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Why Do We Have Déjà Vu? The Science and Spirituality Behind it

I was out with my friends and one of them made a joke about his “extraordinary” singing skills. While we were laughing hysterically, it suddenly hit me. I felt like I had been here before – the same setting, same snacks, and even the same laughter. I was pretty sure I had experienced the exact thing before.

It wasn’t the first time though; I have been experiencing déjà vu ever since I can remember.  So, when I got back home, I couldn’t help but wonder: why do I get déjà vu so often?

After a lot of research, I’ve discovered different scientific theories about its causes. I have also looked into whether or not it has a spiritual side to it. In this article, everything I found has been put together, so you can learn all about this strange feeling.

So, what causes déjà vu?

Scientifically, there are a couple of theories behind deja vu. The two sides of your brain are responsible or ‘in charge’ of different skills. For example, the right hemisphere is used for creativity and visualization in most people, while the left deals with logic, such as, mathematics etc.

One theory for the occurrence of déjà vu is that sometimes there is a split-second delay in transmitting information from one side of your brain to the other. This causes one part of your brain to receive the information twice – one directly, and then once more after a split second from the ‘in charge’ side. This delay results in feeling as if you have experienced that incident before.

If we talk about the spiritual aspect of a déjà vu, it can be something you’ve experienced in your past lives. It could also be that you’ve dreamt about it in your sleep and now when you see the same thing in real life, you experience déjà vu.

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I know, you still have questions in your mind. Is déjà vu good or bad? Does déjà vu mean you’re on the right path? How should I take it?

Let’s explore this feeling a bit more to help us understand the reason why it occurs, and what it might mean for you as a spiritual seeker. Read on to discover what science and spirituality have to say about déjà vu.

The word Déjà vu, pronounced day-zhaa voo, is a French word that means “already seen”. It is the shadowy feeling you experience when a situation seems familiar. A scene in a park plays out exactly as you “remember” it. The world seems to move like a ballet you’ve choreographed. But this strangely familiar sequence can’t be based on past experience, because you’ve never been to this park before.

In some cases, the person experiencing déjà vu is also able to feel what would happen next. It is not a physical phenomenon that we can pinpoint; it’s a feeling. A feeling we don’t completely understand.

More than 90% of us experience déjà vu at some point in our lives. It’s been found that déjà vu occurs more with young people than adults – mainly in our teens and 20s. The number of déjà vu experiences begins to decrease steadily once you are over 25 years old.

Young people experience déjà vu much more, and it can actually be a good sign that their brain is functioning correctly, and that they are good at spotting things. It is extremely hard for scientists to record and study déjà vu in an empirical manner because it is such a fleeting incidence. It occurs without any notice and lasts only for a couple of moments.

However, there are a few theories that try to explain this mysterious phenomenon. Most of these theories, if not all, revolve around how our brain stores and recovers memories.

Accidental triggers in the brain

Our memories aren’t exact copies that we just write once and then store like files on a computer or pictures in a box under our bed. Remembering is really more like reliving. It is a reconstruction and not just recollection.

Two key processes are believed to take place when you recognize a familiar object or scene. Firstly, our brain scans through memory traces to determine if the contents of what we are experiencing have been observed before.

If we have, a separate part of the brain – the rhinal cortex – identifies the object or scene as being familiar. Then, the hippocampus, which is the memory center of the brain, recalls the memory associated with it. It re-fires the neural circuits that hold that piece of our past. Finally, we live the experience again in our minds.

Some researchers speculate that if these steps get out of sync, or if the second process of identification occurs by mistake, it can trigger a feeling of familiarity with a non-familiar object. And as a result, we may experience déjà vu.

Back in 2006, Researchers at Leeds Memory Group also found a way to recreate the sense of déjà vu in the laboratory. They used hypnosis to trigger the second process in the brain.

Medical disorder (Temporal Lobe Epilepsy)

According to Science Daily, a part of the brain called the medial temporal lobe is essential for the retention of long-term memories; it’s where you create and store them. Certain parts of this medial temporal lobe also play an important role in the detection of familiarity.

Now, temporal lobe epilepsy is a specific kind of epilepsy in which the normal electrical impulses of this part of the brain are disturbed. In simple terms, the brain cells in the temporal lobe region start sending out-of-control electrical signals that spread across the whole brain and affect all other brain cells around them. This is known as a seizure. It can last up to a few minutes, and it results in the patient losing control of their thoughts and movements for a brief while.

The patients of temporal lobe epilepsy have reported experiencing a strong feeling of déjà vu just before a seizure occurs in the medial temporal lobe. For many people, it acts as a warning of an imminent seizure. So, there certainly could be a link between déjà vu and temporal lobe epilepsy.

But don’t worry, having a déjà vu doesn’t mean you suddenly have epilepsy. It’s the people with this disease that seem to experience déjà vu before a seizure episode.

It could very well mean that you’ve been at the same place or have had an identical experience in one of your previous lives.

Also, many people are gifted with some level of clairvoyance. More often than not, such people dream about future events and forget them when they wake up. This can lead to a feeling of déjà vu when you experience your dream in reality but cannot associate it with anything in your brain.

Is it possible that déjà vu can also mean that you’re on the right path? Your soul might be trying to tell you that you’re doing what you should be doing, and everything is perfect. However, try not to get too obsessed with this one.

Say you’re sitting in a room with a bunch of other friends about to smoke and “have a good time”, and you suddenly have a very strong feeling that you were there before and know that your tattooed friend is about to cough and then he does in exactly the way you knew he was going to. At this point, it’s hard to judge how perfect that situation is and if you’re really meant to keep walking that path.

Here’s the thing: It would be nice to think that déjà vu means something deep or significant. It is one of the many phenomena which people consider as an indicator of paranormal or spiritual reality. It could, of course, mean any or all of that. But to be honest, there’s no conclusive evidence as far as the spiritual side of déjà vu is concerned.

When something happens that is truly indicative of your spiritual progress, you’ll know it right away in your heart.

With all that being said, there’s no denying that there could definitely be more to it than what meets the eye – which is usually the case in life.

Final Thoughts

Many interesting scientific theories surround this mysterious phenomenon, but it largely remains uncovered. We are yet to find out the cause(s) of déjà vu with certainty. We may never know if any of the above theories are correct or not.

Spiritually, you’re a part of the universe, and you ought to accept life as such. Perhaps you shouldn’t so much question the what, why, and how of the process and the way things happen. You’d benefit a lot more if you were to simply have faith and trust in the process.

What are some of your strange déjà vu experiences? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.

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Tommy P.
Tommy P.

My very first thought when I became aware of my very own consciousness in this earthly world was... "whoa... why are we here? what's the meaning or purpose to life?" I was never able to shake these questions... So come join me on my podcast of rants on many different topics that will assist you in seeing things through a rose-colored lens and on living a life of well-being.

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