One of the most prominent voices in the field of neuroscience, Dr Tara Swart is a leadership coach and an award-winning author. She counts some of the most influential industry leaders in the world as her clients, helping them achieve mental resilience and peak brain performance, improving their ability to manage stress, regulate emotions and retain information.
In her new book, The Source (Penguin Random House), the PhD scholar and former medical doctor uses her experiences and research in psychiatry, neuroscience and ancient Indian spirituality to present effective solutions to handling stress and maximising one’s potential. We asked her about the key takeaways from the book. You were born to Indian immigrants in the UK and were raised with Indian values and culture codes. Today, after all your research as a medical doctor and your personal self-work, have you been able to reconcile Indian traditions, rituals and beliefs with your scientific training? Is there a meeting point between the two?
There is perfect harmony between both. One of the reasons I wrote the book was because of the advantage of having my cultural heritage together with scientific knowledge. I wanted as many people as possible to have access to this amazing combination. Lots of things from Indian culture have been proven by science. The best examples are the effect of yoga and meditation on reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the anti-inflammatory impact of turmeric (haldi) in bowel disease and even dementia!
There are exercises in your book that harness the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person for self-growth. So far, the last of these have largely been ignored by Western science. Please share how and why you believe the spiritual aspect is just as important as the others in personal development.
What we are increasingly beginning to realise and accept in the West is that if you are not fulfilled spiritually, with meaning and purpose in your life, then it manifests as physical illness such as heart attacks and cancer or mental problems like depression or anxiety. Spiritual health and development is not only as important as the others, it is possibly the most important. I have seen many examples of this in my executive clients as well as my medical patients.
You mention in your book that the idea of the 'Law of Attraction' has unfortunately got itself bad publicity in the past decade or so due to books touting it as some sort of magical thing. Yet you say it does exist. How would you explain the 'Law of Attraction' in more scientific terms?
I have dedicated a chapter in the book to explaining the science behind the Laws of Attraction. This is mostly explained by priming the brain for abundant thinking because our state of mind affects our decision-making and risk-taking. If we experience good emotions like trust and love, then the effect of hormones on the brain is positive towards making good quality decisions. If we have fear or shame, then we can’t make decisions and we don’t have the courage to take healthy risks to improve our lives.
Our brain selectively filters all the information we experience in life and assigns value to the things that promote our survival. Our brains are geared to avoid loss more than to gain rewards. The book explains the Laws of Attraction via these mechanisms in the brain.
First published in eShe magazine