Don’t Panic. You’re resourceful!

Photo courtesy of Nick Repoli

 

Living with uncertainty is incredibly stressful.  Environmental, cultural, medical, political and economic destabilization has profound effects on our homeo-dynamic organism.

Truth of the matter is, humans have always lived with or, more accurately, within uncertainty while operating under the assumption that there was predictability and a plan for life.  Call me guilty!

  

But there’s no need to panic.  The Fight/Flight response is our life-saving answer to sudden uncertainty.  When you instinctively swerve in traffic, sprint up the stairs when an alarmed child cries or pull your hand from a hot stove your Fight/Flight response is activated.  It spurs us into action, saving ourselves and others.  The body moves faster than thought.  And thank goodness.

 

The Fight/Flight response can also be very subtle, so subtle that we are entirely unaware of our idling metabolic engine. The same hormones that are released suddenly in the examples above are also secreted in response to psychological stress.  As bodies we can’t help but react to our environment. It is vital to our survival.

 

Where we work, what we think, what we read, watch or listen to has a metabolic impact.  And for many of us in today’s environment, previously subtle signals have turned the volume way up in response to all we are being bombarded with.

 

Please don’t panic.  There is good news.

 

Although we can’t eliminate all the external stressors in life we can reduce them. We can also choose to activate the Rest/Digest response more often. Toning our Rest/Digest response happens much the same way as toning a muscle. The more we use it, the more responsive it becomes.  Remember, it’s Rest/Digest (parasympathetic) that regulates the mitosis and apoptosis that make a brand new you!

 

Here’s A 5 Minute “I Can’t Meditate” Meditation I 

to help activate the Rest/Digest response.  


 

“The relationship of chronic environmental and emotional stress to cellular inflammation has been repeatedly documented by scientific community.  Microscopic inflammation has system-wide consequences; insulin resistance, obesity, a host of chronic inflammatory diseases, pain syndromes, Alzheimer’s disease, type II diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and cancer.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2879478/

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You’re Amazing!

 

Each human organism (that’s you) is made up of about 40 Trillion cells (that’s 40 Thousand Billion or 40 Million Million) -liver cells, bone cells, heart cells, brain cells, nerves cells, and blood cells; the microscopic building blocks of your organs, tissues and bones.

That’s a lot of Legos!

And then there are electrical and chemical signals like neurotransmitters, enzymes, hormones, plus chemical co-factors.   While your organs are each preforming their specific functions they are also functioning in relationship to all the other organs.   While you are busy trying to get to work on time the system digests your food, regulates your body temperature, inhales and exhales, maintains postural balance and thousands of other functions without any specific instructions from you.

On a cellular level, you have endless mitosis and apoptosis.

Now don’t panic.

Simply put, every cell replicates itself (mitosis), ideally producing a healthy, functioning copy of itself. Apoptosis, on the other hand, is when unhealthy cells self-destruct rather than replicate. This process is called programmed cell death. Think of it as preventive maintenance. During apoptosis immune cells are called in to remove what remains of the damaged cell.

 

Now, not to worry,

while unhealthy cells are being carried off, healthy mitosis is constantly creating replacement cells. This on-going cellular replication provides you with 200 Billion red blood cells daily and a new stomach lining every 3 to 5 days.

Years ago, I had a co-workers whose response to, “How are you?” was always

“I’m BRAND NEW!” And he was absolutely right!

The outermost layer of skin is brand new every few weeks. You don’t have the same liver you had two years ago and even bone, which we often think of as static, is constantly being remodeled, albeit, more slowly.

Bone takes about 10 years before it’s all brand new!

You’re amazing!

You’re incredible

and although you can’t instruct your cells to recreate your organs regularly you can do more to support the process and less to undermine it.

Yes, all that while living a full, vibrant and playful life.

That’s part of cellular support!

Sources:

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You’re Dynamic!

Understand that the process that makes you amazing

is an ideal equilibrium or homeostasis:

where the system self-regulates in order to maintain stability.

 

Similar to the thermostat in your home, if you set it for 70 degrees the furnace with turn on when the temperature drops below 70. Once the thermostat senses a temperature of 70 the furnace will shut off again.

You are far more complicated in that there are many systems; respiration, blood pressure, digestion, body temperature, and all your other organ functions. They are constantly self-regulating, usually with little assistance from you.

 The constant rebalancing is multi-dimensional, more homeodynamic than homeostatic. You are in constant flux (dynamic) in response to both internal and external factors.  While at the same time there’s enough similarity (homeo) to maintain you as you.

Even when the system loses stability, it, meaning you, dynamically self-organizes and you will still be you – amazing and dynamic!

 

The Yinyang (Homeodynamics) of Asian Medicine      

 

A fundamental concept in Traditional East Asian Medicine (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Tai Chi & Qi Gong) is Yin Yang.

These are qualities rather than substances and can only be defined in relation to one another.

Yang implies an upward, outward, warm, more active quality.

Yin implies a more grounded, containing, cool or restorative quality.

Most importantly, the dynamic interplay of yinyang serves as the impetus for all that manifests in the universe.

Darkness only exists in contrast to light.

Neither is absolute nor is one more important than the other.

Seeds germinate in darkness yet the plants need light to grow. We find varying degrees of Yinyang during different phases of growth and development, both in nature and within us.

 

“Yinyang concerns the perception, understanding and encouragement of change.”   Ted J. Kaptchuk

 

When asked how acupuncture works,

I often say; “There are two functions of the autonomic nervous system; sympathetic and parasympathetic commonly referred to as Fight or Flight and Rest and Digest.

Fight or Flight (sympathetic) is when the bloodstream is flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones. This function keeps you alive in dangerous situations. It’s what removes your hand from a hot stove before you’ve had a chance to think about it.

Rest and digest (parasympathetic) also keeps you alive. It dampers down fight/flight once the danger has passed and regulates digestion and elimination.

In this culture our nervous systems often gets stuck in fight/flight, constantly operating in high alert. Acupuncture can help reboot the system, dialing down fight/flight (yang) and dialing up rest/digest (yin).

In the language of Asian medicine, we are bringing yinyang back into “right relationship.”

In  conventional medical language Fight/Flight response increases; blood sugar levels, circulating fatty acids, your blood pressure and heart rate while inhibiting sleep, digestion and urination. The body can’t operate optimally in a sustained state of fight/flight.

 

Good news is, there are many ways to reset and manage some of the ill effects of chronic fight/flight. Your body is incredibly resourceful.

 

 

 

Source: “Why homeodynamics, not homeostasis?” Lloyd D, Aon MA, Cortassa S. – Scientific World Journal. 2001 Apr 4;1:133-45

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