The Immune System and Its Weapons
Oh MY...there are a lot of interesting points of view flying around these days. Covid -19 has stirred the pot to say the least - surfacing issues around power, manipulation, financial fear, isolation, bankruptcy, control, lies, abuse, pressure to make something of yourself, alcoholism, depression, suicide, home schooling, greed, hustle and bustle, corrupt systems….we could go on and on!
In the past few months we have worked with numerous clients suffering from every issue (and more) from the list above, AS WELL AS those that don’t have the luxury to even consider anything other than surviving a covid - 19 infection.
Who knew something as tiny as a virus could come with such a big blow. Humbled indeed.
We have attempted to sit down several times and write something that we hoped could contribute to everything that is going on in the world today but every time we do, we never know where to start since there are so many conflicting points of view and emotional/mental issues surfacing for people.
For now, it feels like some basic Body Psychology information for the immune system and some common symptoms people are experiencing with Covid-19 might be helpful. From our experience in working with people who are immune compromised, or who have had a Covid-19 infection, we have found the following information to have been useful.
This new information has been taken from our iWonder App which has been recently updated. Those of you that have subscribed to unlock the 'Standard Collection' of our app will have access to this information. You will also find expanded, and more detailed information, for each of these topics in the app, for now this is just a sneak peek. Check out the app here.
Hopefully this will help you, or those you are supporting through your healing practice, with insight into some of the struggles people are experiencing when it comes to this topic. This information is not intended to negate any of the suffering you or others are experiencing and is not meant to sway you in one way or another regarding the many issues at play here. Rather, it is intended to help you gain perspective on the beliefs and emotions that are causing you stress.
We are encouraging you to explore a state of WONDER so you can open yourself up to other possibilities, release your stress, heal deep emotional wounds, and take practical action that will serve you instead of harm you. We are also hoping this information will be useful for those of you who are practitioners and are working with others on these many issues.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Our immune system is a vast system of cells and tissues that are designed to protect us from microbial invasion. The immune cells patrol the borders of the body and are also home to a complex microbe community that is kept in a delicate balance.
Over the past several years there has been a slow and steady shift in our understanding of the role microbes play in our health. For the most part, we have discovered that microbes aren’t always the evil villains we thought them to be.
The human body is actually a superorganism or complex ecosystem of human cells living in a symbiotic relationship with 100 trillion bacteria and other microorganisms. The vast majority of microbes that reside in different habitats on our and within our body, are essential for our health. They provide key functions and proteins that our bodies require. Microbes have moved from their longstanding position as evil pathogens to “friends with benefits” – organisms that live symbiotically together with us. We scratch their back by providing them with a home, they scratch ours by providing essential services that our bodies need for healthy digestion, brain function and an operational immune system. The bad guys (pathogens) only make up for a SMALL amount of the microbes that we actually need to defend against.
To keep it simple for now, when there are problems with the immune usually it is either under reactive or overzealous.
From a metaphysical standpoint, the immune system often reflects emotional issues we have around boundaries, defences, protection, resilience, and tolerance. When there are problems with the immune system it can be a signal that there is a deep feeling of vulnerability - almost as if one could be engulfed at any moment. Usually there is a lifetime of unequal energy exchange where one has put out much more than they get back. It feels impossible to hold a boundary up or defend oneself against the onslaught of life’s responsibilities. There is a weakness against the ability to receive, request or require others to return a favour or lend a hand of support. Tolerance is low, almost to the point where one feels like giving up.
Consider the people and experiences in your life. What or who is always coming at you or crossing your boundaries? Why is it difficult to hold people to a standard? What do you fear would happen if you were to demand that people respect your boundaries? Does it feel like you would not be acceptable? Or that you would be abandoned?
Reflect on vulnerability. Where in your life do you feel vulnerable? What events and situations have occurred in your life that have caused you to feel vulnerable? What would you have to let go of in order for you to feel less vulnerable?
Contemplate the level of exchange you feel with others and with life in general. Do you feel taken advantage of? What do you think is causing this feeling for you? Why do you continually put out more that you get back? What would have to change in order for you to be comfortable with receiving or requiring others to give back to the same degree that you do?
What or who in your life is engulfing you? How is it harming you to continue to let this happen? What do you fear you would lose if you weren’t overwhelmed with life? Are you afraid of boredom? Do you have an underlying fear of depression? What can you do to change this so that you no longer feel engulfed by life?
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM'S WEAPONS STORM (Inflammation)
The innate and adaptive immune cells use a powerful arsenal of chemical weapons against prospective invaders. It seems that some of the damage from an invasion occurs when the body initiates a Weapons Storm. A weapons storm is when the immune system initiates an exaggerated response to an invasion. In a weapons storm, the immune system goes into overdrive and continues to release the molecules, which then end up attacking the very organs they were intended to protect.
When the immune system is in overdrive it indicates the tendency to be over reactive, over protective, defensive, and aggressive. Usually this is all a reflection of underlying feelings of lack, weakness, insufficiency, and incompetence. There is also intense implication anxiety, hence the need to defend at any cost. There is self disapproval and a childhood of chaos.
Reflect on your childhood. Was everyone always in an uproar? What would it take for you to release the imprint this experience had on your body and mind? How is it harming you to continually hold onto this experience? Are you repeating the pattern? Is your life always in an uproar? Or do you have strong unhealthy attachments to peace and quiet? What would it take to break free from this?
How is it harming your to continue to believe that you are insufficient and incompetent? Why are you holding onto these beliefs about yourself? What do you gain? Motivation? Attention? Love? The hope for gentle support? Is there a more practical way to get your needs met?
Harmonize for a moment with all your cells. You are an extraordinary collection of cells and organisms! You are a universe. Take a moment to appreciate the amazing symphony that operates in your body to create you. Expand a feeling of harmony to all these parts of you. Imagine all the parts finding the right balance, the right communication and the right synchronization.
Antibodies and other tagging substances: coat and tag microbes, marking them for elimination by the microbe-eating machines.
Bacterial growth inhibitors: iron-binding proteins – bind iron, an essential nutrient for bacteria, thereby inhibiting their growth.
Chemokines: communication signals that are secreted by immune cells to attract other immune cells to the battleground.
Coagulation system: in tissue injury, the coagulation system may be activated. Some components of this pathway are antimicrobial or recruit phagocytes, the professional eaters, to the location of the injury.
Complement: The Complement System, or ‘hole punch’ that recognizes antibody-coated bacteria and punches holes in their cell walls.
Cytokines (also known as Interleukins): hormones or communication signals made by white blood cells. The primary two groups we can consider are proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory signals. There are 36 different interleukins identified so far each of which sends a distinct communication signal. Some induce fever, activate immune cells to engage in battle, stimulate or suppress growth of immune cells, trigger immune cells to differentiate down a specific pathway, or communicate with the brain or endocrine system.
Enzymes: break down or punch through bacterial cell walls - Lysozyme, Defensins.
Histamine: dilates blood vessels so that more white blood cells can help fight an infection. Causes the redness, itching, swelling, warmth and pain associated with inflammation or allergy.
Interferons: proteins that limit virus replication in cells and activate immune cells.
Toxic bacterial-killing substances: myeloperoxidase, toxic oxygen compounds, nitric oxide.
Historically, the lower respiratory tract was thought to be a sterile environment but it has now become evident that the respiratory system is home to a variety of microbial species that provide many benefits to us. Although it should be noted that it has relatively less microbial biomass when compared to the gastrointestinal tract.
The mutualist species of the respiratory microbiome help to:
Defend the airways from colonization by pathogens by ensuring adequate production of anti-bacterial agents.
Provide nutrients for the epithelial cells.
Train the local immune community in tolerance.
Issues with the respiratory microbiome indicate issues around ‘respond’ability, tolerance, protection, and safety within the environment.
Is there somewhere in your life you are overreacting? Are you prone to overreacting? Why? How do you benefit from overreacting?
Where in your life are you underreacting to something? Why do you feel you have to sit back and take it? What do you fear you would lose if you were to react?
Do you feel unsafe in the world? What would you have to let go of in order to feel more safe?
The lungs expand and contract to breathe. Issues with the lungs indicate an inability to surrender to the exchange of life. There is a feeling of not being allowed to live fully; this leads to beliefs of being smothered and stifled by situations and people. Life feels as though it is restricting and suffocating. Inhibitions are strong, passions go unexpressed; there is no sense of freedom. The lungs also relate to the ability to grieve in order to make graceful transitions in life. When there are problems with the lungs there are also likely problems with transitioning from one activity to another.
Consider the people and experiences in your life. Who or what do you find suffocating? Why is it difficult for you to maintain space between yourself and others?
Contemplate the level of exchange you feel with others. Do you feel taken advantage of? What do you think is causing this feeling for you? Could it be that you are overvaluing yourself? In other words you feel as though you are worth more than what you are being recognized for. What if your expectations of yourself are too high? Or is it that you are expecting too much recognition? To not feel used or taken advantage of you must be willing to take yourself off of your pedestal. You don’t need it. Can you see how stressful it is for you to keep yourself up there?
Consider how you distribute your energy. Where are you wasting energy that you can’t afford to be wasting? What areas of your life are you diverting your energy and attention to that might not be serving you? With every breath you have the opportunity to circulate Qi through the body. How can you become more mindful of this? How can you bring more balance to the allocation of your energy?
Reflect on your space. Does it feel as though someone is taking over your space? Or do you feel territorial about your space? Why is it difficult to claim your space? What if there were no such thing as territories? Could you find a way to be comfortable anywhere?
A fever is a beneficial function for the body when fighting certain microbes. The body responds to some invasionary pathogens by increasing its temperature beyond what the microbe can withstand. When a fever becomes dangerously high or is prolonged, it can indicate some stuck emotional/metaphysical components. Often it can represent a situation where one is burning up with intense anger at something going on around them or within their life.They are holding onto, and storing, resentments towards something or someone. It also relates to fear of anticipated outcomes. There is uncertainty around how things will end.
Is there someone or something in your life that is fueling anger and rage within you? Why? What do you think that anger is doing for you? How are you ‘seemingly’ benefiting from intense anger? What do you fear would happen if you were to let go of your anger?
Is there somewhere in your life where you are anticipating a devastating outcome for yourself? How is it harming you to assume a negative outcome? What would you have to let go of in order to perceive a positive outcome for yourself?
Ask your body how you can get your fever to work for you in a way that is effective and tolerable.
A cough is a voluntary or involuntary act that clears the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, microbes, irritants, fluids, and mucus; it is a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs. Sometimes a cough can be very intense or lingers, while for others it simply does the job and that is that. When looking at the psychology of an intense or lingering cough, it can indicate the possibility of unhealed issues around self-expression. There is something to say but one cannot bring themselves to say it. There is usually a lot of guilt associated with what they want to say with underlying feelings that one is not noticed, appreciated or loved.
Do you have a tendency to feel guilty for desiring love, appreciation and attention? What do you fear would happen if you were to simply ask for what you needed?
Why does it feel so hard to say what you want to say? How is it harming you to keep it in?
Reflect on your self expression. Are you holding back? Why is it challenging for you to speak your mind? What would you have to let go of in order to be able to speak freely?
When you speak your truth, what is the experience in your body? Is it energizing and rewarding to speak your truth? Do you feel restriction, or limitation when you want to speak up? Is there something you want to say to someone, present or past? Take the time to verbalize to this person, what you want to say to them. If this does not feel possible in reality for any reason try a soul to soul level communication. What does your soul want to say to this person. Let it flow. Trust your words.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH
Often described as an intense tightening in the chest, air hunger, difficulty breathing, breathlessness or a feeling of suffocation. When one is experiencing shortness of breath it can indicate a fear of the environment. They feel as though the world is not a safe place and that at any moment everything will be taken away from them. The anticipation of this takes one’s breath away. There is a lack of trust in life and the Universe and a feeling of vulnerability.
Provided that you are not having trouble breathing with persistent tightness in your chest, blue lips or mental confusion you can explore the questions below. If your breathing symptoms are severe do not hesitate to get medical help.
Reflect on your feelings towards the Universe or life. Do you feel a sense of mistrust or skepticism? Why? What unhealed events in your childhood are still influencing your ability to trust? What would it take to release the imprint they have on your body? How is it harming you to believe the world is not a safe place?
What is the worst that can happen if everything is taken away from you? What are you unnecessarily holding onto because of this fear?
Imagine dipping your entire bodymind into a pool of trust. Remember that trust is a feeling that can be generated inside of you at any time despite what is going on around you. Trust doesn’t come from the things and situations we experience in life, we have just learned to associate with those things. It is actually just a feeling. So in this pool of trust, imagine every single cell in your body soaking up this trust. Keep drinking it in. Do this until you are completely satiated. Now feel your breath.
To help relax the body, try breathing out with pursed lips long and slow. Like slowly blowing candles out on a cake. Breath in, and then slowly breath out with pursed lips. Then if it feels right, be mindful of your diaphragm and breath from the muscles of the belly. Put a hand there while you continue to breath out with pursed lips. Focus on the exhale more than the inhale.
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Thank you for reading!