I was six weeks old when my journey with skin symptoms began. It was eczema on my face…specifically around my mouth and on my cheeks. I was unexpectedly taken off my mother’s breast at six weeks, subsequently developing the characteristic redness of eczema on my face and also a very obvious intolerance to dairy formula milk. Coincidence? Read on…
The Sensory Skin System
The epidermis (the top layer of our skin) is predominantly responsible for sensory perception such as temperature, pressure, and touch. It covers the underlying dermis layer of skin (where acne develops from).
In terms of embryology, the epidermis originates from the ectoderm, which is part of the new brain and is therefore influenced and controlled from the cerebral cortex brain relay, or more specifically, the sensory cortex.
Why is this significant?
With the new scientific research which has been growing in the last few decades, and is now known as the new biology, we have come to realise and understand that there is a direct link between specific organ tissue, brain relay and embryology which indicates that our human needs are biological needs deeply rooted in our unconscious mind.
The symptoms which show up for us individuals are a result of a body-mind-social connection (see previous posts about this). Therefore, our symptoms are a direct reflection of our perception of unfulfilled biological needs e.g. emotions such as feeling safe, secure, accepted, confident etc – which in turn determine our values and beliefs and thus equate to why we experience, what to us as individuals, are perceived as conflict shocks and stress triggers at the moment they happen.
The cerebral cortex part of the brain (the outer layer, which forms part of the new brain) is related to and concerned with the social part of our lives. It’s all about our relationships, both one-on-one relationships and in the greater family or tribe/community/society we’re part of; how we communicate in these relationships; how we fit into the hierarchy within this space and network; and having a sense of belonging in all of this.
When in balance, everything flows, The focus is for the greater good; it taps into our spiritual selves; we are present within and on the outside with others and we have a sense of being and meaning in all we’re doing, for the highest good of all.
Currently, our world is experiencing quite the imbalance in this area of life (and in all areas to be fair, with what’s going on globally). We’re seeing, feeling and hearing a lot which is creating a lot of stress within us, which is often being felt like a separation from the true sense of being and meaning in life; it feels like a loss of contact with the greater good of all.
Six Root Causes
As discussed in previous posts, there are six main root causes of symptoms which show up for us and usually it is a combination of two or more, which are out of balance within us, when we do present with symptoms, such as eczema, hives, measles, psoriasis, warts etc.
Briefly, these six root causes are the organ itself – how healthy is it?; stresses going on for us; emotions we’re feeling; beliefs we have about life and the world we live in; the social side of life (including work, home and outside social circles); and our lifestyle (which includes what we eat, what physical activity we do, our personal care products and rituals etc).
Stress trigger themes
From the mind-body-social functional medicine perspective which I work from, there is a biological stress trigger (conflict) theme linked to every organ and organ tissue in our body, which is connected to a specific brain relay, and this determines the level at which the conflict is being felt at.
With the epidermis layer of the skin, the theme is experienced as what is described as a separation conflict. This can be a loss of physical contact, from something or someone we want to be connected with and or to; or it can be a separation we would like to have or indeed need from someone or something which we do not want or like in some way shape or form.
So for example, like myself, at six weeks of age, I was suddenly separated from my mother’s breast and it was an unexpected, dramatic and isolating moment for me, where I didn’t have a strategy to fix or resolve it at that time. These four components are what constitute that stress trigger in our system – we call it a UDIN moment (Unexpected, Dramatic, Isolating, No Strategy).
Babies often experience this conflict when they’re separated from the mother at birth (e.g. being in ICU or given up for adoption). A separation conflict can occur in utero as well.
For an infant, the mother is the most important attachment presence in their young life, because of their connection during pregnancy and in the initial stages post-partum. Because of this connection and bond, it’s the mother who is perceived as the one to protect her child – she’s there on many levels to prevent stress and conflicts from happening. Therefore, it’s often the case, when a small child has a separation conflict, the mother was usually absent when the stress occurred.
Examples can be when a new sibling is born who appears to get more attention; when parents separate and children are split between homes; children not being able to see friends; separation from a toy or pet they like to snuggle. It’s also a pivotal time if the mother returns to work and the child is put into the care of others at nursery or a nanny or even another relative.
In parallel, elderly people may feel separated from their tribe/family if they move into a care home or following the death of a spouse or close companion.
Fears can also provoke the conflict e.g. fear of losing touch or contact with someone (maybe they’re moving away) or a feeling of rejection by a person because of an argument can trigger the conflict.
In a similar way, this theme also includes wanting to separate or cease contact from someone i.e. you really want to but for whatever reason, you’re unable to push or get away from that someone (literally or metaphorically). e.g. an abusive partner or parent or a bully at work or school.
Furthermore, it also refers to that desire/need/want to separate from something close to the skin e.g. glasses; a face mask; an item of clothing or a hat; shoes (such as bowling alley rental shoes); a soiled/wet baby’s nappy. By the same token, this theme also includes the feeling of being separated from something you’re unable to touch or feel close to any more e.g. a wedding ring, a musical instrument, a golf club (or similar sports item).
The Stress Phase
During this first phase, right after the trigger, the top layer of our skin, the epidermis, ulcerates where the separation/contact stress is felt. This is usually completely unnoticed because this is all happening in our subconscious and is a very sudden and automatic response to the emotive feeling.
However, when this stress phase is prolonged, signs of an imbalance will begin to surface, such as dry, rough, flaky, pale skin and coldness due to poor blood circulation.
If this stress phase becomes chronic, the skin starts to crack, which may include bleeding in more severe cases, leading to ulceration. Ichthyosis, which is identified by its fine scaling symptoms, indicates a chronic intense stress phase.
Another example of this prolonged stress phase is what is commonly known as dandruff on our scalp. When this is more intense and chronic, deep ulceration of the epidermal skin causes hair loss i.e. alopecia.
Other Stress Phase Aspects
Another common symptom which occurs in this stress phase, though not associated with epidermal skin issues in general medicine, is a short-term memory loss. The purpose of this is to temporarily forget the person we’ve been separated from by inhibiting the memory. In children, this shows up with challenges in learning and focusing…nowadays labelled as attention deficit disorder (ADD). In adults, chronic separation conflicts can lead to dementia.
Vitiligo is another symptom I’ve been managing since I was about 20. This happens because the ulceration (mentioned above), extends into the deepest layer of the epidermal skin, where melanin is produced, or not as the case is with vitiligo. The stress of this type of separation is perceived by the individual as feeling especially intense or brutal, e.g. physical abuse or torn from a loved one. The symptoms show up where the separation is felt by that individual. Hair also turns white in these areas. For me, my armpits are almost totally white, along with some smaller patches on my arms, legs and shoulders. That said, because I’m working on the associated stress triggers for me, the pigmentation has begun to return.
The Restorative Healing Phase
In the first part of the restorative healing phase, the affected skin location turns pinkish/red, before a slow repigmentation process begins in the second part of this phase. However, if you’re being retriggered by the original stress during this time, hyperpigmentation can occur – café-au-lait spots.
Another aspect of the first half of this healing phase is the skin swelling up, becoming red, inflamed, irritated, itchy, and sensitive to touch. This is because the ulceration from the stress phase is now being repaired through prolific cell growth. Unfortunately for those of us who know this only too well (me), this often includes small fluid-filled type blisters. Provided you don’t experience any retriggering stresses, the skin is able to further heal and repair in the second half of this phase. Those blisters will dry up and the skin returns to normal.
What is important to realise in this healing phase, however, is the skin does develop the characteristic rash we see in cases such as hives, eczema, lupus, measles, dermatitis, herpes, chickenpox, impetigo, rosacea, rubella and psoriasis. Though all slightly different, they all have the same separation/contact stress trigger theme in common.
Location – the significance
When the separation is unwanted e.g. unable to cuddle a loved one, the symptoms most often appear on the inside of arms, hands, fingers, or legs. On the contrary, wanting to break contact/separate from someone, typically appears on the outside of arms, hands, elbows, legs, knees, shinbones, or ankles, to metaphorically push or kick the unwanted away.
Furthermore, depending on the detail of the stress and perception of the afflicted, skin rash symptoms can also be more pinpointed in where they appear e.g. the scalp, face or lips (i.e. cold sores); the chest, stomach, genitals (external); feet and toes; and the back.
When all over (which is what I experienced when the eczema was at its worst in my late 20s – head to toe, cracked and bleeding) a widespread skin rash indicates general stress being experienced as a whole. In this case, what is also important to know is this can also be caused by poisoning e.g. from medication i.e. the body as a whole wants to separate from this poison within.
When rash symptoms are chronic and recurring, it is due to the original stress being retriggered in some way. e.g. when I was suddenly taken off my mother’s breast at six weeks and given formula milk (derived from cow’s dairy) I not only developed eczema on my face, where I felt the separation from my mother’s breast, but I also developed a very obvious intolerance to cow’s dairy, which was subsequently removed from my diet. Therefore, what is important to realise is, foods or pets or plant pollen, for example, are often associated aspects of a separation conflict, because they were present at the time the stress was triggered and thus, an unconscious association is formed, as part of our fight or flight stress response, to help keep us safe.
Rosacea and lupus, which generally appear on the nose, chin, and cheeks, are most often associated with a separation to do with the face e.g. loss of contact felt on the face or wanting someone to literally or metaphorically get out of your face. Nerve pain is also often experienced in the healing phase with facial skin rashes.
As we know with chickenpox (me again), measles and rubella, the rash covers most of the body. These general separation conflicts are more frequently encountered by young children because they tend to feel more vulnerable regarding separations from the tribe/family/unit (e.g. around home or at school).
Chickenpox is felt much deeper than measles and rubella because it goes
deeper into the epidermal skin layer. The length of the stress phase also impacts on the severity of symptoms too e.g. rubella is milder than measles. Other aspects also play a role with what symptoms occur as well e.g. if the child feels particularly isolated or abandoned, the blisters will appear worse or if the healing phase is intense, a high fever could also present.
Contrary to modern medical dogma, when we look at the science of human biology and embryology, coupled with the epigenetic science of the mind-body-social connection, these apparent contagious childhood viruses are actually the healing phase of separation conflicts being experienced by many children at the same time.
These communal separation conflicts can be and often are either school-related (e.g. a separation associated with a friend at school) or home-related impacting all children in a family.
For example, if you look at the statistics, measles typically appears after the settling in period of starting anew at nursery or infant school and the child has become familiar with their new teacher and made some friends. They’re also now comfortable with their new schedule of parents dropping and picking them up. The skin rash indicates that the stress of the separation has been resolved for the child. What spreads is the perceived notion/belief/emotion of not being allowed or not wanting to have contact with someone who has the infection. Supposed outbreaks in schools, for example, are often associated with the fear of coming in contact with an infected child i.e. wanting to separate/not have contact. It can also be the loss of being connected with a new best friend.
Psoriasis occurs because there are two conflicts involved. One is in the stress phase causing the flaky skin, while the second one is in the healing phase manifesting as the inflammation. Combined, it shows up as white/silvery patches on a thicker red skin surface.
Warts happen due to an on-going healing phase, because of being re-stressed. Skin tags are similar to warts. Genital warts suggest continuing separation conflicts of a sexual nature.
Remember: the healing phase is also interrupted when steroid-type creams are applied to the skin. This is why the inflamed rash appears again after the application is stopped.
My Own Journey
Having experienced eczema, chickenpox, impetigo, hives, cold sores, vitiligo and childhood warts, I’m very familiar with the themes of separation and unwanted contact, as well as how hard it is to live with these very visual symptoms on so many levels.
Looking over my own life, it’s clear and obvious where all these symptoms were activated and triggered. As such, coupled with the new biology knowledge and actually doing the deeper emotional work to heal those then unresolved emotional hurts, I’m happy to say I rarely if ever experience any symptoms nowadays. My vitiligo still has some work to complete. It’s in hand though and I’m well on my way to it also being a thing of the past.
As mentioned above, to ensure you’re getting to the root cause, all six key areas need to be explored and balanced for optimal results e.g. for a while, I thought consuming a healthy wholefood diet, being physically fit, doing work I love in a place I loved living in was enough. It soon became apparent the inner work needed to be done as well though. So my suggestion is to explore and cover all bases from the beginning, to avoid the setbacks I experienced.
To find out how I can help and support you, get in touch now.
It’s taken me some time to write a post like this. I feared ridicule and judgement from people who I considered to be more of an authority in one way or another. I lacked the confidence to share what I know from my own learning experience because I don’t have a medical degree and I’m not a scientist.
However, I am a woman. I have a brain. I have intuition. And I know when I know. You just have that feeling. And nothing, nothing can deny the power of this feeling when it surges through you. I’ve also learnt a lot in my time on this planet. I’ve studied hard and continue to do so, I’ve read and continue to read a lot and I know from experience what I know now.
We all have mental health.
That chatter in my head has stopped me speaking out before now. The impostor syndrome. The lack of confidence because of past negative experiences. The lack of support from supposed loved ones who say “hi, how are you?” but behind your back chatter about what you’re doing as if you’ve gone nuts because you don’t fit into their paradigm of what is apparently normal. People who take the mickey out of what you do…making jokes about it, making fun of it like you’re some sort of clown in the circus.
I’m not a clown in a circus. I’m a human being just like you. I have feelings…I have thoughts…I have emotions and these all have an impact on my physiology and how my biology responds, in any given moment, just like they do with all of us. This mind-body response is what creates symptoms. And it’s real…even if you can’t see the symptoms.
That’s your world view
Just because I practice meditation and use tools like EFT and yoga, spend a lot of time in nature and eat what many have judged me for and said is a rabbit’s diet, doesn’t mean I’m some sort of freak. I don’t drink alcohol either and was once told I’m not a member of my own family because of this.
The thing is, and what most people are missing in this is, I live the life I lead because I started life with a whole flipping string of symptoms. And these symptoms have fuelled me on to get to the root cause of why I started life this way and why many symptoms plagued me for many years…and some still do.
What people see or choose to see in me is someone who is happy and smiles a lot…who bounces around like Tigger and is always here, there and everywhere, apparently living a carefree life without a ‘normal’ 9-5 job. What you don’t know is I’ve struggled with a low sense of self-worth for a long time. I struggled with some symptoms that left me feeling so dark, I wouldn’t go out for days and days at a time because of how I felt and looked and the fact my skin was cracked and bleeding. I’ve been in so much pain at times that I’ve been reduced to using crutches and wheelchairs. You don’t see this though because most of us hide away when challenged like this. And woe-betide if we complain about something which can’t be seen or isn’t visible like #endometriosis for example.
Thanks to path-forging women like Elizabeth Day, Ella Mills, Penny Croal, Kate Marillat, Leisa Cockayne, Kelly Brogan MD, Julie Schiffman, Emma Barnett, Clare McKenna, Jasmine Hemsley, Rachel Flaherty, Kelly Noonan Gores, and some trusted friends and close family who’ve always encouraged me though, I’m sharing the following about endometriosis, in the hope it will reach those who need it and help one person at the very least, with a deeper understanding of why their body is behaving the way it is.
Endometriosis is said to be one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women according to endometriosis.org – the global forum for news and information. In the news section of their website, they state that “Scientists are now closer to understanding pain mechanisms in endometriosis. Scientists at the University of Warwick and the University of Edinburgh in the UK have shown that immune cells called macrophages could play a key role in the generation of pain in endometriosis”.
Looking at the dis-ease process of endometriosis from a meta-perspective
It’s great that research is being done at this micro-level in an attempt to get to the root cause of what’s underlying these debilitating symptoms in what is estimated to be affecting “176 million women worldwide regardless of their ethnic and social background”. However, has anyone stopped to look at, explore and research the bigger picture of what’s going on for these millions of women prior to the onset of their symptoms? For example, what stresses may have been happening for them? What emotions and thoughts may be present and on-going? How do they perceive their home, work and/or social lives? And what’s their lifestyle like, including diet, exercise and vitality?
These aspects all play a key role in understanding what is happening in anyone with the onset of symptoms, be it endometriosis or any number of other diagnoses. So let’s look at this more closely for endometriosis.
The biology – the development and function of the ovaries
As we know, the ovaries are positioned on the right and left side of the uterus, which they attach to via cord-like ligaments. During the monthly menses, an egg, formed from primordial germ cells, grows into a tiny follicle. At the time of ovulation, the follicle bursts open, so the ovum can be released and travel from an ovary through the fallopian tube to potentially meet a sperm for fertilisation. If this stage was successful, approximately six days later, the fertilised egg or blastocyst implants in the uterine cavity. The corpus luteum, a progesterone-producing cell cluster in the ovaries, facilitates pregnancy. The ovarian tissue contains interstitial cells, which produce estrogen and small quantities of testosterone. Estrogen plays a significant role in a woman’s sex drive and readiness to mate. In embryology terms, the ovaries originate from the new mesoderm and are therefore controlled from the cerebral medulla, which is part of the new brain in brain development.
Every organ and organ tissue in the body is biologically connected to one of the brain layers…and each of these brain layers has an overall biological conflict theme, as discovered by Dr Hamer, who first developed what is now known as Meta-Health (also known as Meta-Consciousness or Lifestyle Prescriptions).
The biological conflict related to the ovaries is a loss conflict which is connected to the loss of a loved one. A perceived fear of losing a loved one can also trigger the conflict. This same stress can also be related to the loss of a beloved pet. Ruminating self-blame after a relationship break-down or the death of someone close can keep the conflict active. Women also experience loss conflicts after miscarriages or the unwanted termination of a pregnancy. A loss conflict can also be set in motion because of an argument, disloyalty, or unfaithfulness of a partner or friend.
This sense of loss can also be passed down the ancestral line as well, due to cellular memory e.g. the egg which became you was inside your mother, when she was in utero. Therefore, if your grandmother experienced a loss while pregnant with your Mum, this memory can pass on into your cells too. This is what is commonly thought to be hereditary or genetic type symptoms. Only about 1% of symptoms fall under this umbrella however, as proven by cell biologist, Bruce Lipton. The rest are down to the passing on of ancestral trauma, beliefs and patterns, all of which have the potential for healing.
The stress phase of the biological process in the ovaries
When we experience something, which to us as an individual feels unexpected, dramatic, isolating and we don’t have a strategy to deal with it at that moment, we are pushed into stress…also known as the sympathetic phase in biological terms. Biologically, therefore, the ovarian organ tissue of a woman who perceives a situation as stressful and feels this sense of loss will respond by necrosis (cell loss) in the ovary. As a result, because of the reduction of estrogen-producing cells the estrogen level decreases. Furthermore, depending on how intense the conflict is felt and lasts for, (i.e. how long the woman remains in the stress phase, impacted by this trauma) can result in irregular periods, absence of menstruation altogether, or infertility until the stress is released and the conflict is resolved for the individual. If this stress is felt before menstruation has started, (e.g. in a younger girl), it can delay the start of the menstrual cycle. The felt loss of an unconceived child can also lead to long-term infertility.
The restoration phase of the biological process in the ovaries – part 1
Following the full resolution of something which we perceived as stressfulI, biologically, we move into the para-sympathetic phase of the healing process. Therefore, in the ovaries, if and when the stress has been fully resolved, the tissue loss which happened in the sympathetic phase is restored with new cells, assisted by bacteria such as streptococcus in an ideal scenario. Though counter-intuitive to our conditioned minds of what constitutes healing, symptoms experienced are pain caused by the swelling. This is usually diagnosed as inflammation or an infection of the ovaries and called adnexitis (the same term is used for inflammation in the fallopian tubes).
Again, counter-intuitive to our western conditioned medical understanding of what is normal, a special characteristic regarding the healing of the ovaries is the development of an ovarian cyst. Now, this is where it’s important to understand the biological process – provided there aren’t any relapses i.e. reminders of the original stress, which push us back into the sympathetic phase and interrupt the parasympathetic restorative healing phase, the process takes – like a pregnancy – nine months to complete. The cyst formation occurs in several steps.
In the first half of the parasympathetic phase, a fluid-filled capsule or cyst forms at the site of the original cell-loss (necrosis). Coupled with water retention, (which can be exacerbated by a separate, yet related stress conflict associated with feelings such as isolation, abandonment and existence and activates in the kidney collecting tubules), an ovarian cyst can become quite sizable because the water retention is especially stored in the healing area. Large cyst(s) cause considerable pain, particularly during menstruation, and heavy menstrual bleeding. What is termed polycystic ovaries (PCO) actually relates to multiple loss conflicts resulting in many cysts forming over time.
With regards the continued parasympathetic phase of the biological process with the now-formed cyst, (provided this process isn’t interrupted by retriggers into stress again), in order to restore the cell loss that occurred during the stress/sympathetic phase, ovarian cells start to increase rapidly in number inside the cyst. During this stage, the cyst attaches itself to neighboring tissue for blood supply. NB: attaching to tissue nearby also stabilizes the cyst. Detected during this period, the growth can be diagnosed, in modern medical terms, as an invasive or infiltrating ovarian cancer and wrongly assumed to metastasize to nearby organs. Based on the basic laws of biology however, the new ovarian cells cannot be regarded as cancer cells because the cell increase is actually in truth, a restorative, rebuilding process.
Restoration phase – part 2
At the mid-point of this restorative parasympathetic phase, we reach what is called a healing peak, which temporairly pushes the body back into a state of stress, which may include symtoms such as restlessness, nausea, heightened blood pressure, raised pulse, cold sweats, shivers. The biological purpose of this temporary sympathetic surge is to quickly eliminate the edema which developed both on the organ and in the correlating brain relay in the first part of the restorative phase. After this healing peak, we experience a urinary phase, where the body expels the excess fluid. NB: The excess fluid cannot be completly expelled if there is still an active stress conflict related to feeling isolated/abandoned OR if there are still retriggers (often unconscious) of the loss conflict. This remaining water retention will stay present until all conflicts have been fully resolved.
Following the hopefully successful release of most fluid from the cyst, in part two of the restorative phase, the cyst then becomes hard, separates from the tissue it had attached to and, supplied with blood vessels, integrates itself completely into the hormone-producing function of the ovaries. This is completly natural and part of the biological process and purpose. To explain further, the boost of estrogen provided by the cyst makes the woman who’s felt this loss more attractive again, while at the same time, enhancing her readiness to mate, which biologically, elevates her into an ideal position to make up for the loss and become pregnant again. It’s the nature-nurture process.
Interruptions to the biological process
Sometimes the internal pressure, if a cyst is rather liquid, can become too intense, causing the cyst to burst. There could be a few causes for this to happen, such as the extra water retention due to the other active conflict related to feelings of isolation; a punch to the stomach; an accident; an investigative puncture, or premature surgery can cause the cyst to burst.
Following the burst, the fluid moves into the abdominal cavity, and the now loose ovarian cells attach themselves to the abdominal wall or an organ such as the bladder or rectum (in these circumstances, the cyst development takes place outside the ovary). This is what is termed endometriosis. According to modern medicine, endometriosis is a growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.
However, through the scienific research which was carried out by Dr. Hamer, who examined brain CT scans of women with these symptoms, every scan highlighted that each woman with endometriosis showed the moment of conflict stress wasn’t in the brainstem layer of the brain, which controls the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) but instead it was in the cerebral medulla, i.e. the area of the brain which controls the ovaries. Furthermore, this also clarifies why endometriosis increases a woman’s estrogen level – an aspect which has apparently been unexplainable before now.
So to conclude, without going into further biological explainations and rabbit holes, this post is not about blaming or shaming anyone into anything. It’s to explain a simple natural biological process, which women go through when we experience what to us feels like a loss – it’s stressful, feels unexpected, dramatic, isolating and we don’t have a strategy to deal with the shock in that moment.
It’s to explain the side of endometriosis which may not have been explained to you before now. It’s to give you some sense of power and strength that something can be done to support you to complete your natural healing cycle in all aspects of your life related to your endo-experience and find an end to your debilitating symtoms. It’s to offer you a sense of understanding that your body is not working against you for one second – on the contrary, in any given moment your magnificent body is always working to keep you safe and survive, constantly adapting to the changing environment it finds itself in and adjusting to this, to support you to keep going.
We have been fed this inaccurate paradigm in modern medicine that pain, swelling, inflammation etc equals something going wrong in our body…whereas it’s often present in an attempt to help protect us from something which has been stressful for us…and the symptoms women experience in endometriosis are actually a natural part of a biological healing cycle…which is doing its best to complete.
If you have any questions about this related to your own endo-journey and how a meta-health analysis could suport you, do get in touch, where I will do my best to support you.
It’s not new news that aspects such as the air we breathe and water we drink, or relationships that bring us down or even the way we see ourselves in the socioeconomic climate all have an influence on our health and wellness and how we fair fundamentally when it comes to thriving or just surviving.
Just this week, during a discovery consultation with a client, it was clear that social aspects of her life would dictate how she would proceed forward in being able to continue further work with me. She felt unable due to her socio-economic status and it was a stark reminder to me that basic needs are sometimes not even closely met by some people, as a consequence of their social standing, which has such a huge knock-on effect with the manifestation of symptoms in the mind and body.
Poor living conditions in the home and environment, surviving on low incomes, unsupportive relationships and low standards of education can all be contributing factors to our health, vitality and wellness, from mental health issues such as paranoia to heart disease, respiratory ailments and skin complaints.
Though our world has positively developed enormously even in the last 50 to 100 years, we have also seen a massive decline in the way our societies and communities operate and are structured, such as the decline in family units, which used to be such a massive support to each member, to help them thrive and achieve well.
As a result, we’ve seen an increase in those who feel lonely, isolated, depressed, outcast and forgotten in our societies and communities…and from this, we’ve seen a greater number of physical and mental symptoms, which reflect these changes.
Meta-Health approaches the health paradigm to include how these social aspects can and do influence our degree of vitality and wellbeing in its analytical process to find the root cause of symptoms so that a plan can be created for the individual, which supports and helps a rebalancing for them in their overall wellness aspirations.
Research by Dr. Dean Ornish also proves that our ability to connect with ourselves and others and truly love ourselves and others does have a primary impact on our health and wellbeing, dictating how healthy we are or not, what makes us happy or down and out, or what helps us thrive, be healthy and vital or unwell.
On that social level, it’s important we remind ourselves regularly that we are all living energetic beings in an energetic living environment. Everything is intricately connected and impacted by the next thing. None of us are excluded from the fact that everything is energy, as Einstein taught us…everything, absolutely everything is connected. We cannot separate ourselves from it and so it’s important we learn to understand and move within it, to best support our health and wellbeing, so that we can all live our happiest and healthiest lives.
We view the world, not as it is, but as we are…so it’s vital that we realise that what we think about, we bring about…what we perceive we achieve, whether we want it or not.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
How it’s all connected.
As discussed in previous posts about how our emotions and beliefs are also deeply connected to our organs and tissues and the symptoms they manifest, our social influences also play a part in our overall health and wellbeing. For example…
- Upper Oesophagus Mucosa: You want to support your husband in his new business partnership, but instinctively know there is something fundamentally out of alignment with his chosen business partner…however, you have to live with your husband’s decision and choice anyway…but you just can’t swallow the idea and reality of it all and develop symptoms in your oesophagus.
- Bladder Mucosa: Your new neighbour has built a wall, which is clearly inside your property and boundaries and you feel as though your territory and boundaries have been overstepped, invaded, disrespected…and your bladder reacts with symptoms.
- Periosteum Innervation (nerves): You feel the pain and need of separation from a loved one, who has deceived you, so you want to kick them away…and you develop symptoms in your feet around the periosteum nerves.
- Vagina Mucosa: You discover that your wife or husband has been having an affair and feel the rejection sexually…and develop symptoms in your vagina.
The power and influence of what goes on around us in our social environment cannot be underestimated and we need to start talking about this more openly and honestly, with ourselves and our health professionals.
Do you live in a home where there are regular arguments, which make you feel inadequate or worthless? If so, is it worth exploring how to heal the relationships within this environment or move out?
Is there a colleague who is constantly nipping at you, digging at you, making fun of you and putting you down? Is so, do you grow a thicker skin and buckle down with positive affirmations all around you, or change your workplace?
Do you live in a community where you feel threatened, unsafe and like you always have to watch your back? If so, can you see if changing your view of this community will help or do you move to a new town, city or country?
When we change, remove and create real-life solutions and soul-utions, we begin to see and experience powerful change within and around us as well. Anything is possible when we change the way we look at things.
So what can we do?
I for one can be a great procrastinator. I am the best cleaner, washer-upper and tidier when I want to avoid something which desperately needs and is calling for my attention. Like so many of us, I play games with myself, pretending and almost believing that things will get better if I don’t look at the problem…and as a result, my desire to engage with it grows more and more distant. The truth is, the issue is still there though and likely getting worse, the longer we ignore and dance around it, as if it’s some bonkers game of reverse hide-and-seek.
I can fully put my hand up and admit that I have been and still am afraid to step outside of my comfort zone to deal with and look at some of my symptoms. It can be daunting. Eventually though, I realise that I need to help myself and the best way to do that is to seek help from another, who can support and guide me.
This is what Meta-Health is all about…in the analysis process, together, we explore which specific social situation(s) is/are affecting your symptoms and then create a plan specific to you, to focus in on building real-life solutions and soul-utions.
For example, what could be the social stressor triggering your knee pain?
- Is it your fear of moving forwards?
- Is it the stress you feel about being supported financially, when at this age, you feel you should be supporting yourself?
- Or, do you feel as though you are just not good enough?
A client I have worked with in the past found his biggest light-bulb moment, in the entire healing of his symptoms, when he realised what his body was doing for him to help, protect and support him, even when his symptoms weren’t pleasant and how these symptoms were fundamentally connected to what was going on around him on a daily basis.
Our body has an innate ability to regain homeostasis, balance, health and wellness, when we become aware of what is impacting us and we then create specific, individual plans to achieve our health and wellness goals.
It’s time we acknowledged that a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellbeing does not work when we are all so innately different. No two people come to have the same illness or disease via the same stress triggers, so it makes sense that we all have individual plans to regain our health again as well. This is the backbone of Meta-health ~ it works with you as an individual, exploring what has triggered your symptoms, based on your life and its path, not a general paradigm or template, which hopefully will fit what’s going on for you.
So where to from here?
Raising your awareness is key. When we understand just how sponge-like we actually are in our social environments, absorbing what’s going on around us, we can then take positive actionable steps to change things for the better.
Improving the support, help and positive connections around you will create changes you didn’t realise were possible, as will increasing your self-love and the love you allow yourself to receive from others.
Ask yourself these questions too and begin to positively shift things accordingly:
- How do your daily relationships at home, at work at play impact you?
- What could you change or let go from the above question?
- How can you shift your living, working and play environment so that it supports you more on every level?
- Who or what can you remove now from your life, who is simply not a positive influence at all?
- What other conscious action steps could you take, which would help improve your social environment for the better?
If you would like further guidance, insights and personal coaching on how to improve your health, wellness and vitality, learning what has triggered your symptoms, please get in touch. Where this is a will, there is always a way.
I also appreciate that it is a new and sometimes challenging concept for us to invest time and money on ourselves. I didn’t for years…until I found I wasn’t getting any better or enjoying life and how I was feeling…and then I changed my priorities about what was important to me…fashion and phones or health and wellness?
It was a no-brainer for me because ultimately, I could have the former, when the latter was in balance and I felt like I had the energy and vitality to go out and be the best version of myself in what I do. I now love my life what I do on a daily basis and have enabled myself to make choices and decisions I wasn’t able to make when I wasn’t at my best in my health.
Day one or one day…?
In this fourth post about the main contributing factors to our health and wellness, I’d like to talk about stress and how it works in our body and mind.
We all experience stress to a greater or lesser degree. No one is immune to it throughout life. The main difference in how stress impacts and affects us as individuals, is how we respond and ultimately process stress, which we experience in our everyday lives.
A certain amount of stress is actually beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing at times, giving us a boost or surge of energy, motivation and inspiration, to help us get through something like a deadline at work or a test. However, prolonged chronic stress can create more serious health challenges, including having an impact on the cardiovascular, immune, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems.
Further to this, as you may recall from my previous post about how emotions impact our health…prolonged stress can impact these emotional responses as well, bringing about a debilitating sense of self in both physical and psychological ways. While we can all generally manage some simple stress triggers, by tapping into our bodies natural ability to cope, prolonged chronic stress can and does have serious implications upon our overall wellbeing in the long term, if left unchecked.
Stress is our natural inbuilt response to an experience, which to us as an individual, felt threatening or challenging in that moment, either physically and/or psychologically. Our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and autonomic nervous system are the major aspects of our body, which react to stress, which we, as individuals, feel is threatening, by activating the fight-flight-freeze-fawn response via our sympathetic nervous system – the part of our body, which pushes our entire system into stress, in an effort to keep us safe and survive the threat, be it real or perceived.
The body and some of its major systems may remain in this state of sympathetic activity for some time if we do not or cannot switch off the stress trigger. This is when we see chronic symptoms begin to manifest. However, when we are able to reduce or eliminate the root cause which triggered our stress response in the first place, the parasympathetic nervous system then takes over, moving, calling, guiding our body into a recovery phase, which may include feeling more tired, hot and hungry than what is considered normal. This is simply a natural response and symptomatic of the body regenerating itself, in an attempt to return to a state of homeostasis…i.e. balanced health and wellness again.
How does stress work in the body though…?
It isn’t new knowledge that traditional, long-standing, ancient paradigms of health and healing all acknowledge the mind-body-social-spiritual connection and the way in which different types of emotion and mental imbalances take root in different parts of the body. Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine are two of the more well-known disciplines, which explore these connections, as well as other ethnic-based traditions found in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The foundational beliefs of these traditional disciplines (which have been successfully used for over 2500 years) are that every organ and tissue in our body correlates with the same vibration or energy of specific emotions, which we may feel at any given time. Therefore, it stands to reason, that every symptom, be it physical or mental, which creates an imbalance in our body, putting it into a state of dis-ease, develops from an emotional stress trigger, which is connected with a specific organ or tissue, creating a block or disruption in the normal flow, for optimal functioning to happen.
A domino-type effect can then begin to occur if symptoms are not dealt with in the immediate moments, days and weeks following a stress trigger. This is when we see symptoms changing from being acute (short-term) to chronic (long-term). This can potentially add further stress to the mental and emotional psyche of the individual, thus multiplying the overall stress on the mind-body…and a whole myriad of other symptoms can begin to grow and emerge, feeling like it’s spiralling out of our control.
Big ‘T’ traumas such as earthquakes, major accidents, fires, floods and divorce can all cause incredible stress and left unchecked, can contribute to existing symptoms, as well as manifest new ones. Small ‘t’ traumas can equally contribute to existing symptoms and because they’re small, we often ignore the significance of them. However, like a slow dripping tap, over time, they too can contribute to chronic symptoms.
Stress, be it a big ‘T’ or little ‘t’, is something, which to the individual, felt unexpected, dramatic and isolating and you had no strategy at that moment to deal with and handle what was happening. We call this a UDIN. It’s a very subjective experience…therefore no two people respond the same way and thus, no two people came to have their symptoms from the same stress trigger.
These events or stress triggers can begin when we’re children and become conditioned responses, such as a comment or look we received from a parent, teacher or bullying in the playground and they can also happen as adults, with major events such as those described above.
Whatever the original trigger for the UDIN moment, because we’re all subjective individuals, with our own conditioning and background, the pattern and process our own biological programming will follow through it’s sympathetic and parasympathetic phases will depend on how we’ve perceived the UDIN. For example, a child who’s told she can’t play football because she’s a girl may take this personally and feel devalued, thus impacting her muscular-skeletal system. Whereas another child given the same comment may feel like their territory is being invaded, thus impacting their bladder.
The key point to remember is that stress does not come from just one source, such as a major event like an earthquake. It can be cumulative over time as well, such as that condemning comment from a parent or teacher…which is then reignited by a boss or spouse later in life and so it goes on and on and on, thus reopening the old unhealed wound again and again and again and keeping the body in a fight-flight-freeze cycle of stress, whenever that button is pushed.
These conditioned responses form beliefs and over time, we become entwined in an unconscious cycle of stress, whereby specific organs will react with the corresponding brain relay and related emotions are all retriggered. This on-going cycle ultimately forms symptoms, which can and do become chronic. Knowing the root cause of these life-long response patterns, as well as the big T events, can help us detect where symptoms have stemmed from and inform us in a more specific and individual way to create a plan for changing patterns, behaviours and emotions. This ultimately allows the body to complete its own natural process of healing, through this deeper understanding and empowerment of us as individuals.
There is a lot we can do on our own to take back our power and reduce stress in our lives. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Learn to meditate to quieten your mind. InsightTimer is a fantastic free app with loads of guided meditations to get you started. I would advise beginning with guided meditations until you know you feel 100% comfortable with a silent practice. Seek out a certified teacher for more specific guidance and disciplines. After many years of exploring and trying out different styles and approaches, I now personally practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), which has been a life-changing addition to my daily self-care routine, since I began practicing it several years ago.
- Spend time in nature. Research now shows us that time in nature is very healing for our overall wellbeing. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which loosely translates as forest bathing, has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. The beach is also a very powerful space to de-stress from those daily grinds. Simply kicking leaves in the park or getting outside can be all it takes though, to change your state of being. So get outside and breath in some of those positive vibes.
- Move your body. Whatever your ability, movement will help. Find what works for you and commit to it. The best movement activity for you is the one you do regularly…so experiment and try some things out. There is so much to choose from these days, from high-energy HIIT classes to slow motion yoga and everything in-between. So find the one which gives you that high and go for it. You’ve nothing to lose except the stress you don’t want anyway.
- Journalling. For those who like words…writing things down can help. I’ve been a journaler for many years and when I am consistent, it helps heaps. One resource which I found helpful was the simple morning pages practice described in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
- Find your tribe. Community and a sense of belonging are so important to us as humans, in order for us to thrive. With the age of technology, many of us find that we’re a lot more isolated however, even with the social media platforms of our day. So I’d encourage you to seek out your face-to-face tribe so that you have people who are on the same page as you, who cheer you on when you need that extra support, motivation and inspiration. We don’t always get this from our biological family…so I like to see these groups of people who form our community as our soul family…they get you and accept you for who you are, no matter what.
- Where possible, eliminate the stress triggers, which you can control yourself. And set boundaries, which support you to maintain a stress-free space for yourself.
- Breathe. So often when we are in stress, we actually forget to breathe normally. So take the time to sit and take some slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, while placing your hands on your heart. You will soon notice yourself calming down and feeling a sense of peace again. The Heart Math Institute continues to do extensive research on how some simple breathing with your hands on your heart can help with more balanced heart coherence. See their website for some free resources.
- And if all this seems a bit too much to manage on your own, then you can also book a discovery call to see how working with me can help and support you on your journey towards balanced health and wellness again.
“It is not that stress kills us, it is our reaction to it”
~ Hans Selye
Revising for and sitting exams can raise stress levels for any student. Here, I explore and offers hints and tips on how to manage those exam nerves, with a more ease, quiet confidence and a peace of mind to support your focus.
Right now, thousands of students in Ireland are busy studying for and sitting their Junior and Leaving Cert mock exams, before their end of year exams begin later on in June. That’s a lot of hours spent revising.
Most students have put an enormous amount of time into their revision preparation to ensure they’re ready for anything which may come up in each of their exam papers. However, how many students will enter their exam room exhausted and somewhat blurry-eyed, after a potentially sleepless night, worrying, nervous and dreading their mind going blank after all their revising?
Maybe some have even taken remedies, medicines or experimented with deep breathing and positive thinking. Nevertheless, many still find themselves paralysed by fear and unable to perform to their optimum level. Feeling overwhelmed, some experience trouble sleeping, migraines, headaches, poor appetite and increased anxiety.
Through my work with helping students, some of the common problem areas I have found are: pre-test anxiety; procrastination; feeling overwhelmed; perfectionism; and the pressure of expectation.
It’s often accepted in our society that feeling a little nervous before an exam or performance can be helpful, as it helps keep you sharp and focused. However, when nerves turn to fear, this can be a problem. When you’re under stress, your body releases the hormone adrenaline which prepares it for danger.
The body’s fight or flight system has been triggered: you feel sick, your heart starts racing, your muscles feel tense, you’re possibly shaking and your thinking feels muggy. This may be helpful if you are being chased by a tiger – but not if you are trying to be calm and focused for an exam!
Conventional ways of dealing with test anxiety are well documented: deep breathing; be prepared; expect the best; exercise; eat well; and try to sleep. Unfortunately for some people, this advice has little positive effect because of the challenge in dealing with the body’s physical reaction to stress.
The key is being able to release the stress and tension from the mind and body. With the body’s nervous system balanced, students are able to sleep, eat well, take care of themselves and focus on doing their studies.
I use a remarkable technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or “Tapping”, which can be used to focus on negative emotion and clear it.
EFT is a form of acupuncture but instead of using needles, we tap on the well-established meridian points on the body. When a student experiences the fight or flight symptoms, the solution is in the body’s energy system.
Energy (known in various cultures as Chi) flows through the meridians or channels in the body. However, when a person gets nervous, the energy flow is disrupted (e.g. we experience negative thinking, feeling unable to cope, overreacting to situations, self sabotage and the physical symptoms of stress such as sickness or diarrhoea).
Using the fingers to stimulate the meridian points on the face and upper body whilst verbalising the issues, sends calming messages to the brain. This helps to clear the disruption and re-balance the body’s nervous system.
Incredibly, this releases the stress from the body and people often feel calmer, lighter and more peaceful following a session of tapping. This results in students often expressing an eagerness to get on with their studies.
Also, after just a brief introduction, people can use the technique on their own.
I use the following three-step process to make this possible:
- Step one: Identify the problem (fears, self-doubt, anxiety);
- Step two: Clear the interference/ disruption (using EFT);
- Step Three: Re-frame/ Re-program (using performance psychology with EFT and Matrix Reimprinting).
It was the day of Patrick’s first exam. This was his last year at school and he’d spent months preparing for these exams. He wanted to do well and look back with no regrets knowing that he’d done his best.
Hours before he felt calm, confident and eager to get on with it. However, when he woke up on that day, his critical inner voice began its work; he began to doubt himself and panic. The body’s fight or flight system had been triggered, his thinking became fuzzy and the creative problem-solving part of his mind felt like it was shutting down – just when he needed it!
He was feeling desperate and so with his parents support, he decided to phone me. We worked on the strongest negative emotions which were the fear of failure, letting himself down and worry that he hadn’t done enough work.
This is really common with students taking exams. There is that logical side of them that knows they have done the work, but when the nerves take hold, logic goes out of the window and no amount of reassurance from friends and family seems to help.
We tapped on this negativity for a couple of rounds and Patrick began to feel calmer, lighter and more optimistic. Now his mind was free of the negative, we introduced some positive affirmations: how he would like to feel when taking his exam; calm, excited and seeing this as an opportunity and not a threat.
Patrick was thrilled to be able to begin his exams later that day and walk away satisfied that he’d done his best. Tapping gives you the opportunity to make the change you need.
When I first spoke to Patrick, his mind was full of fear and doubt. He of course wanted to feel calm, positive and confident, but felt helpless. Using EFT we were able to start exactly where Patrick was with his emotions and remove the negative feelings and sensations. Then his mind was ready to fully experience the benefits of positive thinking.
Dr Peta Stapleton, Australian-based registered Clinical and Health Psychologist and international researcher has explored the effectiveness and efficacy of EFT to support students with school and exam stress, with very positive results. See her brief news interview here on the success of her trials in Gold Coast Schools.
And if you’re searching for the answer to pre-test anxiety and want to be able to sit exams full of confidence and without fear, EFT may sound a little different, but I’ve found initial concerns are soon forgotten as the nerves start to fade. Give it a try – you’ve nothing to lose but your fears!
Get in touch now. Or book straight away.