Science behind impressions
Impressions are effects that occur within our mind. Scientifically it has been difficult to track where they come from. When I refer to impressions, I’m not talking about when one feels impressed by someone during an initial meeting or introduction. I’m referring to the feelings that come to us, seemingly out of nowhere, that prompt us to do something good for others or for ourselves. Impressions also work to keep us from making bad choices, even when we’re currently unaware of the negative consequences; impressions also can invite us to choose something better from something good. Our conscious thoughts are not engaged in brain activity when we feel impressions. Additionally, impressions are manifested very differently to the emotions the amygdala produces when chronic stress is present. Strong emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety or resentment are all polar opposites of what occurs when we feel impressions. Instead, impressions are subtle, delicate promptings that come in the form of a peaceful invitation to act or do something. What is the purpose of these invitations and why does the brain provide them?
Something important to emphasize here is that whenever good actions or behaviors take place at the conscious level there is always some sort of benefit tied to it. In other words we know that if we do something good, we’ll receive some sort of reward. That reward may come in the form of a monetary benefit, accreditation or even something as simple as a pat on the back. Although impressions often come in the form of an invitation to participate in some sort of praiseworthy behavior, there is usually very minimal, if any praise that comes when we follow through with impressions. There is no trophy won, no diploma earned, no salary raised and no applause. There is usually no tangle benefit tied to following through on impressions. Yet they exist, and each of us has felt them at one point or another. Each of us has also experienced what it feels like when we follow through on them; and we’ve also experienced when we’ve ignored them.
One thing we know to be clear regarding these messages is that they are some sort of communication to the limbic section of the brain. Impressions do not come in the form of commands or logical reasoning, and has been mentioned before the amygdala is not involved in the process. As I did a search regarding how others define impressions I found an interesting definition which described impressions as effects produced by intellect, feelings and conscience. Trying to understand however, the neural codes that create impressions is difficult when we have feelings that are not related to anger, resentment, anxiety or fear. All other kinds of electrical patterns in the brain can be understood, along with their nerve connectivity and anatomical links. For some reason however, science has been unable to track the electrical activity of impressions. Since logic is not involved, no internal conversations take place to weight out intellect and reason. The question that arises in the minds of scientists is whether the impressions we feel are a default mechanism used to repair damage caused by chronic stress? If so, does taking action on impressions we feel provide health benefits?
In order to understand more about this intriguing part of brain activity, I decided to study a number of people to research this mechanism of the brain from a clinical perspective. The purpose of this study was to have a deepened understanding regarding when impressions arrive, the conditions present before their arrival, what happens when we respond and follow our impressions and what neural activity takes place when we decide not to follow them. I wanted to share a couple of case studies and experiences that I found in my research. The names of those involved have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
The Shipping Package
Mary is someone that works with us here at Phytotherapi. She shared an experience with me that helps provide insight into how impressions work. One of Mary’s responsibilities includes overseeing the shipment of orders. She had just completed sending various packages to people through our shipping company. I’ve known Mary for a very long time and know how incredibly meticulous she is for ensuring that things are correct. She has a number of processes and things that she does to double and even triple check things. Given her level of organization I’m positive that she followed her typical processes for shipment. 5 minutes after having completed all the shipping she felt the impression to go back. While there was no proof or empirical evidence to suggest something was wrong, she decided to go back and double check one more time. After she reviewed the packages again she realized that she had indeed made a mistake – two of the orders had been accidentally switched. When I saw her later that day she told me about her experience and how glad she was that she followed her impression.
So how did this impression come about? How else was she able to understand and receive an impression regarding the error? What else, besides her conscious mind, was able to pick up that there was something wrong? We know the brain processes a tremendous amount of calculations at the unconscious level every time we participate in an activity. As she was preparing the order for shipment the unconscious part of Mary’s mind, hundreds of neurons caught the mistake and sent a signal through a pathway in Mary’s brain in such a way so that she could understand that something was wrong. While we yet don’t comprehend scientifically the exact pathway these signals and messages take in order to communicate them to us, it appears as though our brain understands the importance for us to act for ourselves and elects to communicate certain messages through this important route to help elevate its importance. Imagine what would have happened if Mary did not follow through on her impression. Inevitably this would have led to stress on her end as well as on the end of a couple of customers as well. By following her impression, not only did she serve herself, but also provided a great service to a couple of people that she likely will never meet or speak with.
Christina, Her Friend, and a Fallout
Christina is 39 years old and married with 3 children. Several years ago she had a quarrel with a dear friend over an insignificant difference. A misunderstanding had taken place and things didn’t end well between Christina and her friend. Things were said and Christina began to harbor an ill will towards her friend. They went without talking for several years. Years later Christina found out that her friend had passed away.
During this time, Christina recalled a multitude of memories. She recollected how vividly she began to feel impressions to call her friend so that they could end the wall of animosity that had been built. On other occasions she felt the impression to visit her. Other times she felt the simple inspiration to send an email. Christina even mentioned on one occasion she felt a strong, yet delicate impression to simply look at an old photograph of the two of them together.
Christina mentioned to me that despite all the impressions, she always found an excuse to keep her from following through with them. She said that she created ridiculous reasons to avoid taking action. Often this came in the form of reinforcing the negative feelings and thoughts she had towards her friend due to the fall out between them. She completely disregarded all of the good memories, experiences and service that they had rendered to each other previous to that. Instead, she magnified the experiences and, in her own words, turned her friend “into a monster in my mind.” In hindsight Christina can remember internal dialogue she had in her own mind to justify the negative feelings she had. On one occasion she remembers her friend actually contacted her, and although she admitted enjoying and feeling good about the conversation, she said upon ending the call she started to cling to false information to maintain the negative perception of her friend. This always kept her a phone call away from releasing herself of these feelings and embracing the happiness that comes from forgiveness and friendship.
As I think about Christina’s experience, I can’t help but think how she received impression after impression to act in ways that would patch up her friendship. At the end of the day, because she never reconciled the stress that occurred when they had their disagreement, she was never able to follow through on those impressions. The lack of reconciliation in reality had very little to do with her friend. It is something personal that we need to overcome in order to bring equilibrium to our thoughts and behavior. Regardless of our choices our brain keeps a system of checks and balances to monitor thoughts that are based on faulty premises and perceptions. When we harbor unreal thoughts it effects and damages both our mind and body. While we may not feel the effects immediately, there is no doubt our minds need to be fixed.
Even though our brain has the platform and ability to make these changes, we must choose to accept changing in order to enable this circuitry within the brain. We’ve all experienced this at some point or another – when our hearts are softened and emotional and mental wounds begin to heal. When we are in these situations, we see ourselves and others as they really are, and not by a faulty lens of contrived stories or justifications that we create to mask how we really feel. In Christina’s example inside her mind she knew who her friend really was – and it certainly wasn’t the monster of a character that she unfortunately made her out to be. The only way that we can make these changes is by choosing to do so. No outward struggle, trial or tragedy can do that for us. After the death of her friend Christina felt guilty, sad and angry towards herself. Because of the huge amounts of stress that this fall out and the subsequent death of her friend left her with, we recommended Christina use our Stress/Anxiety solution. Christina was able to pull out of this difficult trial and understand that this is a lesson that she can learn from moving forward and that she still has wonderful memories that she can reminisce on regarding her friend. Along the way she also was able to see patterns in her life that affected her ability to be a better spouse and mother. In the end, although it was rough, the entire experience provided her the opportunity to make important changes and work towards undoing some bad habits she had developed over the year.
We all receive impressions. Although I only provided two examples here, in hundreds of interviews I’ve noticed that all of us tend to receive these impressions in a similar way, namely:
Everybody receives them regardless of how “good” or “bad” we may be behaving
They serve as a coaching tool to help make us a better person
They are used as a resource for self correction
When we follow through on them, we are benefitted
They play a critical role on healing the mind and body
When we respond to impressions that lead us to provide acts of service or other good deeds I want to reiterate that there usually isn’t a tangible reward or trophy that accompanies it. It is meant to be a genuine action with no hidden agenda. If you feel an impression to ask for forgiveness or to forgive we shouldn’t expect the “trophy” of them doing the same.
Physiologically however, your brain will provide you rewards through releasing a healthy and well balanced dose of neurotransmitters and bio activities that your body will benefit from. This includes important parts of the body, such as the immune, digestive and hormone/endocrine systems, working efficiently.These benefits are manifested physically through our energy levels and the health/appearance of our skin, hair and eyes. Our mind’s ability to be creative is magnified. Additionally, humane attributes such as compassion, patience and intuition is enhanced, allowing you to be an influence for good in your family, work and within the communities you live in.
As a final thought, this connection between the mind and the body is a huge blessing. Living an unhealthy lifestyle will always bring stress. Continuously making unhealthy choices and harboring unhealthy perceptions of ourselves, others and the world around us will always eventually catch up with us and bring chronic disease. As we align ourselves with truth and healthy choices, life will be more enjoyable. God, who created our bodies, has engineered them in such a way to provide them the ability to heal so that we can enjoy life. Our bodies really are a marvelous work for which to be grateful for.
The creation of our brain is such that it is capable to receive instructions through impressions. As we listen to these instructions and act on them, our mind’s faculties increase, our understanding and views on topics become clear and we are able to embrace truth without fear of whether we are right or wrong. This makes it easier to act in a genuine way. Chronic stress cannot reside within us when we live our lives in this sort of way. We can enjoy our journey through this life while leaving joy to others and even assisting them, many times without realizing it, in their healing process – both physically and mentally. Follow the impressions that come your way and life will be much sweeter.