The Body is a Temple Not an Amusement Park
Here in San Diego, CA. we have this old rickety roller coaster built in 1925 that sits next to the beach. Every time I ride it, part of the thrill is the scare that it might breakdown. However, there have been many amusement park ride malfunctions we've all hear about in the news that because of their mechanical nature, resulted in the serious injury and even death of its riders. The thrill of riding a roller coaster lasts for the entirety of the ride and maybe a few minutes afterwards, but it is short lived and in order to keep feeling that "high" you have to keep going on the ride.
The same is said for harmful substances we put into our body such as drugs, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, pornography and other unhealthy substances. They spike a "high" in our brains that is short lived, and insatiable, causing us to desire the "amusement" over and over again. I remember when I was in middle school, I thought it was "cool" to eat a candy bar and drink a cola for lunch rather than a home packed healthy lunch. Being thirteen was a lot about image, so I joined with the others and ate "cool" food. Within in an hour after eating my "lunch", my stomach would hurt, I'd be hungry still and I had difficulty concentrating in my classes the remainder of my day. My grades were very poor that year in school and my diet wasn't helping. Drugs, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, pornography and other unhealthy habits are in what I term psychologically, "The Twinkie Diet" (remember those?). A Twinkie contain 37 ingredients, only 5 of which are recognizable as food, the rest are harmful chemicals that offer the body no nutrients. So when you eat a Twinkie, because there is no real nutrients to it, it leaves you in an insatiable state, meaning not satisfying your body with vitamins and minerals that help keep you functioning. It is similar to the concept of being really thirsty and trying to hydrate by drinking a cola, it just isn't possible. When we put amusing substances in our body, little by little, year by year, it starts to get rickety and malfunction. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many adolescents addicted to the thrill of treating their bodies as an amusement park and have seen them through the difficult process of breaking those patterns. Let's examine just what happens in the brain so scientifically you get a clear picture of what it really means when we treat our bodies as an amusement park. Addictive substances produce a spike in certain excitatory neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, also called epinephrine, the brain's natural opiates, and dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter for several functions in our brain, including the communication of movement and producing the feeling of pleasure. When these amusement park substances are introduced to the body, it fires a surge of these neurochemicals which create a feeling of euphoria, excitement, and pleasure. Because this surge is so high, it overwhelms the brain's receptors, causing the dopamine cells in the brain to eventually atrophy (or aka, shrink). This malfunction in these brain cells starts the "craving cycle" to introduce the substance again and again so that it can get enough dopamine because the brain has stopped producing it in normal amounts. MRI and fMRI studies are actually showing that these addiction are causing damage to many areas of the brain. Being raised with Christian teachings, I remember learning that our body is a temple, and we shouldn't put these substances in it or view inappropriate media. I honestly just didn't get the seriousness of it and thought it was just "a way of life", but not that it had serious brain damage risks. How wrong I was when I started studying the actual effects which made me realize there really is something to this advice. 1 Corinthians verse 19 says "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?".
On our major Interstate 5 freeway here in San Diego, sits one of the most majestic Christian temples I have ever seen. It is all white and beaming with lights in contrast to the fallen paint and rickety rails of the roller coaster just 5 miles away from it. The other day I was reading a story in the New Testament that hit me in a different way than it had before. What struck me was that there are not many instances in the New Testament where you don't see Christ acting humble, patient, kind, and peaceful. But there is one instance where Christ displays disdain and anger, and this is when enters the temple and sees that the purpose of it had been defiled. He responds by overthrowing their tables and casting out those who were defiling its purpose saying in Matthew 21 verse 13: "My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves". If there is anything I have learned from these ancient writings, is that the wisdom from them is there to protect us, and teach us the "healthiest" and "happiest" way to live. Would not our Creator, the mastermind of putting our brains and bodies together, not know the best user manual for His creation? You don't buy a user manual for a car engine written by a plumber. You would buy a plumbing manual written buy a plumber, and an engine manual written by an engineer. It is so simple, but sometimes we write off the simple because of the easiness of the way. Even if you are not sure about a "Creator" or the Bible, just start with understanding that science backs the idea of the health benefits from treating our bodies as a "temple". The good news is that our bodies were created to heal themselves, and nature has prepared many things on this Earth to aide in this process. This doesn't mean that riding the amusement park for years or even one time, won't have lifelong consequences. But there is hope to getting our brain to function healthily again, and it can take time, however studies have shown that after abstinence, the brain can return to its proper firing, restoring you to a happier life. Top 5 Healthy Habits in Recovery:
- Get support from family, friends, church leaders, and God. You must verbally acknowledge your problem and get a community of support behind you including praying for divine support.
- Break patterns where the addiction occurs. This may be places and people you hang out with, or it could be somewhere you live, and you would benefit by moving. You have to create a new pattern to break the old ones.
- Create new patterns that are healthy such as exercising, hiking, surfing, wood working, cooking, serving others or anything creative or outdoors that you can do that are "pleasurable" and healthy to help communicate healthy triggers for dopamine in the brain.
- Eat healthy greens, grains, and legumes at everyday. I would also add taking a healthy vitamin supplement to support proper communication in the brain. Omegas and vitamins are crucial to cellular health and the vitamin supplement I recommend is called the Lifelong Vitality Pack. It has a healthy source of nutrients, omegas and other plant compounds that are very supportive to gut and brain health.
- Essential oils directly penetrate the brain when inhaled, and these natural plant compounds not only support the brain in healthy functioning, but also help influence mood and emotions which are two areas that are heavily affected when we are quitting an addiction. I recommend the emotional aromatherapy kit or the complete emotional aromatherapy & family care kit which has both oils for emotions and for gut health.
Being vigilant daily in these 5 steps will lead you on the path of recovery with healthy habits. I recommend putting a picture of a temple up on your fridge or on your phone to send a trigger to your brain remembering that you are a temple, giving you strength to treat your body as one. There is
hope in healing and restoring your body as a temple. One of my good friends was an alcoholic from a really young age. Her drug and alcohol abuse started as a teenager and controlled her life by the time she was in her early twenties. One day, she finally admitted she had a problem and had had enough so one by one she started following these 5 steps to gain her life back and now three years later she is still healthy and free of addiction. She lives a healthy life, runs a successful business and now teaches others how to create healthy habits in recovery. If these steps can work for others there is no reason it cannot work for you and for those whom you love. I have seen it. Trust in the fact that you body knows how to restore itself when we give it the right tools to function, and it will start to beam with light and beauty just as a temple is meant to.