Sunday, June 5, 2011

Predicting Your Mood By The Temperature

There are studies showing how the temperature can affect people at an unconscious level. When people are exposed to warm temperatures, they are more generous, socially positive, optimistic and trusting.  Even waiters get bigger tips on warm sunny days.  However, too much warmth or heat make people more aggressive and irritable.  Incidences of violent crimes and road rage increase during heat waves.  People who are exposed to cold temperatures are less sociable, feel left out and perceive others as less friendly.

Neuroscientists explain this by the insular cortex, the part of the brain that helps us perceive whether a sensation is hot, cold, pleasurable or painful.  It regulates our experience of the outside world.  Specifically, it guides us on social matters like whether to trust, empathize, feel embarrassed or feel guilt.  When a temperature activates the insular cortex, judgments are affected based on the pleasant sensation from the temperature.

Ayurveda explains the temperature differential by the three basic constitutions: vata, pitta and kapha.  Vata can be characterized by cold and dry.  When out of balance,  the vata type is fearful, anxious and defensive just like a person exposed to cold temperatures.  Pitta types are more hot, spicy and prone to extreme emotions just like a person exposed to hot temperatures.  Kapha is more moderate, optimistic and loving similar to the pleasurable attitude experienced in warm, comfortable temperatures.  An out of balance kapha may be prone to too much pleasure seeking and lethargy.

While there are three basic body types, each type is affected by the climate and seasons.  The affect will be modulated by the body type.  To feel balanced one must live with the season's energy and harmonize it with a person's body type and health issue.  It is profound that temperature affects people in such deep ways whether one uses science or Ayurveda.  The insular cortex demonstrates the connection between our mind and bodies and the connection shows how are well being relies on both the physical body and our spirit.

Stay healthy & well,

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