fear sickness

If you have ever had a cold or flu in your life, odds are that it was the result of a coronavirus infection. But in 2020, there were corona-related deaths that suggested about 2% of the infected population died. Initially, this was alarming because it's about 1% more deaths than those attributed to any yearly ordinary flu.

However one year later, what many people have failed to realize is that not everyone who carries the virus may die from their cold. Emerging statistics show that almost all of those who have fallen victim to coronavirus already had serious underlying and compromising health conditions prior to becoming infected. Some evidence even suggests that in many of these people, the role coronavirus played in the outcome was exaggerated and grossly overestimated.

Any given year, no matter if there is an infectious pandemic or not, the portion of the world population with pre-existing conditions is always at higher risk of serious illness and infection leading to death. This group of people will always make up a good chunk of yearly infection-related deaths.

On the other hand, for the mass majority of those who are healthy, there really is nothing to fear. In most cases and with most people, without any intervention, about 99% of the time the human body figures out how to handle the common cold and flu. This is truly remarkable! Even if we consider those in the population that are already compromised, about 99% of the time the human body is super efficient in adapting to various pathogenic microorganisms and stressors, and supporting human life!

This is really important to understand because whether you fall into the vulnerable or healthy population, if left unchecked fear itself makes you more sick and less intelligent.

How Fear Makes You More Sick

When you're in a state of fear, the body releases a series of stress hormones that produce various physical reactions. These evolutionary reactions occur to help you activate and conserve your body's energy so that you can use it to adapt and respond to the perceived immediate threat and save your life. Most people know this response as the "fight-or-flight" response. 

However the “fight-or-flight" response can also be activated by a wide range of modern-day stressors, from work demands to health issues, family commitments, financial burdens, relationship problems, commuting in traffic, and much more. Most of these modern day stressors do not require that we "fight" or "run" to save ourselves, but they still activate and prepare the body to take action.

In short flushes, stress hormones limit the inflammatory response to help mobilize the immune cells to prepare the body for immediate threats to the system such as wound healing and preventing or fighting infection. But when you're in a state of fear over a long period of time, the higher continuous concentration of stress hormones in the bloodstream will actually weaken the activity of the immune system and increase susceptibility to infections.

This function of the body is commonly exploited in modern medicine. When receiving organ transplants, recipients are often given synthetic cortisol compounds known as corticosteroids (ie methylprednisolone, dexamethasone, prednisolone, etc) that suppress the body's immune system as a means to lower the risk of rejecting or attacking the transplanted tissue. Women using assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures are sometimes also given corticorsteroids to help the body not reject implanted eggs.

Excessive stress hormones in the bloodstream also interfere with sleep and alter metabolism, leading to health problems such as insomnia, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and chronic fatigue.

How Fear Makes You Less Intelligent

While fear can and does save many lives, and in some instances it will help people avoid, or overcome, an immediate threat, a fear-induced "fight-or-flight" response that lingers for weeks, months, or years can also make you less intelligent. As stress hormones rapidly shut down the blood vessels and conscious brain, fear pushes you to respond from the lower levels of emotional consciousness. This allows you to react as quickly as possible to any perceived immediate threat without the need to use much logic or reasoning, if any at all.

In this primal state of consciousness, we are forced to process things quickly using our emotions. To do this, we have evolved a coping mechanism that rapidly relates a perceived threat to a similar negative thing that has been programmed into our minds in the past. It doesn't matter if we actually experienced this negative thing or not, it may be just images and ideas from a movie or book. But once it is found, this past negative thing is then fast-forwarded into the near immediate future as a strong probability of happening once again. The result is that we rapidly react by either "fighting" or "fleeing" the perceived threat. 

Instead of being in the “now,” connecting with oneness and the “flow of life,” we create the energies of past and future, and manifest fear. When people get stuck in a continual state of fear, particularly when there is little to no signs of an immediate threat, fear becomes a toxic emotional imbalance that enables us to become easily controlled by our thoughts and the thoughts of others. This is how fear can make people do many things that, when more relaxed, they would never consider doing.

Fear in Traditional Asian Medicine

In traditional Asian medicine, fear is controlled by the kidney organ system and is related to the element Water. The kidney organ system is the root of the original Yin and Yang of the body, conserving and controlling Ming Men Fire, the life-giving force that is the spark-plug that ignites all other systems of the body. Ming Men Fire gives us the power to do things in life. It is also the foundation of the fundamental energy channels of the body, the Ren mai (Conception Vessel) and Du mai (Penetrating Vessel).

Fear is directly related to the second chakra and the aspect of the Shen (spirit-mind) known as Zhi, or will-power. This type of will power is linked to the physical strength of the body and is often referred to as our “will to survive.” Without physical power and the will to survive, creative Ming Men Fire energy cannot be guided into existence and sustained. When we lack will-power and are immersed in fear, we lack clarity in  decision-making and will follow anyone who tells us they have the answers. But if our bodies are physically strong and will power is strong, we can overcome fear and adversities that often get in the way of experiencing things in life that give us pleasure and fuel our survival.

This is how the second chakra is linked to power, fame, and money, and how these are managed, particularly our finances. How well we stand up on our own two feet, dig down deep, extend into the world, and sustain our independence is influenced by our physical strength and will power. Conversely, physical problems with the lower back, spine, knees, and feet often indicate some level of fear of moving forward in life.

When there is a lack of will power to see things through because we cannot bear to overcome our fears, this indicates an imbalance in the kidney organ system/second chakra. People that start projects but never finish them, or those that lose the will to complete a goal, must work on balancing the energies of the kidney organ system/second chakra.

Imbalances of the kidney organ system and second chakra are also closely related to fatigue. Those who are always sick and tired have a kidney organ system/ second chakra imbalance. When things do not go our way and we have to “suck it up” and “dig down deep,” we are gathering and strengthening energy in the kidney organ system/ second chakra.

How to Overcome Longstanding Fear

silouhette of man spreading arms

There are two major fundamental emotional energy fields— love and fear. From love stems joy, happiness, compassion, forgiveness, trust, pleasure, kindness, friendship, gratitude, and laughter. From fear emerges anger, hatred, guilt, envy, revenge, jealousy, sadness, loneliness, emotional pain, insecurities, and resentment. To overcome longstanding fear you must first ask yourself if your mind is focused on fear, disease, and death? Or is it focused on love, health, and wellness?

An easy way to tell is to examine whether you're focused on the will to survive or are trapped and controlled by ideas and thoughts of others. When you're mind is focused on fear or any one of its various tentacles, you're not able to experience the expansiveness of love in your life and you look to others to make decisions for you that directly impact your will to live. With love in your life, you can harness the will to survive and realize that all things, including health and wellness, are possible.

When you have the strong will to survive and immerse yourself in love and its various emotional by-products, you make efforts to stay healthy, you have good nutrition, exercise, stay hydrated with good drinking water, nurture your relationships, and you take vitamins and supplements. If you have a compromised immune system, you surround yourself with loving family and friends, you get out in nature, and you focus on positive thoughts and proper nutrition.

But most importantly, when you embrace love in your life you take all necessary steps to avoid unnecessary fear and stress. No matter your state of health, when you harness love in your life you will only benefit from steering clear of the fear and supporting yourself with love in whatever you do.

The best place to start with overcoming fear and harnessing love in your life is by centering and calming the Shen and the Heart through meditation. Meditation helps stabilize and neutralize our emotions in the face of fear by training the mind to stay focused on the present moment. With practice, this causes fear-based thoughts to nullify themselves.

When we meditate regularly we are nurturing a calmer, less reactive, and a less fearful mind. When the Shen is calm, we improve our ability to overcome our fears because we can see clearly our minds are projecting traumatic experience from an earlier time in life, or an imagined terror, or false expectations, into the future and manifesting fear.

Through meditation, we can also become aware when fear is creeping into our consciousness. Essentially, what meditation does is it disrupts the mind-body cycle that engenders fear.

But like most things in life, it takes a lot of meditation practice and patience to begin understanding and unraveling fear in our minds, so do not be discouraged if you don't start seeing the results you desire right away.

For an introduction to a very simple yet powerful meditation, read my article Getting Started With Meditation. For those of you who already have begun a meditation practice, you can learn more about different types of useful meditations by reading my article Flossing Your Mind: Getting Into a State of Equinimity. If you're interested in understanding more about the many health benefits of meditation, read Changing Your Health With Meditation.

About the Author

authorRene M. Rodriguez is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and board licensed acupuncturist with 20 years experience in alternative natural medicine. He's in private practice in Los Angeles, CA, specializing in digestive disorders, skin conditions, infections, environmental illness, and mind-body health and wellness. For more information, please click here.

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