Tag Archives: endorphins

Can Birth Be a Spiritual Experience?

Pain, bloating, and nausea aside, birth can be a truly spiritual experience. For those who have witnessed the phenomenon, or been present in the precious moments after, the experience may rank in the holiest, most magical moments of their lives. Sure, for some it may include fear, anxiety, pain and adrenaline, but the cry of new life can usually dispel even the sharpest of concerns.

In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores the spiritual sides to birthing, from fertility rituals, to belly dancing, to placenta burial. With fertility rites and deities dating back to ancient times, reproduction has likely played a prominent role in religious traditions throughout human history.

Before the wisdom of midwives and modern science became the mainstream, pregnancy and birth were nothing short of miracles, explained only by the mystery of the universe. This same mystery made the sun rise, the rain fall, and the earth bear food to sustain life. But even knowing how the sperm fertilizes the egg, the fetus grows, and eventually the cervix dilates and the baby is born, does it change the magical quality of birth?

Harshitha...my angel..i love you...Many mothers, partners, midwives and other birth workers speak of the sacred atmosphere of the birthing room. For an unmedicated mother, the high levels of oxytocin and endorphins naturally secreted during labor can induce an almost ecstatic high (evolutionarily crafted, of course, to help her withstand the strain of contractions.) And for all in the room, regardless of medical intervention, witnessing a tiny human where previously there was only a big belly…well it’s something you just have to experience.

It is no wonder people have developed such elaborate rituals surrounding birth. Gotham describes some particularly interesting ones in the episode. Did you know belly dancing originated as a method for women to ease the pain of labor? That’s right, it wasn’t intended to be a sexy dance women do in front of men… Kind of puts things into perspective. And cultures around the world find fascinating uses for the placenta, or “afterbirth”, believed by many to hold both spiritual and nutritional properties. Some bury the placenta with a fruit tree, while others grind it up and put it in capsules as post-labor supplements for the mother. Do you know what your parents did with your placenta?

They don’t call it “the miracle of life” for nothing, and clichéd at it may sound, we heartily agree with the sentiment. The human body can do some extraordinary things, and birth and reproduction certainly rank at the top of the list.

Was your child’s birth a holy experience? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more “Holy Facts” every Monday!

Four Fun Ways to Boost Endorphins, the Feel-Good Chemical

 “Here’s to feeling good all the time,” declares Kramer in one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld. He’s smoking and drinking when he says it, but for those of us on a more positive health path, there are plenty of other ways to do just that (or at least get close). Consider endorphins, the chemicals that transmit information from one cell to another in the central nervous system and produce feelings of euphoria, intimacy, happiness, and overall well-being. Stress and pain are primarily what activate their release, because it’s when we experience those feelings that we need a mood boost most. However, endorphin production is not limited to situations like worrying about a work performance review or being chased by a bear. There are much more enjoyable ways to reap the benefits of a surge of feel-good chemicals.

Exercise
Exercise is a surefire way to beat a case of the blues. Some even claim that exercising extra-hard will produce “runner’s high,” a euphoric state supposedly achieved through 
intense physical activity. Actually, the only reason I started jogging a few years ago was to see if this really exists, and while I certainly felt happier afterward, I couldn’t tell if it was from a rush of endorphins or simply from my relief that the run was over.

Up until recently, the reality of runner’s high was highly disputed in the scientific community. The idea that exercising produces an endorphin rush makes sense, since it puts the body under physical stress(muscles straining, heart pumping, etc.). But pinpointing whether that happens in the brain, and therefore affects mood, is much harder to do without harming the humans being tested. Luckily, improving technology makes such studies easier. In fact, a 2008 study published in Cerebral Cortex used a PET scanner on athletes’ brains both at rest and right after a two-hour run. Researchers found not only a significant increase in endorphins, but also that the endorphins attached to receptors in parts of the brain are responsible for emotions. Their discovery suggests a correlation between intense exercise and elevated mood levels.

There comes a point in every relationship when passionate love (signaled by a racing pulse, decreased appetite, etc.) starts to wane. That’s when the relationship either comes to an end or, if endorphins step in, develops into something deeper and more meaningful. When you’re with someone you love and trust, a release of endorphins makes you feel secure, compassionate, and connected. It’s what strengthens long-term relationships.


Even if you’re not in love, just having physical contact with another person can achieve the mood increase. Hugging, holding hands, and other ways of getting close cause the same effect. You won’t feel automatically closer to an acquaintance you hug, but you will feel a small, albeit noticeable, rush of comfort. (Well, depending on the person, of course.)

Chocolate
Though science hasn’t directly proven that eating chocolate lifts people’s mood, who isn’t a little happier after a square or two of sugary, creamy decadence? Chocolate contains well over three hundred chemicals, many of which affect happiness. It’s got phenylethylamine, a chemical the brain releases when we fall in love that makes us more alert and content. The tryptophan in chocolate prompts serotonin production and sends us into relaxation mode. As if these weren’t enough, eating chocolate also tickles our taste buds into triggering an endorphin release. It’s their way of telling the brain, “She’s eating something yummy; reward her!” Some in the scientific community feel that chocolate’s chemical combination is still too mild to bring about significant mood elevation. But if it really doesn’t make a difference, why do we crave it in times of stress and sadness—or at all?

Laughter
It’s said that 
laughter is the best medicine, but is that really true in terms of physical health? Researchers at Loma Linda University sought to find the answer by testing the blood of participants asked to either watch a comedic movie of their choice or watch nothing. The funny-movie viewers had higher endorphin levels in their bloodstreams than those who didn’t watch anything, both before, during, and after the movie, meaning that even anticipating laughing could signal an endorphin release. However, because the researchers couldn’t test the endorphins in the brain (where emotions are regulated), there’s no true way of knowing whether that actually enhanced the subjects’ moods. But, as with chocolate, most people feel better after a few belly laughs—you don’t need science to tell you that.

As we saw with the runner’s-high study, constantly improving technology might help us reach a more definitive conclusion about what affects endorphin levels in the brain. But getting bogged down in the science of endorphins can be, well, a downer. Here’s what we do know: exercising, being in love, getting hugged, eating chocolate, and laughing are instant mood lifters. And just about anyone can do at least one of these things at any given moment. The next time you’re in a funk, try watching something funny, taking a long walk, or eating a little chocolate. Science is still working to prove that these things have a physical effect on our moods, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do informal studies of our own. Now that’smy kind of research.

 

 

 

Is it Bliss or Blast from the Past? Influencing Endorphin Response

You know that feeling of when you are first falling in love, those feelings of being so alive, of bliss and pleasure? We all have a memory or two of these experiences.You can thank your endorphins for bonding you to those memories because they have an important role to play in how that experience was stored and recalled. 

   Endorphins also get stimulated in traumatic and painful experiences because they play an equally important role in creating relief from pain, stress, anxiety and depression. As your body’s natural pain killer, they are a hundred times more powerful than morphine!

   Where there’s repeated stress or violence experiences, endorphin production can become a way to re-experience a pain-relief “high.” For example, children who have seen or experienced violence over time, may become addicted to reactivating violence and pain as a way to get their needs met for pain relief with endorphin’s powerful effect as a pain killer!

  This can manifest as a repetitive cycle in later stages of life showing up in chaotic, overdependent, or abusive relationships, addiction, gambling, violence, overspending and even eating diso rders. The power of these biochemicals impact how you perceive your environment, navigate through change and this in turn, affects which endorphins get activated. It’s important to take a look at the ways memories are being activated through self-talk, coping mechanisms, and relationship.  Is it bliss or the blast from the past of painful or traumatic experience? Being on the gerbil wheel of overwork, activity, chaotic relationships,or need for exposure to danger or challenge can be a telling indication that you are bonded to stress endorphin experiences. Depression, low self esteem or the feeling of pessimism can also be an indication of being excessively bonded to pain relief endorphins. The quality of life energy available to meet challenges, handle change and to be able to face and see what is necessary to take action in the present is dependent on how much you are able to access positive endorphin response.

   Activate the bliss experience endorphins and you positively impact the function of your body’s nervous and immune systems in a way that promotes a sense of well-being.  Continually activate the stress endorphins and you begin to deplete your body’s nervous and immune systems resulting in a loss of life energy or illness. Unresolved earlier conflict can be resolved through conscious awareness and positive action. The good news is that there are  many natural and easy ways to empower positive endorphin response besides love at first sight!

The following activities can empower your positive endorphin bonding in the present:

  1) Natural Calming endorphin responses can be experienced by spending time in nature, creating beauty, or reading beautiful passages. Nurturing touch such as massage or snuggling creates natural endorphin response, as well as smiling, cooking or eating nourishing whole food, a hot bath with aromatherapy like lavender, rose, sandalwood or Ylang Ylang, relaxation, sleep, gentle music, or finding something that makes you laugh. Give yourself some downtime when you feel you are over your head. A few minutes of inner care and  appreciation can make a world of difference in your day.

 2) Natural energizing endorphin response can be experienced by running, skiing, surfing, bicycling,fast walking, dancing, deep and relaxed breathing, swimming,spending time with friends, spending quality time with your significant other, volunteering for a cause of your choice, and resonating with a sense of achievement and accomplishment. You can impact how you see the world and how you feel in each moment. When you’re feeling stressed, exhausted, or facing a new challenging situation, take a moment to check in with yourself. Integrate some of the above activities into your schedule daily or weekly. Make them a priority to add to your positive memory bank.

3) You can also use an empowering/happy memory when you need support in the moment. The Empowering Memory Modality from Resonance Repatterning® is a wonderful way to  create an anchor you can use in times of new challenges or stress. Use the following  recorded energetic healing modality to create a positive endorphin bonding memory: http://twaud.io/lW    Please leave comments or retweet!

 

Copyright© material of Kimberly Rex and Resonance Repatterning®. All Rights Reserved.

Kimberly Rex, MS is a Certified Resonance Repatterning and Person-Centered Expressive Therapist who works with people of all ages to release issues  and update your memory bank from the past to create new possibilities for the present and future. Empower your life!  Like this article? Sign up for monthly newsletter to continue the journey here: http://www.windowstotheheart.net/news_signup_form.php

Is it Bliss or Blast from the Past? Influencing Endorphin Response

You know that feeling of when you are first falling in love, those feelings of being so alive, of bliss and pleasure? We all have a memory or two of these experiences.You can thank your endorphins for bonding you to those memories because they have an important role to play in how that experience was stored and recalled. 

   Endorphins also get stimulated in traumatic and painful experiences because they play an equally important role in creating relief from pain, stress, anxiety and depression. As your body’s natural pain killer, they are a hundred times more powerful than morphine!

   Where there’s repeated stress or violence experiences, endorphin production can become a way to re-experience a pain-relief “high.” For example, children who have seen or experienced violence over time, may become addicted to reactivating violence and pain as a way to get their needs met for pain relief with endorphin’s powerful effect as a pain killer!

  This can manifest as a repetitive cycle in later stages of life showing up in chaotic, overdependent, or abusive relationships, addiction, gambling, violence, overspending and even eating diso rders. The power of these biochemicals impact how you perceive your environment, navigate through change and this in turn, affects which endorphins get activated. It’s important to take a look at the ways memories are being activated through self-talk, coping mechanisms, and relationship.  Is it bliss or the blast from the past of painful or traumatic experience? Being on the gerbil wheel of overwork, activity, chaotic relationships,or need for exposure to danger or challenge can be a telling indication that you are bonded to stress endorphin experiences. Depression, low self esteem or the feeling of pessimism can also be an indication of being excessively bonded to pain relief endorphins. The quality of life energy available to meet challenges, handle change and to be able to face and see what is necessary to take action in the present is dependent on how much you are able to access positive endorphin response.

   Activate the bliss experience endorphins and you positively impact the function of your body’s nervous and immune systems in a way that promotes a sense of well-being.  Continually activate the stress endorphins and you begin to deplete your body’s nervous and immune systems resulting in a loss of life energy or illness. Unresolved earlier conflict can be resolved through conscious awareness and positive action. The good news is that there are  many natural and easy ways to empower positive endorphin response besides love at first sight!

The following activities can empower your positive endorphin bonding in the present:

  1) Natural Calming endorphin responses can be experienced by spending time in nature, creating beauty, or reading beautiful passages. Nurturing touch such as massage or snuggling creates natural endorphin response, as well as smiling, cooking or eating nourishing whole food, a hot bath with aromatherapy like lavender, rose, sandalwood or Ylang Ylang, relaxation, sleep, gentle music, or finding something that makes you laugh. Give yourself some downtime when you feel you are over your head. A few minutes of inner care and  appreciation can make a world of difference in your day.

 2) Natural energizing endorphin response can be experienced by running, skiing, surfing, bicycling,fast walking, dancing, deep and relaxed breathing, swimming,spending time with friends, spending quality time with your significant other, volunteering for a cause of your choice, and resonating with a sense of achievement and accomplishment. You can impact how you see the world and how you feel in each moment. When you’re feeling stressed, exhausted, or facing a new challenging situation, take a moment to check in with yourself. Integrate some of the above activities into your schedule daily or weekly. Make them a priority to add to your positive memory bank.

3) You can also use an empowering/happy memory when you need support in the moment. The Empowering Memory Modality from Resonance Repatterning® is a wonderful way to  create an anchor you can use in times of new challenges or stress. Use the following  recorded energetic healing modality to create a positive endorphin bonding memory: http://twaud.io/lW    Please leave comments or retweet!

 

Copyright© material of Kimberly Rex and Resonance Repatterning®. All Rights Reserved.

Kimberly Rex, MS is a Certified Resonance Repatterning and Person-Centered Expressive Therapist who works with people of all ages to release issues  and update your memory bank from the past to create new possibilities for the present and future. Empower your life!  Like this article? Sign up for monthly newsletter to continue the journey here: http://www.windowstotheheart.net/news_signup_form.php

Cry a Little

Nothing feels better when one is upset than a good cry and a walk:

1. Crying is a physical release of emotion. Not only do tears exist to flush out foreign debris from the eyes, but they are just as useful for flushing out emotions.

2. Walking is also a physical release. After all, endorphins are the body’s natural mood booster. 

Where do I gather my findings and draw my conclusions from? Personal experience.

Get High with Movement and Motion

Exhilaration, well-being, accomplishment: these aren’t words we often associate with exercise. But if you exercise regularly, and you take the time to tune in to your emotions while you’re in motion and then when you stop, it’s likely you’ll be feeling pretty good. This is because ongoing exercise (thirty minutes or more) causes hormones (naturally occurring chemical messengers in your body) to kick in. And one of these key chemicals is endorphins. Produced in the pituitary gland, endorphins not only decrease your appetite, they also decrease depression, tension, and anxiety. 

A natural high
 
Often described as “the body’s natural pain reliever,” endorphins hold the power to make you feel good—often to the point of elation and joy. More and more, studies are revealing that ongoing movement and motion is a drug-free strategy to defeat depression. A sampling:
 
·         Breast cancer survivors, who did weight training twice weekly for a period of six months, were less depressed than prior to exercise.
 
·         When adolescent females with mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms jogged for 50 minutes, at mild intensity, five times per week, their depression lessened; at the same time, stress hormones, such as cortisol (which can lead to weight gain), also decreased.
 
·         To investigate changes in depressive symptoms in individuals with high blood pressure, researchers tracked participants as they did aerobic exercise over six months. The results revealed that those with mild to moderate depressive symptoms had significantly less depression.
 
Minutes, movement, and mood
 
These studies suggest that if you make exercise a regular part of your life, after several months, you’ll experience a super-high from endorphins. And it gets better: They’ll continue to circulate in your blood for quite a while after you’ve exercised. How much is enough to reap the depression-relieving rewards? Moderate-intensity exercise, which lasts between 20 to 30 minutes, is enough to produce the greatest increase of blood endorphins. But if you exercise to the point of exhaustion, the opposite occurs: endorphin levels drop dramatically. You’ll also lose the benefits if your movement and motion is limited to short, high-intensity workouts. To reap the rewards, try a stationary bicycle, walking briskly, or dancing to your favorite music. In other words, do what you enjoy—not what you think is “right” or “best.”
 
A natural antidepressant
 
Endorphins hold the power to replace depression with a mild state of euphoria. This natural high is especially good news if you’re one of the many people who do not respond to antidepressant medication. Of course, if you’re presently inactive, always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. For more “natural” insights into defeating depression, read “Eat Fish, Be Happy” by Deborah Kesten, MPH.
 
Deborah Kesten, MPH, was the nutritionist on Dean Ornish, MD’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes—without drugs or surgery, and Director of Nutrition on similar research in cardiovascular clinics in Europe. Specializing in preventing and reversing overweight and heart disease through lifestyle changes, she is the award-winning author of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul; The Healing Secrets of Food; and The Enlightened Diet. Call her at 415.810.7874, or visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, heart-health, coaching, and books.
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