Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Phloem: How We May Elicit Loving Bliss

I'm curious how to elicit the neurophysiology of loving bliss naturally. I've written about aspects of ways to elicit this in five letters on my web site.

In brief, here's how I think it works. I'll start with a first person account, and then extrapolate, so that you might begin to explore this. I'm curious also to explore this through fundamental biological research.

Having explored and experimented with eliciting this neurophysiology naturally {through thinking}, I think bliss and loving bliss are 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences. I find ready access to this experience sometimes when I relax into the relaxation response first. I can relax into the relaxation response quite readily in the warm pool at Harbin Hot Springs, but also in many other situations, but perhaps not quite so fully in other places. When I do release, bliss can start to rise up in my bodymind, which I experience, in my language, neurophysiologically. (Here's my definition of bliss: ~ experiences that are deeply, gratefully, reciprocally appreciative and affectionate, both with a friend or friends, and alone, as well as profoundly and naturally high at the same time, and which are ongoing, biological, 'flow' experiences). This focus {flow experience} of releasing and then continuing to release/relax {my face, my eyes, my ear passage ways, activity in my mind, tensions in my body, softening in conjunction with deepening and easing my breathing as I focus on it for some minutes, etc.} is a key basis, but in some situations only. Whether or not bliss begins for me in any given situation, or releasing process, is variable. When bliss is starting to happen, I find it helpful to continue to focus on releasing and relaxing, as I welcome on these experiences/this chemistry of this bliss. When these experiences are intense, I would readily call the experience loving bliss. When bliss~loving bliss is happening in my bodymind, moving back and forth between the Harbin hot pool and cold plunge, while releasing, can deepen this experience. The beautiful natural surroundings at Harbin also facilitate these experiences.

I'm also able to access these experiences naturally, and predictably repeatedly, through contra-dancing and listening to some arias in Mozart's 'Magic flute.' Both can bring on intense neural cascades of pleasure (my language), in different ways. In a sense, these are both interventions and technologies that elicit bliss with some regularity.

Sometimes I can elicit bliss and loving bliss with just a memory. This process of remembering, by bringing my awareness to prior blissful experiences is integral to eliciting it now. Sometimes I can imagine bliss to experience it.

I'm interested both in what is occurring in my bodymind research-wise {for example, vis-a-vis Richard Davidson, Terrence Deacon, and Herbert Benson MD's approaches to related research}, as well as how to elicit these experiences with more regularity, and freedom, as if one were surfing a wave, or singing a line of music rapturously and floating on this, perhaps via wu wei (non-action), - by doing less. What is going on in the brain in these instances neurophysiologically?

Here are some initial ideas/hypotheses about how this might work neurophysiologically. In the brain, the nucleus acumbent would have experienced this pleasure / chemistry before and encourage this chemistry again and again. The amygdala would not play an inhibitory role here, or give rise to aversive experience. In one kind of loving bliss experience, MDMA-related chemicals (from the drug Ecstasy) and romantic love chemicals (heightened levels of four neurotrophins, - i.e. NGF, BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 (Emanuele et al., 2005)) would possibly cross a threshold of intensity and start flourishing in the brain. This might start in many ways. All of these experiences are 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences, when they involve concentration; the response from MDMA is a drug response, as reference experience. How might we examine this both rigorously, pragmatically, as well as if music that inspires us?

I'm curious how one might deepen these experiences and make them more varied, as well. Might one listen to certain pieces of music, or actually sing, in such a way as to elicit loving bliss more deeply and innovatively. How might you create a dance with these experiences in your own mind, to deepen these feelings / enhance this chemistry? Might we create a parallel to chamber music, bliss-brains (MDMA ~ Ecstasy ~ methylene_dioxy_meth_amphetamine) making music, and create/find a form which facilitates this fantastically? I think so, but I'm not sure how. Here are some exploratory guidelines for eliciting loving bliss as if we were practicing a musical instrument:

In writing these paragraphs above, I experienced some 'flow' experience, but not what I call bliss. I'm curious how to integrate the experience of bliss ~ say, a 'MDMA brain' ~ with many ways of engaging life, including writing. Metaphorically, I conceive of these experiences partly as forms of water transport in plants, ~ from the Harbin tree down into our bodyminds.

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