About meditation and sleepiness

The chief characteristic of ordinary thinking is that each single act of thinking injures the nervous system, and above all, the brain; it destroys something in the brain. Every thought means that a minute process of destruction takes place in the cells of the brain. For this reason sleep is necessary for us, in order that this process of destruction may be made good; during sleep we restore what during the day was destroyed in our nervous system by thinking. What we are consciously aware of in an ordinary thought is in reality the process of destruction that is taking place in our nervous system.

We now endeavour to practise meditation by devoting ourselves to contemplation, for instance, of the saying: Wisdom lives in the Light. This idea cannot originate from sense-impressions because according to the external senses it is not so.
In this example, by means of meditation we hold the thought back so far that it does not connect itself with the brain. If in this way we unfold an inner activity of thinking that is not connected with the brain, through the effects of such meditation upon the soul we shall feel that we are on the right path. As in meditative thinking no process of destruction is evoked in our nervous system, this kind of thinking never causes sleepiness, however long it may be continued, as ordinary thinking may easily do.

It is true that the opposite often occurs when someone is meditating, for people often complain that when they devote themselves to meditation they at once fall asleep. But that is because the meditation is not yet as it should be. It is quite natural that in meditation we should, to begin with, use the kind of thinking to which we have always been accustomed; it is only gradually that we can accustom ourselves to give up thinking about external things. When this point is reached meditative thinking will no longer make us sleepy, and we shall then know that we are on the right path.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 152 – Occult Science and Occult Development: Lecture 1 – London, 1st May 1913

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

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Too much protein

If one gulps down too much protein, it doesn’t go over into the body at all, but into the fecal waste matter. Even so, the body does get something from it: before it passes out, it lies there in the intestines and becomes poisonous and poisons the whole body. That’s what can happen from too much protein. And from this poisoning comes then very frequently arteriosclerosis — so that many people get arteriosclerosis too early, simply from stuffing themselves with too much protein.

It is important, as I have tried to show you, to know these things about nutrition. For most people are thoroughly convinced that the more they eat, the better they are nourished. Of course it is not true. One is often much better nourished if one eats less, because then one does not poison oneself.

The point is really that one must know how the various substances work. One must know that minerals work particularly on the head; carbohydrates — just as they are to be found in our most common foods, bread and potatoes, for instance — work more on the lung system and throat system (lungs, throat, palate and so on). Fats work particularly on heart and blood vessels, arteries and veins, and protein particularly on the abdominal organs. The head has no special amount of protein. What protein it does have — naturally, it also has to be nourished with protein, for after all, it consists of living substances — that protein man has to form himself. And if one over-eats, it’s no use believing that in that way one is getting a healthy brain, for just the opposite is happening: one is getting a poisoned brain.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – Nutrition and Health: Lecture 1 – Dornach, 31st July 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Male and female brain

If people had even the smallest inkling of what it means to think in the spirit, to live in the spirit, using the physical body only as an instrument, — so that one does not feel firmly fastened into it, identifying oneself with it — they would sing psalms about the misery of having to use a male body in an incarnation, for of course these material effects have also filtered into the brain.

One observes that the forms of the male brain, through having been deeper into matter, are more difficult to manage than the more flexible forms of the female brain. It is truly a more difficult matter to train a male brain for the ascent into the higher worlds, and to translate the truths into thoughts, than it is to train a female brain for the same purpose.

For this reason it is not surprising to people who think, when a new conception of the world arises such as that of Spiritual Science, it is more easily grasped by the more manageable female brain; for it is more difficult for the male brain, being less pliable and obedient, to free itself from certain thoughts which it has absorbed.

Hence Spiritual Science will not find an easy acceptance amongst the men who are to-day the leaders of culture and of the cultured ideas prevalent in our day. We must realise how awkward an instrument is the brain of a learned man to-day, not only for the acceptance of Spiritual Science, but also for thinking along those lines.

But we must not look at these things in a wrong way and draw our own conclusions — rather should we look upon it as all the more significant that there are so many men whose brains are so pliant that they have become intimately acquainted with Spiritual Science. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 116 – The Christ impulse and the development of the Ego-Consciousness – Lecture 5 – Berlin, 9th March 1910

What is it that is not well in a mentally ill person?

What is unwell in a mentally ill person?  In the case of someone who is mentally ill it is the body that actually is sick; the body is unable to use the soul and the spirit in the right way. In the case of someone of whom it is said that he is mentally ill, it is always the physical body that in reality is ill; when the brain is not able to function in the right way it is understood that the person concerned will not be able to think normally. In the same way the feelings of a person with a sick liver cannot function in the normal way.

And so to call someone “spiritually ill” (in German it is called Geisteskrank) is actually the most incorrect expression to use. Someone, of whom it is said that he is mentally ill, actually suffers from a bodily ailment. The body is so ill, that the spirit, which is never ill, cannot be utilised in the right way.

Above all, you must clearly understand that the spirit is always healthy. Only the body can get sick in such a way that it cannot take hold of the spirit in the right way. If someone has an ailing brain it is the same as when someone uses a hammer that keeps on breaking when he uses it. If I call someone who does not have a hammer lazy and tells him he is incapable to function as a woodworker, it goes without saying that I am talking nonsense. He might be able to function as a woodworker if he had a hammer at his disposal. In the same way it is utter nonsense to say that someone is mentally ill. The spirit is perfectly healthy, but his body, his tool, lets him down.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – VORTRÄGE FÜR DIE ARBEITER AM GOETHEANUMBAU – Dornach, 28th June 1923

Translated by Nesta Carsten

Previously posted on April 9, 2014

Astrology – 2 – Our brain is a picture of the heavens

The active forces of the starry world push us into physical incarnation. Clairvoyant perception allows us to see in a person’s organization that he or she is indeed the result of the working together of such cosmic forces. I want to illustrate this in a hypothetical form that nevertheless corresponds fully to clairvoyant perceptions.

If we examined the structure of a person’s brain clairvoyantly and could see that certain functions are located in certain places and give rise to certain processes, we would find that each person’s brain is different. No two people have the same brain. If we could take a picture of the entire brain with all of its details visible, we would get a different picture for each person. If we photographed a person’s brain at the moment of birth and took a picture of the sky directly above his or her birthplace, the two pictures would be alike. The stars in the photograph of the sky would be arranged in the same way as certain parts of the brain in the other picture. Thus, our brain is really a picture of the heavens, and we each have a different picture depending on where and when we were born. This indicates that we are born out of the entire universe.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 15 – The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity – Lecture Three – Copenhagen, June 8th 1911

Previously posted on February 4, 2014