This article was written by Candace Pert, PhD, neuroscientist, pharmacologist, and discoverer of the opiate receptor in the brain. It is taken from a talk she gave in 2003 and was copied below directly from her website: www.CandacePert.com.
For me, it explains why so much of our time, energy, and effort goes into moving toward those things which make us feel good, or at least offer the promise of making us feel good, and try to avoid or distance ourselves from things that make us feel bad. I think deep down - way deep down - we know we're meant to feel good.
It's just that somewhere along the way, we got confused about where our good feelings come from. We started thinking that something, someone, or some condition outside of us held the key.
"Is it possible that we are all biologically programmed for happiness? I believe so. In fact, my research over the last 30 years has led me to this conclusion: we’re actually “hardwired” for bliss—both physical and divine. By hardwired I mean that we have major endorphin pathways that lead from the back of the brain to the frontal cortex, where we have the most opiate receptors—the cellular binding sites for endorphins.
Endorphins are naturally occurring opiates that dull pain and produce euphoria when they bind with opiate receptors. Thus they literally alter our mood on the cellular level. It sounds amazing, but my work has shown me that we are physically hardwired to pay attention to, and plan for, pleasure. That’s just how we’re designed. The pathways of many neurosubstances throughout the body have been mapped by other researchers, but none of those maps explicitly convey that the human brain has evolved to appreciate, pay attention to, and be guided by pleasure.
It’s unnatural for people to live without pleasure. I believe that at other times and places in history people probably experienced much more pleasure than we do in our modern era. The root of the problem today may be that we’re always looking for the bliss that’s going to come “When I…”, “When I graduate,” “When I finish this,” “When I do that.”
Another obstacle to experiencing pleasure today may be the thought that we are separate from each other and from the rest of creation. We really all are one. When you start to get this, maybe even only on a subconscious level, I think you will start to experience more bliss."
Candace Pert was an American neuroscientist and pharmacologist who discovered the opiate receptor, the cellular binding site for endorphins in the brain. She wrote The Molecules Of Emotion and Everything You Need To Know To Feel Go(o)d. The following paragraphs were taken from CandacePert.com and an article entitled Where Do You Store Your Emotions.
“A feeling sparked in our mind or body will translate as a peptide being released somewhere. [Organs, tissues, skin, muscle and endocrine glands], they all have peptide receptors on them and can access and store emotional information. This means the emotional memory is stored in many places in the body, not just or even primarily, in the brain. You can access emotional memory anywhere in the peptide/receptor network, in any number of ways. I think unexpressed emotions are literally lodged in the body. The real true emotions that need to be expressed are in the body, trying to move up and be expressed and thereby integrated, made whole, and healed."
“Let the emotions bubble up. Let the chips fall where they may…the process of catharsis is not complete without saying things as the first step to experiencing things…To feel and understand means you have worked it all the way through. It has bubbled all the way to the surface. You’re integrating at higher and higher levels in the body, bringing emotions into consciousness. Once integrated, the natural wisdom of the receptors will release interrupted healing and restorative and regenerative processes can take over.”
“By simply acknowledging emotions, they are expressed. In being expressed, emotions can be released, even old emotions stored in body memory. Allowing my emotions to surface into awareness and to be able to name my emotions is the beginning of emotional exploration. I am moving forward, trying to find my position within the family, within the community, and in life.”
When it comes to our emotions, we normally do one of two things - suppress them or express them. Sometimes we try to transcend them, but that's really just a dressed-up way of suppressing them.
Beyond suppression or even expression is a third way - releasing.
People often think they've released their feelings about something and they'll say, "Oh, I let that go." But often what they're describing is a function of the intellect or the will - a mental decision to dismiss a thought or a feeling, push it away, or somehow distance themselves from it.
This kind of "from-the-neck-up" releasing often doesn't last. It will tend to reveal itself later as a physical symptom or a general feeling of stress or tension. It is unsuccessful because feelings, and the deeper feelings that are driving them, live below conscious awareness. So unless you connect with them where they live, you're just sort of scratching at the surface.
The kind of releasing that I'm referring to - real releasing - is not merely a function of the thinking brain. Instead, it employs the thinking brain to access the bodymind. The bodymind is the unconscious mind and is home to the feelings just beneath the surface - the ones we're often trying to avoid - either consciously or not.
Accessing the bodymind provides us with a felt experience of our emotions, allowing us to connect with them on their own turf. Then we can learn how to speak with them in a language that they understand and invites them to release.
Letting go in this way is a physical, palpable experience, which is sometimes subtle, sometimes not. It's sort of like taking a deep involuntary sigh inside. Afterwards, you'll feel lighter and more spacious inside.
This happens organically, without effort or willpower, You feel lighter and freer, not by trying to impose your will onto your feelings, but by releasing them from the inside-out.