Summary: Move Into Resilience host Pamela Stokes teaches us in today’s episode about ACEs, that is Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how they are directly related to our physical, mental, and emotional health, oftentimes decades later. And, we’ll experience motions designed to reverse their effects.
- [00:00] Introduction
- [00:33] What are ACEs?
- [07:04] ACEs and Dementia
- [08:54] ACEs, anxiety, and Alignment and Soft Power
- [10:34] Confusion between pleasure and pain
- [15:24] Neuroplasticity changes our brain
- [19:08] Discover your hands
- [21:26] You gotta feel to heal.
- [23:27] Motion – FIND YOUR BODY
- [27:28] Recap and Gratitude
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Hello, Friends! And welcome to Move Into Resilience. I’m your host, Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode we’ll be learning about ACEs, that is Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how they are directly related to our physical, mental, and emotional health, often decades later. And we’ll experience two motions designed to reverse their effects. Thanks for joining me. Let’s get started.
Hello, friends. Pamela here. Thanks for joining me. Today we’re going to be talking about ACEs, which is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences. We’ll also be learning how we can resolve the effects of these. ACEs is a survey that was included in the intake form of Kaiser Permanente back in 1995 for a couple of years. It was sponsored by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it started in an obesity clinic. 17,000 responses were accumulated and looked over, and what they found was quite disturbing. It revealed that these adverse childhood experiences led to difficulties much later in life, oftentimes decades later, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, addictions, violence, being a victim of violence, depression, suicide, many things. I’d like to note that the survey was taken from people who were mainly white, middle class, with good jobs and great health care as this was through Kaiser Permanente Health, and college educated people. The questionnaire included 10 questions that were based upon a survey taken from about 300 Kaiser members for the most common things that they had experienced. So that’s how they got the 10. This survey includes five questions that are of a personal nature, things that happened to that person. And five questions that related to things that may have happened to family members. The accumulated information was very disturbing, and papers were written, but not a lot of people wanted to hear that this was true, so there was some pushback. But I’m happy to say that it is accepted information. And one of the great proponents of getting this information out happens to be the Surgeon General from the state of California where I live, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris. And her back story is pretty special. She, after her residency, decided to open a clinic in one of the poorest and highest crime areas of San Francisco. And at this clinic, she was serving the population, and learned about the ACEs study, and brought this information into her work at the clinic. She noticed that a lot of the patients were experiencing very similar characteristics as far as their health, diabetes and things like that, that were common amongst the patients. And that’s what prompted her to bring this information to the other practitioners at the clinic as well as to the patients. And the information that she gave them was profound to the outcome of these people’s lives. She, as the Surgeon General of the state of California, started a website and a program called ACEs Aware, and I’ll have links for that, that is important for people in the healthcare industry to learn how to screen for ACEs with their patients. It also provides some resources for people who have experienced them—things like biofeedback and mindfulness practices—which we are learning in this show. So these things that you’ll be learning in this show are going to help if you’ve had any of these adverse childhood experiences. And, just numbers-wise, out of the 17,000 people that they surveyed, 70% had experienced at least one. And of that group, 87% of them had experienced more than one. The correlation between the number of ACEs that you have and your health outcome is directly related. So the more ACEs you have, the more possibility for ill health. So this is pretty important news, pretty important information. I’m not trying to frighten you, but at the same time it’s important to know that things that happened when we were young can affect and do affect not only our physical health, but also our emotional health and our mental health. And we know that, for example, autism is on the rise, ADD is on the rise, anxiety, and especially amongst younger and younger children, and more so girls than boys. But the relationship between what the parents have experienced, the children have experienced as well, adds up. And we are, I believe, entering a phase where we’ve got to do something about it or it’s just going to keep getting worse.
The other thing that we’ve noticed an increase of is dementia. In a previous episode, Stress and Our Brain, we learned that these very tiny cells in our brain, the microglial cells, are, with chronic stress, toxic stress, and that’s what we’re talking about here, with these ACEs is chronic stress or toxic stress, because what happens in the nervous system is it gets turned on because there’s a danger and because you’re so young, there’s no cognitive ability to turn that off, it’s stuck on, and these microglial cells, we now know, with that toxic stress, will destroy healthy neurons, which are the brain cells that bring information to and from the brain. So we’re ending up with a higher rate of dementia than ever before. And the statistics are showing one in nine adults will develop dementia. It is my understanding that these are related, and it is my passion to help people to understand that there are ways that we can help ourselves to be free of these toxic stressors, the stressors that affect our nervous system that stay there and keep affecting us negatively over the course of our life. And today we’ll learn a couple of things that you can do right now and experience them right now, that will help to turn off that “stuck” nervous system response.
One of the things that I believe is contributing to this increase in anxiety, especially amongst younger girls, is the fear of being attacked. And I think the Me, Too movement, while wonderful that people are speaking out—and that is very important to do—I also feel that there is some fear that comes along with that information. And what can we do about that? Well it is true that criminals will look for victims who look afraid, that there is fear in that person or a shutdown, and so they’re actually reading our body posture. And what we learned in last week’s episode, Alignment and Soft Power, we can adjust our posture and put ourselves into proper alignment, so that the fear response is turned off, the shutdown is turned off, and now we’re in that True Neutral or Soft Power. So this is our ability to be safe, and to be safe in our bodies, and to know that we are powerful, to feel our power. So take that, criminals! We’re going to feel good and feel powerful by getting ourselves into proper alignment. So check out that episode, Alignment and Soft Power, and you can learn one of the movements to get you there.
Another aspect of this toxic stress, this adverse childhood experiences, and what it does to our nervous system, getting it ready for some problem, is that the cells in our body are flooded with a chemical–molecules relating to the event that happened. This is what makes us feel a certain emotion. And our body is responding by having tightnesses or things that are shut down in our body. The molecules that are created tell the cell to make certain things and the DNA inside of the cell is either expressed or not. In other words, the genes will make certain proteins or they won’t, depending on what the environment is of the cell, meaning what those chemicals are. Now the cell membrane has receptors for these molecules. And if you flood your system with these chemicals, the cell will make more receptors to receive those chemicals. And then when the cell divides and makes another cell exactly like it, the receptors are also doubled. So now we have receptors waiting there for more of these chemicals. What does that do? In essence, it makes the cells crave those chemicals. And these are chemicals from a negative experience. So what this does is it sets us up for a confusion of what is pleasure and what is pain and the relationship of those things together. What we equate with safety and satisfaction and connection, which are our basic human needs, we might, because of these cellular receptors waiting there for these negative chemicals, we might equate painful experiences, drama, negative experiences, with safety. So we get confused, and we may seek out danger. And on the other end of the spectrum, something that feels pleasant or good, may seem to our cells, again this is on the cellular level, on the membrane of the cell on these receptors sitting there—this isn’t a decision—our cells may tell us to equate that pleasure or something that’s pleasant, a nice sensation, with danger. It may not be safe to feel OK because these adverse childhood experiences may happen again. So now we have the possibility of not even knowing that it’s safe to feel OK. So this is a confusion that we can have. It’s not, again it’s not our choice, it’s not a decision. It’s based on what the cells are used to, and what they have been receiving. These particular chemicals that our body makes naturally. What we’re going to do today is to attempt to introduce some ease and comfort in your body so that we can create some good feeling chemicals, and hopefully we’re in a safe environment right now doing this together, so that we can start to change how we respond to ease and comfort. By practicing and bringing in these chemicals, we can actually change the course of how these ACEs may affect the outcome of our health: physical, mental, and emotional.
The process by which we can change our brain and we can change the way these chemicals are produced, is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s ability to make new pathways based upon information received from learning, from experience, and also from injury. In the work that we’ll be doing in Move Into Resilience, in this show, we’re going to be doing two things. We’re going to be learning and experiencing simultaneously, so we can very quickly change our neural pathways. That’s pretty great! So that’s positive neuroplasticity. Injury is considered negative neuroplasticity. And we talked about how the microglial cells when they are stuck in this “on” position, destroy healthy neurons. That’s negative neuroplasticity. Another type of negative neuroplasticity happens when we get habitual. Let’s say we always take the same path to work. We drive always the same way. We have our things arranged exactly the same on our desktop. When we have habitually made it so there’s no challenges to doing something, neurons will actually get pruned away. So that is also negative neuroplasticity. It’s better if we challenge our brains and go different ways each time we go to work, or take a different path; move our things around on our desk, so that we have to search for things. That’s actually positive. So we’ll be using the process of positive neuroplasticity in the movements that we do in this show, and it will happen very quickly. These pathways can be created within moments, and if we continue to do these practices, which I hope you will, those pathways will become more easily used. They’ll be the easier pathway to use for the brain, and so we will end up choosing ease and comfort over drama and pain. We’ll be making positive chemicals for our cellular membranes to receive, and now we’ll actually be getting out of that craving for danger that can happen with these adverse childhood experiences, these ACEs. And by changing our brain, by changing our pathways, we can reduce this toxic stress and we can feel well. And, because we have mirror neurons, we mirror each other. So if we can feel well, others will too. So what we’re doing here is we’re not only helping ourselves, we’re helping the people around us. And I have a vision of, eventually, world peace. I mean, why not, right? Thanks for joining in. This is important.
So let’s start out with something very simple. In order to allow the body to know that it’s safe, we’ll just start out very gently. I want you to try something with me. Please join in. Using your dominant hand, your writing hand, as the sort of test subject, I just want you to notice if you can feel any sensations in that hand. Just noticing. Is there warmth? Is their coolness? Perhaps tingling? Maybe you feel air moving across. Just noticing. There’s no agenda. We’re not trying to change anything or fix anything or judge anything. No judgment. And now what I’d like you to do with the other hand, with the fingers of the other hand, is to tap gently on the back of that hand, on your writing hand, your dominant hand. Just tap gently. We’re going to do this for a few seconds. And now stop tapping, and see if you notice any difference between the two hands. Perhaps there’s some sensory information that’s coming to you. Maybe you feel it feels a little different. Then go ahead and take your other hand and tap it on the back of your hand. And then go ahead and stop that. Let that go. And now notice how that hand feels. Maybe because the first one was being done, while the first one was being done, the other one was actually paying attention. Pretty cool how our body works. We’re bilateral, meaning divided into two halves. So while one half is experiencing something, the other half is actually receiving some information too and learning as we go. So you may notice even more sensation in the second hand.
Now if that all feels comfortable to you, I would like to continue with the process that I call FIND YOUR BODY. This is from my Mindful Motion program, and you can find out more at MoveIntoResilience.com. The purpose of find your body is to bring awareness to the sensations that your body is experiencing. The reason for this is twofold. One is to find what it feels like to feel OK, and the second one is so that we become aware of sensations in our body. Why do we want to become aware of sensations in our body? This is where we can heal ourselves. Information came in, adverse childhood experience, and most of us have had them because with the study showed 70% at the group at least one, and they were only looking at 10 different experiences, so there are there’s a lot more possible experiences that we can have, adverse experiences. Because we’re trying to undo this using our nervous system, it’s important to pay attention to the signals that the body is giving us. That’s the way in. That was what got put there in the first place. It wasn’t a logical thought that made these things happen in our body. It was our body’s response to the situation. So to heal them we need to be able to feel. You gotta feel to heal.
So let’s go ahead and try FIND YOUR BODY. Please join in. Begin by tapping the fingers of one hand with the other and saying things like “hello fingers” and “thank you fingers” Switch hands and you can tap the other fingers. These are my fingers. You can say these things out loud or in your mind. And continue on to your palms. And do both palms. Saying things like “thank you palms” “Thank you hands.” And the back of the hands. “These are my hands”. “Hello hands.” And then we’ll come up the arm, the forearm. “This my forearm” to the elbow. “Hello, elbow.” And the other arm. “This is my forearm.” “Hello arm.” Up to the elbow. And stop there and notice. Notice the sensations if you feel any. Maybe there’s a warmth or a tingling. Or just an awakeness. We can consider these sensations either neutral or positive. Allowing yourself to feel neutral or positive sensations and in a place that you feel safe, will send a signal that will equate positive sensation with safety. This is an important part of this activity. Now if that feels uncomfortable to you, if this feels uncomfortable to you, you can stop the tapping and just imagine doing it as we continue. So we’re going to do the rest of the body. And we’ll tap on the arm. “Hello arm” “Hello shoulder” “Hello shoulders” “hello arms” And we’ll come to the chest. “hello chest” and back. “Hello back” “Hello neck” and face. “Thank you face” “Thank you head” “This is my head” “These are my ears.” And then we’ll come down the body to the belly. “Hello belly” “These are my ribs” This is my back.” “Thank you back.” “Thank you belly.” “These are my hips.” “This is my bum. “These are my thighs.” And moving down the legs. “These are my inner thighs, outer thighs, the backs of my legs.” “Thank you legs.” Down to the knees. “Hello knees.” “Hello shins” “Hello calves” “Hello ankles” “Hello feet” “Thank you toes.” “These are my toes” “these are my feet” “These are my heels” And then let that go, and notice how you feel. (pause) See if you can allow that information to come in. This is not negative information. This is actually either neutral or positive. And if you’re feeling safe in the place that you’re in, you can now make that association. It feels OK to feel OK. It’s important.
Thank you for joining me. Thank yourself and show yourself some appreciation for taking the time to do this today. This is the end of our show. To recap, today we learned about ACEs, which are adverse childhood experiences, and how they negatively affect our physical, emotional, and mental health, oftentimes decades later, and ways that we can help ourselves to turn off the negative effects of these experiences. Thank yourself for joining me today. I thank you for joining me today. I am so glad that you came and you learned these things for yourself. I appreciate you being here so much, because I feel that together, by helping ourselves to feel well, we can help others to know they can as well. And this will spread. So we’re starting a revolution of evolution and improvement of how our brains work, how our bodies work. It’s a really important part of my life to be able to share this, so thank you for being here. And if you would like to subscribe; write a review; make a comment; ask a question, please do that. I would love to hear from you. I have an email address that is especially for people to reach out. If there’s a topic that you’re interested in knowing more about, I would love to provide that information for you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So please send me an email. I would love to hear from you. I’m so pleased to see the numbers of downloads that are happening, and how people are finding me. Maybe by sharing with other people that you know. Let’s work together on this and see if we can help more people feel better. Because this is the life that we get to have. We can’t control what’s outside of us. There isn’t any way. But we can have some say in how we respond. So if we can create new ways of responding, positive ways of responding, life’s going to be pretty good. This has been Move Into Resilience. You can find out more at Move Into Resilience.com. I’m Pamela Stokes. Thanks for joining me. Take it easy.