Pain, immunity and your well being!


You have just been rejected for a date with someone you’ve been very fond off….(sad face)


Your last rep of your deadlift; has left you with a stabbing sensation in your lumbar spine…

Why the two contrasting scenario’s?. And can they be interrelated?.

YES!; pain can be driven emotionally and physically!

The feeling of rejection, or mechanical irritation in a exercise lights up the same area in brain, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) In fact a paper by Eisenberger and colleagues (2003) found that participants in a functional MRI. Who thought they were playing a game against a partner, experienced “social rejection” and thus the ACC lit up; when the control stopped playing the game with the participant.

And what about ‘that guy’ at the gym; who lift’s rather poorly to use more  kinder words (must not train at iNform). And you scratch your head and wonder, “how the heck don’t you get pain?”. And; that’s the complexity of pain ladies and gentleman. Pain is specifically, biologically innate to protect the organism of threat and danger. One’s organism has a highly sophisticated computer (Thalamus) that relies on multiple pieces of stimuli and memory to decide whether or not danger is present. Now; this happens faster than you you can cognitively process. Remember the last time you burnt your hand? did you have to think about pulling your hand away? No way! A-Delta nerve fibers reflex your hand away from danger. And the latent onset of pain is due to your C-Fibers (thermal and chemical). And don’t get me started on the Periaqueductal grey matter and free nerve endings :/

So; by now you can see pain is complex. And pain is needed for the survival of the organism. So why do 1 in 5 Australian’s (including adolescents) and 1 in 3 over the age of 63 experience chronic pain? Research has been looking closely at a important inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) and again your sophisticated computer the Thalamus. You can say there is a disconnection with specific communicative pathways in the brain (Thalamocortical rhythm) To put this in easy Spanglish, your brain learns to poorly discriminate, what is danger and what is not. And hence how chronic pain sufferers have widespread symptoms such as Fibromyalgia, with question marks over one’s etiology.

Let me teach you how to keep your Thalamus happy.

It’s your well being and immunity!

There is increasing evidence in a growing field (psychoneuroimmunology) that are well being and lifestyle influence are immunity and susceptibility to illness.  Endotoxin’s are used intravenously to increase inflammation (without a pathogen)  for research purposes to study the behavior of organisms (including humans). What I’m getting at, is psychologically/metabolically healthy individuals were imunosupressive to the endotoxin. So not only were there increases in pro-inflammatory’s (IL-6, IL-10, TNF) the participating individuals did not get SICK. Pain, especially when chronic is highly inflammatory. And thus being psychologically stressed, obese, lacking social connection and the big ONE lacking physical exercise. All off the above risk factors can increase pain modulation.

Have I answered your questions? probably not. Why? because there is no magic pill. And science is learning more about genetics and so forth. The big BUT is; that your well being is so important. Social connection, nutrition, mindfulness and of course EXERCISE are going to keep your vagus nerve happy and an abundance of serotonin and oxytocin to keep the chronic pain away.

James 🙂


Eisenberger , NIE, 2012. The pain of social disconnection: examining the shared neural underpinnings of physical and social pain.. Nat Rev Neurosci. , 2012 May 3;13(6), 421-34.

Henderson , LA, 2013. Chronic pain: lost inhibition?. J Neurosci, 17, 0174-13.

Lasselin, JL, et al., 2016. Well-being and immune response: a multi-system perspective. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 29, 34–41.










Shifting ones awareness.

It’s a fast world. One can only take in 40 bits of information per second, but can be exposed to more than 11,000 different stimuli at the same time. Psychology will call this discrimination. And this is important for any organism. As one would be flooded with cortisol, programmed cell death and no glucose to feed ones 3 pounds of cerebral white matter.

That’s a lot, and it’s no surprise that one can be ‘mind-full’ not mindful with the following. …

I am always looking for growth in life as we all do. One of my main compassionate goals in meditation in the present (and future). Is focused on the neutral people. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist describes what I’m about discuss beautifully with the abbreviated following….”One experiences positive emotions on a daily basis. This is part of the human experience/condition. But if one experienced ten positive emotions and one negative emotion in a day…what do you think is going to stay in and build up in your conscious longer?

That’s right peeps!

So, what if a neutral person didn’t let you in on a busy street? Or the cashier at your supermarket wasn’t so friendly towards you? Or the biggest one, being put on hold by your mobile phone company. Examples; which are very common on a day to day basis can easily increase negativity and anger towards one’s that we don’t know. And hey, it is so easy to abuse that umpire for making a mistake and walk away. A mistake, that is part of being imperfect as a human being. But it makes one feel good doesn’t it? and perhaps feed the beast of our ego?

So, can one practice showing compassion to neutral people without any preconceived judgement? Of course! At it’s such a simple shift in paying mindful attention. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama uses the following affirmation “this neutral person wants happiness, doesn’t want suffering”.Simple, very. But, when put into perspective we all want happiness and don’t suffering right? you can’t tell me that you want to suffer? So, there shouldn’t be a reason to judge and verbalise a neutral person?  Try it for yourself next time, when around neutral people. It’s a powerful shift thought.

Show/give compassion, because you don’t know what suffering one is going through. Being assertive and having boundaries are separate identities. And this isn’t being all cuddly wuddly gents ..(well sort of).

This will anecdotally improve your emotional intelligence. Especially with people you connect with on a regular basis.

Happy days!

James 🙂