"Fear is a poison produced by the mind, and courage is the antidote stored always ready in the soul." Dean Koontz, One Door Away from Heaven, ch 16.
Negative emotions make us ill. This has been known in Eastern philosophy for millennia, and is a firm principle of all sorts of "energy" medicine in the 21st century. Allopathic medicine is less convinced about this principle, although there are articles in the literature relating personality type to the development of various cancers. We are now able to demonstrate how this actually manifests in the body.1
Experiments in the 1960s showed that when young animals were exposed to a series of electrical shocks over which they had no control, they never learned to escape from similar stressful environments as adults. They stayed put and developed ulcers. This exemplifies the behavior known as "learned helplessness." It sounds a lot like women in abusive relationships - being abused as children seems to predispose them to find and stay in abusive relationships as adults.
On the other hand, young animals who were exposed to shocks over which they had some control were able to learn to escape their environment, and did not develop learned helplessness.
So, control over one's situation would appear to be crucial - definitely for animals and likely for humans too. We have very few options when we are infants and small children. We are completely dependent upon the adults around us for our very lives. If our environment is one of uncertainty, or fear, or abuse, then we are likely to seek out similar environments when we grow up. We don't know any better. This explains why so many abused children grow up to be abusers. And why so many children of alcoholics grow up to be alcoholics themselves. It is learned behavior.
However, humans are not mice. We have free will. We can learn. Learned helplessness is just that - learned. It can be unlearned. It just takes a lot of work. And first, we must realize that there is a problem. First, we have to see that there is a box. Then we can learn to see the walls of the box (our mindset, those assumptions which we do not even question). Then we can figure out how to get outside the box. We can escape the boundaries of what we learned as small children.
How does this relate to medical issues? First, the biological answer.
Negative or painful emotions generate a chemical neurotransmitter called glutamate. In the brain, glutamate causes gateways in nerve cells to stay open, triggering a process called apoptosis, which results in cell death by suicide. If enough cells die, function is lost, and we become dys-functional, or ill. Chronic stress for example increases glutamate levels in the brain.2
Glutamate creates lasting memories in the brain by changing the connection between nerves (synaptic connections).3 It helps us learn things - both the good and the bad. Glutamate is involved with addiction - if the receptors are blocked, there is no development of addiction. Glutamate keeps receptors open, allowing continuous or prolonged nerve stimulation and possibly production of dopamine, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. Dopamine is released in huge amounts when an addiction is satisfied - whether gambling, cocaine, sex, alcohol, whatever... If we block the glutamate receptors, no massive dopamine release, no addictive behavior.
Now the lifestyle answer.
If for example we learn we develop breast cancer, that sets off a whole cascade of thoughts, emotions, and neurotransmitters. After the initial discovery, we have the option to continue to dwell in those thoughts and emotions - generating the negative neurotransmitter glutamate - or to turn our sights in a more optimistic direction.
This is an area where I find the standard medical advice to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation to be particularly disempowering, particularly for those with stage I-III cancers. Eventually, most people discover the statistics are somewhat rigged - if your cancer does not come back within the first 5 years, you go down in the statistic books as a cancer survivor. If your cancer comes back in 5 years and 5 days, the statistics are not changed to reflect that. Radiation and chemotherapy are, by any measure, a harsh therapy that solves problems while creating others. One of the well-known side effects is appetite loss and impaired digestion. Radiation, like antibiotics, creates an imbalance in gut flora. Thus the body starts to become depleted of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. And new information is coming to light that the chemotherapy drugs actually cause additional cases of cancer. A recent UCLA study has shown that chemotherapy can change the blood flow and metabolism of the brain in ways that can linger for 10 years or more after treatment.4
If we truly believe that cancer is a death sentence rather than a wake up call, we will likely dwell in the negative emotions of fear, helplessness, and anger. The negative mental state can cause the harsh therapies to do further damage. Stress disturbs cognitive function and limits the quality of life.
The other approach is to realize we have some control over the factors that influence our health. We can stop smoking, stop drinking sodas, stop showering in chlorinated water, stop dousing our environments in pesticides, and stop eating heated vegetable oils and processed foods. We can choose non-toxic paints and carpets when remodeling our home. We can choose toothpaste without fluoride in it. We can choose organic meats without hormones and antibiotics. When vaccinating our children, we can choose to avoid vaccines which contain mercury (thimerosal) or aluminum preservatives. We can choose a dentist who does not use mercury (silver amalgam) fillings. We can choose to take jobs which are less stressful and more enjoyable. We can choose whether to see a doctor who spends 5 minutes with us, or one who spends an hour. We can choose whether to allow our insurance company to dictate our health care, or whether to go outside that system, pay for our care, and get the care which is actually appropriate to this paradigm - that which will help us keep our bodies and minds in good shape.
Truth is, we have cancer cells in us all the time. Yes, there is always some number of aberrant cells. A healthy immune system, combined with the right nourishment and an absence of toxicities, is able to keep the cancer cells from ever reaching critical mass. We need only look at our children to see the effects of the modern world at work: Cancer is now the leading cause of disease-related death among children and adults in the U.S. Simply put, our children live in a world full of pollution and eat a diet far, far removed from what has nurtured the human race for tens of thousands of years. Our bodies simply cannot adapt to this much change, this quickly. Our bodies break down.
Now the energetic answer.
The theory of quantum entanglement tells us electrons are living beings, and get recycled - that is a left brain way of putting it. Whatever happened to one particle would thus immediately affect the other particle, wherever in the universe it may be. Einstein called this “Spooky action at a distance.” The more we wrap our minds around that, the more easily we come to understand the electron needs healing as much as the person.
Japanese researcher Masuru Emoto prompts us to think that water is alive and highly responsive to our emotions and thoughts. Since the human body is about 70 percent water, this has interesting implications for human health. His books, including “The Hidden Messages in Water,” document that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words show brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. Mr. Emoto and his team experimented with water samples exposed to music, words spoken, words typed and taped to the glass containers, photographs, and long-distance thought messages. His photographs of newly formed crystals of frozen water samples are made with a powerful microscope in a very cold room along with high-speed photography. His work was featured in the movie, “What the Bleep Do We Know?”
Energetic medicine is said to be the future of medicine. Although not all physicians understand yet the dynamics of it, energetic medicine represents an efficient approach to healing without the side effects of chemicals and drugs. Each organ in our body vibrates with its own set of frequencies. When we use frequencies for healing, we are using the body’s own essence for healing.
Here is a common, mundane, yet very disempowering notion: Most people have been told that chronic illness is an inevitable consequence of aging, and that there is nothing we can do to prevent it - it's all in the genes. Thus we think "health" is simply the "absence of disease." No reason to do anything until you notice something and a doctor gives you a diagnosis.
An alternative and healthier approach is to realize that illness is NOT merely an inevitable consequence of ageing or genetics. The fuel we put into our body and the amount of environmental challenges – heavy metals, organic pollutants, stressful situations — can and do have a great effect on our health. Sometimes energetic blockages manifest in physical ailments. Sickness usually is years in the making. It is a slow decline away from health.
However, if we accept that we actually do have control over many of the factors that lead to sickness, then we can see that we do have power to control outcomes. All the time without exception? No. A saying comes to mind: "We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust our sails."
And now we can explain biochemically why choice is a good thing. We can take control by "reprogramming" our thoughts, and breaking old habits to enable us to make different daily choices.