Dianne first entered my office three years ago, withdrawn and hopeless. Countless doctors, psychiatrists, and other specialists had offered her medications with no lasting relief. Her compulsion was to find a cure for depression, anxiety, and sleepless nights. She was consumed by various complaints and dis-ease and obsessed with finding the perfect man to rescue her from her “drama.” Dianne wanted to find inner peace and health without the numbing prescription drugs her doctors prescribed for sleep and to reduce anxiety.

I share Dianne’s story and the solutions we followed to restore her health to offer you solutions to reclaim your own health.

Pursuit of Health

Our health program had Dianne monitor her thoughts, feelings, and her body’s response on a daily basis. She discovered that the anxiety, constant anger, and despair were the same emotions she experienced daily as a child. We discovered that an addiction to toxic emotion drove her to co-create toxic intimate relationships and chronic dis-ease.

Hidden beliefs and fears recreated situations perpetuating feelings of sadness and depression. Her body now secretly craved the chemicals associated with these emotions. Already through her second divorce and countless toxic relationships, both personal and at work, her emotions kept her yo-yoing in emotional pain, despair, and chronic dis-ease.

Recent research has found emotions created through life situations and relationships on a daily basis to be as strong an addiction as heroin. Infrared brain mapping reveals that the part of the brain addicted to heroin is the part producing chemicals as a response to emotions. Cravings for emotions and their addictive chemicals become an addictive compulsion.

Excessive Stress Hormones Rob Your Health

Excessive stress hormones were causing reactions in Dianne’s body that created nervous tension, anxiety, tight muscles, and loss of sleep. Imminent or imagined, a threat causes your limbic system to respond via your autonomic nervous system, flooding your system first with adrenaline; after a few minutes of sustained stress, cortisol is released. The hippocampus (brain gland) signals when to shut off production of stress hormones, called cortisol. However, these hormones can damage the hippocampus. A damaged hippocampus causes cortisol levels to get out of control.

A threat immediately causes physical reactions, increasing adrenaline flow and cortisol, tensing muscles, and increasing heart rate and respiration. Stress hormones make it harder to sleep. CRH is a stress hormone that makes you stay awake longer and sleep less deeply. In this way, stress is also linked to depression because people who do not get enough slow-wave sleep may be more prone to depression.

Cells Become a Living Toxic Dump

In 1933, a New York doctor named William Howard Hay published a book titled A New Health Era, in which he maintained that all disease is caused by autotoxication (or “self-poisoning”) due to acidosis in the body.

Reactions to chronic stress were creating a vicious cycle in Dianne’s body. When she was upset in any way, her breath became shallow and constricted, depriving her cells of oxygen. Shallow breathing and stress hormones were creating autotoxication, robbing Dianne of her health. Other symptoms Dianne complained of were fatigue, foggy thinking, and lowered immune resistance. Dr. Hay’s research showed that cells deprived of oxygen become a living toxic dump, hosting toxic bacteria, viruses, and chronic dis-ease.

Mechanically Moving through Life Disconnected

By following our awareness program, Dianne realized that she moved through her days on autopilot, reacting to life. She reacted to life by tightening her upper back, neck, and shoulders and shortening her breath. A part of her outdated survival response, tightening her body was wired to her nerve pathways as a feeling of being safe.

Reconnecting to Her Body and Learning to Feel Safe

Buried deep in her cells as a survival response, Dianne had a belief that the world was not safe. It felt normal for Dianne’s body to feel tight—her body was always ready to react. As a survivor of emotional and physical abuse, her mom never felt safe and passed on a belief that it was not safe to relax. Perceived threats in her life stimulated an immediate tightening response and toxic flooding of stress hormones.

Our program taught Dianne to change her response. To reconnect to her body and check in, she set her watch to beep each hour. With each beep, she checked her neck, upper back, and shoulders and monitored her breathing and inner feelings. As she checked in, she would send a new message to her body to relax. Mentally, she said, “I am choosing to feel safe and soften my neck, upper back, shoulders, and body.”

Conscious Breathing Adds Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years

Breathing became an anchoring tool to focus Dianne’s awareness and change her life story. Each time her watch beeped for her hourly check in, she breathed deeply for one minute. At first, she felt challenged to be present and take control of her habits. With practice, however, she found her body responding by relaxing and softening. A new feeling of being safe was expanding as she consciously released her inner response of tightening.

Dianne learned to make breathing deeply and feeling safe to relax automatic habits. Each time her watch beeped for her check in and breath break, she anchored the feeling of being safe by visiting her inner peace sanctuary. She also took a moment to mentally sing her cells a health mantra: “Every little cell in my body is healthy, every little cell in my body is well. I’m so glad every little cell is feeling safe, relaxed, happy, and well.” Dianne felt her body relaxing, softening, and glowing with energy.

Be Conscious When You Look in the Mirror

Dianne was shocked to find negative thoughts racing through her head as she consciously looked in the mirror. She found herself focusing on wrinkles, dingy teeth, the shape of her nose, and the extra pounds she carried. Mirrors weren’t fun for Dianne, but she had never been present to hear her inner critic. Her inner critic created constant inner turmoil, creating toxic emotional chemicals from the inside.

Fire the Inner Critic

Awareness helped Dianne recognize inner turmoil and the reactions in her body as she criticized herself. She fired her inner critic and practiced sending herself love and acceptance as she looked in the mirror. The mirror became another anchoring tool for her healthy habits. She picked one thing every day to focus on that she loved about herself. Post-it notes on her mirror were a reminder to breathe, relax, and focus on love.

A Healthy, Vibrant Life

Dianne replaced childhood beliefs and hidden fears perpetuating destructive emotions, their toxic chemicals, and chronic dis-ease. Her spiritual retreat and monthly coaching sessions reinforced healthy habits. Happiness, inner peace, and passion grow each day for Dianne, and a wonderful man shares her life. She sleeps soundly and feels calm and peaceful throughout her day—without the aid of medication.

Sixty billion dollars were spent on antidepressants in the 1990s. About 95 percent of our retreat guests are women, and 50 percent are on antidepressant medications. We have found depression to result from stress and its related hormones and from unhealthy reactions to life, including stuffing emotions. Retreats offer a time to reflect and change your story to reclaim vibrant health.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit http://selfgrowth.com/healthbook3.html

Author's Bio: 

Annie Benefield-Lawrence, PhD, CHT, HHP, is co-owner of Retreat and Heal, located in Sedona, Arizona. Annie’s new books, Love’s Secret—Stop Fighting and Make Love and Change Your Story—Change Your Life, will be available in early summer 2007. Annie’s mission is to empower others through spiritual life coaching, EFT, clinical hypnotherapy, meditation, shamanic ceremonies, and Reiki. Retreat and Heal offers spiritual retreats that contain “Life Solutions for Vibrant Living” and are available year-round. Annie and her husband, Jerry Lawrence, PhD, operate the center and have years of experience. They may be reached through their Web site at http://www.retreatandheal.com.