How does Fear harm? How does Trust heal ?
The partnership that has the greatest effect on health, ill-health and healing is the partnership between mind and body. These are two quite distinct organisations, constituted in totally different ways, yet only able to serve the human being through their interdependency. The body provides the structure and material substance for life on earth. The mind provides consciousness and inner experience through the gateways of thinking, feeling, sensory and expressive awareness.
The interaction between body and mind can be likened to a life vehicle that we inhabit, resting unconsciously in it at night, driving it consciously during the day. The functions of the body-vehicle proceed according to the innate intelligence with which it is designed to self regulate and thereby maintain health. But we who live in this body provide it with what it needs to sustain our life and consciousness. We drive and direct it according to our unique constitution and personality, which may not always be in the best interests of the body’s needs. The digestive system knows what it has to do to digest food, the heart instinctively knows how to regulate the blood circulation, the immune system reacts immediately to some threat to the system. But the body is dependant upon what we do with it and how we treat it. We choose the kind and quantity of food we eat and the frequency and manner in which we eat it. Eating fresh health giving food and giving time to chew and digest will promote healthy digestion, whereas eating fast foods on the run will impact negatively on the digestive system.
What does this imply? Basically that through our conscious or unconscious awareness, we have a great deal of influence over our health and well being. The more we know about our body and the more caring we are towards it, the more we will be congruent with its healthy function. On the other hand if we treat it like a mechanical machine without regard for its sensitivity and vulnerability, sooner or later it will manifest some dysfunction.
The mind, psyche or soul – our internal world of awareness – has a conscious and a subconscious side. The subconscious mind is infinitely more powerful than the conscious mind which controls our life at best 5 percent of the time. The rest is run by the sub conscious or unconscious mind which works habitually through sensory perceptions, feelings, and instinctive or learned reactive or reflexive impulses or drives: we have a desire for chocolate because unconsciously we remember the pleasure associated with this. We go on the search for it, find it and ingest it. We smell and taste it and are aware of the silky texture on the tongue. We enjoy it so much we keep consuming it until the body sensations tells us we have had too much. Now the digestive system is forced to deal with the excess sugar, additives, fats etc and the liver is compelled to try and detoxify the excess. This may lead to dyspepsia, but in susceptible people to illnesses like diabetes or migraines.
It is only through thinking that the soul life becomes conscious and through self reflection, higher levels of conscious awareness can be attained. We can study the content of chocolate and decide on this basis to choose only organic chocolate that has no additives such as colourings or preservatives. We can reflect on the body’s sensitivity to chocolate, trusting in its wise responses and decide to stop eating chocolate because we care about the body as our prime health giver. We may discover that we are addicted to chocolate and despite all the rational good reasons, find it extremely difficult to stop consuming it. We can then explore what chocolate has become for us, possibly a comforter or life sweetener and search for healthier ways to sweeten our life.
But the power of the mind is a formidable obstacle and potential saboteur. We will find all the good reasons to carry on with unhealthy life practices, despite all the good reasons to stop them. This is because a big part of our subconscious soul life is invested in this practice. It may be the neediness of a child, or the reactivity of a teenager or the uncontrollable desire of the addict for gratification that compels us to continue harming ourselves. If we are to overcome this internal threat to our health, we will need to uncover this hidden world and through insight, compassion, resourcefulness and dynamic action, find the right way to address the core issues.
Our subconscious mind carries the imprint of our past experiences. This creates an embedded life memory that will determine our personality and our habitual thinking, feelings and behavior. It will compel us to follow blindly its conditioned directives. If this conditioned response disturbs bodily functions, it will affect our health negatively and progressively, initially in sporadic functional disturbances, such as indigestion, then in constant dysbiosis (intestinal digestive imbalance), later in irritable bowel syndrome and finally in cancer of the colon. All chronic illnesses can be traceable to longstanding unhealthy activities of the sub conscious or conscious mind.
Experience shows that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. This is now becoming common knowledge and research in medical sciences such as Psychoneuroimmunology provides us with compelling evidence as to the effect the mind has on health.
The big question is how does the mind affect the body or the body affect the mind? How does fear harm? How does trust heal? What is the mechanism for this connection? Where is the interface between mind and body? If we imagine the mind to be a product of the neuro-hormonal system, like some secretion or hormone, then it is easy to understand how salivary secretions will be triggered by the thought of eating a lemon. The problem however is that there is no evidence or experience pointing to consciousness being a product of the body. Consciousness will result in body responses, such as salivary secretions, but thinking, I contend, is an activity independent of the body. I know that I myself create and elaborate my thinking in a very different way to the way my body reflexly produces the saliva in my mouth. Similarly feelings and sensory perceptions also belong to the spectrum of awareness whose activities belong to the life of the soul that is independent of the body, following laws that are totally different to the material dimension. The living vehicle of the body has a totally different design and function to the driver of the vehicle, yet they must work together for their mutual benefit. Health of the body and mind will depend on their mutual co-operation. This inner world of awareness is evidently closely connected with the body and it is this partnership we need to understand because our health will greatly depend on it.
Obviously, the kinds of foods we choose or the lifestyles we lead, ie our habits, actions and behavior, will directly affect the way our bodily systems work. But how exactly does our thinking, feelings and sense perceptions influence the way our body functions? How does fear create ill health and how does trust bring about healing?
If we imagine our sensory- perceptive, emotive-feeling, volitional-will activities and cognitive-thinking experience as differentiated fields of energy, we can picture them being absorbed or received by the receptors that are present on all the body cells. These are the sense organs of the cells. Numerous scientific studies have proven the existence of invisible electro-magnetic forces that profoundly impact every aspect of biological regulation. These forces are more efficient in relaying environmental information than physical signals such as hormones, immune modulators and growth factors. Bruce Lipton, an holistic cell biologist describes in his book The Biology of Belief how survival is linked to the speed and efficiency of signal communication. “Energy signals are 100 times more efficient and infinitely faster than physical chemical signaling. The speed of electromagnetic energy signals is 186,000 miles per second, while the speed of a diffusible chemical is considerably less than one centimeter per second.” Quantum physics proves how matter is both a particle and a wave like force field. This means that every cell of the body and every part of the cell has a material and an energetic aspect. All cells have semi -permeable membranes with sensitive antenna-like receptors on the outside that perceive the impressions coming from the environment. These impressions are conveyed into the cell interior via protein messengers where they convey information to other effector organs and functions which produce a specific response or effect. Thus the particulate nature of the cell will interact directly with material substances such as glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements which will drive metabolism, growth, healing etc. The energetic nature of the cell will absorb non-material impressions such as psychic awareness activities that will have a very similar action in enhancing or depressing cellular functions. The combined energetic force field emitted by all the cells of say the digestive system is a resonating matrix of vibrating life energy which is highly impressionable to environmental energetic activities. Sensory, emotive and cognitive impressions are absorbed into this impressionable matrix, leading to changes in organ functions or stored there as resonating memory impressions which lead to ingrained physiological patterns. Thus for instance, fear, which creates negative thought and emotive activity, emits psychic impressions or signatures which are absorbed by the energetic receptors of billions of cells which make up the digestive tract. This can interfere with the cell’s function, producing proteins which inhibit the body’s digestive and immune functions. The psychic energetic signature meets the vibrating cellular energy pattern like two waves meeting discordantly, creating interference, (destructive interference or dissonance). This may lead after continuous exposure to habitual digestive dysfunction of the kind mentioned above. On the other hand trust imparts a completely different psychic energetic pattern, where the energetic wave actions are co-ordinated and resonate in harmony (constructive interference or harmonic resonance). This will emit a field of activity which has a positive effect on the digestive functions.
This communication between psyche -mind and body-soma works in both directions. Dysfunctional cellular activity can be relayed back into the psyche by the same energetic mechanism.
The more we make conscious the partnership between mind and body, the more we shall understand how the mind affects the body and how the body affects the mind. The more we understand this connection, the more we shall be able to direct the mind and the body to act in ways that are congruent with health. We shall be empowered to understand why we persist in eating chocolate when we know it is bad for our health. We shall learn how to manage the needy person who is missing the sweet comfort of life by finding sweetness in other ways. We shall lovingly care for our body whose nature-given devoted task it is to give us life and health. We will recognize when we are anxious and living a fear based life, and consciously work at transforming our thoughts and feelings into choosing to trust life. We will discover that the body responds positively to trust and negatively to fear and the enlivened healthy body will support the mind that is striving for peace and happiness.