When we think about morals – the lessons we’ve learned, the behaviors we’ve adopted, our personal “rights” and wrongs” – the immune system likely doesn’t factor in.
However, did you know that the immune system itself has a set of morals? The immune system is not just affected by healthy eating or lack thereof. Each of us has a code that goes beyond the mental or the perceptible. It embeds itself into our experiences much deeper than we could ever imagine.
The first step is to look into the learned morals and behaviors that influence our inner and outer environments.
From Biological to Cultural
Much of our makeup occurs during the early childhood years, where we rely on our parents, guardians, and teachers for survival. We’re designed to relate certain needs to certain people or objects. We identify how to ask for, and get, what we need.
The immune system works similarly in that it responds to the ethics and belief systems of the culture that it’s nurtured into. Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist and author of the MindBody Code, illustrates this phenomenon with a compelling example.
“The immune system responds to the ethics and to the belief systems that your culture has. For example, in some countries in South America, when the woman has menopausal hot flashes they call it bochorno, which means ‘shame’. They’ll say, ‘She’s having the shames,’ although they know it’s hormonal. Shame, we know from psychoimmunology, causes inflammation. The immune system is bio-symbolic. If I shame you, you’re going to have molecules of inflammation as if you had some foreign body going into you.”
Women who use the low-vibration feeling of “shame” to associate with the sacred (and inevitable) changes in their bodies experience more painful, distressing shifts. Those shifts then lead to even less self-esteem surrounding this life change and create a domino effect.
To illustrate the inverse effect, consider what happens when we tell ourselves that menopause is a beautiful, welcome milestone. In Japan, menopause is called kanreki, which means, “second spring.” Very different from the vibration of shame, this moniker inspires women to embrace the life shift and to breathe new life into their purpose. In turn, they experience fewer symptoms and inflammation than women who view menopause as a shameful event. Their self-esteem rises as they own up to their new archetype.
This is just one example of how the culture at large affects our immune system. How stress and immune system function is intertwined. However, this phenomenon is not only present in the culture. It’s present in our familial culture.
Susceptibility isn’t a Life Sentence
Knowing your family’s medical history is important, but sometimes this knowledge can lead to dangerous assumptions. Take diabetes, for instance. If members of your family have it, you’ll probably be told that it’s genetic and that you’ll get it, too. However, this phenomenon goes beyond inherent biological influences. Simply being in the same home as relatives with chronic conditions can make you more likely to contract these issues. This is because our energy bodies dislike disharmony. If we’re in a room filled with sick people, we’re likely to start vibrating at their level and thus, become more susceptible to illness. In addition, when we’re told that we’re ill, our immune system starts to become suppressed. That, ironically, can lead to even more dire health situations. However, once we’re aware of this conditioning, we can turn it around.
Rather than assuming the worst-case scenario, we must learn to live with a best-case scenario outlook. As we slowly get used to this attitude and integrate it into every fiber of our beings, our bodies respond on a physical, cellular level. Even when faced with aging, cancer, or a terminal prognosis, we can choose to raise our vibration and assume that we’re going to be the exception to the “rule.”
You may be surprised to learn that raising your frequency can be as simple as partaking in the things that bring you pleasure. Like most things in life, however, there’s a catch to this.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
In essence, hedonism is the theory that life is meant to be lived solely for the sake of pleasure alone. The hedonistic lifestyle, first theorized and practiced by the Greek philosopher Aristippus, was met with much disapproval. After all, we’re taught that too much pleasure – whether it’s sex, wine, or leisure – is a bad thing. However, there is some merit to Artistippus’s once-radical concept.
When people who are hedonistic give some meaning and purpose to their pleasure, they enjoy less inflammation and a more responsive immune system. It’s only when we give in to pleasure in a selfish or directionless way that it can become detrimental to our health. However, temperance also comes into play here. The most important takeaway is that if pleasure, in whatever form, is balanced and adaptable, it is beneficial to the body and spirit. Interestingly enough, Aristippus lived longer than Aristotle, who was comparably more conservative in his philosophical views.
In balancing pleasure, we may find that balancing our emotions comes into play, as well. While the body thrives in a homeostatic environment, it’s necessary to let off some steam when needed.
It’s Okay to Be Angry
Expressing anger can be good for the immune system. This is not to say that it’s okay to break dishes or lash out at every opportunity, but anger and the way you expel it can teach you volumes about yourself and your hidden wounds. In Dr. Mario’s book, “The MindBody Self”, he explores three archetypal wounds found in all cultures. They are abandonment, betrayal, and shame. When you find yourself becoming overly defensive, triggered, or angry when reacting, it’s likely that you’re digging up deep wounds found in these archetypes.
The key is to observe your reactions and determine where your rage comes from. Did your kindergarten teacher scold you for not cleaning up your desk? And now you bristle and lash out every time your spouse suggests that you tidy up more around the house? Your anger in this case is much deeper than fleeting surface emotion. It’s a deeply ingrained and painful wound that only a few words can slice open once again.
Changing Morals Can Change Your Immune System
Instead of pouring salt on our wounds, we must instead see them for what they are, honor our path and experiences, and break out the proverbial stitching needles. Once we realize that being who we are is essential to figuring out how to help ourselves, we can begin to heal from the inside out.
Morals change over the years in response to cultural shifts and adaptabilities. So, too, can the morals that we adopt in response to our upbringing and cultural influences. The moral of this story is to condition ourselves to break free of the limiting beliefs that dim our light. Armed with this profound and timely knowledge, we can step forward into a new reality, enjoying longer, happier, and more purpose-filled lives.
What step will you take first to your new reality and a healthier immune system?
Leave a comment and let me know!
Hi Harlo, The ankle can represent an inability to receive pleasure and guilt. Sometimes, there is greater healing that is needed around the trauma in relation to these emotions. Physical wound healing measures are obviously important and looking at the emotional currents can be helpful too.