By Shelley Stockwell-Nicholas, PhD
President of the International Hypnosis Federation and www.hypnosisfederation.com
Did you ever think, “What makes you think?”
Have you ever said, “What made me say or do that?”
Ever wondered what makes you emotional?
It’s our biological self! It recognizes, perceives, processes, remembers, learns and creates your every behavior. This same biochemistry decides what you consciously notice and what remains unconscious. To a hypnotherapist the conclusion is clear: your body IS your mind! How this happens is what this article is about.
You were born instinctively knowing how to lift your head, roll over or walk. It was hard-wired into your thoughts and neurology. So was your ability to speak. Your ear canals filled with sound amplified amniotic fluid were do finely tuned that from birth to four months you could distinguish some 150 sounds that make up human speech. These miracles came with you as pre-programmed behavioral instructions. As you evolved and grew, you learned and honed additional behaviors that dramatically sculpted your molecules, neurons and structural development. Each biological adjustment in turn affected who you are and what you feel, think, say and do.
How Your Brain Processes Thought
Your awesome brain is primarily made of water, fat and protein. No two brains are the same, and your brain is not the same moment to moment. Your brain hemispheres differ in size and distribution of gray and white matter, chemistry and structure. The very structure of your brain is influenced by how you use it. Everything you create begins as a conscious or subconscious thought manifested in your neurology. Every instant, your brain electrochemical alters neurons and their countless links. Puberty, pregnancy, aging, past events and memory all cause structural brain function changes. Your internal and external environment sends a message to your cells. The cells, receptors and their ligands then modify according to the information received and every modification affects your emotion and physiology. A cell and its modifications influence other cells.
The Mind/Body Love Connection
Ever notice how your heart beats rapidly and your breathing changes when you are excited, angry or in love? Have you observed how your thoughts turn you on or off sexually? Consider how depression makes you feel physically rotten, super sensitive, or numb and how happiness makes you free, easy and more vital.
Emotion is “e-motion” or “energy in motion.” Each conscious or subconscious emotion is the result of an intricate biochemical action inside yourself that then inspires the next thing you feel. What you think emanates from inside your bio-computer. So does what you choose to do. In other words, what you do and how you feel is biologically intertwined.
What you see, hear, smell, taste, feel and intuit is received in within a millisecond and placed into your memory. This, in turn, affects your decisions, feelings and imagination and colors what next you see, hear, smell, taste, feel and intuit. Poor memory, the inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, nervousness and headaches may be sign posts of an energy breakdown. Physical environment affects your energy. Breathing stale air in a poorly ventilated room can make you feel mentally sluggish. Physical indigestion can cause mental depression. Conversely, depression can cause illness and illness can cause depression. Arthritis-like symptoms, digestive problems, (gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, sinus problems) headaches (migraines) difficult breathing (upper respiratory infections asthma), heart palpitations, dizziness, arthritis, fibromyalgia, shingles and chronic fatigue result from, contribute to and activate depressing changes in brain chemistry.
Wisdom Weighs Heavy On The Mind
The average brain weighs approximately three pounds, or 51 ounces. You can figure out the weight of your brain by multiplying your weight by .01. Most of us lose about 4% of brain weight per decade. However, the smarter you are, the more elaborate the network between cells and the more your brain weighs. In a University of California study of 11 gifted peoples’ brains, Albert Einstein had four times more oligodendroglia (glial or brain cells) than any other and some “childlike” smoothness not usually seen in adults! The visual cortex in the brain of someone with a photographic mind is twice the thickness of a “regular” brain. Size may not matter when it come to brain matter. An elephant’s brain is about 4 times bigger than yours, and its body can weigh nearly 100 times more. A squirrel’s brain is relatively larger than yours.
NEURONS (also called brain cells or nerve cells)
The number of possible nerve interactions in your body exceeds the particles of matter in the known universe. Neurons are the basic unit of your nervous system and transmit billions of messages per second. These messages allow you to collect, integrate, send and store data and enhance or inhibit thoughts, feelings, behavior and bodily function. Neurons communicate electrically and chemically and constantly change and modify themselves. Neuro-peptide receptors (of your nucleus-of-barrington) process, filter, switch and modify sensory input (in-formation). Dark in color, neurons cluster and appear gray. That’s where we get the notion of gray matter.
To date, science has counted more than one hundred billion neurons. The quantity is so vast that new numbers bigger than a zillion like petabytes, exabytes, yottabytes and zenabytes have been invented. To get idea of how vast these numbers are; an exabytes would be all the words ever uttered by everyone who ever lived!
You were born with twice as many brain cells than you had at age three. With maturity, neuron loss is more gradual and as an adult, you have about fifty thousand, to one hundred thousand (50,000 to 100,000) less then when you arrived. MSG, drugs or alcohol, can cause you to lose more than that. But don’t despair, your brain likes to “clone around” and throughout your life it can generate new brain cells and bio-chemicals. A neuron is composed of a central cell body with branches, called dendrites. Dendrites receive information aided by receptor “ligands.” Ligands determine and fingerprint your behavior, physical activity, mood, and emotion.
Neurons also have long tendrils, called axons. Axons are thought to communicate by electrically pulsing and releasing small packets of chemicals throughout the body. These chemicals are called “information substances” or “IS.” From the time you initially formed, your brain produced these chemical-bioelectrical impulses as communication links from one neuron to another.
Synapses are a sort of telephone line that communicates and stores information. If a synapse is destroyed, usually the information it stored slips your mind. In-formation that neurons send and receive travel long distances and form complex networks. Networks of brain cells and synapses are called a neural web.
A single neuron can receive more than fifteen thousand connections from other cells. Over 100 trillion neural connections have been counted; more than the number of galaxies in the known universe. As you age, and neuron numbers dwindle, and remaining neurons send out more dendrites, axons and bio chemical messengers. As you get older, it’s good to have connections.
Hypnotically Soothe Your Neurons
Professional Hypnotists are very interested in soothing your neurons and helping you to relax. International Hypnosis Federation researchers (www.hypnosisfederation.com) have found that a simple suggestion can make quite a difference. You know how important touch is; without it a baby dies. Your skin is highly concentrated with receptors. Touch and acupuncture activates your touch receptors. Verbal suggestions like, “Focus your attention on your stomach and soothe that place with a pleasant glow of relaxation” actually influence your body in the same way as touch. A Hypnotherapist healing someone with IBS would call this a “gut specific suggestion.”
Someone gives you a pat on the back and you feel a rush of pride and confidence. You feel timid about speaking in front of an audience and you break out in a cold sweat. Someone you find attractive comes into the room and you get a flush of excitement surging through you. How in the world does do these things happen? Your sensory receptors take and give “in-formation” to determine how you feel, act and react. And how you feel act and react determines the structure and function of your sensory receptors. How your sensory receptors take and give “in-formation” also determines what remains unconscious, and what is moved to conscious priority.
Why do you get a chill up your spine when you are surprised, startled or thrilled? Your spinal cord is loaded with receptors and millions (or perhaps billions) of neuro-peptides in the rows of nerve ganglia. They instantly receive and return your brain messages. These amazing sensory receptors aren’t only in your brain; your solar plexus and the ends of your organs (where you see, hear, taste, smell and touch) also sport the highest concentration of them. Receptors are on their surface of your cells and act like little satellite dishes. Just as your eyes and ears scan and sense, receptors scan or sense the right chemical messenger (neurotransmitters, hormones and tropic factors) that swim up to them. When the perfect chemical messenger “key” fits into their special keyhole they bind. This binding adds energy to the receptor molecule causing it to fidget, wriggle, wiggle, shimmy, bend and purr as it dances and modifies back and forth between two or three favorite shapes or arrangements.
Dr. Shelley Stockwell’s Breath Exercise
Holding your breath or breathing rapidly, cause peptides to diffuse throughout your cerebrospinal fluid to hypnotize you so you feel and think differently. Many of the peptides that disperse are endorphins that are natural opiates that relieve pain. “Breathe from the top of your spine down to the bottom of . . . hold it . . . and let it out . . . good. Now breathe from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head . . . hold it and let it out . . . good. Now, breathe gently up and down your spine all the way into the spinal cord and bathe it with white light.”
Structure Influences function and function Influences structure.
“Might as well face it you’re addicted to love.” Emotions and body responses are the same. Jumping when startled or instantly “chilling out” when you hear good news is almost instantaneous feedback. Yogis control heart rate and blood flow with thoughts; so do you. But to do it consciously, you need to stay mindful and learn to control your thoughts first.
Every physical change creates an emotional change and every emotional change creates a physical change. Receptors interactively give and receive messages with the brain and other receptors. Repetitive thoughts and feelings can cause a body-wide neurological-biological cocktail. Over time you can become so addicted to thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions that you may habitually evoke the biochemical brew you crave. To control your thoughts, imagine yourself easily and powerfully resisting the seduction of any habitual neural thought/craving. Then choose thoughts that create proactive thoughts, feeling, actions and reactions. Then back up the pattern with a positive physical gesture, sit up straight, take a deep breath, look at something beautiful . . . perhaps your smiling face in the mirror.