Four Letter Word

Fear. It has dominated most parts of my life. There have been many things I have done that I did not want to but was afraid to say no; there have been many things I have not done because I was afraid of doing them. In both directions, my life has been ruled by fear.

This applies to my wellness, too. I have done and not done things simply due to fear. ‘I need to have this test done because of scary stories about people who did not; I need to not eat that food because it will clog my arteries.’ Fear, fear, fear.Fear

Sometimes tests do need to be run; sometimes food really does clog my arteries. However, these decisions need to be based on something other than fear. When I act out of fear all I get is more fear; suddenly I am in a spiral that cannot be checked. Suddenly my health is no longer there because it has disappeared in a giant puff of fear.

Fear is such an ingrained response for me, I don’t even see it coming. I often think that I am operating on other principles; it is easy for me to fool myself. It is easy because our culture is bred on fear. We learn that fear is the natural response and what we should be feeling. “You are not afraid? What is wrong with you?”

Fear stops so much momentum in my life. It stops my very breath; when I am afraid I am not breathing. Life is based on breath and when I am holding my breath my life goes on hold: all motion stops. The funny thing is, motion helps me combat fear. When I am proactively taking steps on an issue there is always less fear than when I am cowering in a corner. Even if the steps are small, they are motion. 

Acupuncture works well with my fear. Each week that I come there is motion: the energetic motion created by the insertion of the needles and the physical motion of me showing up for an appointment. There is also the motion of me committing to a course of treatment and seeing it through.

The treatment itself works with my fear. Each time needles are inserted I learn another lesson about my body’s physical responses. I learn that responses I thought were negative and fearful are not necessarily. I learn how my body interacts in the world, a language I am very disconnected from.

Acupuncture asks me to be present in the moment and open to what is going on, another antidote for the fear nibbling at the sides of my brain. Any time I am severely caught in a fear reaction I am usually not present.  When I am caught in this reaction I am not engaging in life.  I am closing my door to all experiences, not just the scary ones.  

Acupuncture helps me to loosen the grip on the negativity that eats my brain. Fear and negativity are buddies. Acupuncture slowly replaces that negativity with positive truth; this is not the same as a sugar coated reality. Acupuncture does not allow me to circumnavigate my situation but it shows me how positivity exists even in hard places.

Acupuncture teaches me to be grateful for what is, the greatest remedy to fear. It teaches me to appreciate the journey; it allows me to move past that four letter word.

 

The Science of Distant Healing

The Science of Distant Healing

There is much written about how our good intentions help others. But can your good intentions really reach someone who is not physically present, and how do we know this? In this column, I will present the current evidence that discusses this phenomenon and provide some explanations as to why distant healing has a place in modern scientific thinking.

A well-designed study done in 2008 examined 36 couples. In 22 of these couples, one of the two people was a cancer patient. Three groups were created: In the first group consisting of twelve couples, the healthy person was trained to direct intention toward the patient and was asked to practice this for three months prior to the experiment. This was referred to as the “trained” group. In the other 10 couples where one partner had cancer, the pair was tested before the partner was trained. They were called the “wait” group. Fourteen healthy couples received no training at all. They were called the “control” group. But what was the training?

Skin conductance was measured in both members of the couple, both of whom were asked to feel the presence of the other. Skin conductance is a measure of the ability of sweat to conduct electricity. It indicates that the autonomic nervous system has been activated. The autonomic nervous system is a part of your nervous system that maintains balance of the body and controls heart rate, respiration and many other vital functions. This is done unconsciously. So, when skin conductance was measured, the researchers were measuring whether this important part of our bodies was activated. However, rather than being next to each other while they were sending intentions, partners were relaxed in a distant shielded room for 30 minutes. The sender of intention sent intention for 10-second periods followed by breaks. Skin conductance was then measured during the periods when partners sent their intentions and during the breaks. The researchers believed that if there were a different skin conductance when partners sent their intentions, then this would prove that intention was actually impacting the nervous system.

In research, if there is a less than a 5% probability that something is due to chance, it is regarded as being probably true and not due to chance. Even a 10% probability that something is due to chance is a trend toward the fact that chance is probably not a factor. In this experiment, when people used intention to reach their partners who were in a shielded room, every time intention was sent, it created changes in the skin conductance that were very significant compared to the breaks, when these changes would not be present. The probability that these findings were due to chance was 0.09%, well below 5%. This occurred in all three groups. However, the peak changes were greatest in the trained group, intermediate in the wait group and least in the control group.

This experiment showed that intention can affect a partner’s body across distance outside of consciousness and that if one is trained in compassionate intention, the effect is greatest. In fact, other studies have also shown that distant healing can heal small sized tumors.

However, the effects of distant healing have not been uniform. Studies have failed to show that distant healing can improve chronic fatigue syndrome or clinical outcome in HIV positive patients. In fact, two studies have also shown that distant healing can have adverse effects.

Within the scientific community, there are a group of people who believe in distant healing and a group of people who do not. Those who believe in distant healing do not believe that it is just some “spooky” phenomenon. There are four principles of physics underlying intention that have been described in the literature: (1) that intention is transmitted by an as yet unknown energy signal; (2) that intention warps space-time much like gravity, creating pathways for connection; (3) that people, like particles are described in quantum physics, have instantaneous correlations across distance; (4) that intention is much like measurement in quantum physics. It organizes random possibilities much like how wave functions can be collapsed into a single function.

So, as of now, it appears that distant healing works in some situations but not in others. But what does this mean? I believe that the healing is not always effective for several reasons: (1) the quality of the intention is not high enough; (2) different intenders have different capacities; (3) different illnesses may require higher levels of intention; (4) there may be other intentions coming from elsewhere that disrupt the intention being measured. I am less inclined to believe that “distant healing” is all nonsense, because the data we have so far illustrates that there is definitely the possibility that the effect can be felt. It is just not ubiquitous or uniform.

I would caution against believing that all people are equally able to perform distant healing, but where there is expectation and faith, the chances of success are higher. In fact, in the study that showed that distant healing had no effect on chronic fatigue, the expectation that one would get better did have an effect. I wonder if this implies that intention works best when we believe in our own capacities to get better.

Pain! Pain! Go away!

By A.J. Crolli

Who has not asked pain to go away?  Pain can be debilitating and numbing to so much of life.  But what do you do when it just won’t stop?

Pain can be viewed as a form of energy or information that the mind processes.  Sometimes, as with any form of information, pain information gets misdirected.   People who suffer from chronic back issues, knee problems, chronic myalgias, etc. may become victims of pain-energy redirection. pain loop 

The term pain-loop, as coined by Dr. Levine and Dr. Philips, basically implies that if a pain signal is not relieved within a short amount of time, then a pain signal loop is set-up in the primitive, subconscious parts of the brain.  This works like a corrupt program on a computer hard-drive.  The brain keeps running this loop over and over again even though the original reason for this information may now no longer exist.  

Our data base corruption is different for each of us because we all perceive events or stimuli differently.  Our perceptions of traumatic events and internal and external stimuli are based upon our belief systems and these system’s chain reactions.  Our beliefs come from our family lives, culture, religion, etc.  These beliefs then generate our feelings; our feelings then generate our emotions; our emotions then can condense in our physical bodies if we hold on to them instead of releasing them naturally.  When a triggering event occurs, all the previous traumas of our lives that are stored in the brain’s survival zones are also now in play.

As an example, if you had a traumatizing hospitalization in your childhood years, it could predispose you to panic attacks and an excess perception of pain even from routine dental visits.  Many people in chronic pain didn’t learn in their formative years a methodology on how to cope with uncomfortable or distressing experiences.  It’s the fear about pain or any negative physical reaction that sets the stage for the chronic pain loop.  It’s very real and we become what we fear the most.  Emotional and physical pain operate in the same parts of the brain; even a chronic negative response pattern can be traumatizing and very real.  

Part of our defense mechanisms are the primal responses of flight-fight-freeze.  Many experts talk about the flight-fright response but not so much about the freeze.  A freeze response can precipitate into a condensing pattern, like a turtle tucking itself in its shell.  It shows up in the body with the crunching of the shoulders, the tucking of the head, and possibly a paralyzing or numbing feeling.  This response can even be seen in the musculoskeletal system.  The corresponding mental freeze response would be feeling stuck or trapped in a particular situation and too paralyzed to change it.  You then start to shrink from triggering situations, people, places, or things.  All three can spin off various other reactions in the mind/body when they get stuck in a chronic state.  And these all can cause pain.  By unlocking the pain-loop cycles, much relief can be generated in the body as well as the mind.  And then we can sing that pain away!