Outer Immunity, Inner immunity
Accessing the Innate Healing Mechanisms of the Dreaming Mind During the Current Emotional Plagues: COVID-19, Systemic Racism, Violence, Inequality, Cruelty, Human Rights Violations, and Death.
Our bodies, minds, and souls are buffeted constantly lately with loud headlines about the plague of Covid-19, the deeply-rooted problems of systemic racism and misogyny, radical economic inequality, human rights violations, and even cruelty, and the ever-present threat of death. How can we cope with all of this in such a tumultuous time? How can we move forward when feeling lost in life among the chaos? How can we find holistic balance?
We know a great deal about our physical body’s immune system and how it works ceaselessly to keep our bodies healthy and functioning well. Did you know that in the deep recesses of your mind, your psyche, there are also powerful processes of inner immunity that also work ceaselessly regarding how to deal with stress positively? This “inner immunity” process can help you regarding how to become more self-aware and can help you move toward greater spiritual health and spiritual wellness. It can help you regarding how to deal with stress and depression as well. And, you can learn to consciously access and integrate the “inner wisdom” of your inner immune system. Let’s explore further.
During this most tumultuous of times, we hear a lot about — and often think a lot about — our immune system — as we are confronted with the coronavirus — COVID-19, as it infects millions of people globally. Along with the physical impact of the virus; we are also experiencing an emotional impact, with our deepest anxieties around death, illness, loss, isolation, and social and physical distancing from others; without a choice, we have come face to face with the unknown — that aspect of life which is out of our control. Many psychologists see this as a collective trauma — of which the impact will be after the events — leaving many scarred with a post-traumatic stress disorder.
We know how to protect ourselves as best we can, from coming into contact with this invisible predator (virus), and we know how to boost our immunity, with the hopes that if we do contract the coronavirus (or any virus), we will have a better chance of survival.
If we view our biological systems as the result of millions of years of evolution, all of our bodily systems — including the immune system — have evolved for that purpose: survival. In other words, our physical immune system enacts millions of micro-processes, which occur outside of our conscious awareness — in order to help us adapt to our environment and ensure our survival.
Human evolution has created another system to ensure the survival of the human species — one that is just as intelligent, organized, purposeful, and active, which also acts outside of our everyday awareness. Evolutionary, Biological, most often called Adaptive Psychodynamic Theory, founded by Robert Langs, MD, refers to this as the inner immune system.
This inner immune system, also called the “emotional processing system,” much like our outer immune system, also operates outside of our conscious awareness. It exists within our “deep wisdom unconscious,” the source of an “inner therapist or inner guide,” which resides within each of us as a product of the evolution of the mind and it’s attendant emotions.
It is this source of inner wisdom that is the psychological mechanism which keeps us alive in the face of emotional dangers, emotional predators, emotional plagues — those feelings and thoughts we are facing with COVID-19 and the political and racial tensions playing out before us — without respite — in both our personal lives and the media. We are flooded with fear, anger, rage, disbelief, dysfunctional systems, and feelings of powerlessness — all sources of trauma.
During these times, the emotional, immune system works tirelessly and continuously under the surface, protecting us from these “emotional predators” — those traumatic events and mental stressors — that would overwhelm our capacity to emotionally (and sometimes physically) survive and thrive.
In our daily life, our inner immune defenses process, not only past traumas but also daily triggers of past traumas — a look of disdain from a boss, a feeling of ingenuine-ness in another’s praise, incongruities between a partner’s words and actions, the loss of a job, relationship, a physical or mental capacity; all ll of which we survive daily, because it processes daily events that we cannot always focus on or become aware of. Research shows us that the human mind can only hold 5-9 objects in consciousness at any one time. The rest of our experience is processed outside of our awareness.
To reiterate: the emotional or inner immune system, with its own intelligence, mechanisms, and directives, processes daily events that could be “triggers” of deeper traumas — which could create overload and build up to debilitating emotional disorders like anxiety, depression, panic, and even psychosis.
To accomplish this task the inner immune system works, without break, to protect our minds from falling into survival mode — with every trigger — fight, flight, freeze: another system that is linked with this emotional immune system — and which deeply affects our outer immunity as well.
As is the case with any living organism — coping with environmental threats — both the physical stresses and psychological traumas — lies at the center of human life. Again, our psychological life (mental and emotional) is deeply embedded in these survival mechanisms. They are crucial to our individual and collective survival.
Let’s zoom in more and look at this with some practical examples:
Have you ever had the experience of driving somewhere — arriving at your destination with no recollection of the ride? You probably could recall what you were thinking about — where your conscious mind was — solving a problem, fantasizing about a lover, daydreaming, going over options for some future plan — anything that so deeply absorbed your conscious attention that you were “somewhere else” for the whole duration of your ride.
So, if you were “somewhere else,” having no recollection of the details driving the car, then who was actually driving your car — stopping at red lights, paying tolls, making turns, keeping the speed limit — who or what was keeping you alive?
The answer is: your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind’s own innate intelligence completely took over the task of driving, while you engaged in some kind of daydream. In other words, a mechanism without in and yet not under your control — had the know-how to drive you and your car to your destination safely.
It kept you alive.
Evolution evolved the capacity for us to do two things at once — moving/acting/doing and, simultaneously, being lost in our own imagination. If we did not have this capacity — how many people could survive driving their cars?
This same mechanism — within the unconscious mind — has just as much smarts: it knows the ins-and-outs of our personalities, our pasts, our patterns, and what we have learned (like driving). And, when it is functioning optimally, it decides what we can and cannot take, what memories we need not remember at a certain time — what we need psychologically and what we can handle emotionally. It takes tremendous work and smarts to keep us alive psychologically and physically.
In this first blog post of this series, we have been introduced to the foundational concepts and points of view through which we will be exploring how to both support, listen to, and communicate with the emotional processing system — within our unconscious minds.
Going forward, we will learn how to navigate this system and its terrain, and to understand the language through which it communicates to us.
I hope you join me in this blog series in learning how to embark on, taking our first steps on that royal road to the deep wisdom within our being, and learn how to make use of this aspect of the mind as an inner counselor and guide, which is always caring for us, protecting us, healing us, and guiding us in the right ways to move ahead in life. One of the most available ways to access this inner guide — is through dreams.
Because of this, we will explore the language of dreams, how they teach us what is needed, in real-time — to process these emotional traumas in our own unique ways by ourselves at home. We will explore learning the language of our dreams, their connection to emotional triggers, and how evolution has created this capacity within us to thrive in the face of the most potent forces that threaten our lives on every level.
I welcome you to this life-changing and life-affirming journey within.
May we discover the power of our own dreams, so that we can all discover the power to dream a better future for ourselves and for each other! Let’s explore the power of dreams to help us heal, with how to deal with stress and depression, and move toward holistic balance, greater emotionally healthy spirituality and wellness. Reach out to us today.
Awakened Path Counseling proudly provides quality transpersonal and traditional psychotherapy, at their offices in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and online. Their experienced therapists specialize in serving teens, children and adults. The clinicians at Awakened Path Counseling are passionate about their holistic approach to mental health, addressing your emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual needs.