by Dr. Randine Lewis, author of The Way of the Fertile Soul

Taoist alchemy is the process of moving into the space where transformation is possible. The endocrine system represents the body’s ability to establish order. We can think of hormones as “harmonizers.” There is a center in your brain called the hypothalamus that represents an inner lookout tower, which processes your emotional response to your environment. This command center then releases pulsatile chemicals which are then translated into hormonal messages that trigger the release of pituitary hormones, which then stimulate the glands (thyroid, ovaries, testes, adrenals, etc.) to release their hormones into the blood stream. When one is in a harmonious state, the hormones are released in adequate amounts: not too little; not too much.

Sometimes, however, life challenges us into states that do not feel harmonious. Our homes, jobs, friends, partners, financial situation, and inner psychology can cause ripples in the field of our harmonious response to our environment, which upsets the delicate flow. The Taoists would say that stressful times like these bring on the “winds of change.” It is as if the previous flow is interrupted, and we are thrown off kilter. Like a strong wind blowing through our lives, these are times that invite change. When we can move into the situation and adjust our response to it - without running, fleeing, or shutting down (which cause the stress response), we transform to a higher level, and our hormones readjust themselves. 

When a change is coming and it invokes fear, we freeze, locking the stress response in place, where stress hormones (like cortisol) from the adrenal glands flood the system and put us into a state of shock. Now we can’t adapt, and hormonal imbalance is the result. This is the most unhealthy state the body can be in. Here we are predisposed to a plethora of stress responses, which are responsible for almost all disease processes.

There is a way, however, to use this process to continue to evolve into higher states of consciousness. When we actually move into the change, like a sail catching the wind, we can flow with it - physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are no longer victims of our environment. We move into a place of an honest, authentic response to whatever life brings us, and let ourselves become transformed by it.

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