In various healing traditions, it’s believed that different parts of our body correspond to diverse emotional states. From the harmonious balance of the Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine to the holistic equilibrium of the three Doshas in Ayurvedic tradition, these ancient teachings have long highlighted the relationship between our physical and emotional selves. Today, let’s delve into the intriguing connection between two parts of our digestive system: the pancreas, often linked to over-planning and undue worry about the future, and the small intestine, associated with discernment – distinguishing what serves us from what doesn’t.
The pancreas, a vital organ, beckons us to the importance of living in the present. Responsible for both releasing essential hormones like insulin or glucagon and secreting digestive enzymes, its optimal functioning requires an acute awareness of the here and now. Yet, for many who are ensnared by the chains of future anxieties or the shadows of the past, the pancreas may act prematurely. Overactive pancreases might release an excess of digestive enzymes or prematurely discharge insulin or glucagon. In contrast, for those grounded in the present, the pancreas astutely observes what is ingested, producing the right balance of digestive enzymes. Similarly, insulin and glucagon production ideally should be a present-moment response to our body’s blood sugar levels.
The small intestine, our body’s center of discernment, can also bear the brunt of excessive worry. Acting as a gatekeeper, it discerns between nutrients to absorb and waste to eliminate. However, when one struggles with personal discernment, the small intestine might falter, leading to issues like inadequate nutrient absorption or even the onset of leaky gut syndrome. Discernment, in essence, is akin to maintaining healthy boundaries. It challenges us to ask: Do we recognize what truly aligns with our essence? Can we assertively decline what doesn’t resonate, making space for what genuinely nourishes our soul?
Our digestive quandaries could be reflections of deeper emotional challenges: excessive worry or an impaired sense of discernment. To begin to heal you must immerse yourself in the present, unhindered by past regrets or future anxieties. As life unfolds, continuously question – is this in harmony with my true self? Should I embrace this or make space for what truly resonates?
And if you find yourself seeking deeper insights into these interconnections, or need guidance to navigate them, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a consult call with me; let’s explore these dimensions together and chart a path to holistic well-being.
The week before last was a really hard one. On top of a very busy week with work and some challenging situations with clients, I found out a friend had passed away and someone else who’s like a father figure to me is declining fast with dementia and probably only has a few months left. By the end of the week, I was fried. I could feel how much I’d pushed my nervous system through to just make it to the weekend and how badly my nervous system needed some space and time to release and come back to a calm, balanced state.
I decided to plan a 2-day nervous system reset over the weekend, and it worked wonders. By the end of the two days, I felt calm, I had more energy reserves, and I had a more balanced perspective on all of the things going on in my life.
I want to share what I did over the course of 2 days to let my nervous system heal and reset. I share this with you knowing that I have a lot of privilege and not everyone can implement these strategies like I did, but I’ll share them in the hopes that you can make a version of this work for you.
Here’s what I did over two days to reset and heal my nervous system.
- Sleep-Centric Day 1: Day 1 was all about sleep. I let myself nap as much as I needed to. I woke up on Saturday around 7:30am, napped from 9-10am, napped from 2-3:30pm, napped from 5-6pm and then went to bed at 10:30pm.
- Meditation-Centric Day 2: Day 2 was all about meditation. I picked one meditation that I love and that feels relaxing and I did it on repeat throughout the day. I woke up and meditated before I even got out of bed. About 2 hours later I did it again. Throughout the rest of the day I meditated whenever it crossed my mind, probably 6 or 7 times throughout the day. I then did it one more time in bed before I went to sleep. Here’s the one I chose: https://youtu.be/XHvtIcaD194?si=FZCS60wAXA6p277b (I do love me some TNH!)
- Digital detox: I put all devices on do not disturb and only checked them once or twice a day. I also avoided TV or other entertainment media. I know that “relaxing” by scrolling social media is actually anything but relaxing for my nervous system. Social media and most entertainment programming are designed to interact with our brains and bodies to activate us and release dopamine and other activating neurotransmitters. I could also tell that I needed a break from communication –every time my phone chimed with a text or email, I could feel the overwhelm rise up in my body. My emotional cup was totally full and even friendly messages felt like too much for me. So, my phone went on DND and got stowed in a drawer so I couldn’t see the screen. If I did see a message, I asked myself if it was something that absolutely couldn’t wait 2 days for a reply. If it was something that did need a reply, I gave myself permission to write as simple and short of a reply as I could, even telling a few people I’d get back to them after the weekend.
- Engage in Joyful Activities: I only did activities that felt good to me. On day one, I did some laundry and picked up around the house a bit. On day two, I walked to the market to get ingredients for one of my favorite things to cook and took my dog to the park. If the thought of doing the activity caused me any feelings of stress or “should” then I didn’t do it, knowing that it would get done at some point, just not now. In between napping, meditating, and doing these few things I mostly read and listened to music, making sure to pick things that felt calming and joyful. Basically, I asked myself, “will this contribute to my peace, cam and joy?” and if the answer wasn’t a whole body “hell yes!”, then it was a no.
- Easy-to-Digest Diet: I ate one easy-to-digest food for the whole time. Digestion takes a ton of energy and our nervous systems are interwoven into our digestive systems. I wanted to make things as easy as possible for my body, so I bought a big bag of organic yellow potatoes and ate boiled potatoes with salt and butter for the whole first day and until dinner the second day, when I made one of my favorite nourishing meals. I also made a point of drinking lots of water throughout the day. This step isn’t for everyone – I tend to have a small appetite and it feels good to do this every now and again, but if this feels like it would be a stressor on your body, don’t do it! Trust your intuition on this one.
Our bodies inherently seek equilibrium, but occasionally we must intentionally afford them the recovery time. This 2-day plan will give your body the space, time and care it needs to do just that. If you decide to try it, I’d love to know your experience!
Life’s deepest truths often manifest in the whispers of the soul long before they find validation under the microscope. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a new branch of modern science and it stands as a testament to this, unraveling the tangible connections between our thoughts, emotions, and physical health—a connection that ancient healing traditions have known about for eons.
In the intricate tapestry of our being, PNI highlights how psychological processes can influence our immune system and overall health. Studies have shown that specific brain regions, like the amygdala, activate in response to perceived threats, initiating a cascade of physiological responses that can influence immune function.
The dialogue between our emotional world and our cells is not merely poetic—it’s scientific. Neurotransmitters and the wisdom of our immune system bridge our feelings to our physiological responses. For instance, PNI research has shown that negative emotions can lead to a suppressed immune response, making individuals more susceptible to infections.
Parallels Between PNI and Traditional Healing
The parallels between PNI and traditional healing modalities are myriad and research backs up what mind-body healers have know for years. Here are some of the ways that ancient modalities are being studied via PNI:
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Each moment we spend in stillness and introspection reverberates with healing. PNI studies indicate that regular meditation can reduce inflammatory responses in the body, affirming ancient spiritual practices.
- Stress and the Immune Response: When ancient wisdom speaks of disrupted inner harmony, PNI research echoes, demonstrating how chronic stress can elevate cytokines that promote inflammation.
- Energetic Healing: The concept of energy or life force in traditional systems might seem abstract. Yet, PNI helps ground this, revealing how our emotional “vibrations” can influence molecular pathways in our immune system.
- Balance and Harmony: PNI, in its essence, underscores balance—a balanced mind fostering a balanced immune response. It’s no surprise that heightened cortisol levels, markers of stress, have been linked to decreased immune responses.
- Emotion, Thought, and Health: As PNI research emerges, it reveals startling truths: prolonged feelings of loneliness, for instance, can alter immune function, making one more susceptible to illnesses.
How can we integrate PNI findings with ancient healing techniques? Here are a few ideas of how merging the ideas of these two worlds can bring about even greater healing.
- The Power of Belief: The placebo effect, long a subject of wonder, showcases our innate healing powers. PNI research reveals how mere belief can modulate immune responses, resonating with the spiritual premise that our internal beliefs shape our external reality.
- Personalized Healing: Marrying intuition with PNI insights allows for holistic healing—after all, research has shown that an individual’s emotional state can influence their response to treatments.
- Holistic Lifestyle Emphasis: The age old wisdom of sages, combined with modern PNI findings, like how diet can influence mood and immunity, invites us to a holistic health journey.
- Mental Well- Being and Spiritual Health: Inner tranquility has always been revered in spiritual traditions. PNI now lends scientific credence, showing how practices promoting mental well being can enhance immune function.
As we align ourselves with the universe’s rhythm, the confluence of age-old wisdom and modern PNI research guides us towards holistic well being. This dance of mind, body, and spirit, steeped in both spirituality and science, invites us to a path of genuine health and harmony.
Your brain is like the maestro of an exquisite symphony that is your body, with the limbic system holding the baton. This key player, responsible for our emotions, motivations, and memories, plays a significant role in the harmony between your brain and immune system.
Welcome to the Limbic System: The Command Center of Emotions & More
The limbic system is made up of several brain structures, including the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and cingulate cortex. Each member of the team plays its unique part:
- Amygdala: Meet the brain’s security guard. Its job is to protect you, keeping a keen eye out for danger and playing a big role in processing emotions, especially when fear is knocking at the door.
- Hippocampus: This one is your personal historian, responsible for creating new memories and linking emotions and senses to these memories. It helps you remember the good times (and the not-so-good times).
- Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus wears many hats – it keeps tabs on your hunger, sleep, body temperature, hormones, and also plays a part in emotions and memory. It’s your body’s personal assistant, always juggling multiple tasks.
- Cingulate Cortex: This cerebral team member helps in managing your emotions and pain. Consider it the sensible voice in the crowd.
The Neuro-Immune Connection: A Two-Way Street
The relationship between your brain and your immune system is indeed a complex one, and it’s more interactive than you might think. Think of it like a two-way street or an ongoing dialogue where one impacts the other and vice versa.
One fascinating aspect of this neuro-immune connection is how the immune system communicates with the brain, particularly when it’s activated. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re fighting off a particularly nasty cold. Your immune system goes into high gear, sending out an army of white blood cells to battle the invading germs.
As part of this immune response, your immune system releases cytokines. These tiny proteins act like messengers, sending out distress signals to your brain. This is your immune system’s way of saying, “Hey, we’re dealing with a situation down here. Can you help?”
Your brain, always willing to lend a hand, responds to these distress signals. It activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to the release of cortisol, our primary stress hormone. Cortisol, in turn, is meant to suppress the immune response and limit inflammation.
But here’s where things can get tricky. If your immune system is consistently activated—due to chronic stress, past trauma, poor sleep, unhealthy diet, or persistent infections, for example—then those distress signals to your brain become more like a constant alarm.
This can lead to a chronic state of inflammation in your body and result in a perpetuating feedback loop of stress and inflammation. Your brain, in an effort to manage the constant “distress calls,” can end up maintaining a heightened stress response. This persistent stress state can exacerbate the immune response further, leading to even more inflammation.
This is where the concept of limbic retraining comes in handy. By working to retrain your limbic system, you’re essentially trying to teach your brain to better regulate the stress response, helping to break the cycle of chronic inflammation.
So, it’s not merely a one-way conversation from the brain to the body or the body to the brain, but an intricate dialogue between the two. The key lies in ensuring that this dialogue remains balanced and that neither the brain nor the immune system is constantly shouting over the other.
If you appear to be highly functional and have your shit together, but suffer with chronic symptoms, this post is for you. Let’s talk about the connection between your type of stress response and your illness.
In the world of chronic illness, there’s a peculiar irony that it tends to strike the ones who appear to ‘have it all together.’ If you’re that high achiever who seemingly juggles work, family, and life with remarkable grace, yet secretly battles chronic symptoms behind the scenes, then you’re not alone.
What does this curious link between chronic illness and the ‘freeze’ or ‘appease’ stress responses look like? Picture this: under the ‘freeze’ stress response, you might be grappling with decision paralysis or fatigue, all while keeping a brave face, ensuring the world sees you as the competent, composed individual you’ve always been.
Meanwhile, the ‘appease’ response has you bending over backward to maintain peace, potentially neglecting your health in the process. Perhaps you’re the CEO constantly overworking to please stakeholders or the parent forsaking personal health to cater to family needs. Sound familiar?
It’s not a coincidence that the same people often labeled as ‘overachievers,’ also wrestle with perfectionism and the ever-looming cloud of imposter syndrome. Striving for the impeccable and fearing exposure, you exist in a perpetual state of stress. This relentless cycle amplifies your vulnerability to chronic illnesses like ME/CFS, Lyme disease, mold illness, or long Covid.
Here’s the catch though: the very resilience and determination that bring you success also serve as your barriers to healing. You’re caught in the paradox of ‘functional suffering,’ always pushing through the pain, disregarding your needs, and internalizing the belief that you don’t deserve to rest.
One of the key pieces to healing chronic illness is using practices that create a baseline experience state of love and safety. Imagine feeling that the world and people in it are safe, ready to support you in whatever way you need, and are waiting to tell you how proud they are of not only your achievements, but who you are as a human being.
One of the best ways to start doing this is through mindfulness and meditation. These tools help you stay present, recognize and challenge destructive thought patterns, and soothe physical and mental stress. Together, they’re your secret weapons to foster an environment of safety, acceptance, and love, ultimately setting the stage for healing.
So, dear high achiever, if you’re open-minded and believe in the mind-body connection, give mindfulness and meditation a shot. Don’t let your chronic symptoms be the plot twist in your success story. Instead, let your healing journey be the empowering sequel where you redefine success, not just in terms of achievements, but also personal well-being and self-love.
According to ancient Indian spiritual traditions, chakras are energy centers within our bodies, each with unique functions and characteristics. Interestingly, these chakras correspond to major endocrine glands, which also have unique functions and characteristics that align almost perfectly with the functions of each chakra. Understanding these chakra-endocrine correlations can provide a holistic perspective on health, balancing both physical and energetic aspects. I work with this interplay of energetic and physical body parts all the time in the healing sessions I do with clients. This is one of the things I love about energy healing – the ability to address these body parts as either their energetic or physical form in whatever way is needed for healing in that moment.
1st Chakra – Root Chakra (Muladhara) & the Testes
The root chakra, located at the base of the spine, represents our foundation and feeling of groundedness. Physically, it aligns with the testes, the glands responsible for sexual function and reproduction. (Yes, also for people without testes – about 50% of the testosterone in people with ovaries is produced by vestigial testicular tissue.) Just as the root chakra relates to our sense of survival and belonging, these glands govern the fundamental aspect of life – reproduction and continuation of the species.
2nd Chakra – Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana) & the Ovaries
Situated below the navel, the sacral chakra governs our creative and sexual energies. Its alignment with the ovaries in women strengthens this connection, as ovaries regulate female reproductive functions and influence aspects of femininity and creativity – echoing the creative and generative functions of the sacral chakra.
3rd Chakra – Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) & the Pancreas
The solar plexus chakra, located in the stomach area, is all about personal power, self-esteem, and our ability to channelize energy into action. It aligns with the pancreas, an endocrine gland crucial in converting food into fuel. The solar plexus chakra and pancreas both convert raw materials, whether food or personal will, into usable energy.
4th Chakra – Heart Chakra (Anahata) & the Thymus/Heart
The heart chakra, at the center of the chest, symbolizes love, compassion, and emotional balance. Physically, it corresponds with the thymus gland, vital for immune function, and the heart, our core life-sustaining organ. Just as the heart chakra harmonizes emotions and instills compassion, the thymus and heart work together to maintain physical vitality and balance.
5th Chakra – Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) & the Thyroid
The throat chakra stands for communication and expression. Its physical counterpart, the thyroid gland, influences growth, metabolism, and development. In essence, the thyroid regulates how our bodies express their physiological blueprints, reflecting the throat chakra’s focus on communication and authenticity.
6th Chakra – Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) & the Pituitary/Hypothalamus
The third eye chakra, located between the eyebrows, is the center of intuition and foresight. It corresponds to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands, the master regulators of the endocrine system. Just as the third eye chakra is considered the overseer of our spiritual system, the pituitary and hypothalamus guide our physiological functions, demonstrating a profound interplay between intuition and homeostasis.
7th Chakra – Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) & the Pineal Gland
The crown chakra, situated at the top of the head, represents spiritual connection and enlightenment. It aligns with the pineal gland, a tiny gland responsible for the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep patterns and seasonal functions. In many spiritual traditions, the pineal gland is considered the physical manifestation of the “third eye,” linking it directly to our spiritual awareness. Just like the crown chakra governs spiritual connection and universal consciousness, the pineal gland acts as our biological ‘third eye,’ regulating our internal rhythm and connecting us to natural cycles.
This synchronicity between the chakras and the endocrine system illustrates a profound connection between our physical and energetic selves. The chakras govern the flow of energy in our bodies, while the endocrine glands regulate the physiological functions that sustain us. Together, they create a beautiful synergy that echoes in every aspect of our existence – physical, emotional, and spiritual.
By understanding the correlations between our chakras and endocrine system, we gain a deeper appreciation for our body’s innate wisdom. Ultimately, the chakras and the endocrine system together form an intricate network that nourishes and sustains us, providing the foundation for a holistic approach to well-being.