THE BRAIN AND THE NEURO-PSYCHO-IMMUNE
Man has no Body distinct from
his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the
five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. (from
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake)
In the end I find I
can't separate brain from body. Consciousness isn't just in the head.
Nor is it a question of mind over body. If one takes into account the
DNA directing the dance of the peptides, the body is the outward manifestation
of the mind. Dr. Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion
Because of the long emphasis of religious
teaching on spirit, the body has been neglected, even despised and consistently,
over many centuries, abused (because it was thought to be the seat of
illusion, and the source of sin (see seminar 3). Fortunately this attitude
is changing rapidly and radically with the new discoveries that are
being made in the field of neuro-science, the mapping of the brain and
its relationship with different parts of the body. The body is being
revealed as a miracle of interconnecting systems, not separate from
mind as we have thought, but integral to mind and vice versa as well
as integral to soul, although this last is not yet accepted by science.
It is the vessel or vehicle of consciousness, the vital matrix that
connects the field of our consciousness with the greater field of the
planet and the cosmos beyond.
this seminar and the next where we will be looking at the physical end
of the mind/body spectrum try to hold in your awareness the wider substratum
of soul, or energy field linking us to our environment. Try to imagine
the basic structure of the body/mind organism embedded in a larger field
of energy - the organism of the planet - and a larger one still - the
Web of Life or organism of the cosmos. See the four "worlds" in the
diagram of the Tree of Life as one vast invisible system of relationships
and interconnecting circuits. It is important that we do not see the
recent discoveries about the neuro-physiology of the brain and nervous
system as simply offering us a new technology to control the mind/body
system but as a way of understanding ourselves better than we do at
present. An understanding of neuro-physiology gives us greater insight
into the interconnectedness of soul, mind and body and of feeling, thinking
and sensory experience and also helps us to understand our profound
relationship with each other and our environment.
and our capacity for empathy can help us to connect the organism of
our bodies with the greater organism of the cosmos. Yeats described
the imagination as a sympathy with all living beings. In this sense,
we can understand the imagination as an essential aspect of instinct,
even perhaps the strongest and most important instinct we have because
it seeks to connect us - the part - with the whole. We are living at
the end of a great trajectory which has accomplished our gradual separation
or differentiation from nature and the development of the analytical,
reflective consciousness we call mind or intellect. (the ability to
observe, reflect on and manifest our ideas and thoughts in actions).
This use of the mind is quite different from the more instinctual or
participatory consciousness that held people of earlier times more in
touch with nature and the cosmos. The people of Neolithic cultures experienced
life as an invisible and indivisible web of relationships. They felt
themselves to be part of this web, part of its mystery - and their own
lives as an intimate expression of its rhythmic being. They saw life
and death as alternate phases of an eternally regenerative cycle rather
than as polarised opposites.
the present time with life divided into subject (ourselves) and object
(everything else) we have all but lost this participatory sense of knowledge
as experience. We do not differentiate between knowledge as information
and knowledge as experience. Participatory consciousness began to fade
with the discovery of writing and the development of left-hemispheric
linear thinking - from about 3000 BC. The emphasis of the whole Axial
Age (from 2500 BC and, more specifically, of Judeo-Christian civilization
has been on the effort to separate from instinct, to separate from nature
and body and to repress and control the instincts, particularly the
sexual instinct, as something inferior and threatening, even evil and
sinful. This suspicion, repression and control within went hand in hand
with the compulsion to conquer and control the environment (and enemies)
without. The one was, I believe, the inevitable corollary of the other.
Now however, as we are becoming aware of the negative effects of this
double alienation from nature, which perhaps could not be helped as
it was part of the process of separating from nature and becoming self-conscious,
many of us are trying to recover what was lost - to revalue those aspects
of life that were designated feminine, inferior and subject to our control,
and to reconnect nature, soul and body, bringing together the intellectual
intelligence of the head with the emotional intelligence of the heart.
Many women are at the forefront of this endeavour. As Candace Pert writes:
The heart of science is feminine. In its essence,
science has very little to do with competition, control, separation
- all qualities that have come to be associated with science in its
male-dominated, twentieth century form…The rational, masculine, materialistic
world we live in places too much value on competition and aggression.
Science at its most exalted is a truth-seeking endeavor, which encompasses
the values of cooperation and communication, based on trust - trust
in ourselves and in one another. The science I have come to know and
love is unifying, spontaneous, intuitive, caring - a process more akin
to surrender than to domination. I have come to believe that science,
at its very core, is a spiritual endeavor. Some of my best insights
have come to me through what I can only call a mystical process. It's
like having God whisper in your ear. It's this inner voice that we scientists
must come to trust. We must stop worshipping a dispassionate "truth"
and expecting the experts to lead us to it. There's a higher intelligence,
one that comes to us via our very molecules and results from our participation
in a system far greater than the small, circumscribed one we call "ego,"
the world we receive from our five senses alone. From
Molecules of Emotion
To me, this
to me means that we must pay far more attention to what instinct is
and what it connects us to than we have in the past. In this seminar
and the next (9) we are going down into the "molecules of emotion",
down into what we are unconscious of - the different inter-related systems
of the body which affect not only our physical well-being but also our
mental and emotional well-being. We are going to look at how the age-old
instinctive habits of the older brain system - known as the limbic system
- affect and to a large extent control the way we behave. The human
personality or ego, as it is called in the language of psychology, is
deeply rooted in the limbic system. Exploring the interaction between
this older 'unconscious' brain system and the newer neo-cortical one
helps us to understand, in terms of brain chemistry and neuronal connections,
why the instincts and emotions are so powerful, why they can have a
positive or negative effect on our lives and why it takes a great deal
of insight and attention to become aware of the unconscious habits of
response and unconscious emotions that are stored in our cellular memories.
It may be helpful to bear in mind what Jung wrote about the inter-connectedness
of psyche and body:
A wrong functioning
of the psyche can do much to injure the body, just as conversely a bodily
illness can affect the psyche; for psyche and body are not separate
entities, but one and the same life. Thus there is seldom a bodily ailment
that does not show psychic complications, even if it is not psychically
caused. (CW 7, par. 194)
brain, as the vehicle of consciousness, has evolved from the bottom
up, with the higher centres of the brain developing as elaborations
of lower, more ancient centres which are hundreds of millions of years
old. Within the cellular memory of our bodies we carry an incredibly
ancient genetic programming that is embodied in different systems that
interact with each other through a neuronal web of staggering complexity.
Until this century and even these last few years, it has not been possible
to understand their intimate involvement with each other and their effect
on our lives and our behaviour. The instinctual reflexes and neuronal
circuits of the limbic system are incorporated into the very structure
of our emotional responses and even the thought processes that we like
to think are so objective and rational. We are still, so to speak, relatively
unconscious in relation to all that is still to be discovered in relation
to the psyche. This does not mean that we need to outgrow and discard
instincts but rather that we need to understand and relate to them better
than we do so that we are not living in a state of alienation from or
unconscious conflict with them.
The 3 integrated brain systems
1. reptilian brain - seat of primary instincts (survival, territorial,
mating) and body functions. Autonomic nervous system: breathing, swallowing,
excreting, blood flow, body temperature.
2. mammalian brain - seat of emotions, sexual desire and relationship,
mother/child bonding, male bonding, learning and memory - cyngulagyrus
- thin layer covering limbic system. Together these 2 brains form the limbic system.
3. cerebral cortex: about 100 million years ago the brain in
mammals made a great growth spurt - formation of the neocortex. A larger
skull cavity allowed the capacity for a more complex nervous system.
With the coming of Homo Sapiens all that is specifically human was added
to this foundation - the frontal lobes: the seat of thought, comprehension,
self-awareness, reflection. As we move up the scale from reptile through
rhesus to human, the mass of the neocortex increases and with this comes
a great increase in the number of interconnections in the brain/body
wiring. The brain has developed from the spinal column of the earliest
vertebrates to the highly developed cerebral cortex of modern man and
woman. The capacity for reflective thought and self-awareness, imagination
and refined feelings that is now available to us has grown out of age-old
primordial instincts. These have not disappeared or been outgrown. They
still influence and even control us. The limbic (older brain) system
is connected through neurological pathways with all parts of the more
recently developed frontal lobes of the neocortex. This gives the older
centres immense power to influence and at times overwhelm the "rational"
brain. Very archaic instincts can be present in emotions, thoughts,
feelings and actions. (see seminar 9 - The Dragon) The right
hemisphere is the main channel for these archaic instincts which communicate
in images as well as emotions. If access to this right hemisphere is
blocked off by the left's repression and control of it, then it is difficult
for these instincts to reach conscious awareness. The only way they
can manifest is as a compulsion (such as anorexia or bulimia, or pulling
tufts of hair out), a phobia, a neurosis or a violent explosion of emotion.
structure of the human brain is enormously complex. It contains about
ten billion nerve cells (neurons) which are interlinked in a vast network
through 1000 billion junctions (synapses). The whole brain can be divided
into subsections, or subnetworks, which communicate with each other.
All this results in intricate patterns of interwined webs, networks
nesting with larger networks. These function in a non-linear way - messages
travel along a cyclical path, which may become a feedback loop. (One
interesting fact - it is thought that speech and music developed from
the mother-child bonding of mammals, then of humans and the sounds made
by the mother to the child and by the child's different kinds of cries
that the mother recognised and responded to. Emotional attachment of
each to the other developed through different kinds of sound. Today
sound and emotional response are linked through these older brain centres.
There is a strong connection between the auditory cortex and the limbic
brain and this explains why there is a marked emotional response to
music and why discordant music can adversely affect and even damage
the nervous system).
1927 it was discovered (Walter Cannon, The Wisdom of the Body)
that there was a single nerve, called the vagus, which exited at the
back of the brain through a hole in the bottom of the skull, then split
to run down the bundles of nerve cells, or ganglia along either side
of the spinal cord to send branches to many organs, including the pupils
of the eyes, the salivary glands, the heart, the bronchi of the lungs,
the stomach, the intestines, the bladder, the sex organs and the adrenal
glands. When Cannon stimulated the vagus through electrodes implanted
in the hypothalamus just above the pituitary gland, he found that there
were physiological changes in all these organs consistent with the body's
response to an emergency. Blood, for example, was re-routed from the
internal organs of digestion to the muscles. An increase of adrenaline
stimulated the heart and caused the liver to release extra sugar for
instant energy. Until the 1970's it was thought that the brain and the
central nervous system functioned like an electrical communication system.
The neurons or nerve cells (cell-like body with a tail-like axon and
treelike dendrites) formed something like a telephone system with trillions
of miles of criss-crossing wiring. This was the "electrical" brain.
But then scientists discovered the "chemical" brain in the 1970's and
the ligand-receptor system that represented a second nervous system
that was far more ancient and far more basic to the organism of the
human body. There were peptides such as endorphins that were being made
inside cells long before there were dendrites, axons or neurons - in
fact long before there were brains. A breakthrough in 1984 involving
the immune system discovered that there was a bodywide network of information
which provided a biochemical basis for the emotions. Then receptors
and their ligands (binding agents) came to be seen as "information molecules"
- the basic units of a language used by cells throughout the organism
to communicate across the endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal
and immune systems. The hum of the receptors as they bind to their many
ligands, often in the furthest parts of the organism, creates an integration
of structure and function that allows the organism to run smoothly and
intelligently. (Pert, pages 26-27).
could observe that drugs like heroin, marijuana, librium, LSD etc. precipitated
a radical change in the emotional state, so they knew that chemicals
affected the mood of an individual and could lead to addiction but they
didn't know how it did this. The concept of receptors (tiny keyholes
where drugs like morphine 'fit') for chemicals introduced from outside
the body was not known then. But the discovery of the opiate or morphine
receptor by Candace Pert in 1972 drew together every field of medicine,
uniting endocrinology, neurophysiology and immunology and connected
biology and psychology. The next step was to find the substance in the
body that gave rise to the same feelings of bliss as morphine did when
introduced from the outside. That chemical was found to be endorphin
or endogenous morphine. Then they had to find the ligand or binding
agent that bound the chemical to the receptor.
there scientists began to map the distribution of the neuropeptides
or chemicals related to emotional states and discovered these were in
the limbic brain as well as the neo-cortex and all over the body, including
the intestines. But they are densest in the frontal lobes of the cerebral
cortex which share many interconnections with the amygdala (see below
and diagram). Peptides or neuropeptides facilitate the conversation
between the nervous system and the immune system. They connect the brain,
the hormonal system and the immune system in a network of communication
between brain and body through neuropeptides or "molecules of emotion".
They are a single family of molecular messengers. Peptides (60-70 of
them) are the universal biochemical language of the emotions. They interlink
and integrate mental, emotional and biological activities. They can
alter behaviour and mood states. Peptides are not only found in the
limbic system; the entire intestine is lined with them. Wherever information
is being relayed to the bodymind organism through the five senses -
sight, smell, sound, taste and touch - there is a grouping of neuro-peptides;
particular at the dorsal horn or back side of the spinal column where
all incoming bodily sensations are filtered. All sensory information
undergoes a filtering process as it travels across one or more synapses,
eventually (but not always) reaching the areas of the higher mental
processes, in the frontal lobes.
Pert discovered and proved the relationship which exists between these
peptides, the neuro-chemistry of the body and our emotions. She wanted
to answer the question: How can emotions transform the body, either
creating disease or healing it, maintaining health or undermining it?
And she discovered that our emotions are the crucial link between mind
and body. She realised that every change in the physiological state
is accompanied by an appropriate change in the emotional state and every
change in the emotional state is accompanied by a change in the physiological
state and she discovered that the neuropeptides were the connecting
factor between emotions and physiological processes.
"In the end", she wrote, "I
find I can't separate brain from body. Consciousness isn't just in the
head. Nor is it a question of mind over body. If one takes into account
the DNA directing the dance of the peptides, the body is the outward
manifestation of the mind. The new science of psycho-neuro-immunology
is redefining the connection between mind and body. We can no longer
speak of body and mind as separate systems or entities. Bodymind - one
word, no hyphen. Bodymind is a single organism pulsing with neuropeptide
messengers that flow in a continuous loop from the brain to every cell
in our body, giving rise to emotions and responding to emotions. Neurotransmitters
originate in a part of the frontal cortex of the brain in a format that
is exclusive to our species. There are at least 200 chemicals (besides
opiate receptors) that connect the brain, the hormonal system and the
immune system, many of them the peptides that mediate our emotions.
All thoughts and all bodily functions involve peptides (chemicals).
Each peptide (chemical) mediates a particular emotional state. All our
perceptions and thoughts are coloured by emotions. There is no such
thing as objective, rational thought. A chemical network of peptides
integrates our mental, emotional and biological activities. So where
are the emotions? It used to be thought that mind and consciousness
were located in the brain but the answer is really quite shocking. The
emotions are happening everywhere simultaneously and we really need
to learn to think of ourselves in a totally new way. Emotions are in
the digestive system, in the immune system, in the endocrine system
etc." "Emotions are at the interface between mind and body, going back
and forth between the two and influencing both." (Molecules of Emotion)
information, emotions are the connecting link between the two realms
of mind and body, (just as the peptides and their receptors are in the
or 'molecules of emotion' are found not just in every system of the
body but running every system of the body, connecting every system of
the body to every other system. Wherever they are, they give rise to
emotions. This means that our body is really our subconscious mind.
The conclusion of these last twenty years
of research is that
"In the human organism,
the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system form
a single cognitive network."
bodymind is not a machine but an amazing field of interacting information
which travels everywhere instantaneously. What keeps everything straight
and systematic are the receptors - each of which has its own peptide
system consists of the brain and network of nerve cells throughout
the body and is the foundation of memory, thought, and emotion.
system, consists of the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and
immune cells. It is the body's defence system, responsible for tissue
integrity and controlling wound healing and tissue repair. The immune
system is capable of sending information to the brain via immunopeptides
and of receiving information from the brain via neuropeptides. The immune
system can communicate not only with the endocrine system but with the
nervous system and the brain as well. Previously the immune system had
always been considered separate from the other systems but now it is
known to be in constant communication with them.
system, consisting of glands and hormones, is the body's main
regulatory system, controlling and integrating various bodily functions.
limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary system is the major bodymind
information transmitter; translating the language of the mind (imagery,
sensations, what is heard and seen) into the chemical reactions or responses
of the body, down to the molecular level and vice versa. see diagram
below. But in fact these cannot really be separated from each other
because they continually interact with each other. i.e:
1 - the activation of the sympathetic
nervous system in response to danger affects the gastrointestinal tract.
2 - the over-activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis of the endocrine
system (living in a state of constant arousal to danger) can lead to
the exhaustion of the adrenals. This throws the hormonal system out
of balance and puts stress on the other hormones.
3 - this situation can lead to the suppression of the thymus (in the
heart area) and the immune system The nervous system, the immune system
and the endocrine system are three interacting cognitive systems, like
three people in continuous conversation.
toxic emotions – anger, guilt, anxiety, fear, depression –
affect the immune system, the digestive system, the circulatory system
and the hormonal system because these all interact with each other instantaneously.
Children who have been abused or subjected to a chronically abusive
environment grow up to be hyper-vigilant of other people's moods and
body language as a protective measure. This is a symptom of trauma.
They may have forgotten the situation which originally caused the hypervigilance.
They sense changes in mood, or a subtle inflexion in the voice or body
language long before others do. This hypervigilance affects every system
in the body, programming it to constant arousal. It depresses the immune
The amygdala (see diagram) is an almond-shaped cluster of interconnected structures
just above the brainstem near the bottom of the limbic ring, one on
each side of the brain, toward the side of the head above the ears.
It acts as a storehouse of emotional memory. The amygdala is one the
main links between the older limbic brain and the relatively newly developed
cerebral cortex. A visual signal goes from the retina of the eye to
the thalamus, where it is translated into the language of the brain.
Most of the message then goes to the visual cortex (at the back of head)
where it is analysed and assessed for meaning and appropriate response.
If that response is emotional, a signal goes to the amygdala to activate
the emotional centres. But a smaller portion of the original signal
takes an 'emergency route' or short-cut via a small nucleus of neurons
direct from the thalamus to the amygdala in a much faster transmission,
allowing an instantaneous (though less precise) response.
The amygdala can trigger an instinctive
response before the cortical centres have fully understood what is happening.
This is a life-preserving reflex. Survival may depend on 1000's of a
second response. But it also means that emotions can bypass the neocortex.
Emotion can overwhelm the 'rational' mind and cause us to react 'blindly'
on impulse. Intense joy comes through the amygdala as well as fear,
grief and anger. Tears are triggered by the amygdala and it responds
immediately to the person being held, stroked or comforted. (see dog
or cat being stroked. Cat purrs). The amygdala is like a guardian at
the gate - challenging every experience "Is this something that is dangerous,
that will hurt, that I fear?" The amygdala triggers the hormones to
prepare the body for fight or flight, activates the heart and makes
it beat faster, causes the muscles to tense and arouses feelings in
the gut (fear); heightens and clarifies or focuses brain functioning
- all almost instantaneously. Conversely it reacts instantaneously to
something that conveys safety, happiness, physical well-being such as
stroking or warm water.
remembers facts from the past: if there was an experience
of humiliation, failure, rejection, as well as the experience of any
particular event or encounter, it will continue to hold that memory.
The amygdala remembers the emotions that went with
these experiences and encounters. When you see a spider, the hippocampus
will remind you that you have seen a spider in the past; the amygdala
will tell you the emotions that went with that earlier experience. The
brain has at least two memory systems: one for ordinary facts and one
for emotionally charged ones. We remember most the most vivid memories
- this was probably of great help in evolutionary development, helping
us to avoid dangerous situations and predators. The problem, however,
is that we can react to situations which are not life-threatening with
the same intensity of emotion that was appropriate when we were confronted
with a cave lion. (see also birth experience) Smell can recall a past
experience and trigger the same responses of happiness, sensory delight,
relaxation or horror, disgust, dread.
is now known (as a result of Candace Pert's work) that memories are
stored not only in the hippocampus and the amygdala. There are receptors
between the nerves and the bundles of cell bodies (called ganglia) which
are distributed not just in and near the spinal cord, but also along
pathways to internal organs and on the very surface of our skin.
Wherever there are receptors there is memory,
so some of our old patterns and our old subconscious ways of doing things
are really located within the body. Trauma can be stored not just in
little parts of our brain but deeply within our body, which may explain
some of the very powerful aspects of the various kinds of body work…psychological
interventions in cancer, visualisation for other diseases can change
the immune system, can truly change physical measurements. It's very
profound. I believe that there needs to be more research and that people
need to pay very close attention to it. It does seem foreign. However
it must have seemed very foreign and shocking when we heard that the
earth revolved around the sun. it's really of that magnitude.
decision about what becomes a thought rising to consciousness and what
remains an undigested thought pattern buried at a deeper level in the
body is mediated by the receptors. Memory is encoded or stored at the
receptor level and this means that memory processes are emotion-driven
and unconscious but that they can be helped to become conscious. Repressed
traumas caused by overwhelming emotion can be stored in any part of
the body, thereafter affecting our ability to feel that part or even
to move it. (hysterical paralysis in later life is now recognised as
a symptom of child abuse). But methods of treatment are being discovered
that can give the conscious mind access to the subconscious bodymind
so that rapid healing can take place at the deepest cellular level.
Images trigger more physiological responses and anxiety memories than
thoughts. (see for example the anxiety connected with the return of
vivid images of disaster or trauma). The left pre-frontal lobe seems
to be the part of the neural circuitry that can switch off the strong
emotions of the amygdala (but not in a situation of imminent danger).
This ability to switch off was essential for survival and for developing
a space between the event and our reaction to it, hence our present
capacity for understanding and insight and the ability to control our
emotions and not react immediately to provocation. But it can also block
off memories of trauma or life-threatening situations and can be repressed
by conditioning in childhood. So it seems essential to open the circuits
between the amygdala and the pre-frontal lobe if we need to access and
release stored or blocked memories. It's only when disturbing memories
are recalled and "discharged" that we can become free of their influence.
Often there is some kind of life crisis when there is a need to become
more conscious of what has been repressed or forgotten to release energy
that has been blocked through the storage of emotional pain.
to make conscious many of these negative subconscious programmes. We
can understand that it's what's inside us that makes us happy, sad and
not only what's in the external world. We can bring ourselves into balance,
in tune with nature, in tune with the deeper wisdom of life encoded
in our bodymind system. As we do this, the outer circumstances of our
life and our relationships improve. We can learn to relate to the amygdala
- becoming aware of anxiety as soon as possible after a triggering memory
or event. We can become aware of physiological anxiety symptoms such
as dry mouth, rapidly beating heart, sweating palms or pain in a specific
part of the body. We can learn to observe worrying images and thoughts
that increase anxiety and to recognise and then depotentise different
moods such as anxiety, emotional identification with others, anger,
resentment, fear. We can observe how specific moods can take us over
for hours, days or even months and become aware of the negative effect
of a constant inner critic. It is important to take time to identify
different patterns that control one's life and write these down so that
there is a record of them to refer to. It may help to enter into an
imaginary dialogue or interaction with it a mood or a pattern of emotional
response (active imagination). Creative ideas come when one is relaxed,
not in a state of tension of anxiety, fear or guilt - the fear of not
getting things right, the guilt of getting things wrong, anxiety about
what might be about to happen. Then the "flow" can begin, possibly because
the right frontal hemisphere of the brain is connected to the older
instinctive limbic system. Importance of play, enjoyment, enthusiasm,
feeling happy and at peace. Positive self-image, free (as much as possible!)
from self-doubt, fear of criticism and the compulsion to do better.
created in the therapeutic situation can affect the immune system. The
sense of threat has to be removed before this can happen. Sense of safety,
time and the opportunity to relate to therapist/parent. Sessions that
are abruptly ended or too short are threatening to a traumatised person
(I consider one hour to be the minimum time for therapy sessions). Similarly
a child needs plenty of time to talk to its parents about everything
that has happened to it and whatever interests it. A negative transference
in therapy may be constellated when a client experiences the therapist
as the persecuting parent. Fear of therapist (as parent) activates the
instinctive defence reflexes that could not be expressed in childhood
(except as withdrawal) and the memories of the original experience.
Intense anxiety may be expressed as defence or attack. Insight can slowly
release these reflexes. Psychological interventions in cancer, visualisation
techniques for this and other diseases can affect and strengthen the
immune system. Blocked emotions can be released by the same methods.
Emotions are the link, the bridge between the conscious personality
and the unconscious body systems.
and working with the image, the mood or the feeling has an effect something
like the impact of an observer at the quantum level in physics, altering
what is being observed. Deeply established habits can be altered; energy
released. The expectation of improvement is a major factor in healing.
Hope and trust are constellated and this has an immediate soothing and
calming effect on the bodymind system. Release of endorphins. Importance
and effect of prayer in these situations. Placebo effect. Conversely,
for example, telling someone they haven't long to live may kill them
or accelerate the process of degeneration. One of the most important
channels for the flow of feeling is touch. The way parents touch and
hold their baby can establish positive or negative neural circuitry
that lasts a lifetime, laying a foundation of trust or fear. Whenever
you feel upset/depressed/anxious try stroking your arms or crossing
your arms and stroking both forearms as if you were stroking a dog or
a cat. This has an instantaneous calming effect and can help to alleviate
and release the "paralysis" symptomatology of depression.
bodymind is an intelligent organism which runs the whole system of integrated
networks of information instinctively, responding with incredible sensitivity
to what it encounters in the outer environment as well as in the inner
one. The front of the cortex is unique to humans - this is where hope
is - planning, choosing, formulating a goal. Laughter is triggered in
a tiny little area at the very front of the cortex. We are wired for
bliss. We can choose to be happy. Our very survival depends on the experience
of bliss - on giving and receiving joy, love, laughter, caring, compassion,
warm joyous relationships. We can change our programming if we choose
to do so. We can choose to be happy and to release ourselves from negative
programming. Those of you who are working with body treatments, notice
the rigidity and tension of the back muscles, distortions of posture,
whether the client is completely silent or wants to talk. Whether there
are expressions of anger and resentment or calm and well-being. Become
aware of your general emotional state during the day. Is it one of hyper-arousal,
constantly 'doing' all day long; tense, nervous, impatient with and
critical of yourself and others? Is it one of relaxed enjoyment? If
the former, what can you do to give yourself a bit of space for relaxed
enjoyment? Is there any space for feelings to come in, for a different
response to life? Are you carrying the memory of a former situation
that is 'driving' you in the present? Married life can become a repetition
of a school or childhood situation: having to be constantly doing something,
pleasing someone or needing to be in constant control in case something
goes wrong. One may unconsciously repeat one's mother's pattern of life
(often one of sacrifice to a concept of duty imposed by society, religion,
family traditions etc.).
can come from two sources: toxic emotions repressed into the body systems
and a toxic condition of the body caused by environmental pollution
in the air and chemical and hormonal additives in the diet (Obviously
there are others such as the conditions in which people live, diet and
the way they care for or abuse their bodies). Today the cellular levels
of heavy metals and dioxins from herbicides and pesticides are 300-400
times greater than they were when first measured (in the 1950's) and
every year hundreds more chemicals are added to the 80-100,000 chemicals
that already exist in our environment. Environmental pollutants can
enter into the cell membrane and change the shape of the receptor, making
it looser and sloppier. How does this affect the transfer of information
essential to running the delicately balanced systems? The flow of electrons
(life or soul energy) through cell membrane gradients is what normally
allow the energy-generating component of the cells (mitochondria) to
transfer energy at about 98% efficiency rate. But pollutants suspended
in the cell membrane can alter and interrupt that electron flow, causing
"energy starvation," resulting in conditions like chronic fatigue, allergies
and chemical sensitivity.
environmental pollutants are mimicking and disrupting the action of
our sex hormones - estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Environmental
toxins have estrogen-like effects and bind to estrogen receptors where
they can stimulate breast cancer tumors. DDT and dioxin for instance,
have an estrogen-like effect. (p. 68 Deborah Cadbury, The Feminisation
of Nature). Similarly various toxins can act like testosterone in
the male body and stimulate prostate cancer. The receptors are put into
a state of overdrive. Another side-effect of these excess hormones is
male infertility. People's overall state of health today is a direct
reflection of the ecological mess we've inflicted on our planet, a mess
that has been created in blind ignorance and disregard for the essential
relatedness of all life. How can we expect to be healthy when our water
is full of chemicals, our air polluted by industrial waste and our food
contaminated by pesticides? We are an integral part of the Earth's ecosystem
and what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.
Food: Look at the quality of the food you
are buying and giving your family. Everything we eat has an effect on
the bodymind system. We are what we eat. Buy organic food as much as
possible, particularly dairy products and vegetables and be sure that
the chickens you buy have not been given antibiotics with their food
or adulterated food, either mixed with genetically modified elements
or with animal protein/excrement. Ask for information. If you are thinking
of starting a baby, give yourself at least six months to prepare your
body, giving up alcohol and smoking, eating as much organic food, particularly
fruit and vegetables as possible, going out for air and exercise, breathing
deeply. (see seminar 5, The Care of the Child)
The Limbic System
The Autonomic and Endocrine
and Immune elements of the Limbic system continually
interact with each other forming what is basically one organic
the molecules of emotion that connect 'Mind' and 'Body'.
This organism is best imagined as 'bodymind',
Because of this connection,
spontaneous cures may be triggered by intense emotion, which
can cause a sudden physical change at the molecular level.
Tears of sorrow, sensations of
joy, all flow from feelings or emotions. Creative ideas may
also originate with feeling and emotion. All are rooted in
the Limbic system.