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"Nine Principles for Happiness and Healing"
Series by Bill Harris

 
#2: The Principle of Threshold

These principles are the result of my own personal journey, and also from helping tens of thousands of other people use the Centerpointe program over the last 12 years, and therefore learning from their journey, as well. It is my belief that if you learn to live these principles, your life will flower, you will be happy and peaceful, and your ability to create something meaningful and valuable in the world will soar.

One of the obstacles to doing this is that intellectually understanding these principles is not enough; you must integrate them at a very deep level so they become part of you. This takes an expansion of your conscious awareness, because we all begin as what I call "automatic response mechanisms," responding to situations and feelings with automatic responses we learned growing up.

We learn these ways of responding as a way to feel safe in our family situations. To get past these automatic responses, and instead to respond consciously to each situation (which allows us the most resourceful response), requires some kind of spiritual work that expands conscious awareness -- kind of like being able to look at yourself and your relationship to the rest of the world from a high spot on the mountain.

The Centerpointe program, using Holosync audio technology for daily meditation, provides a very powerful and fast method of gaining this expanded awareness, which is why we see people in this program excelling so well in whatever other forms of personal growth work they are involved. Using Holosync for expansion of your conscious awareness, and the approach to life described in these Nine Principles, you should be able in a few years to totally heal your past, balance the emotional and rational sides of yourself, learn how to deal with change and growth, and live a life of happiness and inner peace.

The second principle is the principle of threshold. This is a different way of looking at mental health and so called "dysfunctional" feelings and behaviors. The prevailing view in personal development circles is that if you are traumatized, especially in childhood, you then have all this "stuff" buried in the unconscious mind that is causing all kinds of problems for you and that this "stuff" needs to come up to the surface and be "healed." I'm not so sure any more that I believe this description reflects what is really happening.

So here is another way to look at this. Every person has a threshold for how much they can handle coming at them from their environment (including their internal environment). If that threshold is exceeded by whatever is happening in their environment, they begin to feel stressed. If things continue in the same manner long enough, they eventually become overwhelmed. When people begin to feel stressed, they begin attempting to cope with the feeling of stress in various ways (most of which actually don't work) that they learned while growing up.

My contention is that all the neurotic, addictive, obsessive/compulsive, dysfunctional, etc., etc. feelings and behaviors that send us to therapists, personal development seminars, self-help books, and all the many other ways we seek help, are all attempts to cope with being in an environment that gives us more input than we can handle.

Another way to look at this is that in particular circumstances an individual may have a lower threshold for stress than do other people who are able to handle that environment more easily.

So what is responsible for this "lower threshold"? I believe that when people have trauma in their upbringing, they do not mature normally, and part of this lack of normal maturation is a failure to develop a "normal" threshold for stress. Things bother these people that would not bother someone who did not experience the same level of trauma, and these people are more frequently pulling out of their bag of tricks their own personal coping behaviors (and the feelings that go with them). These would include everything from anxiety, confusion, withdrawal, depression, anger, and all kinds of neurotic behaviors to alcohol and drug use, sexual acting out, eating disorders and the like, to more severe problems such as personality disorders and psychosis.

Though I haven't seen anyone else articulate this theory in the practical fullness we have done here at Centerpointe, other scientists and researchers have hinted at various parts of it. A recent article in Psychology Today, "Stress... It's Worse Than You Think" discusses the sensitivity to stress of a person who has been traumatized: "...we can become sensitized, or acutely sensitive to stress. Once that happens, even the merest intimation of stress can trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in brain and body that assault us from within."

Psychologist Michael Meaney, Ph.D., of McGill University has said: "What happens is that sensitization leads the brain to re-circuit itself in response to stress. We know that what we are encountering may be a normal, everyday episode of stress, but the brain is signalling the body to respond inappropriately."

This article goes on to say that everyone has a built-in gage that controls our reaction to stress, a kind of biological thermostat that, when working properly, keeps the body from launching an all-out response literally over spilled milk. Sensitization, however, lowers the thermostat set-point.

"Years of research," says Seymore Levine, Ph.D., of the University of Delaware, "has told us that people do become sensitized to stress and that this sensitization actually alters physical patterns in the brain. That means that once sensitized, the body just does not respond to stress the same way in the future. We may produce too many excitatory chemicals or too few calming ones; either way we are responding inappropriately."

Another researcher, Jean King, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical Schools, believes that when certain stresses occur during developmental periods, that may be more damaging than stress suffered at other times. "The psychological events that are most deleterious probably occur during infancy and childhood - an unstable home environment, living with an alcoholic parent, or any other number of extended crises. What we now believe is that a stress of great magnitude occuring when you are young may permanently rewire the brain's circuitry, throwing the system askew and leaving it less able to handle normal, everyday stress."

This, of course, is where all the various coping behaviors and feelings begin to pop out, causing all the various life-problems that lead people to therapy and other personal growth/personal development solutions.

Traditional approaches to dealing with all of this have always seemed to me to be symptom-oriented, including the prevailing view I mentioned a moment ago about there being unhealed "stuff" "down there" that must be brought to the surface and healed, or the flawed (in my opinion) view that we need to develop drugs that will supposedly "re-tune" the neurochemical system in the brain. But a more basic and more effective solution occurs to me: raise the threshold at which these dysfunctional feelings and behaviors are triggered. When this is done, these feelings and behaviors fall away because they are never, or at least rarely, needed because the personal rarely becomes stressed.

As those who have been in the Centerpointe program for any length of time and who have spoken to me on the telephone or read my writings know, I firmly believe that when we are exposed to the Holosync sound technology it brings about a whole process of change and evolution elegantly described by Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine and which applies to all complex systems in the universe.

I don't want to give an extensively detailed description of Prigogine's work here, but I will briefly summarize the high points, since they are pertinent to the main points I want to make now.

We start with the Law of Increasing Entropy (the second law of thermodynamics), which states that all things tend, over time, to break down and become less ordered - unless energy is added in some way. This is one of the most basic laws of the universe. It has been scientifically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and has been accepted by the scientific community for over a hundred years.

Systems that maintain their orderliness instead of breaking down, or even become more ordered (as happens with human beings), do so because they have the ability to get rid of entropy by dissipating it to the environment. But each system has an upper limit of how much entropy it can dissipate, based on its degree of complexity: the greater the complexity of the system, the greater the amount of entropy it can dissipate.

Since each system (or, for our purposes, each person) is really an on-going flow of energy, this upper limit of how much entropy can be dissipated puts an upper limit on how much input the system can handle. As long as the input level does not exceed the ability to dissipate the resulting entropy, everything is fine and the system remains stable. When this upper limit is exceeded, however, the entropy that cannot be dissipated instead begins to build up in the system. As this happens, a breakdown of order begins and the system becomes increasingly more chaotic.

If this continues, at a certain point, which Prigogine called a bifurcation point, the system either totally breaks down and ceases to exist as an organized system or, more often, spontaneously makes what is known as a quantum leap, reorganizing itself at a higher level - one that can handle the input that was too much for the old system. The most important characteristic of this new system is its ability to dissipate more entropy to its environment and therefore handle more input from the environment.

In the case of Holosync, the technology slows electrical brain wave patterns, which causes electrical fluctuations in the brain which the brain cannot handle (in other words, the system experiences input beyond its ability to dissipate the resulting entropy). In response, the brain reorganizes itself at a higher level that can handle this input. It is in this process that the threshold for stress is raised.

This is the reason why people in this program have such dramatic positive changes and why all kinds of neurotic and dysfunctional feelings and behaviors fade away as people progress through the program. It explains why people in the program often successfully go off their depression medication after ten or twelve months, or why problems with anger or anxiety disappear, or a whole list of other complaints fade away. It is because these are all coping methods gone awry, and once copying is no longer needed, because the system is no longer so easily stressed, the coping strategies are no longer called into play.

I see this program as a very effective method for undoing the traumas that caused the threshold for stress to be low in the first place. It attacks the problem at the root and bypasses the treatment of symptoms.

So how can you use this principle? By beginning to recognize when you are in this process of overwhelm / chaos / reorganization; by realizing that when it happens it's a good thing, and not to be resisted; and by realizing that when you allow your personal threshold for what you can handle coming at you from the world to go higher and higher, those things that caused you to suffer will fall away. It really is possible to live a life free of suffering, and Holosync is nothing but a handy tool that facilitates and speeds up the process.

Other principles will expand on this point, so stay tuned.

Be well.

Bill Harris,
Director, Centerpointe Research Institute

Centerpointe Research Institute

Further articles in this series...

Overview
#1: Letting Whatever Happens Be Okay

Next...
#3: Chaos & Reorganization
#4: The Map is NOT the Territory
#5: Responsibility as Empowerment
#6: Conscious Change
#7: Witnessing
#8: "Good & Bad" Generalizations
#9: The Neutral Universe
Addendum: How to Let Whatever Happens Be OK

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