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The Brain and the Psycho-neuro-immune System
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"The Sleeping Beauty, the Prince and the Dragon"

An Exploration of the Soul

Seminar 1
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Seminar Main Page What is the Soul? click here
Seminar 2
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Seminar 2 The Origins of the Concept of Soul click here
Seminar 3
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Seminar 3 The Myth of the Fall click here
Seminar 4
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Seminar 4   Myths, Fairy Tales and Dreams  click here
Seminar 4A
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Seminar 4   Animals in Dreams 
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Seminar 5
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Seminar 5  The Roots of Depression click here
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Seminar 6 The Care of the Child click here
Seminar 7
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Seminar 7 The Great Web of Life   click here
Seminar 8
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Seminar 8 The Brain and the Neuro-psycho-immune System  this page  
Seminar 9
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Seminar 9 The Dragon: Integrating the Archaic Psyche and the Shadow click here
Seminar 10
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Seminar 10 Rebalancing the Masculine and the Feminine click here
Seminar 11
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Seminar 11 Base Metal into Gold: The Process of the Soul's Transformation click here
Seminar 12
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Seminar 12 Individual Soul, Cosmic Soul and Spirit
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Seminar 13
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Seminar 12 The Wisdom Texts
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Seminar 8

THE BRAIN AND THE NEURO-PSYCHO-IMMUNE SYSTEM

©Anne Baring

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.

          Please in 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.
           Our imagination 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.
          
At 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)

           The physical 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.
           The 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).
           In 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).
           Scientists 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.
           From 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.
           Candace 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)

          Like information, emotions are the connecting link between the two realms of mind and body, (just as the peptides and their receptors are in the chemical sphere).

The neuro-peptides 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." Our 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 or chemical.
           The nervous system consists of the brain and network of nerve cells throughout the body and is the foundation of memory, thought, and emotion.
          The immune 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.
           The endocrine system, consisting of glands and hormones, is the body's main regulatory system, controlling and integrating various bodily functions.
           The 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.

          Unconscious 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 system.
          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.
          The hippocampus 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.
          
It 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.

          The 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 (see websites www.thoughtfieldtherapy.co.uk and emofree.com) 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.
           We need 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.
           The empathy 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.
           Understanding 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.
          
The 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.).
          
Disease 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.
          
Accumulated 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 unit.

'Peptides' are the molecules of emotion that connect 'Mind' and 'Body'. This organism is best imagined as 'bodymind', not body/mind.

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.

 

 

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