Sign up for our Newsletter

You're Invited! - Attend an actual training class at no cost in any of our programs!

Learn More

One part of the HFI Body Centered Psychotherapy Training Program is 27 Wednesday evening presentations (from September to April) that are didactic and experiential in nature. Anyone interested in getting a "taste" of our program is welcome to attend one of these presentations. Call HFI at 860-236-6009 to let us know you would like to attend.

Cart

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

TRAINING AT HFI

ATTEND A FREE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP

hfi-3-hr-workshop-2014

CALENDAR

The Emotional and Energetic Roots of Pain and Illness and The Pathways to Healing II

/The Emotional and Energetic Roots of Pain and Illness and The Pathways to Healing II
The Emotional and Energetic Roots of Pain and Illness and The Pathways to Healing II 2017-02-07T16:37:39+00:00

The Emotional And Energetic Roots Of Pain And Illness And The Pathways To Healing II

A Story for both Therapists and Clients:

“Necessary Struggles”

A man found a butterfly cocoon.  One day a small opening appeared.  He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body out of that little hole.  Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon.  The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would then contract in time.  Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of his life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was the restricting cocoon, and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were God’s way to force fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life.  If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us.  We would not be as strong as what we could have been…and we would never fly.

Our life struggles include our illnesses and all our aches and pains.  In our culture, the most common view is that we “get” a disease or illness, as if it happened to us as a piece of random luck.  We tend to say “I got arthritis” or “I got tinnitus.”  This idea feeds the belief that we have no control, and are victims of whatever illness happens to strike.  The opposite extreme alleges that we have created our own health problems, so we should be able to “un-create” them, if only we were aligned enough.  This concept can lead to self-blame, to guilt, and to a hard embittered determination to solve the problem.  Such feelings can be counterproductive, causing even more stress and illness.

Neither of these viewpoints is completely accurate.  In truth, we are not to blame for the physical symptoms we develop, and we aren’t completely powerless either.  Every symptom is simply a part of our process and a message from our body and spirit.  Each stems from old hurts and traumas, which, when healed, can lead to newfound wholeness.

HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy practitioners have helped countless people.  Understanding and working with the emotional and energetic roots of physical pain and illness can create deep physical and/or emotional healing.  This process takes place within the realm of subtle energy.

Subtle Energy

 

HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy works with the invisible to heal the impossible.

At the center of all life is a Subtle Energy, also known as chi, prana, spirit, vital force, or Akashic Field. We are all a part of this vast dynamic web of energy.  Quantum physics understands that Subtle Energy is the medium that holds consciousness and connects all of us to each other. On the most fundamental level, the human mind, psyche and body are not distinct and separate from our environment, but a packet of pulsating energy that is constantly interacting with a vast energy sea.  When we meditate, perform an exercise in visualization, or are deeply focused and “out of our own way,” we feel “in the flow.” We are in touch with the field of Subtle Energy.

The Hungarian philosopher of science Ervin Lazslo writes about the Akashic Field, describing it as a holographic informational energy field that binds together everything in the universe.  He postulates that the entire universe consists of our history of experience, our memories and our pure consciousness.

Although matter appears solid, it is interchangeable with energy. That matter and energy are interchangeable is one of Albert Einstein’s greatest discoveries. In fact, matter is made up of Subtle Energy. Subtle Energy is the energy that connects everything in the universe. Therefore, on a personal level, communication and parent-child relationships not only take place in the visible realm, but in the subatomic world as well.  Emotions in these exchanges communicate through the subtle energy frequencies, as well as through our cells and even through our DNA.  The heart and brain perceive the world and record their own history of the experience in pulsating waves.  So too, emotions are molecules of energy that come together, forming a response to internal or external stimuli.

For example, if we walk into a room where two people are sitting quietly and showing no expression we will experience some kind of energy despite the absence of emotional signals from the two people.  We will feel ease, tension, or discord in the air.  We intuitively know, we have a body sense, that these two people are either relaxed or upset with one another, even though they ae making no overt signs.  Whether this is your psychic ability at work or perhaps intuition is beside the point.  It is your body experiencing the vibrations and frequencies of Subtle Energy.

With this definition and understanding of subtle energy in hand, how does HFI Body- Centered Psychotherapy work?  Our therapists are dealing with the energies that have created experience.  They look at how the body organizes itself based on the nature of the energy we bonded with as children.  We learn how various emotional states are created, and whether or not our early life experiences supported the free flow of Subtle Energy and consciousness.  For example, love contains energies of warmth, softness, and flow, while negativity possesses energies of hardness and destructiveness.  Our Subtle Energy expands in response to warmth and softness and contracts in relation to hardness and destructiveness.

With HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy, we discover how our subtle energies formed in relation to the combination of love and support or emotional and/or physical abuse which our energy field had to deal with.  Subtle Energy creates the defensive structures that help us survive the abuse.  These structures take various forms in our body and block the flow of energy necessary for optimal health. Such defensive structures can manifest in the form of collapse or compression, rigidity, frozenness, or formlessness.

An example of this can be seen with a single celled amoeba swimming in protoplasm. An external prod will cause it to change shape.  It automatically reforms itself as it pulls away from the stimulus.  Our body, filled with an infinite number of cells, responds in the same way to external stimuli.

In our therapy, we are not just working on the physical body.  Since energy created the disturbance in the first place, we must work with energy to solve that disturbance. It is essential to undo the negative energy that created the defense.  We must work through the trauma in order for health and wholeness to occur.

For example, imagine that in childhood our life force and separateness were met with invasion and humiliation.  Our parents did not want us to be separate or fully alive. To prevent the free flow of our energy and our separateness, they criticized or embarrassed us. Or perhaps, our separateness was met with invasive energy. In response, our energy body formed a defensive compression and density in order to deal with our parent’s negative energy and emotion. The compression is not only experienced at a muscular level, but is also seen in our cellular structure and in the way our organs are aligned. Compression can lead to specific forms of inflammation and pain. The compression may be in our intestines or colon, so that later in life we develop intestinal and stomach problems or perhaps a spastic colon that leads to colitis.  The aches and pains we believe we have to live with are expressions of how we compressed ourselves, and the resultant tension.  Dealing with the trapped and unresolved emotional trauma can release the bodily compression. Relaxing the compression in turn releases our held subtle energies and thereby creates a realignment of our body.

No matter how we had to form in the face of abuse, we are affected down to the level of our spirit and our soul.  The soul is the spark of divine consciousness that lives in each of us.  It is the essence of each of us that continues beyond lifetimes.  The soul of this psychotherapy is the energy in each session that is beyond words, beyond intellectual knowing, where spirit brings messages about the things both client and therapist need in order to move toward wholeness, toward enlightenment.

When we talk about working with body, emotions, and spirit, those are all really manifestations of one another. They are interconnected.  In summary, it is our Subtle Energy or spirit that enables us to form defensive structures in the first place.  And when it comes to healing, our spirit, which is connected to the universal web of Subtle Energy, has astonishing powers to make us well and to renew the world.  It is within this web of pulsating waves and frequencies that HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy does its work.

Our Pain and Illness Are Not Randomly Created

We are all complex, multidimensional organisms. We know that a physical ailment affects us emotionally.  But left unattended, an emotional or spiritual wound can also manifest itself physically.  All processes in this dynamic, multi-layered system occur at the same time; every event in every cell of our body is known to every other cell at the same time.  Even our memories are stored, not only in our brain, but in every cell.

Our biological responses to emotional trauma and stress are very sophisticated.We need to understand that our targeted areas of pain and illness are not random.  Our specific pains and illnesses are the result of life’s specific emotional traumas and our responses to them, all beginning in childhood. These traumas can stem from prenatal development through our early years and even onward, into adulthood.

An example is the way our body freezes when we are severely traumatized by violent emotional and/or physical abuse. Imagine that as an infant, rather than having an emotional and energetic welcome into the world, we are met with a threat of annihilation.  Time stands still, our biological systems go on high alert and we can’t feel anything.  Our infantile perception diminishes and we can hardly breathe.  Our frozenness indicates that our body has gone into a state of shock and the dissociation indicates that a part of our spirit has left our body.

Frozenness and dissociation are the ways we survive the violence. Frozenness becomes an actual reality in our body as we have to lock our joints against the threat of annihilation.  Imagine an overwhelming threat coming toward you.  You can feel how you shrink in your body and contract your muscles and joints in response.  These negative experiences are now frozen in time and still live in your body.  They create chronic tension and stress reactions, which, if left unattended over time, will lead to muscular pain or a breakdown of joints.  Perhaps later in life we’ll discover we will develop arthritic symptoms.

HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy therapists understand that energy and matter are convertible.  That is, energy can be converted to matter and matter can be converted back to energy (Einstein’s theory: E=mc2).  To illustrate this, let’s look at tumors, breast masses, and other illnesses and diseases which are results of energy that has been blocked and left to stagnate.  With the introduction of healing energy, light, love, comfort, or acceptance into the area of blocked matter, our HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy therapists have had significant success in converting matter back to energy.  This has resulted in masses disappearing before scheduled surgery as well as the remission and/or cure of many illnesses and diseases.

We hold the belief that every illness and disease is a message from spirit about the physical, emotional and/or spiritual healing that needs to take place.  The illness and disease are also messages that may indicate energy is blocked in the body and the fact that our spirit isdirecting our attention to the block.  As spirit seeks to heighten our awareness of where we are blocked, we have the opportunity to heal a spiritual/emotional wound and thus allow the blocked energy (which is also matter) to be converted back to flowing, healthy energy.

Let’s take a quick look at the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, whose balance is negatively affected by chronic stress.  All around us, in this hyperactive modern world, we see the damaging effects of stress: high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, and autoimmune disorders, to name a few. Healing energy can help regulate our adrenal system, which is taxed by stress.  It can calm the automatic fight or flight response that stress induces in our brain.  In fact, healing energy can even create an increase of neural connections to the pre-frontal cortex.  The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain which mediates the response of the limbic or emotional brain with the fight and flight response of the reptilian brain.  This allows us to know when something is truly dangerous rather than automatically responding as if everything is potentially dangerous.

Unfortunately, we tend to get stuck in our past habit of defending against old trauma and living as if we are in constant danger.  As we work with and heal our past trauma we can rewire this unhealthy, old, outdated way of defending ourselves.  The rewiring of our brain and the rebalancing of our nervous systems enable us to live in a more balanced and healthy manner.  We now find ourselves in a healing state of being as we connect to a higher level of functioning, to our own deeper place of wisdom that also connects us to universal consciousness.

Although our therapists can help guide clients toward deep healing, a full physical healing is not always a certainty.  Sometimes the healing is of an emotional or spiritual nature.  The extent of the physical healing depends on several factors: such as the message our spirit is sending to us and/or the pre-existing level of physical deterioration.  Also critical is our ability to live through our resistance into our emotional hurts and trauma, and into the old embedded negative energies from the original emotional abuse as well.

As we begin the therapeutic process, improvement is possible even when there is physical deterioration.  We don’t know in advance the nature and extent of the healing that can and will occur.  In order for any healing to take place we need to suspend judgments and obsessions about what can be accomplished and allow our body and emotions to realign into a quieter, calmer state of being.

Those readers interested in understanding the details of our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system responses to stress and relaxation can proceed directly to Appendixes A and B.  Others may wish to take their time and read about the various aspects of the HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy process here.

Our Emotions

As was discussed in the section on Subtle Energy, our emotions are forms of energy and expressions of our life force.  If we support each emotion that forms in our bodies, our energy flows and we live in a state of equilibrium. We then remain in a high and positive vibration.  When we block our emotions, we block the energy molecules that make up the emotion.  Over time, the effects of our blocked energy intensify. Depending on how we organized our bodies in order to survive emotional and physical abuse, we can either become overcharged, or lose the charge and become under-energized.  Either way, the blocking of our emotions may create a misalignment of muscles and organs, an over or underproduction of hormones, a misfiring of our neural system, an insufficiency of oxygen throughout our body, and limited or overactive respiratory response.

Emotionally, we all live with a dilemma: conflicting needs will often compete with one another.  On the one hand, there is our biological and energetic need; an innate imperative, requiring that our life force always moves toward free expression.   On the other hand, there are times when we may need to limit this expression in order to defend ourselves.  This dilemma can occur even if we are not actually endangered.  That happens when we limit our aliveness in order to seek safety and protection from abuse that occurred in the past.  When old learned defensive strategies conflict with energy and emotion seeking expression, we develop physical tension.  Tension lived over a lifetime can result in the breakdown into pain and illness.

The Creation of Our Pain and Illness

In working psychotherapeutically with a client’s physical pain and illness, I begin the process by exploring the biology of the specific problem.  For example, discussing hyperthyroidism as a case in point, at first I would review the condition with the client…it is caused by an overactive thyroid gland releasing an excessive amount of the thyroid hormones to circulate in the blood.  If I need to, I research the client’s condition on the internet. Next, I want to understand how the client’s emotional and physical organization creates and perpetuates their condition.  Remember, our emotional and physical organization is the impact of the combination of abuse and support that we received in our childhood.  That organization is also our learned quest for safety in relation to these menacing childhood energies.  With this understanding in hand, I want to apply it to the client’s specific pain or illness.   In the case of hyperthyroidism, I would explore with the client the possibility that their defensive organization was an attempt to stay ahead of the abuse of their childhood.

This meant that they would have to constantly anticipate abuse, and this constant vigilance became a state of hyper alertness.  Continuing the exploration of the emotional and the physical interface, I would want to understand the tension pattern that caused and still perpetuates the physical condition.  I would observe that their particular hypervigilance is held in place by a band of tension around the throat.  I’d also point out that the client’s head is forward of the rest of their body, out of alignment with the neck and shoulders. The out-front position of the head is the physical expression of attempting to remain “ahead” of anticipated abuse.  It also perpetuates a constant stress response.

Physically and energetically, there is an upward displacement, a pulling away from the ground that leads to a dissociative state.  I would understand that this physical organization places pressure on the thyroid gland and therefore has the potential to increase hormonal production.  I would help the client focus on their body organization and help them decode the messages, the story, that the organization is holding.  I already know that the story is one of abusive and victimizing energies from childhood.  The story also contains the information regarding how the client has learned to deal with their emotional life by limiting it.

My understanding is based on the observed truth that emotional and energetic victimizing energies (i.e., emotional or physical abuse) manifest themselves as the tension patterns we develop and that then the tension eventually collapses into symptoms of pain or illness.  The way we were victimized, abused, becomes trapped in our bodies and we wind up continually defending ourselves against it.  Pressure is created in the battle between our need for release and its opposite, the defensive holding against release.  The result of that battle is a symptom.  To achieve the release of the symptom, we need to “un-form” and then reform the physical organization that we developed to help us survive.

Physical Symptoms are Messages

On an emotional level, symptoms are manifestations of unconscious traumas that obstruct our path to wholeness.  Physically, our symptoms are our biology and our deepest place of wisdom informing us when we are out of balance.  On a spiritual level, symptoms are messages that alert us about where and how we are blocked from becoming one with the divine.  The information from the messages doesn’t come to us in a linear form like an email.   We need to decode the messages that our pain and illness provide.  We need to interpret these messages the way a Shaman understands the meaning of a vision or a dream.  Then we can align ourselves with our emotions, body, and spirit rather than continue to suffer and bemoan our pain.

Faith

An essential ingredient in working with our clients, or with our own physical pain and illness, is having faith in process.  We must also remain open to understanding the multi-dimensional nature of the physical, the emotional, and the energetic.  At the same time, we must listen for the healing messages that come from our deeper place of wisdom and from spirit…messages that can lead us toward transformation.  Working into our emotional trauma will impact all of the dimensions of our being: physical, energetic, and spiritual, as well as emotional.  In this way, we will receive the deepest healing possible, whether the healing is ultimately in the emotional, physical, or spiritual realm.  Since the emotional, physical, and spiritual are all manifestations of each other it doesn’t matter which one the healing takes place in.

Healing

The work we need to do for healing our wounds, whether emotional or physical, includes letting go of our struggle with ourselves, our internal war.  We need to accept and love ourselves more than we already do, no matter how we feel emotionally.As we give up our internal struggle, expand our consciousness, and open our heart to ourselves, our energy and body align into a healing state.

My job as a therapist is to guide you, the client, to feeling safer in your own skin, and to feeling surrounded by love and protection.  I might encourage you to invite images of  strong and loving mother or father figures, caring friends, and family members from whom you can accept feelings of love and comfort.  Or I may help you connect to whatever spirituality is already a part of your belief and experience. This may include a sense of the most powerful feeling of safety you know of in the universe.  Employing animal imagery, I might help you connect to an animal of bonding, an animal who will love and protect you.  There are times when animals seem safer than people.

Other images of support might include a ring of animals surrounding you, protecting you and keeping you safe.  You might also imagine being inside a tree or a mountain, or conjure up whatever image of safety we can create together.  Throughout the process, I will try to help you embody the image.  That is, I want to guide you to take the image into your body so that is more than just a mental picture.  It then becomes a physical, emotional, and energetic reality.  As you relax into this feeling of safety, an experience of peace and strength will grow.  No matter what else you do, you will find the integration of love, safety, and understanding, and an appreciation of your resistance to them, which will be vital to your healing.  A daily practice that deepens the connection to the image of safety is vital.  You are now looking after yourself, loving yourself, deepening a channel into the feeling of peace and well-being.

Our process — we are in it together — will help you develop increased levels of internal support.  I also need to become aware of your resistance to taking in safety and protection.  That may sound like an odd statement.  Why on earth would you resist feeling safe and protected?  Let’s consider this question an important one!   Unfortunately, we all become tied to old ways of doing things, and that includes the layers of armor and stiffness we have built up.  These were the only ways we knew how to survive as children.  Letting go of those old ways of protecting ourselves can feel unsettling.  It is unsettling; in fact, it’s downright frightening, because imagining safety can open us to the traumatic days of our childhood when we felt so terribly unsafe.

The Power of Imagery

Although imagery is not the only method that I bring to the session, it is a central aspect of the work we do in HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy.  Images are messages that can come from deeper places of our own wisdom, including from spirit.  As we learn to dialogue with these images, we begin to welcome and respect them.  We find that they have information for us about the reasons behind our pain and illness, and they can lead us onto the pathways to our healing.  As discussed above, it is important to understand that the way that we use imagery is to help you embody your images.  This means that we help you feel each experience you have in your body, not just think about experiences in your mind.  Embodying experience is what leads to your feeling the fullness of who you are.  It is a proven fact that imagery has the power to shift your biology. Ultimately, the therapy we do focuses on your body and the subtle energies it contains.

Specific Ways that HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy Promotes Healing

Our therapy can help clients to:

  • Develop and internalize new channels of acceptance, love, safety and protection.Create a dialogue with the pain and illness in order to receive messages from the physical condition. At the deepest place of internal wisdom, you absolutely know the reason for your illness, its cause, and what would enable you to return to balance, health, and well-being.   You just need to listen and hear.
  • Guide yourself toward inviting an image to emerge from your pain and illness, so that the symptom can inform you why the condition is in your life and what you need to understand about it.  You can invite an image of an animal to emerge; but keep in mind that whatever image your spirit sends you is perfect.  We will then help you to talk with this image, until it provides you with the information regarding what the symptom is here for and what it needs from you to heal.
  • Allow an image of healing to emerge to guide you on your healing path. This image may be of a wise person or animal who will guide you toward health and well-being, or an image of a pain-free, healthy you. Again, there are endless possibilities for what the image might be.
  • Create a dialogue with a spirit guide.  Some of you may see an image appear, others may feel a sense of a guide.  Either way, you’ll need to be open to guidance. If this concept feels foreign to you, you might understand the image or sense of guidance is an expression from your higher power, and that a deeper place of your own wisdom is communicating with you.  The ability to dialogue with a deeper place of your own knowing, that is, communicate with the images, with the symptoms, or with Spirit, can takes you into a healing state where your energy and body become aligned.

An important note is that it is not a problem if an image or a sense of a guide fails to appear or if you are unable to dialogue with the symptom.  Whatever your experience, it becomes a part of the process.  For example, if you feel blank, then we help you explore the reason for your blankness and how blankness was the impact of childhood abuse and is now a part of how you stay safe.

In this communication process we will help you:

  • Ask the image what it is here for and if it has a message for you.
  • Become aware of whether the image possesses a victimizing and abusive or a healing, spiritual energy.
  • Ask the pain or the illness what it needs from you.
  • Ask at what age and under what conditions the pain or the illness was born in you.
  • Ask the spirit guide, image or the symptom itself to help you know and experience what you need to understand about the pain or the illness.
  • Be the abusive, victimizing energy that creates the pain or the illness.  Here’s an example of becoming the victimizing energy:  If you feel your intestines tied up in knots we would help you become the force that tied those knots. We call this Victimizing Work. Victimizing Work is very important for identifying and releasing the internalized negative energies still trapped in the body and perpetuating your symptoms.  The result of this part of the process is that you no longer have to hold against the negative energies and can identify and release them.  Therefore, you are making more room to take in feelings of love, compassion, support, and safety.
  • Allow an animal of healing to emerge and help guide you toward what you need for a healing to take place.
  • Become aware of how you create the pain in your body.  Once again, be assured that you will receive guidance for exploring the path towards answering this question.
  • Bring the light and the energy of spirit into the pain or illness.
  • Bring an image and energy of a good parent’s love and comfort into the pain or illness.
  • Open to the authentic emotional contact with the therapist, as this is very important.  Such contact is the positive, new bonding you needed and didn’t receive as a child.
  • Create a supportive and healing community for yourself.
  • Reduce obsessional thinking by the development of a mindfulness practice.  A mindfulness practice fosters emotional, energetic, and physical alignment as you focus on immediate experience. Only in the experience of the present moment can you truly perceive what is real, and reduce your obsessive thoughts, which are based in your focusing on the past or the future. Your ruminations about what has already taken place or your worries about the future keep you from feeling alive right here, right now.  The more mindful you are, the more you are aligned in your body.

Appendix A

Optimal health needs a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  Like two children on a see-saw, skillfully balancing the board with a minimum of tension, the SNS and PNS carefully maintain metabolic equilibrium by making adjustments whenever something disturbs the balance. The SNS becomes dominant at times of stress.  Inside our body the alert signal goes on and we are ready to take action.  This turns on our fight or flight response. In contrast, the PNS promotes the relaxation response. When the stressful situation passes the PNS takes over and we can let down and relax. This explains both how we survive biologically during traumatic situations and then return to a relaxed state when the crisis has passed.

Stress reactions reduce the body’s less important functions, those not related to dealing with the emergency.  Here’s what takes place during the stress reaction: our adrenal glands release adrenaline and other hormones, especially cortisol, which increase breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. This moves more oxygen-rich blood faster to the brain and to the muscles needed for fighting or fleeing.  And we’ll have plenty of energy for either, because adrenaline causes a rapid release of glucose and fatty acids into our bloodstream.  Also, our senses become keener, our memory sharper, and we are less sensitive to pain.

Let’s look at all of the changes as a result of our being brought to alert status in order to deal with stress:

  • Acceleration of heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Reduced ventilation to remain calm and resourceful,or hyperventilation to prepare for battle
  • Tensing of skin as blood moves away from the skin surface
  • Activation of clotting mechanisms
  • Lowering of gastro-intestinal functions
  • Suppression of the immune system (an effect of higher adrenaline production)
  • Lowering or over-activation of sexual functioning…the lowering to bring more energy to fight or flee or the over activation to compensate for reduced feelings of vitality

Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and is involved in the following functions:

  • proper glucose metabolism
  • regulation of blood pressure
  • Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
  • Immune function
  • Inflammatory response

Cortisol helps the body produce blood sugar from protein for more energy. However, excess glucose is used for lipogenesis (fat production).  Interestingly, research has linked over-secretion of cortisol to increase fat storage and obesity.

Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects…

  • A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
  • Heightened memory functions
  • A surge of increased immunity
  • Lower sensitivity to pain
  • Maintenance of homeostasis in the body

Higher and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have shown to have negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalance e.g. hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Increased fat, which is related to development of heart conditions or stroke, and of higher level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL).
  • A cumulative chronic overloading of the brain with powerful hormones intended for short term duty in emergency situations: these damage and kill brain cells.

Prolonged stress with the SNS remaining active also produces…

  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Poor attention
  • Forgetfulness

To keep adrenal functioning and cortisol levels healthy and under control our body’s relaxation response needs to be activated.  It is important, however, to know whether your cortisol levels are high or low. High cortisol levels are the result of the response to chronic stress and represent the adaptation phase of the stress response. Low cortisol levels are the consequence of adrenal exhaustion or the exhaustion phase of the stress response.

Therefore, chronic stress, with a constantly overactive SNS, can affect all of the systems of our body:
Endocrine (Hormonal System)
Digestive
Cardiovascular
Lymphatic
Muscular-skeletal
Immune
Nervous
Reproductive
Urinary

Appendix B

Getting “under the hood”

…Excess cortisol from chronic stress speeds aging, by shortening telomeres.

Let’s go under the hood here, to borrow an automotive metaphor, and take a look at realities normally hidden from our sight.  Scientific progress has helped us know what was previously invisible is now becoming increasingly visible. With this deeper look at things comes the possibility of healing that which was thought to be incurable.

The latest research indicates that too much of a rushed, overbooked, multi-tasking, high-stress lifestyle is shortening our lifespan and stunning our immune system at the cellular level, by inhibiting the cells’ youth enzyme, called telomerase.  I‘m sure you are familiar with the above stressors I mentioned earlier.  But there is another continual stress induced by how we have organized ourselves vis-à-vis the abuse of our childhoods. Stress from childhood abuse and stress from societal factors are not independent of each other.  Each impacts the other and affects adrenal functions.

The adrenal functions that produce cortisol have an effect on telomeres.  Every cell contains a tiny clock called a telomere, which shortens each time the cell divides. Short telomeres are linked to a range of human diseases, including HIV, osteoporosis, heart disease and aging.  Studies have shown that an enzyme within the cell, called telomerase, keeps immune cells young by preserving their telomere length and with it the ability to continue dividing.

UCLA scientists have found that the stress hormone cortisol suppresses the immune cells’ ability to activate their telomerase.  This may explain why the cells of persons under chronic stress have shorter telomeres.  The study reveals how stress makes people more susceptible to illness.

In other groundbreaking work, Bruce Lipton has presented new discoveries about the interaction between our mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information.  It shows that genes and DNA are controlled by signals from outside the cells, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts.