphoric bliss.)(It is a use it or lose it brain, causing us to want it continuously activated.
We don’t really lose it, just as our muscles don’t go away. It’s dormant and at the right moment can come to the surface. It can affect our whole life, because it is buried deep in the psychic. (Example, an alcoholic who has been dry for several years, takes a drink and is back where they started.)
Falling in love in adolescence or later provides an opportunity for a second round of massive plastic change.
The transformation of taste can happen because we do not fall in love with looks alone. Falling in love triggers an emotional state so pleasurable, it plastically rewires our aesthetic sense.
These pleasure centers were found to be part of the brain’s reward system, the mesolimbic dopamine system.
When the pleasure centers are turned on, everything experienced gives us pleasure.
In some of my previous posts they refer to my connection with two separate women and fifty years apart, what the effect was. Not unlike what I quoted from “The brain that changes itself.”
Globalization is intense when falling in love and is, perhaps, one of the main reasons that romantic love is such a powerful catalyst of plastic change.
Because the pleasure centers are firing so freely, the enamored person falls in love not only with the beloved but with the world and romanticizes his view of it.
Globalization not only allows us to take more pleasure in the world, it also makes it harder for us to experience pain and displeasure or aversion.
Things that normally bother us, don’t. We love being in love not only because it makes it easy for us to be happy but also because it makes it harder for us to be unhappy.
When thinking about this, my thought was, is it possible for an outside force or another person to create such a change within me? If it is, I had to ask myself, who am I and why?
The brain waves for the romantic love and a person high on cocaine were the same. Yet, one was chemically induced the other appeared natural.
In the literal chemistry of love the stages of romance reflect the changes in our brain during not only the ecstasies but also love’s throes. It reduces shyness and depression, makes one euphoric, enhances his energy, self-esteem, enthusiasm and has an aphrodisiac effect. It is described as akin to “romantic intoxication.
“This gives a big plus to falling in love, but there is also a negative side, or is there?
The pains of love also have a chemistry. When separated for too long, lover’s crash and experience withdrawal, crave their beloved, get anxious, doubt themselves, loose their energy and feel run down, if not depressed.
This seems like a very precarious situation to fall in love, it is put into the same category as high on cocaine. A cocaine high is chemically induced. Romantic love, or falling in love with someone, is dopamine induced when placed on that plane, it is shallow and most of all, because it involves the neurotransmitter, is relevant. The relevancy in this case makes it possible for a lot of pain and heartache.
Dopamine likes novelty.
If novelty can be introduced on a continuous basis, the relationship has a chance to succeed, but it’s going to require a lot of work. Long term relationships don’t always survive on novelty. It is difficult to trust a person who relies on Dopamine to keep a relationship alive.
Love creates a generous state of mind, because LOVE ALLOWS A PERSON TO EXPERIENCE PLEASURABLE SITUATIONS THAT WE OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT.
IT ALSO ALLOWS US TO UNLEARN NEGATIVE SITUATIONS.
A person’s neural network becomes efficient and self-sustaining and, like a habit hard to unlearn.
The neural network is the result of the neurotransmitter and is dopamine induced, it is impossible to unlearn it. The neurotransmitter can only send signals, it is unable to receive anything from the brain, hence the reason it can’t change.
Different chemistries are involved in learning than in unlearning. When we learn something new, neurons fire together and wire together, and a chemical process occurs at the neuronal level called “long term potentiation” or LTP which strengthens the connections between the neurons.
When the brain unlearns associations and disconnects neurons, another chemical process occurs, called “long-term depression,” or LTD (which has nothing to do with a depressed mood state.)
Unlearning and weakening connections between neurons is just as important, as learning and strengthening them.
It is important to note the next excerpt from the book “The Brian That Changes Itself.”
UNLEARNING IS ESSENTIAL WHEN WE ARE MOVING FROM ONE DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE TO THE NEXT.
Falling in love means entering a new developmental stage and demands a massive amount of unlearning.
Without LTD, a person brings a significant amount of baggage to the relationship, and in most cases doesn’t recognize it because LTP is so powerful.
When people commit to each other, they most radically alter their existing and often selfish intentions and modify all other attachments, in order to integrate the new person in their lives.
Life now involves ongoing cooperation that requires a plastic reorganization of the brain centers that deal with emotion, sexuality, and the self.
Millions of neural networks have to be obliterated and replaced with new ones. (This is one reason that falling in love feels, for so many people, like a loss of identity.)
Falling in love may also mean falling out of love with a past love; this too requires unlearning at a neural level.
Unless LTD takes over, those changes never take place, the person deceives themselves into thinking things have changed, in actual fact they haven’t, only circumstance have changed.
If a man or woman’s heart is broken by his or her first love when an engagement or marriage breaks off, he or she looks at another but each pales in comparison to the one that was believed to be the one true love and whose image haunts the person. Or a widow who refuses to date cannot imagine she will ever fall in love again.
In neuroplasticity terms, if the romantic is to begin a new relationship without baggage, they must first rewire billions of connections in their brain.
That involves LTD and as we have seen LTP, for the most part has the upper hand, because the neurotransmitter can’t receive signals from the brain. So, deception becomes the name of the game, not as much deception of another person, but deception of oneself.
This is where lateral thinking is required. In this instance going to the spiritual as the unknown.
The spiritual is an energy force, it doesn’t fall in the category of the relevant (or of our five senses) but it can be experienced. It is our experiences that carry the most weight.
It may not be relevant to anything, but no one can take it away from us.
The physical (neurotransmitter) cannot access the spiritual, that is why many people say they don’t believe in the spiritual, because it represents an unknown factor.
Yet, most everyone at one time or another experience the spiritual, but attempt to rationalize or explain away the experience or in many instances never consider it or what the meaning is.
Walter J. Freeman, professor of neuroscience at Berkeley, was the first to argue that THERE IS A CONNECTION BETWEEN LOVE AND MASSIVE UNLEARNING.
He has assembled a number of compelling biological facts that point toward the conclusion that massive neuronal reorganization occurs at two life stages: (1) When we fall in love. (2) When we begin parenting.
Freeman argues that massive plastic brain reorganization-far more massive than in normal learning or unlearning, becomes possible because of a brain NEUROMODULATOR.
My first job was a radio announcer, the transmitter and modulator and what each meant, was very much a part of my everyday work. This was certainly a help to me in understanding the effect of both in respect to my brain.
Neuromodulators are different from neurotransmitters.
While neurotransmitters are released in the synapses to excite or inhibit neurons. Neuromodulators enhance or diminish the overall effectiveness of the synaptic connections and bring about enduring change.
Freeman believes that when we commit in love, the brain neuromodulator oxytocin is released, allowing existing neuronal connections to melt away, so that changes on a large scale can follow.
The neurotransmitter is dopamine induced and is subject to circumstances that excite or make a person feel good. The neuromodulator is oxytocin induced and allows a person to unlearn and let the past go.
The neurotransmitter because of its inability to receive signals from the brain, can’t unlearn, so it buries the past. It looks or seems ok but it constantly rears its head, especially when it is not needed.
Oxytocin is sometimes called the commitment neuromodulator because it reinforces bonding.
Dopamine induces excitement, puts us into high gear and triggers sexual arousal. Oxytocin induces a calm, warm mood that increases tender feelings and attachment and may lead us to lower our guard.
If a person did not give away control of the neuromodulator, life would be so much different. The way society works, the neurotransmitter is given pre-eminence, thus destroying the positive effects that emanate from the neuromodulator.
Oxytocin also triggers trust, it makes us commit to our partners and devotes us to our children. It works in a unique way, related to unlearning.
Unlearning and weakening connections between neurons is just as plastic a process and just as important, as learning and strengthening them.
IF WE ONLY STRENGTHENED CONNECTIONS, OUR NEURONAL NETWORKS WOULD GET SATURATED.
Evidence suggest that unlearning existing memories is necessary to make room for new memories in our networks.
Oxytocin’s “ability” to wipe out learned behavior has led some scientists to call it an amnestic hormone.
Freeman proposes that oxytocin melts down existing neuronal connections that underlie existing attachments, so new attachments can me formed. Oxytocin, in this theory, does not teach parents to parent. Nor does it make lovers co-operative and kind; rather it makes it possible for them to learn new patterns.
If we think about this statement, it is not learning sending us in a new direction, it is a new direction that augments learning. An amazing way to learn from oneself according to the need, respecting ones individuality. Not learning from someone else and trying to adapt it to ourselves.
Freeman’s theory helps to explain how love and plasticity affect each other. Plasticity allows us to develop brains so unique-in respect to our individual life experiences-that it is often hard to see the world as others do, to want what they want, or to co-operate.
Unlearning in love allows us to change our image of ourselves-(FOR THE BETTER.)
GETTING OFF THE MERRY-GO-ROUND.
Hold that thought “unlearning in love allows us to change our image of ourselves (for the better.)
In the beginning of this post the second nature and the original nature was mentioned.
Almost the moment after I was born, my parents put me on the NEUROTRANSMITTER Merry-go-Round. I had no say in that, but it did shape what my life was going to be.
My first opportunity to get off that Merry-go-Round came when I was fifteen. This was mentioned in one of my previous posts. The NEUROMODULATOR would have taken me off.
The Merry-go-Round has stopped for me to get off a number of times during my life, but it wasn’t until approximately ten years ago that I got off.
In this post we have talked about falling in love and how it can be such a wonderful thing, yet at the same time it can be a curse.
When we fall in love the neuromodulator kicks in. If we recognize the one we are falling in love with is actually OURSELVES, we get to enjoy all the positive effects of the neuromodulator. Old things will go and it will be replaced with new. The unlearning can take effect so the new can become effective.
When we were put on the Merry-Go-Round our second nature began to grow and it became so much a part of us, we did not know the difference.
The one we fall in love with is our ORIGINAL NATURE. That is who we really are.
When someone says, “you have to love yourself, before you can truly love someone else,” is a fact. We are excellent at deceiving ourselves because our neurotransmitter is only giving us something from other people. We are cloned.
The neuromodulator introduces us to ourselves, that is why the euphoria. Not only does it introduce us to ourselves it gives us the ability to unlearn everything and see life with a different set of eyes.
If we apply that euphoria to another person or thing, the neuromodulator is disconnected and the neurotransmitter is again in control.
It takes time for this transaction to be complete. For me the past ten years have been an eye opener. The euphoria when you find TRUE LOVE does not last. It is a picture of what it is like when you complete the journey.
When I got off the Merry-Go-Round, it did not seem as if I was off. The problem, I had been on the Merry-Go-Round so long, my head was still spinning. It took time for my head to stop spinning before starting out on this new way.
It signifies the start of a new direction, it takes time to get rid of the old (the second nature) and bring in the new (the original nature.) With the neuromodulator in control, it has the ability to balance out between the physical and the spiritual.
The physical does not change, the way you see ourselves and those around us changes.
The “Unlearning in love allows us to change the image of ourselves for the better.”
We began to love ourselves for who we are and not for who other people say we are.
Though my parents put me on the Merry-Go-Round, I could not blame them. I was given a choice and blame was not part of it.
That was essential in getting off the Merry-Go-Round, I could take nothing with me, none of my old ways.
Now you know why my blog says “I don’t have the answer” but you do. Because you do.
Have a great day, stay safe, stay positive.
Questions or thoughts appreciated.