The test results are back and you hear the doctor’s words , “You have cancer.”
Kathy Truman is an energy worker, life coach, and an emotional & spiritual counselor. As the founder of Warriors at the Gate (an addiction support group), Kathy has empowered hundreds of individuals to regain strength and triumph over adversity. Kathy is the author of inspirational books and is a highly requested speaker at healing conferences and retreats. Kathy resides in Hyde Park, Utah with her husband.
Chances are this news will immediately cause the emotion of fear to course through your body , mind and spirit. Fear causes the body to undergo dramatic physiological changes , flooding the brain with a chemical cocktail that activates the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response, which in turn stimulates the production of adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases the heart rate and respiratory rate/volume and allows the muscles to contract more than they can when the body is calm. Some of the adverse effects are palpitations , tachycardia , arrhythmia , anxiety , headache , tremor , hypertension and acute pulmonary edema. Cortisol decreases bone formation and the breakdown of fat , increases the risk of osteoporosis and weakens the immune system. Fear also causes the rise of CO2 in the system , creating blood gases that are toxic. The importance to one’s health in shifting out of “fight or flight” cannot be overstated.
‘Rest, restore, and heal’ are functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. Transposing from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous systems would be comparable to shifting a car from a racing engine into neutral.
Sharik Peck , rehabilitation counselor and licensed physical therapist , has developed a simple technique that facilitates an interruption of the harmful brain chemical cocktail to shift the body from fear to peace. There are three components which include tensing , turning the head to the dominant side and emptying the lungs.
The first component is tensing all of the muscles. It has been found that autistic children intuitively use this technique to calm their bodies. They tense their muscles until they quiver and when they release the muscle tightness their bodies are in a more relaxed state. Peck notes that ‘spinal extension (bending backwards) activates the fight or flight chemicals while spinal flexion (curling up or bending forward) promotes the calming of the parasympathetic system.’
Part two is turning ones head to the dominant side. Right handed people turn their heads to the right and visa-versa for those who are left handed. Just as twisting a hose effectively interrupts the flow of water , twisting the head to the side serves to interrupt the flow of brain chemicals to the “fight or flight” area of the brain.
The third method is emptying the lungs. When startled , a person typically gasps and holds their breath. The lungs hold fear just as the stomach holds worry (ulcers) and the heart holds stress (heart attacks). By exhaling all the air from your lungs , it is symbolically exhaling your fear. This is most effective if one blows out the air in three bursts without inhaling in-between. When the lungs are completely empty, the body reaches a point of stillness called ‘Zero Point’. This is the most critical piece as the body moves from the sympathetic (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic (rest , restore , heal) nervous system.
When the body reaches ‘Zero Point’ it is important to stay there as long as possible (don’t worry, you won’t pass out) in order to reprogram the sub-conscious with the positive. Peck instructs , “In your mind express gratitude, love and forgiveness. Then take a deep breath and release the air quickly. Let it go.”
Combining these three steps is an effective way of releasing fear from the body, thus enhancing the body’s defenses. There are several exercises that can promote this calming effect:
Option 1: Using an exercise ball, kneel on the ground and pull it in into your abdominal region. Push your knees into the ball and wrap your arms completely around it , giving a huge hug. Lay your head on the ball , turning it firmly to your dominant side. Squeeze the ball tightly, tensing your muscles and exhale in three bursts without inhaling. You can also hug an armful of pillows. Repeat as needed until feeling peace and calm.
Option 2: In a sitting position, press the heels of your hands against your knees. While tensing your muscles, turn your head firmly to your dominant side and blow all the air out of your lungs.
Option 3: With a strap over a sturdy beam, step your dominant leg back , turn your head firmly to the same side and pull with all your strength while exhaling completely.
After training your nervous system to ‘shift down’ with these exercises , you will then be able to simply turn your head to the side to trigger your muscle memory and your body will shift from a state of fear to a state of peace and calm.
In my upcoming articles I will share techniques , which will assist you in shifting from fear to peace in your mind , emotions , and spirit , and finally , how to remain peaceful in a fearful world.
– By Kathy Truman