Friday, September 5, 2008

From rat brain to right mind -- transmute your stress and survive

Ever wonder how chronic stress affects you and your body? There are many ways to notice this personally, if we can self-observe. But researchers at Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Yerkes Primate Research Center have developed an animal model that illustrates how stress affects physiology, behavior, and even reproduction.

Anxiety, depression, and infertility are a few of the known results of chronic stress.

Typical of many in contemporary biomedicine, these researchers describe effects in terms of neurohormones -- in this case, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). In response to stress, the hypothalmus (a part of the brain) secretes CRF; this stimulates the pituitary gland to make hormones that go on to stimulate the adrenal glands (ACTH).

In acute stress, CRF levels rise, leading to a complete hormonal fight-or-flight cascade. Once the stressor passes, CRF levels fall. This process in our bodies helps us respond to immediate dangers such as floods, earthquakes, and things that go "bump" in the night.

But with chronic stress, ongoing high CRF levels bathe parts of the brain associated with fear and emotion (such as the amygdala), possibly leading to anxiety, depression, and infertility. What helps us function acutely, can wear us out chronically.

In this study, researchers used a viral vector to increase CRF in the amygdalas of female rats. Rats continuously exposed to CRF from this area of the brain showed anxious and depressed behaviors, as well as disrupted ovarian cycles -- suggesting that persistent release of CRF (as in chronic stress) affects multiple body systems.

In fact, these changes were likened to those seen in human females exposed to stressors daily. Hmmmmm . . . .

The whole purpose of the study was to help researchers devise better treatment options, but again they're looking for a biological intervention point. This makes me wonder: what is the "disease" to begin with? Is elevated CRF the root cause of our pain, or is this chemical change and its myriad effects only a very potent side dish?

And what if there are ways to modulate the effects of chronic stress that don't rely on drugs to rearrange our neurohormones? What if our consciousness itself could impact the fluctuation of CRF plus a slew of other important biological substrates?

In some ways, this is the basis of psychotherapy: the idea that developing insight into our fixed [problematic] behavioral patterns can allow us to release and replace them with healthier modes of being. As a psychiatrist I've been trained to help people in exactly this way as well as others. However, this also involves teaching people to cope, manage, and learn new behaviors. Then they go back into the pressure cookers that delivered them to us initially.

What if it were possible to simply let go of stressful responses in the first place? Then we wouldn't be needing animal models to show us the way to heal.

According to Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, Ho'oponopono does offer such a method -- and it does it very simply. We can choose to engage in stressful reactions, or let go of them -- allowing Divinity to transmute them and fill us with itself instead.

In the book Zero Limits, by Dr. Joe Vitale and Dr. Hew Len, the latter states:

"The updated Ho'oponopono, a process of repentance, forgiveness and transmutations, is a petition to Love to void and replace toxic energies with itself. Love accomplishes this by flowing through the mind, beginning with the spiritual mind, the superconscious. it then continues its flow through the intellectual mind, the conscious mind, freeing it of thinking energies. Finally it moves into the emotional mind, the subconscious, voiding thoughts of toxic emotions and filling them with itself. "

Morrnah Simeona, the native Hawaiian Kahuna Lapa'au who by modernizing an ancient spiritual cleansing ritual developed Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono, explained further:

"We are the sum total of our experiences, which is to say that we are burdened by our pasts. When we experience stress or fear in our lives, if we would look carefully, we would find that the cause is actually a memory. It is the emotions which are tied to these memories which affect us now. The subconscious associates an action or person in the present with something that happened in the past. When this occurs, emotions are activated and stress is produced.

Ho'oponopono is a profound gift which allows one to develop a working relationship with the Divinity within and learn to ask that in each moment, our errors in thought, word, deed, or action be cleansed. The process is essentially about freedom, complete freedom from the past."

So rather than analyzing, solving, managing, or coping with problems, Ho'oponopono purportedly allows us to go to Divinity within and ask that these "errors" be corrected. When we give permission by saying, "Thank you" "I'm sorry", or using any other ho'oponopono tools we know, our problematic memories can be transmuted into pure energy -- leaving behind the "zero" state from which we were created. Divinity can then fill us with Inspiration. ahhhhhhhhhhh . . . .

Personally, I'd prefer Divine Inspiration over disrupted brain chemicals any old day. What about you?

Learn more through the Foundation of I, or teleseminars with Mabel Katz.

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