It’s really amazing how our emotional state affects our bodies. Emotions can’t be seen, tasted, heard, felt or smelled…yet; we experience them as if we could. Love, peace, elation, fear and anger cause us to actually ‘feel’ the sentiments we experience. We develop goose-bumps, hives, flushed faces, teary eyes, nausea, ulcers, diarrhea, rise in blood pressure, dizziness, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, urinary problems and sexual dysfunctions according to our state of mind. This tells me that what we think about really does matter. The fact that our thoughts cause actual physical manifestations is a miracle on one hand, and a very scary thing on the other.
Brain activity responds to the input it gets. Actual electrical currents are set into motion with our thoughts. One bad thought that is brought under our control will not cause the damage to our systems, or to our environment, that a series of uncontrolled, toxic thoughts will.
What actually happens–biologically-when our thoughts trigger our emotions? Let me share something very profound from the textbook‘The Principles of Anatomy and Physiology’by Gerard J. Tortora and Nicolas P. Anagnostakos, Harper & Row, 2nd edition, 1978, about the Hypothalamus Gland:
It controls and integrates the autonomic nervous system, which stimulates smooth muscle, regulates the rate of contraction of cardiac muscle, and controls the secretions of many glands. Through the autonomic nervous system, the hypothalamus is the main regulator of visceral activities.
It regulates heart rate, movement of food through the digestive tract, and contraction of the urinary bladder.
It is involved in the reception of sensory impulses from the viscera (bowels).
It is the principal intermediary between the nervous system and endocrine system—the two major control systems of the body. The hypothalamus lies just above the pituitary, the main endocrine gland. When the hypothalamus detects certain changes in the body, it releases chemicals called regulating factors that stimulate or inhibit the anterior pituitary gland. The anterior pituitary then releases or holds back hormones that regulate carbohydrates, fats, proteins, certain ions, and sexual functions.
It is the center for the mind-over-body phenomenon. When the cerebral cortex interprets strong emotions, it often sends impulses along tracts that connect the cortex with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then directs impulses via the autonomic nervous system and also releases chemicals that stimulate the anterior activities. For instance, when you panic, impulses leave the hypothalamus to stimulate your heart to beat faster. Likewise, continued psychological stress can produce long-term abnormalities in body function that result in serious illness. These are so-called psychosomatic disorders. Psychosomatic disorders are real.
It is associated with feelings of rage and aggression.
It controls normal body temperature. Certain cells of the hypothalamus serve as a thermostat—a mechanism sensitive to changes in temperature. If blood flowing through the hypothalamus is above normal temperature, the hypothalamus directs impulses along the autonomic nervous system to stimulate activities that promote heat loss. Heat can be lost through relaxation of the smooth muscle in the blood vessels and by sweating. Conversely, if the temperature of the blood is below normal, the hypothalamus generates impulses that promote heat retention. Heat can be retained through the contraction of cutaneous blood vessels, cessation of sweating, and shivering.
It regulates food intake through two centers. The feeding center is stimulated by hunger sensations from an empty stomach. When sufficient food has been ingested, the satiety center is stimulated and sends out impulses that inhibit the feeding center.
It contains a thirst center. Certain cells in the hypothalamus are stimulated when the extra cellular fluid volume is reduced. The stimulated cells produce the sensation of thirst in the hypothalamus.
It is one of the centers that maintain the waking state and sleep patterns.
The“brain of the endocrine system”processes our thoughts and gives physical expression to our emotions. What a marvelous creation we are! How little we understand ourselves! We go about our daily lives without any checks and balances regarding our own thoughts. Things are allowed into our minds that are not meant to reside there, but they do. We make ourselves completely vulnerable by opening up our minds to anything and everything. The things we see and hear every second of the day leave lasting impressions on our minds. Nothing is ever erased. Things may be forgotten but they are always there…sleeping quietly under the covers we’ve placed over them…until something wakes them up to cause us a problem. Then we wonder‘Why me Lord?’
God has told us how to live in health, peace and joy. We just aren’t paying attention. Listen now.
When our minds stay focused on God we will have perfect peace. A peaceful mind and cheerful attitude gives life to our body and keeps us from getting sick. We must guard our minds against anxious and fearful thoughts, which will cause our hearts to fail. It is also a good idea to assess our fears so we won’t focus on them. For, what we dread the most is likely to come upon us. Rather, let us think about whatever is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy; because as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
Phil 4:8, Proverbs 23:7, Job 3:25, Isaiah 26:3, Prov 14:30, Proverbs 17:22, Luke 21:26, Prov 23: 7