Understanding appreciation’s power starts with the realization that all life is first and foremost energy—yourself included. Whether a chair, your dog, or your mood, it’s all energy in different forms: inanimate matter (the chair); a living being (your dog); and a mental state (your mood).
All of this energy manifests as vibration, and that vibration can be measured in terms of frequency—the number of vibrations per second. Some vibrations are imperceptible, like the earth’s rhythm (which is approximately 7.5 Hz, or 7.5 times per second, as described in Fabien Maman’s The Role of Music in the Twenty-First Century). Other vibrations are easier to perceive, such as musical tones, which vibrate at 16–20,000 Hz. As Charles Taylor notes in The Physics of Musical Sounds, not only can we hear these tones, but we often actually feel them in our bodies.
You yourself have a frequency of vibration. This book has a frequency of vibration, as does the thought floating in the back of your mind, and your boss’s nasty mood this morning. Everything, whether seemingly solid (living beings and inanimate objects) or immaterial (thoughts and feelings), has a frequency of vibration. The energy of appreciation is also expressed through its frequency of vibration.
Appreciation’s Powerful Frequency of Vibration
The impact of appreciation’s frequency of vibration is very powerful, as demonstrated by Dr. Masaru Emoto, who has researched the impact of thoughts, feelings, and music on the crystalline structure of water. In his book, Messages from Water, he and his team have photographed and examined, with a high-powered microscope, the crystalline formations of ice before and after exposure to different phenomena. For example, Dr. Emoto affixed the words “love and appreciation” to a test tube of water. The water was frozen and examined, then compared to water identical in all respects except that it had not been in the presence of the words. The results are startling, as shown in the photographs on page 19.
The first photograph (Figure 1) shows a randomly selected sample of crystals from distilled water. The crystalline shapes are relatively unformed, and have a nebulous or blurred quality.
The second photograph (Figure 2) shows an example from a random sampling of water crystals formed in the presence of the words “love and appreciation.” The crystalline formation is well-defined, precise, complex, and beautifully lacy.
Then Dr. Emoto affixed to another test tube of water the words “You make me sick. I will kill you.” As you can see from the third photograph (Figure 3), these words had a very different impact on the water’s crystalline structure. Dr. Emoto describes this crystal as “distorted, imploded and dispersed.” Its structure is chaotic, ill-defined, and has nothing in common with the pristine beauty of the “love and appreciation” crystal.
If the differing vibrational frequencies of words can have this enormous effect on the crystalline structure of water, imagine the impact on your life of a purposefully directed vibration of appreciation!
How could the presence of different words affect the very structure of water? If you consider that all things at their source are energy, and that all things can interact with each other at that level, such a phenomenon makes sense. (This interaction at the energetic level happens through the interplay of frequencies of vibration, as discussed by Valerie Hunt in Infinite Mind: The Science of Human Vibrations, and by Joel Sternheimer in his article “The Music of the Elementary Particles.”)
Dr. Candace Pert’s groundbreaking research in biochemistry demonstrates that emotions are vibratory in nature, and actually “connect the physical to the nonphysical.” In Molecules of Emotion, she notes that this connection happens even at the cellular level, where receptor molecules vibrate, “dancing and rhythmically awaiting” the chemical messages that emotions bring.
Nowhere is the transformative power of appreciation more evident than at the level of our most basic functions: the beating of our hearts and the workings of our brains. Here, the impact of appreciation is unmistakable.
When you feel negative emotions (such as anger), your heart’s rhythm is disordered, as shown in the graph on the next page from Doc Childre and Howard Martin’s research in The HeartMath Solution (Figure 4). Notice how jagged, unpredictable, and fluctuating the heart wave is.
A chaotic or disordered heart rhythm creates a chain reaction in your body: your blood vessels constrict and your blood pressure rises. Eventually you may suffer from hypertension, which greatly increases your chances of heart disease and stroke.
As shown in the second graph (Figure 5; also from The HeartMath Solution), when you are feeling appreciation, your heart rhythm is expressed on the graph as a steady, even, and balanced wave. It is harmonious.
Harmonious heart rhythms support good cardiovascular health. Your immune system is enhanced, your nervous system functions smoothly, and your hormonal balance is improved. Tom, a forty-year-old AG member, expressed how this worked for him:
When I get angry, I can feel my heart pounding. I get hot, and my whole body feels tight to where I’m shaking. I hardly needed my doctor to tell me I had high blood pressure. I really didn’t expect appreciation to make any difference. I didn’t even think about it, until my doctor asked me if I was doing anything different; on my last visit my blood pressure was way down, almost to normal. Then it dawned on me—yeah, I was doing something different all right. I was appreciating.
As Childre and Martin noted, in a state of sincere appreciation your whole body works synergistically to create an overall state of well being. Your energy is more buoyant and spirited. You feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. Doreen, a twenty-seven-year-old AG member, had this to say: “I’m not as anxious as I used to be. I used to feel wired much of the time. My husband tells me I’m less edgy and nervous since I’ve been working with appreciation, and I must say, I feel a lot calmer, like my nerves have somehow smoothed out.”
What you feel and think changes how your brain functions, which in turn immediately impacts how your mind operates—or doesn’t. This phenomenon has been studied in depth by, among others, Dr. Daniel Amen in Healing the Hardware of the Soul, and Dr. M. S. George, whose study on the brain activity differences between sadness and happiness was reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1995.
In his book, Dr. Amen, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, states that our thoughts, feelings, and social behaviors impact directly upon our brain’s capacity to function. Through the use of a neuro-imaging technique called the SPECT scan, he studies the correlation between blood flow patterns in the brain and the psychobehavioral symptoms we manifest. At the Amen Behavioral Clinic in Newport Beach, California, Dr. Amen assisted us in conducting a SPECT scan analysis to compare the visible differences in blood flow in the brain when we are experiencing negative or appreciative thoughts and feelings.
Figure 6 (page 20) shows a 3D image of what the blood flow to your brain is like when you are experiencing negative thoughts and feelings. The red color indicates areas in the brain where blood flow is occurring. Notice the overall diminished level of blood flow in this scan, particularly in the area of the cerebellum at the bottom of the image. Note also the indentation in blue at the right side of the image, which represents decreased activity in the left temporal cortex.
In our sessions with Dr. Amen, we learned that when you think negative thoughts, your cerebellum, which controls integrated movement, hardly functions at all. You experience physical difficulties and suffer from a lack of coordination. In the words of Dr. Amen, “You’re like the baseball player who keeps striking out no matter how hard he tries not to.”Your left temporal lobe, that part of your brain that keeps you on an even keel, doesn’t receive enough blood flow. You become emotionally unstable and may experience anxiety or fear for no apparent reason. Your thoughts get jumbled and your memory is disrupted. You are more vulnerable to rage, dark thoughts, and violent actions. As a consequence of thinking negative thoughts, you feel angry, hostile, frustrated, distressed, anxious, and depressed, emotions that will lead you to respond with negative and destructive behaviors.
Figure 7 (page 21) shows a 3D picture of what the blood flow to your brain is like when you are experiencing appreciative thoughts and feelings. Compare the overall increase in blood flow here (i.e., the areas in red) with the negativity scan, particularly in the area of the cerebellum at the bottom of the image. Notice the rounded shape on the right side of the image where there was a blue indentation before, representing improved blood flow to the left temporal lobe. Also visible in this scan is an increase in blood flow to the cingulate gyrus (center top) and left basal ganglia (upper right side), areas of the brain that help us shift gears and maintain adaptability.
As Dr. Amen explained, when you think thoughts of appreciation, your brain functions well, firing on all cylinders, so to speak. Your cingulate gyrus and left basal ganglia are appropriately active, allowing you to be flexible, collaborative, and motivated to set goals. Your thoughts are clearly focused, and you can readily switch from one idea to another. Your memory is intact. Your cerebellum is innervated, and physically you are coordinated and energized. Your left temporal lobe operates fully, making you less susceptible to rage, violent actions, or dark thoughts.
Keith, an AG member, shares his experience:
I used to get real paranoid. I was not just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was actively looking for it. I had a lot of trouble concentrating and it was hard for me to make decisions. I didn’t know there was any other way to be! I thought being scared and worried all the time was normal, that feeling dispirited and out of sorts was just part of twenty-first-century life. I mean, look at the news! But the more I appreciate, the more I’m discovering that’s not the way it’s got to be. I’m not as worried, I don’t panic at every little thing. I can think more clearly. I can make decisions without torturing myself over them. I still have my days, that’s for sure, but it’s like I’m coming out of a fog that I didn’t even know was there!
When you think appreciative thoughts, you feel uplifted, happy, joyous, enthusiastic, and at peace, which will lead you to respond with behaviors corresponding to these positive feelings. Donna, another AG member, says, “Sometimes I have a hard time relating to me then and me now. My friends tease me, they call me ‘Ms. Bubbly’ and want to know where I hid ‘Ms. Bitchy.’ I’m more upbeat, excited about things—happier, I guess. I know I’m nicer to people; heck, I’m even nicer to myself.”
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