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This is Your Brain on Enlightenment

Enlightenment is not hippie bullshit. It’s a very real and attainable state of being. 

In “How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain,” Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman talk about two types of enlightenment. 

You’ve got your lowercase-e enlightenments, which are like little bursts of light that illuminate your brain and give you powerful insights.

Then, you’ve got the capital-E Enlightenments.  These are the game-changers – experiences that transmogrify your consciousness and permanently shift your entire perception of reality.

Big-E Enlightenment is especially noteworthy because it creates life-altering experiences and significant changes to the brain.

Enlightenment hits you like a lightning bolt. Whatever sensations go with it get dramatically intensified. This intensity is reflected in the brain’s limbic system (which processes emotion) and the parietal lobe (which organizes sensory information to create a sense of time, space, and self). Feelings seared into memory.

People who have experienced Enlightenment describe feeling deeply connected to everything around them, and science confirms that it’s all thanks to changes in the brain. The parietal lobe, which normally handles your sense of self and how you relate to the world, quiets down, giving you a sense of oneness with the universe.

And one of the most amazing things about Enlightenment is that it’s permanent. It rearranges the way our brains work for the rest of our lives, significantly in the thalamus – which some believe is the seat of our consciousness. When the thalamus changes, our perceptions of reality shift as well, altering the way we think about, sense, and interact with the world.

It’s a fireworks show that opens a wormhole to different neural universe.


Nobody is safe from enlightenment. It can strike anyone, anytime, like a bolt from the blue. And if you’re hankering to get struck, you can always tie yourself to a lightning rod. Methods include meditating, getting your brain zapped, or taking “pharmacological substances”. (I recommend #1 and #3)

Some people might say the later two methods are cheating, but who cares? It’s being proactive.

Newburg agrees. He believes that these methods can act as lenses of clarity, sharpening the brain’s reality-perception, just like when you put on a pair of glasses to get a clearer view.

Speaking from personal experience, it’s well worth the effort. 


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