The Root of Disease
The following conditions
all have something in common--inflammation. For example, only half of
heart disease patients have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. One
hundred percent of them have high inflammation.
The most common sources of inflammation are 1) diet 2) physical
trauma 3) genetics 4) environmental toxins 5) electromagnetic radiation
6) allergies 7) infection and 8) negative emotion.
Among them, negative
emotion is often given the least attention. It is naive to think our emotional
life does not impact our health. When symptoms appear, it is the body's
way of saying that something, somewhere, needs attention.
include many feelings such as anger, rage, sadness, loneliness, boredom,
anxiety—or even lack of love. It is estimated that as many as 60,000
thoughts and images pass through the human mind every day, each with emotional
content. At different times in our lives, a very high proportion can be
negative. This results in a cascade of undesirable biochemicals to all
the cells of the body, impacting our health.
The health effects
can include the illnesses identified in the table above. Even when negative
emotion is not the primary cause of disease, it becomes a major factor
when managing it.
So while we should
all eat properly, exercise, avoid injury and environmental toxins, the
real work is in the psyche where our thoughts and emotions exist.
EXPERIENCING YOUR EMOTIONS
All human emotions
must be fully experienced, faced, and accepted for us to be healthy. Unfortunately,
we are often unaware of our own feelings, suppressing them into our psyche
where they cannot be accessed. It is crucial to our psychological and
physical health that we regularly access and cycle through our feelings;
if they are suppressed, they become baggage that we carry around, eventually
causing physical symptoms.
This perspective is
not new. Thousands of years ago, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) identified
seven major emotions from which they believe all other emotions are derived.
They are joy, anger, anxiety, worry, grief, fear, and fright. It is believed
that when these emotions are unbalanced or suppressed, energy pathways
(called meridians) are disrupted. When these pathways are disrupted, physical
illness can result.
Another tradition suggests
there are seven emotional centers in the body where we actually store
our feelings. Accordingly, chronic, long-term unbalanced emotions would
disrupt our psychological life and eventually result in physical disease.
These emotions are
often suppressed and below conscious awareness. They can be accessed,
faced, and resolved by asking the following questions:
(Note: This exercise can bring emotions to the surface that are best
experienced with the aid of a professional therapist. Please proceed accordingly.)
The 1st Emotional Center
The 1st Emotional Center
is associated with our sense of safety in the world and our sense of belonging.
As an infant this sense is determined by how well we are welcomed into
the family and nurtured. It is believed by many that this actually starts
in the womb where the fetus starts to recognize the toxicity, or lack
thereof, of the coming environment. As we age, this sense of “fitting
in” continues through our support groups and the organizations we
become a part of. Our older years bring the insecurities regarding the
diminished capacities we experience with aging.
The primary emotion
of this center is fear—the fear of not fitting in, the fear of losing
our job, the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of having no support
group and losing our physical abilities as we age.
To access the emotions
that are stored in the 1st emotional center, the following questions should
be asked, and the resulting feelings should be faced, accepted, and released
by intensely experiencing their full impact:
• Do I feel
safe in the world?
• Do I feel like I belong?
• Do I feel secure in my job?
• Do I feel secure in my relationships?
• Do I feel I have a support system when needed?
• Or, am I alone with nowhere to turn?
The 2nd Emotional Center
As infants, the second
emotional center to develop regards relationships. As relationships develop,
we wish to maintain our own individuality, and at the same time experience
There are several currencies
that are exchanged in relationships including appreciation, money, and
sex. It is necessary that we feel appreciated for who we are and what
we bring to the relationship. We don’t want to be taken for granted.
Whether we are compensated with appreciation, money, or some other token
of gratitude, it is necessary that we feel rewarded. Whether the relationship
is sexual or non-sexual, it is important that interests be similar.
The emotions that must
be faced, accepted, and released are raised by asking the following questions:
• Am I appreciated
for what I bring to my relationships and compensated with gratitude?
• Are my mate and I equally available emotionally and sexually?
• Do my mate and I have roughly the same power, money and status?
• Does money come easily to me, freeing me from financial worry?
• Or, do I tolerate financial concerns and dysfunctional relationships
to my own detriment?
The 3rd Emotional Center
Following the development
of relationships, we go out into the world to “make our mark.”
This is our expression of individuality, and this is where we develop
career and sense of self-esteem. This center encompasses our physical
self-image (or lack thereof), and whether we are meeting our self-expectations
in the world.
The emotions that arise
from this center that must be faced, accepted, and resolved can be assessed
through the following questions:
• Am I meeting
career expectations that use all of my ability on a daily basis?
• Do I
enjoy what I am doing?
• Am I able to meet obligations and take responsibility?
• What emotions do I experience regarding my physical appearance?
The 4th Emotional Center
Eventually we reach
a point in our lives where we want a partnership where we want to be,
or act, as one. Love is the guiding principle, one of life's deepest human
needs. This is different from the 2nd emotional center where individuality
and autonomy is maintained. This center emphasizes togetherness, or oneness.
The emotions of this
center are accessed through the following questions:
• Do my partner
and I have the same passions?
• Can I skillfully express my emotions in a variety of relationships?
• Can I fully express my emotions to my partner?
• Do others nurture me as much as I nurture them?
• Do I take time for self-nurture despite my concerns and responsibilities
The 5th Emotional Center
The 5th emotional
center is associated with our ability to express ourselves and speak our
truth. When emotions arise, the option is to express them or suppress
them. But they must be expressed appropriately—at the right time,
at the right place, and with the right individual or group.
The following questions
often access emotions that must be faced and resolved:
• Can I fully
express my views to others?
• Am I afraid my views will not be well regarded?
• Can I make well-crafted observations as appropriate?
• Do I have the courage to speak my truth?
The 6th Emotional Center
The 6th emotional
center regards the mind. The mind is very similar to a muscle that must
be regularly exercised and stretched. There is much scientific evidence
that unstimulated minds, like unstimulated bodies, get sick. Health practitioners
who study aging now recommend that seniors learn foreign languages, or
play with crossword puzzles to build new circuits in the brain. More than
that, the mind needs to be flexible (just like the human body) and be
open to new viewpoints. It needs to be truly reflective.
The following questions
access emotions that must be faced, experienced, and resolved regarding
• Am I confident
in my own beliefs, yet open to the views of others?
• Am I defensive when my opinions are challenged?
• Am I happy with my intellectual accomplishments? (academics, for
• Can I listen to and trust my intuition?
• Am I more interested in being right than knowing the truth?
The 7th Emotional Center
The 7th emotional
center is associated with our sense of purpose in life. Our sense of purpose
is often given to us in our younger years. We chase careers and money,
seek romance, and raise children. These all leave us in our later years
and a sense of purpose, a reason to live, often evades us.
A sense of purpose must also be maintained with the universe. What would
the universe have for us? Are we here alone or is there some driving force,
or purpose, behind it all. We must be aligned with it.
The following questions
access emotions that must be faced and resolved:
• Do I have
a life purpose beyond my career, friends, and family?
• Do I know what the universe wants for me?
• Can I still my mind and listen for divine guidance without interference
from my own beliefs and what I want to hear?
I find that the questions in this emotional inventory must be regularly
asked of oneself. I personally do it to some degree almost daily. I am
often shocked at the emotions that arise, even when my life seems to be
going very well. It is sad how much emotional baggage we unknowingly carry.
Facing, accepting, and resolving this baggage frees us to more directly
and joyously experience life, instead of through the filters of suppressed
Negative emotions are
a part of being human. Many circumstances in life that give rise to them
cannot be changed. We can still live life healthily though, if we face
our feelings and don’t suppress them. Unfortunately, this suppression
often happens without our knowledge.
Many scientific investigations
have now connected negative emotion to chronic disease. Regular use of
this emotional inventory can help prevent that possibility, or mitigate
symptoms if illness is already present in your life.
Initially, this work
is often arduous and unpleasant, and explains why we would rather seek
out physicians and prescription medicine. Eventually, this work can be
joyous and reap great rewards.
While physicians and
prescription medicine have their place, our best physician resides within.
Unfortunately, the medicine of the inner physician can be painful to swallow,
but is more likely to get to the "Root of Disease."