Series: Part I of VII
Brain Connections Change Due to Neuroplasticity
All emotional experiences begin a physiological process in your body. For every act, emotion, and expression of love, self-love, self-forgiveness, and forgiveness toward another, your body reengages toward another physiological process, closer to its original process, its healthiest process… Dr. Ameet Aggarwal ND
Emotional and traumatic events have a long-term impact on our health, be it a relationship breakup, parents fighting, divorces, a significant loss, financial difficulties, death of a loved one, or some other factor. Biologically speaking, your brain has the ability to create new neural connections based on what you experience. This ability is what doctors call neuroplasticity. Significant events alter the neural pathways in our brain, causing new nerve connections to be formed in order to cope with the stress and to anticipate similar events that may occur in the future. These new neural connections alter your perception of the world and of yourself so that things do not appear the same as they used to be when you were vibrant and happy. These new neural pathways also alter the entire physiology of your body, causing organs to function differently and causing chemicals, enzymes, and hormones to be made in different amounts, both of which directly affect your health and hinder your ability to recover emotionally.
Emotional Holding Patterns
Sometimes you might not even be aware that a particular emotional event has such a profound effect on you. If left unresolved or tucked away hidden under a stone in the back of your mind, the effects of these experiences continue to affect your mind and your body consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously. This creates what I call emotional holding patterns, or EHPs, where your mind and body remain affected and continue to respond to emotional experiences as if they were still occurring, even though they might have finished. I believe that when the emotions surrounding your experience are too large for your mind to cope with, or if the EHPs go on for too long, a part of your mind shuts down by going into depression in order to conserve energy for expected experiences. Depression is also partly due to a lack of trust in your environment based on previous stressful experiences and is also a state of exhaustion your body reaches when it can no longer cope with stress.
The chronic stress from EHPs taxes your stress-adapting organs such as your adrenal glands and thyroid glands. Overstressed and under-functioning adrenal glands are a leading cause of chronic anxiety, depression, and other health problems. You need to resolve or discharge EHPs in order to correct the altered neural pathways created in your brain, stop their negative effect on your body, and to give your brain a rest, rather than let it remain stressed from past events. Resolving stress and EHPs is also important because physically stressed organs in your body use up many more nutrients and produce more toxins than in a calm and relaxed body. When nutrients begin to run out in your body, your brain and other organs no longer have enough neurotransmitters and hormones to keep you happy and healthy.
“John” was thirty years old and had bipolar disorder, where he fluctuated between depression and manic or hyperactive and anxious states. The root cause of his condition was a traumatic divorce between his parents when he was seven years old and an unstable home environment while he was growing up. Because he experienced continuous stress as a young child, his whole development from childhood to adulthood was that of a stressed person. The constant threat and instability left his mind no way to feel safe, and he began to develop coping mechanisms that were dysfunctional to his body’s natural rhythm.
John’s treatment involved resolving the emotional pain from his memories using psychotherapy and homeopathic medicines and also stabilizing his adrenal glands, which were out of balance due to the chronic anxiety he grew up with (we will cover homeopathic medicines and adrenal glands in later chapters). With counseling, he realized how much stress he still carried due to his strained childhood. With counseling, he also developed the awareness and the power to deal with his anxiety and reconsider his adult surroundings with less stress and more peace. He felt safer trusting his external environment. After a few sessions of counseling and naturopathic medicine, John’s condition completely resolved, and he had no more manic episodes. This was because he not only healed his body, but managed to resolve his emotional holding patterns.
Negative events from your past hinder your authentic expression and alter the way you interact with others. As you continue to live your life in a compensated way, you perpetuate the negative feelings you carry with you. Emotional healing is an opportunity to awaken the healthier and happier self within you and interact with others and with the world in a more positive way that inevitably gives you more positive experiences. As you recover emotionally from past events, you will begin to feel more confident and open in your life. With better health, you can gift yourself a more empowered and positive life.
Discharging and resolving stress and EHPs is possible through counseling, psychotherapy, talking to a friend, resolving the conflict and forgiving. Some of the best therapies I’ve experienced which release EHPs include gestalt therapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), emotional freedom technique (EFT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR, a type of psychotherapy), meditation and other mind-body techniques, which I cover in later chapters. Homeopathic medicines and Bach flower remedies, covered in their own separate chapters, are energetic medicines that are also very effective in resolving EHPs.
Dr. Ameet Aggarwal ND is a naturopathic doctor and psychotherapist (Gestalt, Family Constellations, EMDR) with years of experience treating physical issues, anxiety, stress, depression, abuse, relationship issues and also working with UNICEF, UN Staff and other large organizations. His online course on using the 5 pillars of health, (free videos on health.drameet.com), lecturing around the world and being voted top 5 speaker on 2 world summits has earned him the recognition of top 43 naturopaths to follow.