by Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, Australia
The science of psycho-neuro-immunology has been showing us a lot about ourselves – that we already know from our own bodies and life experience – but often pretend we don’t.
The nervous system (which includes the brain), the immune system and the hormone system all talk to each other, and take their cues from each other about how to ‘behave’, how to respond.
Stress releases hormones that affect our brain and immune system. Stress alters how many of what kind of immune cells are made, and imbalances lead to illness. Stress suppresses our immune system’s killer cells – we are therefore more susceptible to cancer and other diseases. Stress also tires out the systems that produce the hormones – like the adrenals – leading to exhaustion.
Three important regions of the brain are affected by stress hormones, and those brain regions are important for memory, learning, dealing with life, thinking, making sense of the world, fear, emotion, fight and flight…. so it’s definitely not a good thing for them to be continually stressed!
Of course some ‘stress reactions’ are very important: fear makes us run out of a burning house, avoid violent people, savage dogs, venomous snakes, spiders and things that can hurt us; suspicion keeps us safe from foods that might make us sick; anxiety and tension on a crazy-busy road might lead us to choose a quieter, safer route; worry about something might make us get up and take needed action, etc.
One of the worst things about stress reactions is that the relevant body systems work in a feedback loop that can keep itself going, even when no longer needed. So, once we start down the stress and emotional reaction path, we keep feeding it, making it worse, ‘deepening the groove’. Then it’s difficult to get out of that vicious cycle. We basically program ourselves to be and remain stressed. So it’s necessary to put some work and commitment into changing the way we react to situations and people and to ourselves.
The bit about “changing the way we react” is super important. We tend to think stress comes from outside and the blame lies with someone else or some situation beyond our control. But the biggest form of stress is how we ourselves react to the situations and people that we say ’cause us stress’. Ultimately it is we who choose to get or stay angry, sad, impatient, frustrated, worried, scared…. and it’s thus we ourselves who can change it.
One of the worst forms of stress (in my humble opinion) is negative internal talk, about others and about oneself. It usually comes from comparison and/or jealousy. Things like: I’m no good. I can’t do that. She’s pathetic. They cheated me. I always stuff it up. I’m an idiot. She’s prettier than me. What did I go and do that for? I’ll lose everything if I do that. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m weak. She’s going to attack me if I say anything. He gets all the attention. No-one loves me. I wish my nose wasn’t crooked. I should be earning more money. He’s always angry at me for no reason. She always projects her stuff onto me. I’m a disappointment to the people I love. Etc., etc., blah blah … We all do it.
BUT … we react physiologically to our own thoughts and emotions! Our brains hear all the internal talk, and think it’s true, and obediently initiate the stress reactions through the hormone, nervous and immune systems. Snap! We express fear, hate, loathing, disappointment, self-negation, etc., and our body wilts like a mistreated plant.
But if we refuse to listen to the internal chatter, and allow ourselves to feel and express our natural love, understanding, patience and acceptance of others and ourselves, we can send beneficial effects flowing throughout our physiology.
For me this process of learning to feel, love and accept has opened up and accelerated as a result of my study of esoteric medicine, as taught by Serge Benhayon. However no amount of ‘head knowledge’ does it, although that supports me while I develop and practice new understanding and awareness of my body. It began when I learned how to become aware of when I was racy and ahead of myself, then to stop and breathe gently. This helps me to feel my whole body and listen to the wise things it has to say. From there I can choose and move in a way that honours my body, moment by moment. It’s an ongoing process – there’s always more to learn and higher levels of awareness possible. Worth the effort!
We are our own worst enemies. We make ourselves sick. And we can also be our own greatest friends, and bring ourselves back to true health.