Our brain can give us extraordinary experiences, feelings of deja vu, premonitions or epiphanies. These experiences can move us and make us want to believe in mystical explanations, but above all they are fascinating windows into the activity of our brain circuits.
Our state of consciousness is generally stable, but it is susceptible to disturbance by alcohol, drugs or other phenomena. In these situations, our perception of time or our surroundings may change and feel weird. We know that our brain is playing tricks on us and in order not to panic, we try to reason with ourselves or we go to bed. However, many people have stronger experiences that can move them, shake them or make them mystical.
feel a presence
After bereavement or post-traumatic stress, some people feel a presence close to them. This “ghost” does not necessarily have a clear form, but it is felt convincingly.
The sense of presence can be generated by our brain circuits of attachment which react to stress or the loss of a loved one by creating a hallucination, an abnormal activity in our circuits of perception. These circuits are sometimes subject to small storms of artificial activity. For example, anxious people sometimes see threatening shapes where there are only moving curtains. People who have lost their sight sometimes believe they see very realistic looking scenes in front of them. Similar experiences can also be had during states that temporarily transform brain activity such as meditation or yoga.
Many hallucinations concern our body and the space around it. Some perceive their own face or that of a loved one as strange (depersonalization). Others feel their body split, float, change size or blend into the space around them. These hallucinations are also the result of disturbances in the circuits of our body schema. These circuits integrate the position and size of the different portions of our body live and unconsciously.
Bodily hallucinations occur when the electrical activity of these circuits is disturbed by migraine attacks, epileptic seizures or by artificial stimulation of certain regions of the brain.
Deja vu and premonitions
Several hallucinations can affect our perception of time and temporal connections between events. Some people have the impression of having lived for hours in the last minute (eg, seeing their life pass by during intense fear). Others have feelings of déjà vu or premonitory thoughts. Some momentarily feel like they know what other people are thinking. These experiences are very realistic and can make us believe that unsuspected powers or forces are hidden within us.
Exceptional or paranormal experiences can sometimes transport us and even change our perspective on life, especially when they are accompanied by strong emotions, or even mystical or religious ecstasies. Sometimes these experiences are linked to traumatic events and psychological suffering.
Furthermore, drugs that affect the activity of serotonin and endorphins in the brain can provide a feeling of bliss and a feeling of communion with the universe.
Eventually, some epileptic seizures begin with a feeling of euphoric ecstasy. These seizures are due to abnormal brain activity in emotional circuits of the brain, especially the insula located deep near the temples.
Our understanding of the mechanisms of the brain makes it possible to explain more and more changes in our states of consciousness without resorting to supernatural explanations. However, these explanations do not reduce the emotional impact of these experiences, nor the value of exploring the hidden dimensions of our consciousness.
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When our brain becomes mystical
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