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technique ENERGY WORK 94 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8 The Feelings that Heal By Cyndi Dale There are three bodily centers that manage emotions. Understanding the difference between these three emotional centers—where they are, what they do, and what they specialize in—will greatly boost your effectiveness as a bodyworker. EMOTIONS AND HEALTH Before exploring the three main emotional centers, however, I want to consider the relationship between emotions and physical health. There are actually hundreds of studies examining the effects of negative and positive emotions on a person's health. For instance, detrimental emotions can result in irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and chronic pain. The fact that at least 15–30 percent of patients with chronic pain are also affected by posttraumatic stress disorder, or unhealed trauma, shows the severity of the problems resulting from stressful emotions. 1 As well, anxiety is frequently implicated in heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, asthma, and gastrointestinal conditions, in addition to frequent light- headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and frequent urination. 2 Not only that, negative emotions, or at least the repression of them, are believed to turn healthy genes into cancerous genes, depending on other factors, such as diet and environment. 3 THE BODY'S ENERGY CENTERS As stated, there are three main energy centers implicated in hazardous emotions. The most well-known areas are the head, the brain, and the gut brain. These centers are independent, but also interact. The brain, part of the central nervous system, has long been known as a source of the chemicals that construct emotions. It also stores many of the memories that direct our emotional interpretations. One of the brain's most important actors is the amygdala, a gland in the limbic system. The limbic system determines our survival-based fight, flight, and freeze reactions to internal and external stimulation. More specifically, the various neurons within the amygdala decide if we'll react negatively or positively to an event. Are we going to be scared at the sight of a stranger or delighted to meet a new friend? When our brain can't accurately assign the correct meaning to a situation, the result can be a mental illness or other challenges. 4 The brain also regulates our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former is excitatory and energizes us. The latter is relaxing and inspires calm. Severe, chronic, or intermittent trauma turns on the sympathetic nervous system. Unless the resulting emotions are compassionately processed, the amygdala remains in a panic state. So do we. Over time, the overstimulation exhausts us. Depression can ensue. The distress leads to tension, pain, and the types of disorders that show up in your practice. 5 How do you know if a client is experiencing a brain-based emotional challenge? It's difficult to tell, but they are often based in misperceptions and "stinking thinking," as my dad used to say. The brain is a mental organ and often responds to changes of mind, which occur through a rewriting of beliefs. Psychiatrists can also administer drugs that balance the brain's biochemistry.

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