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pushing rock up a hill next to flowing river of words

Pushing vs Flowing and Your Immune System

pushing rock up a hill next to flowing river of words

Sometimes it seems that all my life I’ve been pushing to get things done, to learn more, to create more, to accomplish more. Pushing to be all things to all people. Pushing to get on with the Park, to get the Pavilion completed, to finish the work Charlie and I began in 1998.

Yet when I look back, much of this work has been done in a state of flow. I enjoy working on my website, writing newsletters and books, helping people sort out their physical and emotional energy disturbances. I enjoy saying yes, but at times it feels like I’m pushing too hard.

All events are neutral.

It’s our interpretation of an event that makes it positive or negative for each of us. Think back to the last time you felt a hint or more of anger or fear. What were you doing? What were you expecting that didn’t happen or what happened that you didn’t expect? What judgments were you making about the outcome? Were you pushing or flowing with the event?

Now think back to the last time you felt a sense of calmness and willingness to just be. What were you doing then? Were you expecting anything or were you just being? Were you pushing or flowing with the event?

The Connection between Emotions and our Health

Pushing generates anger or fear and the brain’s release of the neurotransmitter Norepinephrine (NE).

The release of NE activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), our stress response of flight or fight. Our body responds by tensing our muscles, increasing our heart rates, increasing our blood pressure and more. Our cells respond to this by contracting, like a flower closing. The contraction of cells inhibits the functioning of the immune system. Pushing ourselves for awhile, then letting up is not so bad, the body can recover. But pushing ourselves day after day, year after year, creates a dominance of the SNS, resulting in chronic immune system deficiency and the body’s inability to recover from stress. This inhibition not only leads to aging, but to all dis-ease.

Flowing generates calmness and confidence and the brain’s release of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine (ACH).

The release of ACH activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), our “rest and digest”[1] system. Our heart rate and blood pressure decrease as our cells open up, like flowers opening to the sun. This opening up at a cellular level allows the Immune System to activate fully, sending repair cells where they are needed throughout out bodies.

We can Push or Flow – It’s about cellular memory

Why does it seem so hard to do what is so apparently necessary? Who doesn’t want their immune system to function at top performance? Who doesn’t want to be calm and confident rather than angry and fearful?

There are a nest of cells in the lower brain called the amygdala. They take what we think and feel from the brain and our memories and transmit it to the cells in our bodies. When we push ourselves too much, our cells remember a time when we pushed before and how we felt and create those same feeling again, primarily through the release of the neurotransmitter Norepinephrine. And here we are, in a life of continuous Sympathetic Nervous System dominance. Our society lives in SNS dominance, in a state of fear and anger.

What’s the answer? We have the power to observe and choose.

The next time you feel pushed, stop and ask what or who is doing the pushing? For me, I feel pushed when I get tired and I get tired when I feel pushed. So step one is to care for myself a bit. Set aside the non-critical projects (are there any critical projects?) and give myself space. Or step away for awhile. In other words, tell my cells that even though they remember getting upset then, then is not now. Now is different. I choose to let go the emotions that facilitate the secretion of the neurotransmitters that cause the SNS to fire. I choose to relax enough, if even for 2 minutes, to fire the neurotransmitters that cause the PNS to fire and therefore stimulate the immune system to re-set the cellular memories.

I’ll be writing more about this topic as I’m using some of the principles in my Distant Healing work. In the meantime, when you feel stressed and catch it soon enough, walk away for a couple of minutes or close your eyes. If anyone asks what you are doing, tell them this:

I am talking with my cells, namely my amygdala so that my past doesn’t interfere with my future and I am now releasing my ACH so it can activate my PNS, so my cells can open up and support my healthy immune system so that I can accomplish what is before me with calmness and confidence.

And there you have it!

Joy and Blessing


[1] Delgado MR, Gillis MM, Phelps EA. Regulating the expectation of reward via cognitive strategies. Nat Neurosci. 2008;11:880–1. [PMC free article] [PubMed] []

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