‘The greatest success we achieve in life will not be money, it will be happiness. When we master our own happiness, we have a natural and positive impact on all of those we interact with.’ - Sherrie Campbell, Psychologist, Author
The Astrology of Happiness
Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messages. They regulate body functions and affect our moods. When a particular neurotransmitter system predominates it is expressed through the personality.
The Braverman Personality Type Assessment is an on-line true/false questionnaire which indicates which of four major neurotransmitter systems is prevalent in your personality. Eric Braverman MD then goes on to describe symptoms of imbalance as well as prescribing natural supplements for correction.
In a similar way the highlighting of particular planets in our birth charts also affects our personalities - so perhaps there’s a correlation between neurotransmitters and the personal, inner planets.
This correlation was recently brought to my attention when I had the unusual experience of playing a virtual reality game in an empty warehouse where the action was generated by goggles and earphones connected to computer generated imagery - great fun running around in a group shooting invading aliens and protecting each other.
But not so good at the climactic end when I had to walk to safety across 20 metres of apparently slippery pathway just wide enough for my feet and with each side dropping away into an abyss below while threatening spaceships hovered in the starry sky above. I couldn’t do it, I started shaking and wanted to go down on my hands and knees when the supervisor (my son and the reason we were doing this) said, “Dad you’ve lost it, lift your goggles”.
This was a fun day and the happiest part was not our saving the space station or lifting my goggles so I didn’t fall into the abyss, but the communion of spirit surrounding the experience and the laughs at the pub afterwards.
As an archetypical dream image, falling relates to insecurities, so being an astrologer I went back to my birth chart for clues and there they were: Sun in the 5th semi square Venus sitting opposite my Libran Ascendant with 4th house Chiron square Venus and the Sun at the Venus/Chiron midpoint – a fear of disharmony was always lurking; especially since my 6th house major dispositor, Mars in Aries, is square Uranus in the 10th giving me a tendency for fault finding and it’s backlash in rejection.
Further investigation isolated a lack of the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter serotonin which acts as an ‘off switch’ for too much on the mind. My practical solution has always been meditation and red wine, but now I was linking the dots that connected the neurotransmitter serotonin with the planet Venus, and this started a whole new ball game of understanding and attitude change, to which I added the appropriate herbal remedy St. Johns Wort, along with fish oil and Magnesium.
A study of other neurotransmitters brought forth further correlations and finally this essay on The Astrology of Happiness.
What is the purpose of life?
...I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.’
The act of laughing triggers the production of the pain killing neurotransmitter endorphin in the same way that exercise does, and at the same time many other neurotransmitters rush around our heads regulating our moods according to circumstance.
Neuroscientists have wired up brains and measured parameters of happiness and their happiest subject so far has been Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard - an ex-molecular geneticist whose father was a French philosopher and mother a Tibetan Buddhist nun.
Matthieu reckons that learning to be happy is like riding a bike - the key ingredients being the reduction of hate, arrogance, envy, obsession, greed and pride; along with a daily dose of meditation.
It’s not that negative emotions should be eliminated. It’s just that they need to be reduced to levels that maximise their effectiveness, as noted by Matthieu Ricard when referring to the 2015 Nepalese earthquake: ‘After the loss of a loved one, sadness is appropriate, whereas despair and depression are disproportionate and conflict with one’s long term well-being.’ - In Search of Wisdom. (P. 68)
The brain generates electrical power in the form of brainwaves with Gamma waves having the highest frequency produced when we are ‘buzzing’ (40-100 Hz); Beta waves (12-40 Hz) being the common brainwave of the day; Delta waves present in sleep (0-4 Hz); and Alpha (8-12 Hz) and Theta (4-8 Hz) waves associated with relaxation and meditation.
So the physics of meditation is about getting your brain to generate Alpha and Theta waves without actually nodding off to sleep (much as I often do).
Meditation activates an ‘innermost awareness’ that untangles negativity. First you focus on all the various aspects of what is troubling you and then you turn your brain off and let your innermost awareness provide the solution. The Dalai Lama calls this ‘analytical meditation’.
Mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose believes that this ‘innermost awareness’ is the result of quantum vibrations in microtubules that exist within brain neurons - these being the ultimate source of consciousness.
‘Mercury, Venus and Mars provide the ways through which the Sun and Moon discover and express their Fundamental Natures.’ - The Inner Planets, Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, P.xvi
Psychologists have come up with traits associated with happiness such as good relationships, acts of kindness, physical well being, etc, but it’s difficult to know whether these are causative factors for happiness or just the products of happiness in train, and in this regard astrology can be of assistance.
The astrological ingredients of personal contentment surround the qualities of the natal Sun and its successful cultivation into a fulfilling life; with periods of positive growth reflected by an accompanying emotional satisfaction.
The inner planets and their relationship to the Sun give us clues as to who we really are, Jupiter then expands the personal horizon, Saturn provides ethical boundaries, and the outer planets slot us into the maelstrom of public life.
Mathieu Ricard’s recent book ‘In Search of Wisdom’ written in conjunction with psychiatrist Christophe Andre and philosopher
Alexandre Jollien has Christophe noting from his years of practice, that most clients lacked self esteem (P.5). So his first job was
to comfort the ego (Sun) and restore the person’s sense of self. Similarly, astrology clients appear when lives are out of kilter,
this being the result of birth chart difficulties triggered by planetary movements that seek resolution through an understanding of
personal inclinations. The connection between planets and behaviour is not known so we call these correlations acausal, while
scientists working with ‘on ground’ data continue to unravel the mysteries of causative neurotransmitters and their effect on behaviour.
Mathieu Ricard’s recent book ‘In Search of Wisdom’ written in conjunction with psychiatrist Christophe Andre and philosopher Alexandre Jollien has Christophe noting from his years of practice, that most clients lacked self esteem (P.5). So his first job was to comfort the ego (Sun) and restore the person’s sense of self.
Similarly, astrology clients appear when lives are out of kilter, this being the result of birth chart difficulties triggered by planetary movements that seek resolution through an understanding of personal inclinations.
The connection between planets and behaviour is not known so we call these correlations acausal, while scientists working with ‘on ground’ data continue to unravel the mysteries of causative neurotransmitters and their effect on behaviour.
Neurotransmitters generate chemical messages that connect the mind to the actions of the muscles - so if neurotransmitters and planetary positions both reflect human activity then a correlation between the two must exist.
Glutamate (as in MSG) is the most common neurotransmitter in the body and its main role is for memory and learning. Glutamate plays a similar role to the Sun in a birth chart – while everything is working well and the individual is going forward in life then difficult planetary transits have little affect beyond annoyance. ‘Glutamate is kind of the cheerleader of your brain. One of its primary functions is to get other brain cells fired up... so they can do important things like learning new information or forming memories.’
Low glutamate levels can cause mental problems while excess levels may be associated with multiple symptoms such as chronic pain, migraines, diabetes, epilepsy, depression and many neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.