The amygdalae are primitive structures part of the limbic system that determine whether your current situation is dangerous to survival or not. When the amygdalae perceive danger, they activate 3 neuro-pathway loops, which take the person out of a “rest and growth mode” and put them into a “survival mode.”
These 3 neuro-pathway loops work together to (1) stimulate the body’s stress hormones, which make up the fight/flight/freeze/faint reaction, (2) heighten the brains reactivity and sensory organs, and (3) activate the thinking brain to logically evaluate the situation.
In other words, when your brain perceives stress, it is prompted to immediately react based on emotion, conditioned responses, and memories of past experiences, before it is able to rationally assess the situation and make logical decisions to address it. Hence, it is a common human experience to make irrational/bad decisions, while not “seeing” the obvious solution to problems when under stress.
These neuro-pathways are so sensitive that they will fire whether the perceived danger is real or imagined.
For example, there are cases where people with allergies are triggered into severe allergic reactions although the allergen isn’t physically present. For instance, there is the case of a woman with cat allergies who allergically reacted to a cat’s meow heard from the television. In another case, a man with allergies to flowers, allergically reacted to a bouquet of fake, paper flowers. In both examples, the amygdala interpreted the stimulus of the cat’s meow and the fake flowers as if they were real dangers and launched the body into an allergic reaction.
Most people have an overactive stress response, which constantly keeps them in survival mode preventing them from being in a state conducive to healing. This poor coping mechanism is the direct result of stress proneness due to genetic factors combined with accumulated suppressed/repressed negative emotions, thoughts, belief systems, and perceptions.
When the stress response continues long term, the body’s coping mechanisms begin to fail, leading to adrenal exhaustion and suppression of the immune system. Then, the body’s organs begin to show pathological changes to prolonged exposure to stress hormones. Eventually, the body’s energy stores become depleted, the disease process becomes activated, and the body deteriorates. Stress has been shown to be a principal precondition to disease and is linked to virtually every named illness!
A New Science Of The Emotions
The science of psychoneuroimmunology clearly demonstrates the connection between the mind and the body. Each thought directly affects the body by causing fluctuations in your brain’s chemistry. The brain releases chemical messengers known as neuropeptides, which function as neurotransmitters or hormones in the body. They carry messages within the body to regulate nearly every bodily function, including the metabolism, the immune system, as well as, pain and pleasure receptor sites. In addition, they have also been found to hold onto memories.
In fact, the cells of the body contain more brain tissue, in the form of neuropeptides, that could ever fit in the brain! Accordingly, emotions and memories are stored in every cell of muscle, organ, and body tissue by these neuropeptides.
Therefore: The more you think the same thoughts - which produce the same brain chemicals - which cause the body to experience the same feeling - and cause the body to store these brain chemicals (as neuropeptides) - the more we become physically modified by our thoughts.
In other words, unhealthy thoughts, which arise from the stressor emotions - pride, scorn, anger, hate, fear, anxiety, grief, regret, guilt, blame, apathy, shame, and humiliation - directly influence our physical health, the choices we make, and our quality of life.
In addition, the findings of Applied Kinesiology have established clear links between the stressor emotions, the acupuncture meridians, blood chemistry, the organs and glands, and their associated muscle groups. The relationships between all of these stages of health are clinically demonstrable via kinesiologic testing.
Ultimately, to break the cycle of disease, one needs to initiate a process of self-inquiry to examine all of the unhealthy thinking habits and attitudes that are causing harm to one’s health. To accomplish this, the underlying belief systems must be revealed and a shift in perception must occur to replace the unhealthy belief systems with new life supporting ones.
Research Based Evidence
The Mind-Body Connection
There are several thousands of documented cases of severe diseases that had become unresponsive to treatment, yet the patient experienced a full recovery. For example, there have been numerous cases of cancer patients waking up without a cancer cell in their body, after being told they only have a matter of days left to live. These occurrences typically correlated with a change in perspective, significance, and meaning that the patient ascribed to their condition and life. These changes in perception are reported to have had a positive effect on stress reduction and on replacing negative emotions with positive ones, namely optimism, willingness, acceptance, joy, love, and peace. These cases suggest that the successful and permanent reduction of the stress response in diseased patients can potentially reverse the disease process. These findings are consistent with our own clinical observations as well as the findings of psychotherapy, psychosomatic medicine, and various mindfulness based practices used in the treatment and prevention of disease.
Cancer patients, UCLA, and Research on Stress & Illness:
Research by Liebeskind and Shavit 1980’s clarified the relationship between stress, the suppression of the immune system, and the development of cancer. When the immune system is healthy, there is a release of the brain’s anti-cancer “killer” cells, which attack and kill young growing tumour cells. But when the immune system is suppressed via stress, the activity of the anti-cancer “killer” cells diminishes. The report Science (223: 188-190) states, “our findings support the view that the central nervous system by modulating immune function exercises some measure of control over the inception and development of disease.” A feeling of helplessness is also linked to reduced anti-killer cell activity and increased tumour growth. Depression lowers the immune response and helplessness is linked to how much control the person feels he/she has over stressful events. Research has confirmed that stress is a principal precondition for physical illness (Sapolsky, 2010).
The Placebo Effect:
The “placebo effect” is an example of how the connection between brain and body works in healing. It has been demonstrated that when a patient believes something will relieve pain, the body actually releases endorphins that do so. In a recent study, Parkinson’s patients who were given fake surgery or fake drug treatments produced dopamine (a chemical their bodies lack) in quantities similar to those they might have received in a genuine intervention.
- Foundation for Cancer Research and Wellness by Robert Moss
“The latest research has shown that the placebo effect does not always arise from a conscious belief in a drug. Alternatively, it may grow out of subconscious associations between recovery and the experience of being treated, from the pinch of a shot to a doctor’s white coat. Such subliminal conditioning can control bodily processes, including immune responses and the release of hormones.”
—Scientific America Magazine February/March 2009
“Brain scans show that when we imagine an event, our thoughts “light up” the areas of the brain that are triggered during the actual event. Sports psychologists have done pioneering work in this area. In one study, skiers were wired to EMG monitors (which record electrical impulses sent to the muscles) while they mentally rehearsed their downhill runs. The skiers’ brains sent the same instructions to their bodies whether they were doing a jump or just thinking about it.”
– Robert Moss Foundation for Cancer Research and Wellness
Strategies To Overcome Stress
Heart Rate Variability:
Disruptions in the hearts coherence patterns, caused by emotion, biochemical, physical, or environmental stress, can quickly lead to overall communication breakdowns with the BodyMind Complex and ultimately lead to an active disease process. Using a Heart Rate Variability monitor can help you to quickly determine your hearts coherence levels. A number of techniques can then be used to help build greater coherence if needed, including the Heart Focussed Breathing Technique taught by the Institute of HeartMath:
(1) Place a hand over your heart and focus your attention to that region,
(2) slowly breathe in and out through the heart region,
(3) feel a positive emotion, such as happiness, joy, love, or gratitude, in every cell of your body,
(4) continue until you feel a shift, or a sense of well-being and ease.
Download this E-book by the Institute of HeartMath: Overcoming Emotional Chaos
Visit: heartmath.org for more information, training, and free e-books
The majority of people do not understand the anatomy and physiology of their emotions nor do they know how to manage and control their emotions. This technique was developed specifically to reinforce the client’s natural, innate emotional release/synthesis mechanism.
Step 1: Focus you attention on the situation causing distress. Allow any associated emotions and feelings to arise without any resistance, just be with the feelings and sensations no matter how uncomfortable. It is also sometimes useful to ask for help in surrendering from a higher power.
Step 2: Ignore all thoughts. Do not label, rationalize, judge, etc. Let the thoughts run their own course. Just observe them. Do not engage with them.
Step 3: Continue until a “shift” is felt. This process may be instantaneous or one that requires several minutes. It is important to allow the stored energy to mobilize and begin processing and synthesizing. It can be helpful at this stage to breathe-in positive emotions such as love, compassion, joy, or gratitude and visualizing the negativity being dissolved to help unhook and process the negative feelings. When done correctly, a sense of peace and well-being will ensue, replacing any distress that was previously felt.
BodyTalk, EFT, Psych-K, Psychotherapy:
All of these modalities are capable of disassociating, neutralizing, and unhooking emotions stored in the body's tissues. They can then help the person process and release these stored emotions and work at the level of the mind itself to help replace negative belief systems with life promoting ones, to help prompt a shift in perception.
Activities, mindfulness, and meditation:
Activities (i.e., arts/crafts, playing an instrument, gardening, exercise/sport, etc.), mindfulness, and meditation can all help to induce states where one loses track of their body, space, and time. This phenomenon is often called "being in the Zone." In sport, a similar phenomenon occurs, referred to as "breaking the barrier," where athletes reach their physical limit, then suddenly experience a breakthrough moment, where all sense of fatigue disappears, while a sense of lightness ensues with a knowingness that they have all the strength and energy necessary to achieve their goal (i.e., finish the marathon, break a world record, etc.)
A Belief That An Innate Higher Intelligence Gives Us Life And Can Heal The Body:
There is an intelligence that organizes and regulates all the functions of the body. This intelligence knows how to maintain order among all of the cells, tissues, organs, and systems of the body because it created the body from the initial two individual cells. You can consciously tap into this intelligence and use your thoughts to direct it to heal your body.
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
by Dr. David R. Hawkins M.D., Ph.D (for more information, please visit: http://veritaspub.com
A Course In Miracles
by the Foundation for Inner Peace (for the free online Workbook, please visit: http://acim.org/Lessons/index.html
Visit Hay House Publishing and You Can Heal Your Life for more great resources.