Monday, September 22, 2008


For those of you who didn't immediately understand TMI, it stands for Too Much Information! That could be my life's theme. Or as Emily said, "too many rabbits on the trail." If I could only program my brain to think about and ponder one thing at a time, perhaps I might absorb something.

What, you might ask, is prompting this raving? I went to a class tonight and learned the difference between beliefs and feelings from a chemical point of view. The mind and the autonomic nervous system (the source of feelings) often clash. The mind thinks and reasons. The autonomic system "thinks" but does not reason, it merely responds to stimuli and is then programmed to respond that way to similar stimuli. Hence the ache in your gut when you think about a conflict that you feel you handled appropriately but still feel sick about it. Your mind tells you you did the best you could but your stomach still hurts. Perhaps in the past you have learned that your best efforts may still result in broken relationships and even though your mind learned how to handle conflict from this, your gut is now programmed to expect the worst and grieve the broken relationship or fear it will happen again.

We learned that if your autonomic system gets "stuck" there, irregardless of what your mind says, you cannot move forward into the "peace that passes understanding" or victorious living unless you reboot or reprogram the autonomic system. This reprogramming can happen through the use of accupuncture points (no needles) and through scripture and prayer.

The thing that is really wowing me though is the understanding that when we are born, our autonomic system and mind are one in the same. The mind is not yet capable of thinking differently than the autonomic system. We just react to stimuli and feeling. (Think terrible twos and my sister's phrase "never try to reason with a 2 year old) Not until children are about five years old does this separation occur at a functional level (and sometimes not even then.) So the things our chilren take in from 0 to 5 are so crucial because they are programming the autonomic system. But the other thing that occured to me, is that if we are not developing the mind, we will delay this development and the autonomic system will run rough shod over them throughout their lives. This can also happen if a particular trauma which brought strong emotions never is "reprogrammed." It can control a person's life because they are "stuck" or, chemically speaking, blocked.

This explains to me why children who are placed in front of television where stimulation and feelings and wants are fed to them day after day are so damaged. They are rarely asked to think critically about anything they see and so often they are surrounded by the teenage angst of Hannah Montana or Zach and Cody where every feeling is followed without regard to rationale thought. Then between scenes, they are taught to be anxious about how they look, how much stuff they have (or don't have) or fed a jingle that will program them to respond to a product in a certain way. Their autonomic system is bulked up while their minds and rational thought are either withering or conforming to the programming of their feelings. 99 times out of 100 this programming will not match with the Truth and will lead to chaos, confusion and pain. Just as the enemy intends it.

Micah demonstrated perfectly this brain development today. I found a Superman costume on sale and he was very excited to try it on. After getting all decked out, he said he needed to go outside. I asked him what he was going to do but he said, "I just need to go." I followed him and watched from the front door. He just stood there looking at the street. Pretty soon he turned around and looked at me with such a sad, puzzled look and said, "I can't fly mom." He had the saddest look on his face. His mind just learned something he had not known before and it did not match with his feeling that it was Superman's costume that would make him fly. Of course this realization had to come at some point. It's part of how this separation of mind and gut occurs. But how painful to watch. And if this realization is painful, how about when children are told by their parents they are loved, but experience the pain of divorce and separation. The mind and gut split.

He also addressed how powerful music is in this area as well. How often do we hear kids say, "I don't listen to the words, I just like the music." This is because it glides past the mind and straight to the autonomic system, creating powerful feelings and emotion in us. If this emotion matches with Truth, not a big problem. But if it does not, you set yourself up for internal conflict which causes stress, which causes disease.

When we constantly feed our autonomic system (medicate it so we feel better) with television, music, distraction, people who affirm our feelings, we are turning down the volume to the Holy Spirit and Truth. The speaker said it takes weeks of "turning off the noise" to regain the ability to hear God's voice again. And we must be careful to weigh that voice against the Word of God to understand where the autonomic system (our feelings) have led us astray.

How important to build silence into our lives and the lives of our children. If I let them, my children would fall asleep every night with their iPod in their ears. I have always thought this was wrong but I did not fully understand why. Tonight I have a much better understanding. It also explains to me why our culture is so bent on selfish pursuit rather than sacrificial good. If what you know to be right does not match with what you have programmed to "feel good", you will be in conflict and folllow the feeling rather than the belief. Eventually your belief will change to match your feeling unless your autonomic is reprogrammed with the truth. And if we constantly feed our feelings without training our mind in the truth, we will live in conflict, chaos and pain.

Like I said, TMI. And this was only the tip of the iceberg of the discussion tonight. If I bored you, so sorry. But in order to keep other rabbits from invading the trail, I wanted to write some things down to help solidify in my own mind what I learned and you have the "priviledge" of coming along for the ride.

PS A completely unrelated Micah funny: Since the weather was cooler for awhile, Micah had been wearing jeans. I asked if he needed help unbuttoning to go to the bathroom the other day. He said, "No, but I will maybe need help onbuttoning."