by Richard Boyd, Body Mind Psychotherapist, Energetics Institute, Perth, West Australia
Last month we discussed the relationship that a person has with themselves is the primary driver for all other relationships that a person will have with others over time. We looked at early childhood attachment outcomes and traumas as indicators for the success and the pattern of relating that an adult may have with another.
This month we consider how the relationship we have between our bodies and our mind, and the part our emotions play in mediating this interconnecting reality, also play a primary part in the relatedness that an adult person tends to have with others. The modern western world has fostered a mind-body split upon us as a myth of science for the last 200 years.
As a result the prevailing schools of science and psychology firstly split the reality of mind, body, emotions and spirit and then reductionistically collapsed them into just the body and the mind as two distinct entities. In this false myth of science we find that most people identify with an "I" which they cannot actually point to anywhere in time and space, but somehow includes the body and yet is more than a body.
This intangible self is often reduced to being thought of as a function of our brain and the bio-chemical processes of ourself which somehow give us consciousness and definition. At the same time there is a distinct split and the idea that our mind is or is influencing our body(psychosomatics) is still a foreign concept to some.
In our society you go to a doctor who practices medicine on the body, and may increasingly dabble with afflictions such as depression for which they again treat the body with drugs. If you "feel" or "think" poorly then off you go to a psychologist or counsellor who treats this vague mental concept of self.
Yet we are more than just a body as we have feelings and emotions which cannot just be ascribed to our bodies. Many people feel within themselves the movement of what they describe as spirit. This is cross-cultural and has been reported in all ages by people of all walks of life.
That reality is what is called a personal aspect of spirit which some might call a soul. Scientifically it can never be empirically measured nor found but neither do many objects at the sub-atomic level as quantum physics now informs us.
The interesting thing is quantum physics is what is known as a primary science. That means all other related schools of science lie subordinate underneath this overarching science. If a parent or primary science establishes a convention or ordering principle as true then by default the subordinate sciences must consider and be prepared to accept that some manifestation of that ordering principle may showup or exist in their domain of science coverage.
Interestingly the quantum nature of reality is often overlooked or minimised by the "material" sciences who cling to materialism and old science to explain their work, discoveries and reality. This is why subtle phenomena such as energy existing in and around the body, the concept of spirit as some form of consciousness, and the very nature of consciousness itself, has eluded serious scientific research or consideration.
However the new sciences such as psychoneuroimmunology are now proving beyond doubt that indeed there are some subtle mechanisms of mind, body, spirit and emotional interaction going on within us and between us all. This is a subtle for of relationship we have with ourselves and also that we have with other persons.
It is hard to point to this interconnection until you consider the way in which certain types of sickness manifests in humans. In my work I deal with quite a number of adults who have been through the medical system where a cause of their illness cannot be found to be isolated in the body and found to exist under the measurement criteria of that medical group they accessed.
Likewise many have also found that they have bodily issues that affect them, and these include illness, yet the standard mental psychological models fail to nail the cause or treat the symptoms in any effectual way that they can take on as a tool of self-help(such as CBT).
Still others try to wallpaper over their problems using imaginative and visualisation based mental techniques such as NLP and find the effects are short lived. A common problem is the lack of holism or interconnection of body, mind, emotion, and spirit that are each dimensions of human life.
A common aspect is the denial of the body as the embodiment of their self. In some ways there is often an unlived in aspect to their bodies, or a narcissistic engagement of perfectionistic beauty augmentation with that body. Each are symptoms of a lack of authentic relationship between the various parts of their self.
What one finds is there is either a splitting off and disowning of some aspect of their embodied self, and the engagement of a life strategy that uses one other aspect of self, or external objects, including other people, as a compensation for the negative relationship with that disowned part of themselves.
There is an emerging body of statistics that finds correlation between lifestyle choices and the formation of certain illness types as a result of those choices, and what those choices represent as compensations for the other disowned or neglected part of the self. Most people are rooted in physical object thinking and so equate toxicity in their world as being about pesticides, free radicals, pollution, chemicals, hormones in foods, and plastics etc.
Few have stopped to consider the mental, emotional and spiritual toxicity or neglect that can plague the human condition in the same way, but through different pathways and mechanisms that physical toxins do. The first toxins are those absorbed by the developing foetus in the womb of the mother.
Research on traditional effects of such drugs such as Thalidomide and other medications have shown the reality of the transfer of physical and chemical toxins from mother to child in the womb. The emerging science of Epigenetics is starting to show us a more subtle relationship between mother and child that reveals how early and influential our Epigenetic processes might be in the formation and progression of disease, as well in the resilience of health and wellness.
Research is showing that the DNA strands in the emerging foetus come under emotional, mental and energetic influences of the mother and shape which genes then express and which sheath up and stay un-expressed. Our mother is our environment when we are in the womb and how she thinks, feels, and physically interacts and eats and feeds all have an impact on the developing baby.
The Epigentic model is one where we are nature via nurture. No longer do the old outdated theories of genetic determinism hold true except as the basis for what original blueprint we inherit at the moment of conception. We inherit a baseline DNA blueprint designed to be interacted upon, changed and altered throughout its life as we are ever trying to adapt to our environment.
In the womb the effects of the mother on the developing child are profound as we are basically building the body of the emerging person and so some of the physical expression will be basically hardwired in the basic bodily architecture and features of the person.
This process continues outside the womb and is part of the childhood developmental processes that affect our body and mind as we grow. The Epigenetic effect creates our bodily outcome and our bodies are a storyboard of our Epigenetic response to the forces and influences of the time in the womb, at birth, and through childhood.
This is the reason we can as Bodymind psychotherapists conduct body readings of our clients and read the story of what happened to them. Bodily indicators are one form of trauma, or of a compensation in the self, in response to forces, issues and pressures that arose at a key time in the developmental process.
The bodymind is "plastic" to use a term borrowed from neuroscience. That means while our basic bodily structure is pretty much set the underlying Epigenetic mechanisms inside every cell are still at work in every moment.
It is at this level we can change ourself as we change all the cells in our body over a 7 year period, with cellular regeneration taking only weeks for some parts, to months and years to other parts. It is here that we can change the Epigenetic expression of our cells so the basis for the self comes from a DNA stance of wellness and not trauma or illness.
Interestingly Bruce Lipton was the first researcher who was able to get widespread attention for his explanation of how the brain to cell and the cell to brain communication pathways are bi-directional, and involve perception and belief.
His work showed clearly how both our emotional energies and our thoughts and beliefs directly affect our ongoing epigenetic expression of the self. Science is now finding that the old Buddhist saying that "What I think I become" is more than some cute philosophical statement.
In other words we are in every moment in a relationship to ourself that we engage with our mind, body, thoughts, feelings and spirit. We should understand this point carefully and consider how what I think, what I feel, what I watch, listen to or engage with via proximity, contact and bonding, affects myself in ways not necessarily apparent, but real all the same.
The outside influences which can affect me are the thoughts, actions, words and energy of others. We all need to consider who we let into our life and what are the dimensions of their character as expressed through their body, their minds, their emotions and its presence as energy. The other person's relationship to soul or spirit is often indirectly seen through that person's values, actions, beliefs and their general health.
When we are in the presence of a person who is toxic in one or more of these quadrants of the self then we will be affected by this person. This may be a mild effect which if we are positive within ourself in most of our own quadrants of self then we are resilient and will hold a stronger life force charge than many others around us.
If we are weak, depleted, toxic or traumatised within key aspects of our essential self then we are more susceptible to the influence of others. If we are intact, in truth with ourselves and maintain this state then we can even positively flow or influence others around us.
The key point here is we should take the initiative and build ourselves up around our key quadrants or aspects of self so we are not victims to outside influences. This is important as these interactive processes are subtle and generally subconscious so many people are not mindful of the company they keep nor the effect that may have on them.
If you engage in powerful practices such as compassion, taking and giving, and other exchanging self with other type energetic practices, one can transform such conditions into a dynamic where you become a powerful transmitter of love, compassion and healing. If ever you have had an audience with a powerful saint, Buddhist or spiritual leader then you may have felt this effect.
For us we also need to consider the inner toxicity of any negative or limiting self beliefs we carry about life, about ourself and about others. Toxic beliefs affect all quadrants of the self and remember the mind influences our own epigenetic processes so out thoughts create the basis for wellness or illness through thought forms, emotions and feelings.
Many of us got our first set of core beliefs when very young and these often now lie buried in our subconscious exerting a silent but salient effect on our reality, our perception, our beliefs, our moods, hopes, attitudes and actions. Some of us we were given direct or indirect negative experiences whether they were intentionally, unintentionally given or whether we misconstrued what was happening.
Much of our learning in childhood is embodied or from the way we perceive others through their gestures, postures, intonations of voice, emotions, and proximity and bonding they engage with us. The absence of others to be there for us, or the over-stimulation of others being too much for our nervous systems to bear, or the abusive or neglectful ways in which we were handled and dealt with, created its own form of messages, communication and conclusions which we now hold internally as beliefs in our subconscious.
So as a result we start to build an internal database of positive, negative or mixed beliefs created through these non-verbal and verbal interactions. The arrival of speech in our faculties and the development of our social engagement skills then propelled us into a world of objects, subjects, concepts, ideas, relationships and the need for interpretations.
The problem is that our beliefs serve as perceptual filters through which we interpret others and the dynamics happening around us. The interactions we have may injure us, frighten us, overwhelm us or betray us and so we form defences and compensations from which to adapt and deal with these issues we have in life.
The mindset and conclusions we draw from these experiences are those mind thought forms which affect the epigenetic expression of our cellular DNA. As a result we not only develop a mental/emotional defence layer in ourself such as "you will not control me".
We also develop under our bodies under epigenetic expression, and aided by the "fight and flight" state of the Autonomic Nervous System, develop corresponding embodied defences which show up as musculature, postural and accentuated or under-developed bone formations and growth outcomes in parts of the body. This was what Reich called character armouring and is that whole body of work in bodymind modalities such as Reichan, Bioenergetic, Core Energetic and Hakomi to name a few.
As adults we should look to make conscious our subconscious belief systems and notice how they play out in our life. I use within IBMP (Integrative Body Mind Psychotherapy) a 14 quadrant life goal assessment model which includes the documentation of the key beliefs of clients. Clients are amazed to see how these uncovered beliefs are actually creating life success or life sabotage.
Working on the relationship you are having with yourself via your internal dialogue and the belief systems that you have taken on over time, is a valuable gift of self love that you can give yourself. This work will pay dividends as you become more positive, more conscious and you awaken to new realities, and become aware of positive options that have been there all the time, but are now no longer obscured by negative limiting beliefs.
Likewise people with major illness or minor recurring illnesses would be recommended to investigate the possible emotional and mental cause of their symptoms. A trained bodymind psychotherapist is well suited to this work and the results can literally be life saving, whether that be defined in terms of actual life or in terms of one's quality of life.