Lyme, Mitochondria and the Power of the Heart
By Shona Curley
I’m sure many of you Lyme Warriors know that Lyme disease, and really all chronic illness, is at heart a disease of the mitochondria.
What not enough of us know is that we can support mitochondrial healing from home, for free, with intentional, deep relaxation, and tuning in to the energy of our heart.
What the heck are mitochondria?
Our mitochondria evolved from some of the very first bacteria on Earth. Many millions of years ago, select bacteria learned how to use oxygen to make energy. Over the long span of evolution, a strain of these organisms, to be known one day as mitochondria, joined with larger cells, where they co-evolved into animals, and eventually humans.
Each one of our cells contains hundreds of mitochondria within, and they are responsible for synthesizing our food and the air we breathe into energy. Every thought, every physical action we make, is powered by these tiny, ancient bacteria within our cells. Without mitochondria, there is no energy. It should come as no surprise that Lyme disease knocks out mitochondrial function.
How does Lyme affect mitochondria?
Mitochondrial function is compromised by toxicity. The toxins excreted by unfriendly bacteria damage mitochondrial cell walls and DNA. (They have their own DNA!) We know how toxic Borrelia and friends can be, and it has been proven that Lyme patients have decreased mitochondrial function.
Because mitochondria exist in every cell in our bodies, all of our systems are stressed by Lyme disease. Decreased mitochondrial function in the brain can lead to chronic fatigue and brain fog. Compromised mitochondria in our muscles can contribute to fibromyalgia. A mitochondrial problem in the intestines can become leaky gut. The list goes on. All symptoms of Lyme disease involve mitochondria struggling to perform.
Mitochondria and the Divine Feminine
According to renowned neuroscientist David Perlmutter, mitochondrial energy is synonymous with Divine Feminine energy. And it is true that we inherit all of our mitochondria from our maternal lineage alone!
To me, Divine Feminine energy is simply unconditional love and acceptance. It is the love of parents for their newborn baby. It is tender loving care, not unique to women. We all need it to thrive. We Lymies need it to recover, and we can cultivate it for ourselves.
Our culture tells us that to be valuable we need to be productive–busy making money and getting famous. Lyme tells us another story. Loving ourselves unconditionally means taking time and space to heal. We need to release stress and pressure, whether from within or without, and cultivate peace – a soft, loving space where our mitochondria can regenerate.
Proven effects of deep relaxation on mitochondria
Mitochondria seem to respond very quickly to our thoughts and feelings. Recent studies have shown that spending time in a deeply relaxed, meditative state increases mitochondrial resilience and energy production.
Feelings of deep relaxation and safety are linked to a cascade of beneficial neurotransmitters and hormones. Relaxation lowers the hormone cortisol, decreases inflammation, and lowers oxidative stress, freeing our mitochondria to produce energy again. And it may very well be that feelings of unconditional love and acceptance go even farther.
Here is a simple meditation practice. It has never failed to alleviate my Lyme symptoms and increase my energy.
Lie down in peace and quiet, with enough time to truly relax and go within. When you are ready, bring to mind a person or animal that you have loved with all your heart, at any time in your life. Imagine that being as though they were right next to you. Hold them close. Feel the textures of their body, notice how they smell. You can use words to help you – describing your experience to yourself as you go.
Tune in to the feelings in your heart center. Pay attention to the sensations – this will increase their intensity. You may notice heat, color or movement. Go with it.
Bathe your body in feelings of love, until they are no longer dependent on your dream image of your loved one. Offer this beautiful feeling to your own body and soul, your miraculous life, exactly as you are. Stay with the meditation until you feel suffused with love throughout your body.
We Lymies can be the voice for cultural change
Our culture could better respect the necessity of rest and self-care for long term health. More time for vacation. Meditation techniques widely available to all. A health care system where patients are respected, believed and supported. Those of us with Lyme can be the voice for this kind of change. We can be the voice of the Divine Feminine.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve your mitochondrial function, I recommend two books.
“Power Up Your Brain,” by David Perlmutter and Alberto Villoldo, discusses (among other things) how IV glutathione and hyperbaric oxygen therapy both directly affect the mitochondria.
Dave Asprey, a recovered Lymie, wrote a whole book about mitochondria called “Head Strong.” In it he outlines a two-week program to improve mitochondrial health.
Shona Curley lives in San Francisco. She co-owns Hasti Pilates, and recently created www.redkitemeditations.com, a site containing guided meditations for people with Lyme disease.