By Life Positive
Internationally recognised pharmacologist Dr Candace Pert speaks with Robert Millett on her research into the role of endorphins, emotions, and chakras in healing, happiness and mastery of life
Dr Candace Pert enjoys a worldwide reputation for her theories on emotions and mind-body communication. She has appeared in the feature film, What the Bleep Do We Know!? and Bill Moyer’s TV programme, Healing and the Mind. She has a PhD in pharmacology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and has authored Molecules of Emotion: The Scientific Basis Behind Mind-Body Medicine (Scribner, 1997), Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d (Hay House, 2006), and the musical guided imagery CD Psychosomatic Wellness: Healing your Body-Mind.She has also served as Chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry of the Clinical Neuroscience Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), USA and held a Research Professorship in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. She is currently the Scientific Director of RAPID Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
How did your research begin?
It started with the discovery of the opiate receptor for heroin and morphine. It emerged from discoveries in the UK that the brain makes its own morphine – the endorphins. Every drug has corresponding receptors found in the brain and the body, and there is a natural equivalent, which is made by the body and normally modulates the receptor.
You discovered the receptor for endorphin, ‘bliss chemical’. Are there receptors and neuropeptides that correlate other states of mind – such as depression?
Yes, theoretically. It’s been slightly over-simplified, particularly in the USA, where that idea has been used to sell products that don’t work half as well as taking a walk in nature or getting in touch with your family. The spiritual aspect is often neglected and depression has a psycho-spiritual aspect to it that is very much overlooked. There are some powerful pharmaceutics, which definitely have some benefits, but I think that approach is also slightly frightening.
Can you explain your idea, mind is in every cell of the body?
Yes. The mind does exist throughout the whole body. The receptors, which are where memory and information are processed, are found on every cell of the body. People tend to think “Emotions are located in the amygdala and originate in the brain” but in doing so they fail to acknowledge what we now know about the spinal cord and the fact that the formation of all of our organs, including the brain, is an ongoing process – like an ever flowing river. It’s very old paradigm to think the mind is only in the head.
So memory and information is stored throughout the body?
Yes, the latest data shows that the receptor is a place where memory is stored and you have receptors all over your body. The human spinal cord is very complex and lots of memories are stored there, as well as in cells. Neuroscientists tend to pay attention to the circuits up in your brain, but these circuits go deep – they travel into the spinalcord, into the tissues and into the organs. This confirms what many therapists already know and it explains all the various phenomena where people have observed that a release of memories or emotions is often accompanied by some form of deep healing.
Do we all have the same capacity for various emotions? Are some people hardwired to feel more joy whilst others depression?
There is data supporting that and there is a definitely a genetic aspect. A research group at Harvard conducted a detailed study with timid children which seemed to indicate an inborn trait. So there is definitely a genetic component. Common thinking has definitely swung in favour of “it’s all in your genes”. However, I want to swing it back in the other direction. The whole thing with emotions is that they allow us to have an internal dialogue with our own organs and to govern our own storyline.
Is it possible to become ‘addicted’ to certain emotions?
It’s an interesting concept. I talked about this in my last book because it was a big question that was raised by the What the bleep do we know! movie. There is some truth to it but I think there is an old psychological concept that is the key, and that is that people get addicted to recreating their core traumas. Trauma is an important issue – subconsciously people wish to go back in time, replay a scenario and try to fix or straighten out a situation.
This explains a great deal of human unhappiness; why we keep falling for the same kind of guy over and over again. Yes, we can be addicted to our emotions but it is more complex than that – we actually get addicted to certain emotional patterns and this is then reflected in a repeated sequence of bio-chemicals being released. But, hopefully, you get to a certain age and become aware of the repeated patterns in your life.
Is it beneficial to consciously cultivate certain emotions?
Forgiveness, joy, gratitude – these are great states of mind which seem to have incredible power. I can’t say I understand all the chemistry but certainly if you are in a state of mind where you are holding lots of grudges or stewing about issues in the past then that wastes a lot of energy – not “far out” energy – but the actual energy that runs your body.
Would you describe these as healing emotions?
Yes. It’s not uncommon at all in the documented, remarkable recovery literature that people will suddenly have an intense realisation like: “Oh my…I’ve been blaming my brother all my life for everything’s that’s gone wrong for me” – and then they experience a massive healing. In some cases large tumours have disappeared within hours or days. Forgiveness seems to be a common thread in these cases. Emotions are really extremely powerful. In health and disease they are the key. Forgiveness is one of my issues and I know I experience a subtle healing when I listen to one of my CDs on forgiveness – I feel more energised and less stressed or angry, and all such emotions are so counter-productive in comparison to joy.
What’s the best way to encourage positive emotions?
It’s really about peace of mind and trying ideas like doing good works. There is hard data that shows that people who live the longest have the most relationships. So I think relationship is a key word – being with your pets, your family, and your friends and practising forgiveness. Receiving bodywork or healing is great too.
For me the quickest way right now is to listen to the kind of tapes that encourage you to heal emotional issues which have been ignored – healing that has somehow been interrupted. Healing is our natural state, our bodies want to heal themselves but sometimes this process is impaired, whether it’s due to drugs, stress or toxins in the environment.
How do you think that healing fits into all this?
There is data that shows that there are fields around the body, and that energy is emitted from a healer’s hands, which has an impact. There is data showing that when you assume an emotional state this aligns your internal chemistry and in turn your internal vibrations.
The term vibration is actually very accurate because the cellular receptors are not just little “lock and keys” they are actually vibrating as they pump ions and information through the cell membranes, so we truly are a bundle of electrical vibrations. Our states of mind really do project very far out and affect the people close to us and this is reflected in the sequence of bio-chemicals that are released. Manipulation of the back and massage work because the body-mind is a network, so you can go in at any point and have an effect elsewhere; a little pain in your back could be connected to an emotion, a memory elsewhere. It’s amazing that someone can receive these treatments and within an hour experience a total shift.
In your book Molecules of Emotion you wrote about a concentration of receptors around the chakras.
The peptides and receptors – the physical correlates of emotions – are clustered at the chakra points. I released a CD about this called Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind. It suggests that emotions are the bridge between the physical and the spiritual.
What is your current research on?
Working on AIDS research. I’ve manifested everything I need to do this project and now I need to focus and take all the knowledge I’ve learnt and apply to myself in order to achieve my goals.
My book, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Good was divinely guided. The book is about our search for funding and my spiritual journey. The year we spent promoting the book was when everything came together and we found a new humanitarian business partner who was able to fund us.
What do you think is the key to feeling good?
Meditation! Particularly, as a way to start the day. There are many kinds but if you start the day with half an hour of stretching, followed by meditation, it’s the easiest way to connect to your source and the spiritual realm in a way that brings lasting change to your life. I’ve also become excited about the power of affirmations and music as well as guided imagery.
Extracted from Healing Today.
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The key element of the Endorphin Effect is the fact that the unconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. So just by merely thinking about a pleasurable event, we can trigger endorphin release within the body and make ourselves feel good. This then means that we are not dependant on outside circumstances to create situations that release endorphins and enhance our well-being
The basic positive feedback loop looks like this: Endorphins > feeling of pleasure > mood of happiness > friendly behaviour
5 methods for deliberately triggering endorphins
* Positive triggers (any event, activity or thought that gives you pleasure)
* Inner smile (give your own body kind attention)
* Curled deer (sink and relax into the body language of resting)
* Biophylia (Allow self to feel connected with natural world, with spiritual inspirations and the good things in life)
* Daily exercise (20 minutes minimum to raise metabolism and increase oxygenation of blood)
4 skills for deliberate triggering of endorphins
* Pause (when stressed OR experiencing pleasure, put on the brakes and take a mental pause)
* Notice sensations (notice the actual sensations and feelings in your body)
* Absorb (if the sensations are pleasurable, chill a bit more and absorb the good feeling)
* Hold (if the sensations are tight, painful or distressing, turn your focus toward them, use the inner smile and ‘hold’ the feelings of discomfort)
If practiced regularly, these simple techniques, will enable you to take control of your ‘inner’ environment’, and give you the tools that you can use anywhere and at any time to build your energy and strengthen your nervous and immune systems, enabling you to be better equipped to deal with the strains and stresses of the fast-paced lives we tend to lead.