We live in an overstimulated world. this doesn’t just impact your brain; it impacts your body too. one of the most basic ways we are overstimulated is through the usage of light. ever notice that box stores are extra bright, this is because neuroscientists and marketers know that bright lights result in big feelings and that big feelings result in big spending. light shapes our behaviour, it’s that simple. and because it shapes how we act we have chosen to teach our classes in the dark.
Previous studies have shown that being in the dark forces us to slow down, allows us to feel disconnected from others while offering more connection to our selves. this loss of stimulus results in feeling more connected to ourselves allowing us to be more authentic. darkness shuts down major cortical centers of the brain, limiting mental and cognitive functions in the higher brain centres while enhancing feeling states in the body. we have a greater capacity to know what is happening in our body when our mirror neurons in our prefrontal cortex are not being stimulated by seeing another human, when our ventral vagal nerve is not attuning to others, when our amygdala isn’t scanning the room for potential danger and when our pre-frontal cortex isn’t comparing us to others in the room. when your brain has less to do, the focus can be on what’s happening in your body. this allows you to regulate your central nervous system and switch from a state of sympathetic arousal into parasympathetic arousal. you can change the neurophysiology of your body if you pay attention to it.
Being in the dark also stimulates the home of darkness, the pineal gland. melatonin is released from the pineal gland and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune defence and sleep and metabolic regulation effects. being in the dark doesn’t just give your eyes a break it changes the entire neurophysiology of the body altering your hormonal regulation.
Goekint, Maaike & Roelands, Bart & Heyman, Elsa & Rose, Njemini & Meeusen, Romain. (2011). Influence of citalopram and environmental temperature on exercise-induced changes in BDNF. Neuroscience letters. 494. 150-4. 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.03.001.
Hussain, J., & Cohen, M. (2018). Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 1857413. doi:10.1155/2018/1857413
Janssen CW, Lowry CA, Mehl MR, et al. Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):789–795. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1031