Human body and mind- 9 wisdoms of Dr. Hubermann
- The mind cannot be in one place and the body in another place when our goal is to align our state with a certain action or state of mind. There has to be congruence.
If we really want to be efficient in getting the mind and body into a desired state, we have to follow what is called the contract. So the tools that science has revealed to us obey this contract of communication between body and mind.
- Humans and our nervous system are well equipped to cope with current events (pandemic, protests, etc.). What we should really be concerned about is chronic stress. During sleep, and sometimes during the day, we all do what is called a “real sigh”, inhaling and then inhaling again before exhaling for a long time. We do this subconsciously, and the reason this type of breathing happens is because of the neurons in our neck that evaluate the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream and our lungs. When this is balanced, the neurons force us to sigh. We don’t really have to wait for this unconscious reset to happen, however, as it usually occurs well into the stress cycle. So I recommend that people who want to calm down quickly and in the moment should keep breathing in through their nose and then slowly exhaling through their mouth.
And just repeating this once or twice, or sometimes three times, will quickly put someone into a more relaxed state. It’s important to note that it will always take about 40 seconds for your heart rate to drop. The neural circuits that control the heart work are a little slower than those that control the lungs. So we shouldn’t expect our heart rate to drop immediately when we perform the described breathing pattern.
For people who have difficulty breathing through their nose due to congested sinuses, it’s okay to make the “real sigh” through their mouth.
- How we deal with stress is important as people with chronic stress may wonder if they are doing things that will lower our stress levels in the moment or things that raise the bar for what our minds and bodies consider stressful things.
Personally, as soon as I wake up in the morning, I do a yoga nidra exercise,which it is a deep relaxation session that involves intention,where I focus my mind and I swear that my state of mind and positive attitude are changing. There is a lot of data to support Yoga Nidra as a practice for restoring neurochemicals in the brain. So I highly recommend it. It’s free, fast, and falling asleep first thing in the morning or at night when we’re having trouble falling asleep is a great exercise.
4.1 Superoxidation occurs when you take a short deep breath and then briefly exhale and then repeat the deep breath and briefly exhale about 25 times. By the twenty-fifth time we will tingle, and frankly, a lot of people are not going to feel good by that time. We will feel that this is challenging us. But then we can breathe out for a long time and just sit there for 15 to 30 seconds until we feel the impulse to breathe.
4.2 As an alternative, you can also take one breath, ideally through your nose, and then breathe out through your mouth for a long time. So we talk about one inhalation, followed by a small inhalation, even if you just have to inhale a little bit more air and then exhale for a long time. In addition to balancing the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen and the blood circulation in the lungs, a circulation is activated that originates from this very special organ, the diaphragm, which we may have heard of.
- The question of a unified theory that explains the influence of breath on the mind is crucial. This can only be understood if one considers the proportions of carbon dioxide and oxygen, the levels of neurochemicals, etc. However, all people are interested in getting the tools to achieve the mental states they want!
Parts of the brain are constantly communicating with each other through neural connections. Chemicals known as neuromodulators, such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, roughly group several areas of the brain into segments. We are talking about 4-6 areas, like the circuit to focus and the one that leads a person to relax, etc.
Much emphasis has been placed on each area of the brain, but the reality is that different areas work together to create a certain effect. The neuromodulators are the connections that bring these different parts together like strings on a piano.
- The eyes are basically the most powerful driver of what we think, what we feel, and what we can ultimately do because they determine the basic level of alertness or sleepiness. Not only are they doing this at a lower subconscious level, there are ways that the eyes adjust these things on very rapid timescales. It affects our health. We finally realized that seeing has such a profound effect on how we feel at a fundamental level, and that it has such a tremendous ability to alter our feelings and our cognitive and behavioral performance that we had to realize how seeing drives stress, how vision drives communication, how vision drives the ability to move through complex or high-stress environments.
- If you are approaching some form of threat and it is not a physical threat, it may be public speaking, for example, but your forward movement itself reveals something really interesting to us, namely the highest fear, the highest arousal response. When an animal or human takes this first step forward, we call it the cycle of courage, which triggers the activation of the release of a neurochemical called dopamine, which, of course, many people are familiar with because of its role in reward.
- If you are not sleeping well, look at the sunlight early in the day, just before you wake up, preferably in the morning. Ideally it should be sunlight, it could also go through a window, but ideally you are outside and you get two minutes to 10 minutes of sunlight. We don’t have to stare straight at the sun. And even if there is a cloud cover, a lot of photons get through. It doesn’t have to be sunny like in Southern California. It can be the depth of winter in England, believe it or not. And there is a lot of light energy coming through, far more than we would get from artificial light. The other thing is to get some sunlight in our eyes in the evening when the sun goes down as this will determine the appropriate time for the secretion of an important hormone, cortisol, which will alert us at the right time of day. We want the cortisol to drop again around 9:00 p.m.
- Dopamine is released on the way to achieving one’s goals because the dopamine system is most commonly stimulated by gambling, substance abuse and sexual behavior. Huberman speaks of the fact that dopamine works on very long time scales. This enables us to follow things with great uncertainty over a very long period of time. There is this phenomenon that is based on reward prediction error that has essentially to do with this fundamental discovery that proves that dopamine is released on the way to our goals. This makes perfect sense, as you need this dopamine release to replenish your own motivation. We need this to fill up our internal drive. We need to give our internal system a little boost to keep moving towards these goals. This goal can be very distant and based on many uncertainties, but dopamine is really what moves mammals from one place to another.