Freedom from the Tyranny of Hormones through the Heart
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This week, I did some things that were out of character for me. One of them was to demand, in a sterile and cold manner, payment for a session a client missed weeks ago due to an emergency. I had never asked this client to pay for a missed session in the past, and in this case she had experienced a genuine emergency! “Wow,” was her response. “It does not seem like you to be this harsh.” The next day, I got my period, and I could look back on my behavior and say to myself, “What the heck was I thinking?!”
The answer is, I wasn’t. Thinking, that is. At that moment, I was stressed about money, and more vulnerable to it because of my hormones. And one of the things our bodies do under stress is shut down our higher brain centers, causing us to behave in ways we may not understand or may not consciously create if we had a choice. This brain shut down is our intelligence in a real life threat, to react with speed rather than higher brain consideration. But it does not work so well when we are sending e-mails.
It is rare, since accessing the power of the heart, for me to feel victimized this way by my body and its hormonal changes. The heart has the power to bring hormonal balance from the inside out- when you know how to harmonize your own heart rhythms, you can become your own internal pharmacist, and activate hormones that help you to feel good and respond intelligently to life events. Now, when I slip up like I did with my client, just knowing how stress and hormones interact also gives me compassion and understanding for what is happening so I do not have to feel so out of control. And seeing that in myself, I wanted to give that to all of you in this week’s HeartStart call.
“Hormones” – its not a neutral word for most of us.
Remember being a teenager with raging hormones (or the parent of one)?
Ever been a woman like me, traumatized by PMS or menopause (or loved a woman in that distress)?
Ever fallen "in love" only to find out that it was your hormones doing the thinking and not your brain? That’s the worst! Think of the money you’ve spent, the time you’ve wasted, the projects you could have developed and the contribution you could have made with all those resources that your hormones and your genitals spent instead of you! That’s another example of hormones shutting down the higher brain.
Come to this week’s HeartStart call to find forgiveness and understanding for where you have been run by the tyranny of your hormones, and learn to access the power of your heart to find freedom and power inside your own skin now.
From pimples and mood crashes to hot flashes, "hormones" have a bad reputation for causing us a lot of stress. What are hormones? Hormones are chemicals that act as messengers in the body. They are like e-mails and telephone calls, allowing one part of the body to communicate with another and to assign work orders. But, like e-mail, they are easily subject to misinterpretation and miscommunication, especially when we send the wrong ones for the wrong job.
Are there good and bad hormones? Are there good and bad means of communication? Is a telephone call better than an e-mail? Or is a car better than an ambulance? It all depends upon what’s needed. You would not want to have a passionate love affair via e-mail alone. And yet e-mail can be the most efficient way to reschedule an appointment when you have been playing telephone tag for weeks. Hormones work the same way. We don’t want to shoot the messengers. We just want to send the right one for the right job. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to do that when it comes to our hormones.
Our bodies have stopped sending the right hormone messengers for the right jobs on their own for one very simple reason: we are reacting to modern stressors like traffic and deadlines as if they are real DEAD lines, real life threatening dangers. In essence, we are calling on ambulances to go to the convenience store. We are sending our soldier hormones with AK 47s to the front lines of preparing for a birthday party or fighting with a spouse or nervousness over a career opportunity. We are relying on old survival software to send out hormones to deal with modern psychological challenges, which is like trying to run internet on an old transistor radio. This puts us out of synch, and we end up causing further suffering emotionally and physically, misconstruing life events and torturing ourselves with hormonal head aches, cramps, hot flashes, and bad discernment. How does that work?
Perhaps my own story can help to demystify the connection between hormones, emotions and health, and lead to greater understanding of how to reprogram this old survival software, for better health, discernment, and quality of life.
Desperate to heal my debilitating menstrual cramps when I was 23 years old, I remember my Chinese doctor at the time taking my pulses and saying to me, “Well, you are having all this pain because you have been so stressed and emotional this month.” “What?!” I was totally offended, and I just didn’t get it. “What have my emotions got to do with this piercing pain? That has nothing to do with it! Are you telling me I shouldn’t have emotions? Besides, how could I not be emotional?! My boyfriend broke up with me! What am I supposed to do?” I felt completely victimized, like hormones and emotions were something that just “happened” to me. That was part of why my boyfriend broke up with me- he did not want my hormones and emotions to “just happen” to him anymore! Where could I find control?
I felt like I lived in a fascist state run my own hormones all the time. Behaving one way and regretting it later, feeling totally out of control, I desperately went from this doctor to that clinic to acupuncture and polarity therapy and herbs and Tibetan medicine. You name it I tried it, desperate to find anything that would help me overcome my menstrual cramps, mood swings and the behavior changes that accompanied my menses and hormone fluctuations. It was only once I discovered the power of the heart, and the science that explains how hormones and moods interact, that I understood how all of this was connected and gained the power to depose hormones as my dictator to take the driver’s seat of my own life.
What I discovered is that, while boyfriends will break up with me and stocks will go down and jobs will be lost, my body did not need to react to those things as if they were threats to its very survival. I could be disappointed or scared or angry, but I could know that those emotions were communicating to my body that its survival was at stake, causing it to usher forth 1400 changes that would impact my mood and my health and my ability to think clearly for weeks or even months afterwards. Take one of the 1400 things that can happen in a stress reaction- the release of the stress hormone cortisol into the system. Think of cortisol as an e-mail that goes out to the troops putting everyone on amber terrorist alert. Cortisol quickly communicates to the blood that it needs to clot more, in case the threat is a tiger that will bite us and we need to prevent death by bleeding. It causes fat to accumulate around the waste and hips and cholesterol to go up, in case you have to run so far away from the tiger that it takes a few days to get back to a food source. These and the many other effects of elevated cortisol are great if it is a tiger you’re dealing with, because they can save your life and you can burn off any negative affects in the act of running away. But it sucks if you are clotting your blood with increased cortisol while sitting at your computer frustrated with a stock portfolio. When we do that, we create clotting that long term spells heart disease, stroke, and – yup- menstrual cramps and headaches. From a Chinese medicine point of view, pain is stagnation. Menstrual pain and headaches come from stuck blood. To save our lives, cortisol makes our blood more “sticky”. And when we use it for the wrong thing, it creates pain and in a tragic twist of fate can even backfire and eventually kill us rather than help us survive.
When we learn how to bring order to our heart rhythms (the emwave can help!) which brings balance to our emotions, we can harness emotional energy to bring color and texture to our lives rather than self torture through hormonal tyranny. When we stop making excess cortisol (stress hormone) our bodies naturally make more of the precursors to healthy sex and growth hormone, reversing or slowing aging and making us feel just plane GOOD!
It was easy to be convinced of giving up my despair and anger and frustration and fear to feel better. But what about my infatuations and torrid love affairs? How could giving THAT up feel good and reduce stress? Love is supposed to be good for your heart and hormones! And it is. But NOT infatuation or delusion. That creates stress! When we become infatuated, it is usually the same survival software that kicks in, making us a little stupid for a little while. Just like anger (“I was so angry I couldn’t see straight”), this type of “stress” in the system actually shuts down all higher brain function in favor of survival of the fittest and perpetuation of the species. Love is not blind, but infatuation is. It ushers from a survival center in the brain that is designed for two things only: approach/avoid, “I will eat you, you will eat me, or we will pro-create together.” Approach, avoid, approach. This does not require an assessment of compatibility beyond, “Are you good to have sex with?” So this part of the brain, and the hormones it sends out, can literally hi-jack and shut down higher brain centers that can perceive and discern more complex choices and compatibilities. It is survival intelligence to shut down brain function if a tiger is chasing you or immediate procreation is an imperative- you really don’t want to “think” about it all too much. However, in modern times where we marry rather than simply merge and move on, a little more thought is required to assess compatibility! This is why so many recommend that you wait to marry until after the honeymoon period is over, and you’ve come to your senses, so that you can more accurately assess who is in front of you at the altar with all of your brain and not just the DNA imperative to replicate and survive. Well, you can learn to access that higher brain on the spot, through the power of the heart. Through the heart’s impact on hormones and the brain, you can learn to genuinely love yourself and others in a way that facilitates higher brain function and discernment, sparing everyone stress and creating lasting and fulfilling love relationships.
Are we destined to be victimized by hormones, or can we take charge here? Is there a way to alter and balance our hormones without drugs? YES! We can actually take charge of the switchboard that is making the hormonal connections in our bodies, through the power of our hearts. Tune in to tonight's HeartStart call to get the rap on hormones, and our power to take control of our hormonal health and well being through the heart.
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“Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution For Relieving Worry, Fatigue, And Tension”, by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Ph.D.
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